My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Redemption from Perfection

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The other day, while slowly packing the last remnant of Christmas decorations, I found myself reflecting on  this past Christmas of 2013.  Pondering comes second nature to me, so as my thoughts drifted  into a bay of  comparing it with years gone by was familiar waters.  Asking  myself this rather weighty and significant question, “In the last year had  I witnessed any  areas of spiritual or personal growth ?”  Indeed, this past Christmas was a paradigm shift, driven robustly by agents of change, as they were ushering in hints of  transformation. Touching on deep recesses of my heart that need greater redemption, perfections  futile pursuit  being one of them.  To the outside observer these appear as gentle whispers of change, holding merely the slightest of nuances.  However, these  subtle shifts have become glorious music to my ears, a symphony composed of clanging  keys, as Christ eagerly longs to free me from  such cumbersome and binding shackles. A liberating sound available to all who request it… the prophet Isaiah wrote of  this very truth…

“He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound.” *

Liberty  shows up in the strangest places recalling His freshly acquired freedom, as I  surrendered laying on the altar the  “Perfect” family Christmas card photo.  Christmas 2007 heralds as the  epitome for this unveiled revelation.  Remembering that year  as I gathered  the reluctant  family for a  DYI  portrait session and recollecting how it played out. For starters, we accidentally positioned the  tripod smack dab under the bird feeder causing birds to swoop  wildly for seed,  while on the porch steps  the boys taunting each other mercilessly.  Even after the bird feeder was repositioned to accommodate the hungry birds, our photo ops were fleeting faster then bird seed. We were rapidly growing weary of saying cheese and  my  sneaking suspicion told me there might not be a “Perfect”  Christmas photo to send that year.  The small window to get a family  photo had closed, and the shades pulled down tight.  Fortunately, all hope was not lost, as  our computer savvy son Derek offered to Photoshop the picture.  Like magic he replaced a smile on his brother’s face, painted his dad’s white socks black, and made it all cohesive changing the color to  black and white.  This photo still holds a special place in my heart knowing all the  behind the scene truth to get it that way.

In 2013 grief knocked the stuffing out of perfectionism and  detailed planning clean out of me, so came the birth of the   impromptu  Family Christmas photo on Thanksgiving  day.  A new season without my mom and  recent family divisions,  fueled  a desire to  connect with my husband and children like never before.  It did it matter if we had color coordinating outfits, nor  a winning Kodak smile, kneeling in front of our 6 ft. Charlie Brown Christmas tree  we had each other.  Sharing a common ground of loss and our own imperfections, by the grace of God choosing to rejoice in the midst of it all.  The  camera capturing our real life, authentic and raw images never to see the stroke of Photoshop tweaking.  Somehow becoming  perfect in all it’s imperfections.

Yes, 2013 had brought growth and new found freedom, timeless truths  propelling me to even grander heights in the days ahead; excited deeper, more profound healing is headed my way . Now, that is truly something to smile about.

Thank you Father for your promised redemption from unhealthy perfection. Helping us to see ourselves as beautiful diamonds fully faceted by your love. Hearing you speak boldly of who we are in You… already perfect in your eyes!

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”
Anne Lamott

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

* Isaiah 61

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Seeds of Promise

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New garden catalogs are arriving in my mailbox brimming with endless possibilities, my eyes drinking in the bounty that could await me. Realizing before you know it sunshine and warm breezes will replace this bitter cold as it bows to a new season. With each turn of the glossy pages I’m practically able to taste the  juicy vine ripe tomatoes, fresh basil  and sweet  strawberries some of our favorites.

Presently cold harsh winds swiftly blow over our barren and bleak garden that at the present moment lacks color and bounty,  However as I examine these vibrant photos, curled up with a steaming cup of a tea and toasty quilt  I’m reminded of the endowment presented in a  tiny seed of promise. Hope planted in my heart not just for my lifeless gardens to one day flourish again, but an assurance that when bitter winds of adversity charge across my soul they will not stay forever. Winter will give way to spring  and spring to summer carrying optimistic seeds of change. Gardens void and bare will rally to natures gentle nudge bursting forth in all their glory,while winter’s severity will become a mere memory. So, it is with our heartaches they too shall mellow with time,  and we will not only survive but thrive with spring in our hearts once more.

