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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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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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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This Little Light

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Through the years during Christmas time my mom would buy me a special ornament, a little something that caught her fancy, which in turn hoped to catch mine. Whether it be whimsical, or festive, they were always tokens of her love.  At times those tokens where presented by hand, lightly wrapped in tissue, tied up with a bow of mother’s excitement. On other occasions, I would find them lying on my canopy bed concealed in the small bag that they were purchased in….eager to surprise me. These memories sparked a fondness for ornaments that carried into adulthood, kindling a desire to continue this tradition with our own children.

Each year we would add to our family collection through  thrift store finds or clearance bins, being continually delighted in each new addition. However, regardless of this vast assortment to chose from  when it came time to decorate the tree only one out shined them all.  One small golden  house with intricately cut out windows and doors, all in all, a rather simple ornament with no grand history to tell of its’ origin. Somehow it became their most coveted treasure. The boys were always eager to awaken it from the slumbering storage box that had kept it safe….then with even greater anticipation they beamed with honor to nestle it among the tree boughs.
From day one I marveled at their exuberance over this seemingly less than showy bobble. For when surrounded with an array of grander, glitzier ornaments it appears to be completely obscure; easily overlooked and underrated by the average curious onlooker.  Nevertheless, our boys  immediately recognized its’ hidden potential at first glance. Their tiny hands cradling the small delicately crafted ornament and with their help, would soon place a miniature bulb inside causing luminous light to spill through each opening.  Thus, this once dark vessel was now aglow with warm splendor.

Though that was many years ago, seeing through their eyes this uncovered gem made me see its’ worth to a greater depth. Still to this day, this jewel  continues to shine brightly, faithfully stirring our hearts with it’s simple wonder. Recently while thrift store shopping our son Trent found by chance the exact same ornament.  With great joy he purchased it to give to his brother Derek to celebrate his first Christmas in his own home.
Besides all the warm memories that flood my thoughts as I gaze upon that wondrous ornament,  Matthew Chapter 5 comes to mind which states:

“You are the light of the world a city on the hill cannot be hidden”, Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house”.  Matt. 5:14

You my friend are a light !…esteemed with value which you have been  curiously and intricately wrought from the hands of your adoring creator Almighty God. You have not been overlooked, rather uniquely fashioned  to shine brightly and with purpose. The Message says ” Shine ! , Keep open house; be generous with your lives . By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in Heaven.”

Today and everyday I pray you’ll see all God’s glory and  know you have been personally handpicked to shine …..
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven “.   Matt.  5:16