My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Oh Snap

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Oh no you didn’t rolled off my tongue with frustration as I tried to peer out our ice encrusted windows. Mother Nature’s cold snap was well into her third week of stellar performances. Gone was my initial happy dance at the first snow fall. Now the lather, rinse repeat of snow and ice made me want to wash this storm right out of my hair. Coupled with Columbia Gorge’s intense weather patterns only added to these unsolicited encores; producing vigorous storms for no extra charge. Yet it still cost those who faced its’ tempest super-size portions of snow, ice, and gale winds.
That day I found myself weary of this continuing storm, my spirits drooped much like the ice laden trees buckling from the sheer weight. Desiring to be stout in spirit capable to forge through this chilly adversity, hoping to counter the hand dealt to me with a sunshiny Pollyanna perspective. Instead, my cheery outlook was covered by a foreboding nimbostratus cloud. No way would you be hearing me belt out, “Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway” what was Elsa thinking? And though the storm’s fury paled in comparison to the poor folks I watched suffer on the nightly news, this storm was enough to wear me down .
As I looked to thaw my frigid faith I grabbed my Bible deciding to turn to Job 38, right off the bat the first verse grabbed my attention. It read, “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm”. Could it be God was trying to get my attention with this long screeching halt, intrusion to my day to day schedule as I know it?
Just maybe He wants me to be still and enjoy the stillness. Or perhaps to fall down into the glistening snows’ brisk arms to make an angel out of its powdery wonder, allowing my eyes to gaze towards heavens expanse. Being present in the moment not waiting for the storms to pass, rather choosing to dance in the rain or snow for that matter.
Further on God asks Job this question,* “Have you entered the treasures of the snow? or seen the treasures of hail?”
Whenever personal storm clouds of disappointment brew, cabin fever of restlessness and irritability overrides my desire to seek the hidden treasures of the snow. Not to mention treasures can be hard to find when storms assail, buried in deep snowdrifts of heartbreak, grief, illness or other blizzards of loss. My snow blinded faith can make it impossible to see God’s bigger picture of provision and purpose. Many times life treasures lay concealed until we let our cold hearts’ slowly thaw from grief and disappointment.
Arctic blasts of doubt and fear blocked out God’s warming presence from fully reaching my anguished soul. God never left me, it was only I that had lost my way.
It reminds me how as a child I lost my warm knit glove while walking home from school one snowy day. Arriving home I sadly told my mom what had happened; with a sense of hope in her voice she said, “let’s keep this one in case the other one shows up.
Eventually the snow melted and winter gave way to spring… my little glove now a distant memory. Cherry blossom trees lined the sidewalk as my friend and I intermittently skipped and giggled our way home. Stopping to catch my breath my eyes suddenly spotted my little glove pushed up against a cyclone fence, nestling among a bed of dry furled leaves. Hope reborn as lost is found, a treasure laid bare from melted snow.
God lovingly waits for us to partner with Him, syncing up to His truths, knowing in our “knower” His plans for us, for our good and not evil. Those little gloves remain a beautiful reminder of what was lost can be still be found…even when we have lost our faith!
Eugene H. Peterson’s introduction to Habakkuk is this: “Habakkuk started out exactly where we started out with our puzzled complaints and God accusations, but he didn’t stay there. He ended up in a world, along with us, where every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
Like Habakkuk I no longer want to have my faith wheels stuck in drifts of why questions, rather have the traction of trust produce forward movement as*I lean my entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness.
God invites us to build a snowman, gathering splendid treasures from His majesty. Each unique snowflake of life experiences rolled up and fashioned into a something new. Bringing a smile to our face from a jolly new creation, a gift wrapped up in His loving sovereignty. Patted down and molded with child like faith gloves.
So my friend … Do you want to build a snowman ?

Job 38: 1-22, Colossians 1:4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Bye-Bye Pack Rat

Anyone that knows me well is privy to the fact I tend to collect things. A self proclaimed Pack Rat of doohickey’s, whatchamacallits, sentimental momentos and all things shiny. Our attic a land of misfit objects poised to spring ­­­­­into action whether to provoke tender memories or some form of creativity.

Due to my tendencies of over accumulation… shrinking attic space has become the end result; now bursting at the seams, it groans from over stuffing. Like a S.O.S banner capturing my attention to begin the journey of downsizing. Heck, even a pack rats nature is to let go of certain found treasures to grab a hold of something new and more desirable.

Through processes such as these I’ve noticed a correlation pertaining to deep physical housecleaning and emotional housecleaning. For me they seem to go hand in hand. In times past when saying good-bye to these tangibles, it usually reveals an unhealthy thought pattern that needs to go as well. Though the interweaving of the physical and emotional purging is key, the actual letting go process can be painful. There is a bitter sweet underlying tone that sets the mood for change. Change is hard even if it is for the better especially  since we are creatures of habit. Whenever my reliable apple cart gets upset, I tend to scramble picking up my disrupted pile of apples… even the damaged ones. I scoop them up carrying them close to my heart as I climb back onto my rickety cart of familiarity.

