My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Memorial Poppies

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A couple of weeks ago I posted on my blog portions of what I read at my mom’s memorial service. Now, I’m going to share the story surrounding her Celebration of Life and how God showed His faithfulness in the midst of it all.

The sun shone vividly the morning of mama’s service, nevertheless my emotions remained engulfed in a deluge of throbbing grief. Wondering if I could hold myself together for the service; let alone muster enough nerve to share the essence of who our mother was. Thankfully deeply embedded within me was a greater desire to honor her, allowing me to override the pain. God filling me with this inner strength to temporarily jump over hurtles of timidity and the fear of public speaking.

As I geared up to head toward that  hopeful direction, I donned myself with waterproof mascara (an absolute must), and still allotted for a potential  backup plan. This crucial plan was comprised of two dear friends gifted in the art of public speaking willing to wait in the wings if things veered south. Still my heartfelt intentions and prayers were earnest to get through the 8 minute time of sharing.

Having countless things my mother taught my brother and I to glean from, I choose a selection of valuable lessons carved through her words or forged by her life. Also, including a sprinkling of her silly antics that made for lots of fun stories to tell.

One of the funny stories that I wasn’t able to share was her first morning ritual, the ceremonial task of opening all the heavily draped windows, giving way to joyful light dancing with the pull of the curtain strings.While simultaneously belting out two silly songs…never deviating from her delightful favorites. Everyday she arose from her bed singing, “Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning, oh, how I hate to get out of bed”, then making her way down the hallway towards the windows finishing off her encore performance with, “Have a Banana, Have a Banana “. We knew mom was up by the sound of her voice caroling down the hall.

Now as an adult I too love to start my day by opening the curtains. Though I’ve taken a fancy to singing little ditties from time to time, I’m sorry to say my repertoire of morning melodies do not include mom’s personal faves… the famous saying “Apples do not fall far from the tree” somehow still rings gloriously true.

So when this little apple opened the shades first thing in the morning of mom’s memorial, my eyes beheld a breathtakingly beautiful red poppy that bloomed overnight. Its’ brightness and contrast to the muted palette shocking me with its’ first vibrant bloom. My mind recalled the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz, while softly saying yes Lord mom is now experiencing, “There is no place like home”..in Heaven. Profoundly comforted yet still wanting to know more about this new cheery visitor I made my way to the computer, my inquiring mind wanted to learn the meaning of the poppy  more completely. Clicking on Wikipedia my eyes could not believe what I was reading about this flower and their symbolism. It stated that:

“Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. And  also a remembrance for soldiers handed out around Memorial day.”

Another interpretation of poppies written in Classical mythology is that “the bright scarlet color signifies a promise of resurrection after death.”

What a perfect hug from God, … soon I would be gathering with others not only in remembrance of my mom but also rejoicing in God’s promise. That she now lives in eternal glory, free from pain and suffering. The poppy has become an ongoing comfort to me as I mourn the loss of my best friend and dear mother.

The very next day after the service, my little family somberly celebrated Mother’s Day and I was graced by a second poppy blooming in our yard. Grabbing my camera to snap a photo of this newly opened magnificent bloom hoping to capture its’ delicate form. Afterwards I counted the remaining buds still cloaked awaiting their brilliant reveal. Two were blooming while three were waiting. Five is the number of grace and was the number of people in our family whenever mom hung out with the Jennings.

As I clung to grace celebrating Mother’s Day without mom, we decided to switch our lunch plans for the day from the China Gorge restaurant in Hood River, to Calamity Jane”s in Sandy, Oregon. Playing out the scenario of the day in my mind I was sure that all of us would be getting burgers served in a cast iron skillet. However, my husband ordered a taco salad making me giggle at the scene that previously ran through my mind. Frankly, it matters not what my husband orders, it just seemed unconventional for him to choose a salad at a restaurant known for their burgers… usually his “norm”. Then it all made sense as I glanced at my husband’s finished meal staring at his now empty plate… amazed to see five red poppies designed on the melmac dish.