“Grant me, O God , the power to see in every rose, eternity.  In every bud , the coming day; In every snow the promised May; In every storm the legacy of rainbows smiling down on me!”  …Virginia Wuerfel
“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”  Isaiah 35:1


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Cherished Christmas Fudge

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This last Christmas began a new season in my life, the boys all grown up causing childhood traditions to mature right along with them.  Having to face my first Christmas in 52 years without my dear mom since her passing, a brother’s intensifying battle with  Lewy Body Dementia, along with other family dynamics that have sadly been altered.

Where do you go for a Merry Christmas when your riding a cowabunga big wave of grief ?  Longing to cram all my sorrow and mourning into a sturdy suitcase perching myself on top of the lid to secure all its’ contents, making absolutely sure  all  gets packed up completely for a one way ticket far far away.  Aware this a not a healthy way to process grief… stuffing your feelings result in delayed hardships.  Knowing this all to well  from previous  unpacking of overcrowded luggage of  past abuse and loss, trying so hard to make it go away.  So I ride the wave and  “be present in the  moment” as my friend so graciously reminds me from time to time.  Letting tears, and the memories of past joys come as they may, giving myself permission to grieve and allowing uncomfortable emotions to visit my reluctant soul. What is gone is gone and  what has changed has indeed changed; at least for now.  Bringing to mind Doris Day’s Classic song:
“Que Sera, Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera

And so it was during my husband’s recovery from meniscus surgery last month as  we entertained ourselves snuggling up on the couch to Net Flix marathons.  One night after scrolling through our options we decided to watch ” The Ballad of Lucy Whipple” with Glen Close.  Before the movie began Kevin casually said  “maybe something in the movie will speak to us”.  Truly it was a kind and rather hopeful thought, seeing I was grumpy, hormonal, and needing a platter of crackers to go with my whine.  Giving him a faint smile I continued to mope on the recliner sofa with my loving husband and two of our three cuddly dogs; straining to find joy and shake off the weight of depression.  As the movie unfolded my ears perked up to glean the “take aways”.  Throughout the show little nuggets of truth revealed themselves as scene after scene unfolded.  However, my biggest “take away” was saved for last,  when Lucy’s  father spoke this  juggernaut thought,  “Change is a gift… Though some change is unpleasant, where would we be without the gift of change ?”

Hmm … seems the Lord is having me go around this familiar mountain again having already gotten the memo, even wrote a blog  called “Welcome Change”.  T’is sad to say, but I’m indeed a slow learner at times, and retrieving past knowledge can come with its’ difficulties.  So… once again I will try to embrace change, look for silver linings, allowing myself gift of grace if there seems to be a cloud without one.  I will sit in grief and stand up inside to accept change.  Scouting out new creative ways to celebrate my past and gaze with hope for my future.

Thus, this  holiday season  I set my sites on making my brothers famous Christmas fudge.  This little endeavor would be a  labor of love and an exercise  in prayer, unable to recall the last time I made fudge let alone his “famous” recipe.  Determined to be his hands which now can no longer make his beloved Christmas tradition.

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Tears spilled on my mom’s well worn  Better Homes and Gardens cookbook as it lay open, looking for his special recipe. Experiencing the gravity of her absence , reminiscing how my childhood family once was, identifying with Dante’s quote” There is no greater grief , then the misery of recalling happier times “.  Pouring into the bowl four cups of sugar to execute the recipe , yet it still remained bitter sweet.  God’s word comes to mind as He promises us,  “weeping endures for the night  but joys come in the morning”. 

In the morning much to my delight the fudge had turned out delicious and I had the joy of presenting my dear brother a Christmas plate of cherished Christmas fudge.