The dichotomy of God’s Kingdom runs interference with my unwholesome attachments and misguided thinking.

God loves us for who we are, but too much to leave us that way. We no longer need to cling to the status quo or our tired worn out coping mechanisms. God is saying *”Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”

I don’t know about you but I’m so ready for 2017! Traveling lighter by emptying my suitcase of fear, worry, doubt, unforgiveness or anything crowding out Jesus’s truth and goodness. Packing instead more intentional kindness, love, joy , laughter, and forgiveness . No longer traveling with my neck poised to look in the rear view mirror of yesterdays or what if’s. Rather, keeping my eye on the prize, His promises as hope rises from the ashes of my past.

There are still doodads, whatnots and precious family memories tucked away in our attic now a healthy balance of treasures. Today this self professed pack rat is more of a mouse. Through all the decluttering process my personal growth is blossoming, saying good-bye to non essentials to grab a hold of the essential. How refreshing!

Lord, we ask for a fresh new start for 2017 bursting with your visions, dreams and endless possibilities. May our minds and hearts de-clutter from anything that crowds out your plans and purposes for our lives. Thank you, that *if anyone in Christ, the new creation has come, old has gone, the new is here!

“Behold I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5

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“Every loss leaves a space that can be filled with God’s presence.” Amy Boucher Pye.
*Isaiah 43:19 The Message *2Corinthians 5:17 NIV Bible


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Grief’s Persuasive Nudge

graveyard-1417871_960_720Grief’s persuasive nudge finally got my attention. Oh, but I must tell you, my mind did a stellar job in subtle trickery convincing my broken heart that the grief work was already completed. Hands down my flesh preference leans towards maintaining the appearance of a neat, tidy package over delving into a disheveled hot mess of emotions.
No twisting of the arm needed when calling it quits on the whole grief process,  quite frankly it felt like a viable option.  Ready to vamoose, exit stage left and save myself from completely depleting my emotional bank account.  Recently losing my only brother Troy to Lewy Body Dementia  was not my first rodeo when it comes to having a loss. A mere 3 1/2 short years ago we said good-bye to our sweet mama. Though I had made great intentional strides of grief recovery with my mom’s passing, Troy’s diagnoses overlapping  mom’s illness produced  dark permanent clouds of abiding sorrow.  Knowing barring a miracle, sooner than later, I would walk through the valley of the shadow of death once more. When the dreaded news of Troy’s rapid decline became a reality, my heart wanted to run away from the tsunami waves of sorrow, too weary to start the painful mourning process all over again.
Resisting just like a swimmer’s breaststroke push’s away the water, I fought pushing away the grief after my brother’s passing.  Avoiding the boundary walls of necessary grief work, in a desperate attempt to regain a sense of normalcy I lost years ago. The core of my being longing to handle my grief in a healthy way, yet fighting the painful intrusion of this once again unwelcome guest.

The not so funny thing about grief is, you can run from it but you cannot hide from it, sooner or later that sleeping giant you tried to bury deep within will rear it’s ugly head. It’s all part of God’s beautiful design for our deeper healing and wholeness. He longs to equip us to face the Goliath of grief with our smooth stones of  acknowledgment, permission and His strength . Bringing comfort to mend our fragile broken heart’s, as He  blesses us in the process. Fulfilling His promise written in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted”.


So how did God woo me into my needed grief work?  By loving nudges as I watched various tender brother and sister interactions played out before me . Losing our beloved dog of 18 years little Buttony Boo. And leading me beside still waters as I slowed down my busy pace,  gently redirecting my heart towards the pain and not away from it.

 This thought came to mind the other day as I swam ,my body became tired of doing laps resting my head against the hard pools’ edge I  marveled at the pools utter stillness. After several minutes passed my legs wanted to kick again and do so with wild fervor holding the pools rough edge. Suddenly  I witnessed the calm waters swift transformation. Watching this juxtapose a epiphany rose to the surface of my soul : “It was only when I stirred up the water in the turmoil of movement, that brought out the most brilliant color of blue rising up from the  deep.  Such depth of color was not revealed in the pools’ stillness.”My life longs for calm, smooth sailing without conflict. Jesus however called His disciples to a storm tossed  boat to show the depths of His faithfulness …

Roaring deep calls to roaring deep, life’s upheavals, storms raging while Jesus sleeps. We cry out for calm and it will come as Jesus declares,  “peace be still” over our battered souls.  He lovingly invites us  to yoke ourselves side by side with Him… “a man of sorrows”, personally familiar with our raw anguishing emotions.  He is more than able to handle the weight-bearing load of our sorrows onto His cross carrying shoulders.  Bidding us to trust in Him through all our storms… encouraging  us to give ourselves permission to grieve.