I love how God shows up in the seemingly common, obscure places, ready to bless us through the smallest details or grandest design. His plan unwrapping in our present. Only requiring eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear, and hearts ready to expect Him to show up.

One year later  still marveling at how poppies show up in curious places my eyes increasingly  mindful of their breathtaking and heartwarming presence… God revealings Himself again and again through their message. Looking forward to sharing more about that in the future.

 

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Feathering the Empty Nest

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It seems like only yesterday that Kevin and I filled  the air with excitement as we delightfully  prepared a room for the arrival of  our first-born son. Fueled with anticipation and joy, more animated than the Daisy Kingdom wallpaper that paraded around the walls of his soon to be nursery.  Light danced on the now glossy white crib positioned beneath the window, each intricate spindle sanded and painted,  a labor of love by my husband. Transforming the worn hand me down wood into a crisp, brilliant white. The closet brimmed with an assortment of  adorable clothes in a variety of styles, and sizes, for every season.  A handmade wooden Noah’s ark nestled in the far left corner, my thrift store find just days after the thrilling news “it’s a boy! “,  was confirmed by the ultrasound imaging.
While waiting for Derek’s birth you could either find me waddling around (did I just admit that?) adding feathers to our nest or propping my swollen feet up to read the latest How To parenting book. As each day drew nearer to the delivery date, so did my joy and optimism; confident my husband and I could do this thing called parenting.

Apparently there is no prerequisite to mastering this skill before you give birth to your first-born or even your second. For lo and behold two and half-years later we welcomed our second son Trent. Doubling our happiness and compounding the realization that books give you only limited training in the true art of being a parent.

Now twenty-two years and far too many mistakes later, we stand in awe at the honor of raising such wonderful sons in spite of our flaws and brokenness. Gloriously tallied into the raw equation is God’s grace equaling the sum that otherwise seems mathematically impossible.
And while the clock ticks away and within a few short hours, this stay at home mom and former homeschooler, will become an empty nester. No stranger to the knowledge of this incurring reality,  lingering in the far recesses of my mind ever since our boys entered this world. Aware of the fact  just as the appointed time led them to leave the womb, so also one day they would leave the nest.   A familiar quote by Reverend Henry Ward Beecher comes to mind, “There are two things we should give children, one is roots and the other one is wings.”  Today our son Trent takes flight, propelled by wings of independence gilded with freedom. Soaring to new exhilarating heights and rich depths, fulfilling all God has called him to be. Whether finding themselves aloft over mountain top successes or thrust down into canyons of failures, character and destiny still forging with every flap of their pinions.

Concluding this chapter in my life has gone all too quickly.  Now my heart waits for the dust of bittersweet memories to settle, and the echo of an empty room to begin to pulse with life once again.  Asking Papa Daddy’s (God’s) help transitioning into whatever He for me next as He re-feathers my nest with His promises.

I love Psalms 91:4 assuring truths:
“He will shelter you with his feathers; you will find safety under his wings. His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall”

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness, a love that is never-failing and generous compassion, even mindful of every sparrow that falls to the ground. Your attention to the smallest detail brings a reassuring peace. We stand awestruck gazing at your unfathomable love that comforts to the core and covers every human condition. We long to trust in you Papa, grounded in the roots you have given us while we soar victoriously with you providing the wind beneath our wings.

“But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me
Within your mighty hands
When the ocean rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still and know you are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust
When the ocean rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still and know you are God

“Still” By HillSong


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Making Molehills Out Of Mountains

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Time was well overdue to remove the molehills that  popped up in our front yard nestling up against the curb. The desire to spruce up our flower beds before spring was now joined with increased  pressure to rescue my early blooming  crocuses now completely smothered in mole mania.  This pesky mole burrowing upward caused the crocuses delicate foliage to croak under the mountain of fresh tillage.

