My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Swatting Lies

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We have all heard the expression “They are so sweet, they wouldn’t a fly.” Frankly, my feelings are that this statement cannot be entirely true. No matter how sweet you are, if a fly were dizzily buzzing around you, again and again, your instinct would be to swat it.  Only after repeated shooing away became ineffective of course.

Years ago, when our oldest son Derek was young, his grandma asked him what he wanted for Christmas.  He replied, “a fly swatter.”  this was both adorable and puzzling. Peaking my curiosity, this led me to  ask him about his unconventional request. He charmingly recounted the story of “Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, Too”,  a delightful tale of how Rabbit requested this same wish from Santa while Christopher Robin drafted a letter for the residents of the Hundred Acre Woods. Thankfully, he did not ask for Rabbit’s updated  more outlandish wish… a bug sprayer!

Truth be told, that was by far the cheapest Christmas gift on the pocket book and a cinch to find.  This whimsical request put all my shopping fears to rest and gave me complete confidence, that  no frenzied mom would yank it out of my hand or pull my hair because of its high demand. No Christmas brawls to be had over an everyday, ordinary, household fly swatter.  We’re talking the plain old run of the mill fly swatter, not the bug gun my dad sold when he owned his wholesale distributing business. This baby was something to behold, it had a circular re-loadable plastic screen that you would push down onto its’ spring loaded red handle. You were hoping for a pesky fly to buzz by just so you could say with your best Clint Eastwood impression, “Go ahead make my day”  then shoot your bug gun with swagger.  Nor was it like the bug zapper my husband bought for himself and a few of his lucky friends one year. This invention, shaped like a tennis racket, had electrical currents that can fry a bug carcass with a single swing ― an item you do not want brought out to entertain your guests with, unless you want the smell of burning insects wafting through your home. This is wisdom, spoken from someone who knows first-hand.   It does seem that writing about Rabbit has gotten me on sort of a bunny trail with all this talk of bug instruments of doom.

Thus, my son’s simple request for a fly swatter has reawakened my senses to how truly useful and clever this gift really is.  In fact, I’m planning on getting one for myself as a reminder to  these following truths:
Though flies can transmit disease and spoil food which can be physically devastating, there is a spiritual truth that has eternal consequences that I’m thinking about. The enemy we call Satan or Beelzebub, has other names as well, such as the Lord of Flies.  Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of driving out demons by the power of Beelzebub in Mark 3:22, also found in Matthew 12:24-27 and Luke 11:15,18-19.  Jesus firmly reminded them that a house divided against itself could not stand. He also was ironclad on the devil’s character which is recorded in John 8:44; 
“He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the Father of Lies.”

As Christ followers, we need to wield our sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Adding a fly swatter to tuck into my belt of truth as a visual, assisting in my lie swatting. Satan hopes our stance will be passive, “not even so much as to hurt a fly”, so he can continue to pester us, bringing our demise. Lies come in many forms such as what has been spoken over us by others, our distorted thinking, or circumstances that obscure God’s goodness. With Christ we can stand up as warriors, raising our fly swatters, bug guns or zappers, storming the enemy, holding our rightful position as a son and daughter of the most high God.  Defenders of truth, confident  that God’s goodness and love will always be available to us no matter what is happening in our lives.

Lord, thank You we are called to your SWAT team… Skillful Warriors Advocating Truth… to see the enemy in all his weakness and to see You in all Your glory and strength. We hold onto You, Your truth, hope and promises… swatting the Lord of Flies, one lie at a time. With Your help, we can watch the lies drop like flies… 

International Standard Version
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32


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Happy Feet

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Typically my morning ritual includes checking Facebook scrolling for updates and recent posts. Sparked and awakened more fully by reading witty quotes and glibs, or perhaps deep provoking thoughts to ponder. Since I’m not a coffee drinker this invigorates my senses rather nicely, while also keeping me abreast of joys and possible challenges my family or friends might be encountering. Presented with opportunities to bless and receive blessings… sharing words of encouragement and offered prayers for one another.
 
However, on one particular morning I was not greeted with a warm inviting cup of Joe replacement, but instead quite shaken by a cruel stinging attack which was written with malicious intent.  Even though this relationship had broken down recently, how could this person, someone I’ve loved and supported for many years want to tag me in a photo calling me a “liar, a cheat and a scam”? Reality hit like a  jolt of ice-cold water dousing my tender heart.  From this new vantage point my hope for redeeming love and mending the forlorn fence between us looked like it was the last thing on their mind.

Thankfully, before this rude awaking I spent time in God’s word reading Psalms 35:23-26;  pondering this scripture I decided to call a friend to share these verses… they were simply to good to keep to myself! 