   I love what Pam Vredevelt  wrote in her book the  ” Empty Arms Journal ” Healing requires us to stop traveling in five -speed overdrive and to turn down the noise. To move out of our heads and into our hearts . It may seem easier to deny , block , or repress our feelings , but denied feelings don’t go away , they go underground , trapping us in grief “.

 Then she adds” Opening your heart in the light of God’s love, and acknowledging what is , is far more productive than resisting and denying the message of your heart. It empowers you to keep moving forward through your grief “.

 So my friend take God’s hand in this journey called grief,  opening your heart to His light, as he  guides you every step of the way .

” Wilderness and desert will sing joyously , the badlands will celebrate and flower… Like the crocus in spring , bursting into blossom , a symphony of song and color.

They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion, unfading halos of joy encircling their heads . Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrow and sighs scurry into the night ” Isaiah 35:1 and verse 16   The Message

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Ladybugs Welcome

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The sandy beaches of the Oregon Coast were a welcome sight. It seemed like an eternity since I last let the dissipating waves swirl around my toes and salty breezes brushed my cheeks, in reality it had not even been a year. Hardship had crashed me against life’s craggy shores and turned the tide of my emotional topography.
Just before my last attempt to grace the seaside a dark storm loomed a day before our scheduled trip. My car accident left our van totaled and my body with whiplash and soft tissue damage. Instead of a trip to the beach we made a trip to the Urgent Care.
This new detour map was dotted with treatments using a large portion of my energy towards wellness again. A mere 18 days after the accident I received the dreaded phone call that my brothers’ battle with Lewy Body Dementia was coming to a close. Waiting for days as Troy hung on death’s door… the hinges finally releasing him to Heaven’s glory 10 days later. I had to say good bye to the most amazing brother one could ever have asked for. Even in his illness he walked with exemplary dignity and joy, touching lives wherever he went .
Waves of grief had been rolling in years since his diagnosis having to watch my mother and brother battle different forms of Dementia simultaneously seemed unbearable at times.

And now insurmountable waves of loss billowed over my soul as I watched my last family member be lowered into the earthen soil. Breakers of sorrow knocked my faith to the ground, leaving in its’ wake sadness and anger that littered my soul with debris of why’s and confusion. Welling up in me was an anger towards God I was ashamed to admit. Who wants to acknowledge your mad at God Almighty?. And yet in all honesty we know He already knows. Psalms 139 : 4 makes it clear, “For there is not a word in my tongue ( still unuttered but, behold ,O Lord You know it altogether.” He knows it and He loves us inspite of it! His word reassures us over and over of His character *”We serve a God that is compassionate and gracious slow to anger and abounding in love “.
He so longs to comfort us when we come clean with our wrong thinking. It is us who moves away never the other way around… I love how the prophet Habakkuk questioned his tone towards God in Habakkuk 2:1
“[OH, I know, I have been rash to talk out plainly this way to God!] I will [in my thinking] stand upon my post of observation and station myself on the tower or fortress, and will watch to see what He will say within me and what answer I will make [as His mouthpiece] to the perplexities of my complaint against Him.”
Habakkuk laid in out on the table of honesty and God wasted no time serving him up a heaping portion of good news .
For… Then the Lord answered me and said,
“Write the vision
And engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets
So that the one who reads it will run.
“For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time
It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail.
Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it,
Because it will certainly come; it will not delay.”
God is working on our behalf to right the wrongs and forge positive changes in our lives .We then get to turn the tide becoming a mouthpiece for His truth.
God has been gracious to me in all my kicking and screaming, quieting me with His love… and He started with a Lady Bug.

 

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When we finally made it to the beach 3 months later it was graced with tens of 1,000’s of Lady bugs on its’ glistening coastline. Sources have several explanations as to why these winged beauty’s gather at the waters edge. One theory is that after they have given birth Santa Ana winds blow some to the coastal regions. How they got there I know not, I do know my mission became to rescue as many as I could from the dirty foam and tide creeping up to whisk them away again. Delighted to scoop them up one by one into a small broken shell, gently rinsing them with seawater if needed. Then allowing my arm to become a haven of rest to regroup, dry off, then poised themselve for take off.
My weary heart could relate to these small winged creatures. I too had felt stuck, weighted down and unable to soar. Helping them ultimately began to help me, reminding me of a verse in Zechariah, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”* How awesome is that? Whether we take big steps or baby steps, God is cheering us on !  He also knows our necessities before we even ask. Most importantly He loves to deliver us in our time of need.   As I strolled to the beach with Kevin on that day of healing my eye caught a garden sign that read, “Ladybugs Welcome”. Yes, Lord your lesson from the ladybugs was welcome indeed.

 

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*Psalms 103:8

  • A side note :my camera has the wrong date for you super sleuth’s. We went to the beach on May 1th 2016 , It was the anniversary  of my mother’s passing 3 years prior .