Lord, thank you that you turned  bitter waters into sweet. Bringing sweetness to the bitter things of life. Causing us to hope in You when all our hope seems gone.  Turning prisoners of hopelessness into prisoners of hope, chained only to your goodness and unfailing mercy and love. We love you

‘Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”
Zechariah 9:12 ESV

Psalms 119:26-28  “I have declared my ways and opened my griefs to You, and You listened to me; teach me Your statutes.Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on and talk of Your wondrous works.  My life dissolves and weeps itself away for heaviness; raise me up and strengthen me according to [the promises of] Your word.”

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
― Jay Asher


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Welcome Change

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While I was working with great toil to redo a garden area along the side of our house, my mind was a bevy of mixed emotions. This small area of land was my first attempt at gardening seventeen years ago, nestling next to the detached garage of our starter home. Every year I would add an extra something to enhance its’ cottage charm.   A climbing white rose, Lady’s’ Mantle from the annual Powell Valley plant sale, a blown glass snail, a birthday gift from my mama.   As our little slice of garden heaven evolved so had our home….our starter home was now becoming our “finisher home”. What once was a detached garage, has become a very attached master bedroom.
The new plans included a french door exit into a small enclosed patio adjacent to our bedroom. Hands laboring and feet planted firmly on the cold soil I slowly began removing stones that lined our pea gravel path. God’s word came to mind as I worked, “A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones”. It was now the season to cast those familiar aisle of stones once gathered from a neighbor’s yard long since moved away….it then began to hit me. It was more than just rocks, pea gravel and discounted plants dotting the small landscape. It had become part of this girls’ sentimental journey. A discovery of beauty merging out of barrenness, kindred neighbors sharing their garden treasures. Memories played in my mind with each new task of removing parts of my cherished established garden. As the day wore on my feet became frozen and my heart was feeling heavy, it was then I decided to call it a day and head for a relaxing hot shower. Hoping that my body and soul would once again feel the warm anticipation of a new patio and not be laden with increasing sadness, and the sense of loss brought on by change.
After placing my tools in the shed, I thought it would be nice to surprise my husband, by cleaning up the dogs business making it one less thing to do when he got home. Who doesn’t appreciate less poop to scoop? Grabbing a recycled plastic grocery bag from a decorative mail box where they’re stored, I quickly opened the bag my eyes widened as I spotted a single fortune from a cookie. This was the only tangible evidence from our delightful Kung Pao chicken we enjoyed weeks earlier. . Placing one of my muddy garden gloves in the bag I pulled it out and read the only two words that graced the slender white paper….there in small black type were the words “Welcome Change”. These powerful words warmed my chilly soul. Leave it to God to show up in the most creative places. Proving Himself to be faithful as He has promised again and again lest we forget. Friends are you facing change today? Perhaps not just small changes but big life changes. I know for me, my changes extend far beyond the borders of my tiny disrupted garden. Change at times can be an unwelcome guest forcing us to shift, transform and adapt to a “new normal”. With the Lord’s unwavering help I’m learning how to navigate my only sibling’s diagnosis of early onset Dementia, my mothers dementia & congestive heart failure. Now, adding into the mix is our first-born son preparing to leave the nest into his newly purchased home…all the while I’m hormonally challenged! There is a whole lot of changes going on !!!
Whatever you are facing you can be confidant God has it covered. Join me in taking comfort in a God that does not change, He remains the same, and never fails us. He is always faithful and pours out His everlasting love and mercy to us daily. His love will see you through every challenging situation. His word is a shield to all who put their trust in Him. My prayer is that today He surprise you with joy in the most unexpected places.
Lord, Thank you for your unchanging love, where there is no variation, rising or setting or shadow cast by your turning. Seasons change from springtime to harvest but your steadfast love remains the same. You, oh Lord, have appointed the moon for the seasons, the sun knows the exact time of its’ setting. From glory to glory changing us while you are unwavering, timeless, your truths transforming us as we yield to your perfect plan for our lives. Thank you for truth that sets us free that we may embrace change knowing whether it’s big or small you can handle it all .
Psalms 102:27 “You remain the same ,and your years will never end”‘
Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord , I change not”.