 ”Please get up—wake up! Tend to my case.
    My God, my Lord—my life is on the line.
Do what you think is right, God, my God,
    but don’t make me pay for their good time.
Don’t let them say to themselves,
    “Ha-ha, we got what we wanted.”
Don’t let them say,
    “We’ve chewed him up and spit him out.”
Let those who are being hilarious
    at my expense
Be made to look ridiculous.
    Make them wear donkey’s ears;
Pin them with the donkey’s tail,
    who made themselves so high and mighty!” 

Upon finishing,  we both chuckled at how the Message’s Bible  interpreted  what Kind David wrote. My mind immediately flashed back to the Disney classic Pinocchio with it’s Pleasure Island’s Amusement Park. A place promising fun to young lads, yet unbeknownst to them lay  hidden entrapment … a spell cast on all who dared to partake in this magical land.  This mischievous entertainment would  cost them their true identity, producing donkey ears and tails burgeoning up on naive boys.  Rather fitting for the wrong choices that Lampwick, Pinocchio and all the other boys made landing them in such a foolish predicament.   

David knew first hand what it felt like to be relentlessly pursued by his enemies,  King Saul being his chief nemesis. David wrote throughout the Psalms his laments for God’s justice and deliverance from Saul’s unmerciful attacks. In Psalms 27:12-14 he cries;

“Give me not up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me; they breathe out cruelty and violence.”
going on to make his bold declaration in verse  “I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

We serve a God that sees it all, the cruelty, injustice, false accusations and lies that have been waged against us. His truth will prevail and your character will one day be restored. You might not see it today or the day after, but you will see the goodness of the Lord on your behalf.

Our job in all this is to trust the Lord, ask forgiveness for any wrong doing we may have done and forgive those who have hurt us. I don’t know about you but taking the high road in an offense is never easy. My flesh wenches and craves to retaliate and seek justice…NOW.  Although Jesus tells us to  forgive someone 70X7 it is not a math equation I’m gleeful about. Yet if left unsolved produces far more heartache. The Sermon on the Mount that Jesus  taught His followers  encourages us  to be glad in our persecution, happy even when people revile you and say all kinds of false evil things against you. 

Confessing that as the day lingered I still did not find myself happily jumping up and down over this person’s mean-spirited maneuver. Determined to not let them rob anymore of my joy, choosing to take the high road in goofy merriment. Grabbing my high top purple canvas sneakers with plaid trim…my combat boots of joy. Confident they would surely put a smile on my face as I stepped into all God’s reliable and trustworthy promises.

Are you facing one of life’s zingers? May I encourage you in your movement forward with this hope,* “… shod your feet in preparation to face the enemy with firm footed stability the promptness, and the readiness, produced by the good news of the gospel of peace. Each new step bringing more freedom and victory.” Hey, you can even sport some goofy shoes while doing it… I say if the happy shoes fit… wear them!

*Ephesians 6…AMP version.


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Do you ever feel that the demand on you is greater then the supply ? or perhaps  what you have to offer pales in comparison to what it takes to meet the need  ..  Well , do I have good news for you .First of all your in good company ..Moses rescued from a basket floating in the Nile..grew up to see the unveiling of a promise that started swaddled in a blanket of his mothers love. Tenderly nursing of seeds of greatness and destiny ..Moses at the edge of  that destiny stared trembling at  his weakness ,lacking eloquent not equipped to be a man of words,slow of speech and having a heavy and awkward tongue .. Moses heart burning like the God fueled  bush,  fully ablaze with a fiery passion to serve .. flames dossed with the stark reality of his lack .. Somehow Moses must have thought God was unaware of his shortcomings.. perhaps pointing them out one by one would surely change the course that God was mapping out for him ..God  however did not allow how Moses felt about himself derail His  divine plans for deliverance. He chose to send a deliverer which also needed delivering.Human fragility imprinted with the image of Yahweh and  still equipped to do the work in his human condition. Moses  the mouthpiece ,slow of speech ,but a mouth formed by  almighty God, and as God was freeing His people from bondage He was freeing Moses as well  His all consuming fire . Burning the chaff , Breaking  chains of inadequacies and lack to truths that would set Moses free..  Honesty I have lost count of the times I have told God of my lack ..  sure I know   “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me ” by heart and that     God’s word is true for  he is not a man that He can lie ..  still I  find myself doubting ,or even  comparing myself with others knowing full well I’m not suppose to . And  when faced with a assignment that  required shoes to big  for my feet to fill . I look to God and want to say “are you  talking to me?” . Questioning  the God of the cosmos ,the one that knitted me in my mothers womb , that knows me intimately my raising and my sitting and finds in each one of us  intrinsic value . as I write these words I pray little by little , precept upon precept ..line upon line I will grasp  his truth ,truth that will empower me . Longing  for the day I no  longer say like Moses “here I’m Lord send Aaron” but I will go ,trusting in a God that knows all about me and loves me anyway .. that me plus God equals mountain moving faith , that my five loaves and two fish offering can fed the masses  simply because God blessed it .. Using me, “this basket case” of woven insecurities to reveal God’s glorious case through a basket …