Rather hating to admit it, I was ever so slightly admiring this particular mole’s astute sense of focus.  Managing to erupt orderly mounts in unerring rows  while  tunneling through our sod. Somehow he was able to keenly and systematically dot neighboring property with the same impeccable streamline mastery.   Though I marveled that he was a gentleman of order, the mounding piles of dirt were still  a blight on our lawn.  It had been suggested  by a  friend that this was the work of more then one mole; if this was indeed  the case, their impressive team work scores a virtuoso 10. Whatever the scenario, it was nothing short of a  stellar performance. Earlier, I  momentarily reveled in their beauty when the heaps of soil were graced with a light dusting of snow.  These works of art resembled a miniature Rocky Mountain Range along our curb.  Finding this to be a rare occasion to acceptably make a snow covered mountain out of a molehill.

Shortly after removing the mounts of dirt it seemed to my joy and relief they had blazed a trail off into the sunset.  As you can tell by what you have read already, I’m nowhere near being mole savvy. By far, I lack the full knowledge of what these little critters are capable of doing. Let’s just say I greatly underestimated my opponent, this startling truth became painfully evident as I gazed upon my recent edged and weeded walkway. Gasping at what my eyes were beholding… a  fresh knoll of dirt burying my crocuses yet again!

Highly disappointed  that my one little patch of orderliness was no longer in order, wrestling an all to familiar lie that tidiness should magically stay tidy,well for at least 24 hours, right ?.  And when you cross it off your to do list it should stay done.  By now you would think  that my twenty one years of  being a stay at home,  raising and homeschooling our two boys, would have debunked this elephant size fib. Surely, I should have gotten that all too important memo. Truth is, in my heart of hearts. I know the  411. Life is messy and your 100% guaranteed “do overs”  are things like dishes, laundry and other assortment of daily chores.

A confessing slow learner by nature,  regretfully being revealed yet again  by my increased anxiety over this disheveled patch of a nearly perfect garden utopia.  When such emotional intensity flies into my radar it warrants further examination as to why I’m experiencing the growing tension.

Recently, I decided to discuss this dilemma with my dear friend Kelli over lunch.  She patiently listened as I dined away on my firecracker chicken. Hoping to grasp the truth of my underlying issue far better than my novice maneuvering of chopsticks.  My spirit was hopeful because when we seek God we find Him and the truth is revealed, as Kelli and I continued our conversation we were grateful for His faithfulness.  Without a doubt I’m sure He was perfectly content and thoroughly delighted to mingle in our laughter, tickled as we pondered Him, and was not distressed  one bit at my  raw  emotions. So grateful for  God given gift of authentic, deep spirited friendships. At that moment I caught  a glorious revelation exposed;  it was necessary to pull back further from my “tunnel vision” fitting for a mole.  Once again, God spoke His truth over a well worn path of  misconceptions.

Like the moles reappearance so had the flair up  my of irksome Achilles heels… one heel throbbing need  for perfection the other aching with the distortion of  destination rather than journey mentality. So rapid to appear, stirring up my spirit to become disquieted, my thoughts distorted and routed for dissatisfaction instead of  paths of peace that surpass all understanding.  All because  I chose to make mountains out of meager molehills.

I love what Zechariah 4:7 says

“For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain [a mere [a]molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shouting of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!

God  makes a molehill out of our mountains. Oh, how  I long to trust Him with mine.

Verse 6 chpt. 4 Zechariah says how we can achieve  this:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts.”
So, until I get the problematic mole(s) eradicated for good, I will choose to let those mounts of earth remind me that God’s turning my mountains of troubles  into mere molehills while saying His grace is sufficient.  This comforts my heart that I’m loved without performing or arriving, but  simply being  His daughter… the same holds true for everyone.

Do you  have a looming mountain of human obstacles in your way? May we move forward in God’s power and might  declaring His promise together saying … So big mountain,who do you think you are ? you’re nothing but a molehill!.
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