Flotations of faith

Lord , Bless our hearts with a burning desire to follow you and trust you where you lead us..May we know your strength is made perfect in our weakness , to glory in our weakness because where we are weak you are strong … thank you for the big shoes we may be called to fill can be removed as we stand on your holy ground where size does not matter ….Thank you that we can serve such a awe inspiring God who sees  our less as more  …


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A Diamond and Strawberries

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“God’s word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.” Psalms 19 :10  The Message Bible

When I was growing up back in the day, boy does that make me sound old! Our mom would take my brother and I strawberry  picking.  It was a way for all of us to make some cash during the summer months.   Being young I was given grace of a more  lenient work standard based on my age and capabilities.  My smaller hands would grab the biggest and ripest berries that were easily seen, not always moving the foliage to expose the hidden ripe berries.  The farmers called this “creaming the crop” and they never took kindly to pickers doing this.  So much so, that they checked the rows to make sure this type of harvesting was not happening.  Mother was very  mindful and obedient to the rules, thus she encouraged me to pick my rows properly. Doing  my best to follow mom’s instructions she would  still need to pick the concealed berries that I missed.  Making it harder to fill her crates… more work, less perks $$$.

Fondly remembering her acts of love  added to the same memory of  how sweet and delicious those berries tasted from the vine… way better than store bought!  Loving them so much I’m sure I ate my weight in them each summer.  As an adult  it’s a joy to drive by  fruit stands that sell Hood River strawberries… usually seeing lines of people clamoring for their sweetness. Several years ago making a vow that one day I would pull over and treat myself and family to half of flat of these “seasonal jewels”… perhaps this is the year.

So when I came across Psalms 19:10 last year in the Message Bible my heart was blessed even more, realizing that God’s word is better than the strawberries that eager folks wait to purchase.  Even better than diamonds that sparkle with brilliance and are called  “A girl’s best friend”. What a gift your word is Lord!

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A couple of Saturday’s ago, Vicky our dear friend, brought a bowl of Hood River berries to our Bible study.  We all thoroughly enjoyed their fresh juicy flavor.  Not only would she be feeding our palate with these delicious strawberries, but also was going to feed our spirit’s with Heavenly fruit that is always in season.

Walking away from the study I realized that it’s true… red ripe strawberries of spring do not compare to the sweetness that comes from delighting  in your Holy word.

 


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When Life Is Not So Ducky

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Life can throw you a curve ball  when you least expect it causing you to feel more like a “Sitting Duck” than a lucky one.  No longer being able to count your “ducks all in row” because it appears they have declared a mutiny breaking rank and file.

During the past month I have encountered some challenges that have increasingly escalated. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster watching my precious 80 year old mother almost succumbing to pneumonia while also having a staph infection.  Landing her in the hospital for almost a week.  Barely recovering from this, only to return to the same hospital a week later for confusion coupled with undeviating restlessness. Her determination to continually get out of bed made her a high risk for falling. Even though she had a “call cord” to pull her dementia prevented her from remembering to use it.  Her new hospital stay would reveal she had a distended bladder from her new medications.  Added to the mix was her  mysterious new state of not talking in full sentences…just a word or two at the most.  Mom’s inability to communicate what she needed and the confusion of the changing environment, resulted in her grabbing at anything she could. An arm to be pulled on, clutching her gown to remove it , or pulling on her  iv.  She would repeat this over and over again until she would fall asleep. Only to awaken shortly to start the whole process all over again.
My heartbreaking over my limited ability to comfort my mother’s suffering and fearing she may never recover. Every day  finding myself at her bed side, reading her scripture , holding her hand  and praying for her healing. Rejoicing in any glimpses of  improvements we observed throughout this whole process. Counting my blessings with  profound gratefulness  for family, tireless nurses, doctors and caregivers  all working towards a common goal of getting mom well.

Gleaning from all the current resources that I had to best help my mama, there was one particular idea from her caregiver that struck a chord in my heart.  She suggested perhaps a soft plush animal might be the solution….her thought was that my mom could hold onto it, thus distracting her from pulling on her gown or anything else like her iv. blankets, etc..

Taking action on her idea while I was shopping at Fred Meyer I went directly to the Easter section looking for a cheery stuffed animal.  I was saddened  that this fluffy friend would not be sitting on my mom’s dresser, nor hearing her comments on how cute it was, but instead clenching it in a state of toil and angst.  After carefully looking over the selection, I settled on a bright yellow ducky even if the chances where slim of it cheering her, it  might ever so slightly do so for me.

The next morning it was time for my daily visit, anxious to see mom and in a rush with the days demands.  Hastily retrieving the bag with my Bible, journal, and assorted snacks to aid me while I sat by mom’s bed side. Swooping up the ducky from the sofa table, my hand was surprised by a damp feeling on its’ plush  head, quickly  pulling it back to take a look at what was causing this abnormal sensation. Within seconds it occurred to me that our dog Buddy thought the ducky was his new chew toy. Not only sucking on this poor duck’s head, but nibbled off one of the eyes in the process. My guess was our son Trent had rescued the duck from his total demise. Continuing in the spirit of rescuing  I whisked it off for a speedy fluff of hot air from my blow dryer. Desperate times deserve desperate measures!.

Looking at that poor disheveled duck reminds me of how I feel at times. One minute cheery, full of promise and purpose, the next minute chewed on, battle worn and dogeared feeling like a duck out of water.  However….
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What a blessing when we call to remembrance  that God understands everything and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. Allowing Him to enter into our deepest pain, sorest frustrations and shattered dreams. Being a God of all comforts He is able and ready to bring needed consolation to our hurting lives. Even when our days are less then ducky we can trust in Him at all times, pouring out our hearts to Him to ease our pain and worries. Reassuring us he is in control even when our ducks are not in a row.
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“But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:
It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassion’s fail not.
They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.”  Lamentations 3:21–24 AMP


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Dancing Queen

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Strolling through the household items while at the Salvation Army store my eyes became completely drawn to a beautiful picture frame. Black glossy details on crisp white ceramic with a swirl of chartreuse, its’ top bedecked with a stunning jeweled crown.  Upon examining the framework more closely it revealed the beautiful scrolled  words  “Dancing Queen” written on the base. Thus far this little gem was scoring winning marks on all counts… then suddenly plummeting from it’s current number one position.

How could I, a bona fide two time ballet school drop out, who preferred  clinging  to the ballet bar rather than  venture out onto the dance floor possibly relate to the declaration “Dancing Queen”?  Not an affirming  message I hoped to add to my newly decorated craft room.  For when decorating I find it important  that it matches the color palate or theme.  Advantageous  if it holds a special meaning or memory, that stirs my heart in such a way making me confident it will make our house more like home.

Even though its’ title threw me off momentarily  this item was compelling enough to keep a hold of it tightly in hand pondering it as an option. Continuing leisurely, I made my way through other favorite sections of the store, while music softly played. Suddenly, I heard something that made my ears perk up to the next song serenading us overhead;  to my utter astonishment  it was the song from  Abba, the “Dancing Queen”.  Temporarily frozen in my tracks, clutching a frame bearing the very same title, I somehow  gathered my senses.  My legs began to propel onward looking for my family, excitement mounting while eager to show them this silly coincidence.

No other sign now needed, this 2.99 purchases had a special meaning for me!  What glory would it unfold as it graced my new space?, which  formally had been our oldest sons room. Perhaps its’ presence reminding me to see myself in a new  light, that had through time grown dim. During my childhood years I dreamed of being a ballerina yet  early on it was clear I lacked the confidence and determination to be one.  Plagued with self depreciation in the mirror of my mind it revealed a distorted image. Over and over rehearsing the lies and half truths  till they spun out of control.

This frame already began igniting  truths to see  myself not with  limited abilities but rather unlimited possibility.  Dancing if not fully in body  (though I still give it a try in  private) certainly could allow my spirit to confidently move within my soul.  An open invitation  graciously extended to all His sons and daughters.

Our King of Kings and Lord of Lords who rejoices over us with singing, lovingly calling us to dance with Him; moving us with glided steps, twirling freedom and  leaps of faith  producing joy before our feet even touch the floor.  Eyes fixed on the lover of our soul never longing to stray nor wander from His plans and purposes… in step with His lead.  While He remains completely enthralled with us regardless of our two left feet, capturing His acceptance  with reckless abandonment.

What a comfort to know that this dance school drop out is free from the shame of past mistakes and labels imprinted with lies as ink. The safety of the ballet bar no longer needed beyond its’ true intent and purpose.

Clinging to Christ alone and letting go of our crutches, may “We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his doors to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand–out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise”.* Today may you accept His invitation to dance, walking away from past hindrance or good intentions, stepping out into your life filled with a plethora of dreams, a gleaming new start pulsating with vibrant hope.  When you do you don’t be surprised to experience what Abba sings so poignantly that not only can  you  dance you’ll be…  “having the time of your life”.

*Rom. 5:2-4 The Message Bible.