My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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The Way We Were

troy 12th bday with me laughing

Climbing the summit to adulthood can be rough and challenging terrain as you mature through various obstacles including awkward teenage years. Childhood to adulthood, from wonder years to blunder years, finding your personal niche with family and friends. We all have stories that inevitablity shaped our character and helped forge us to mature, calling us onward and upward.

For me childhood’s sharp turns began as I carefully wrapped my beloved dolls with crisp white tissue paper preparing them for a slumbering storage. Aware of saying good-bye to my dolls was only the beginning of more farewells to crossover my hearts’ threshold. One of the things I dreaded most was the thought of my brother moving out, I simply was not ready to be left home, feeling like an only child. Sadly, that day  came way sooner than expected as my brother chose to move out at 16 ,  when sowing his wild oats (as so many of us have done) collided with our disapproving parents,  sealing his decision to prematurely leave the nest. Causing plenty of ruffled feathers  due to the intensity of the situation that surrounded his final choice.  Now the unfurling of his resolve thrusted me into a front row seat, watching my family fall apart before my very eyes.Packing away my childish toys was one thing but growing up without my brother’s presence in our home deemed itself unbearable.

Longing for his good nature and playful attitude to grace our four walls again, wanting to hear him call me “Lisgang”, even though to this day I don’t know why. Trying somehow to process my raw pain I gathered extra loose photos of us growing up, carefully cutting the pictures edges with my mom’s pinking shears, unknowingly gearing up for day when scrap booking would be a household word. Because Barbara Streisand was my all time favorite singer, I could think of no better lyrics than “The Way We Were” to gingerly paste into the middle of a poster board; placing photos around it. For those of you young en’s that don’t know this gem it goes like this ,
The Way We Were

“Mem’ries, Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were.
Scattered pictures, of the smiles we left behind.
Smiles we gave to one another, for the way we were.
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me, would we? Could we?
Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget.So it’s the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember…
The way we were…
The way we were…”

Securing this collage of recollections underneath my canopy, clothed in pink and white gingham, I uttered prayers for my brother… heart crafted prayers for his speedy return and for our family to heal. A rousing prodigal welcome home ending, with celebration and feasting… slamming the door shut to sever the misunderstandings that caused such a division. After wrestling heartache and a unwavering fight from my parents to get my brother out of JDH, he finally returned home. Though there was a long road ahead of us to work through of regrets and forgiveness, we had my brother back in all his zany glory.

Now 40 years later, I’m preparing myself to go to see my brother again at his memory care facility. My husband’s comforting presence each visit is paramount in enabling me to it make through each overwhelming visit. Bittersweet is woven through nostalgia that  intertwines with harsh reality… my heart pulsating, beating to the melody of the “Way We Were”. This time disease has locked him up, imprisoning his body and placing his mind in detention from the freedom it was created for. Grappling with these restrictions we do what these limitations permit. We hug him, tell stories, share photos, go on walks in the facilities gardens. Tell him we love him and pray with him. Since his speech is difficult we share the powerful and universal language of laughter.

God’s word promises, “A merry heart does good like a medicine”. I’m so thankful for my brother’s good nature and jovial personality in the midst of his extremely trying circumstances. Thank you God that in the end, “it’s the laughter we will remember “. Not focusing on the “Way We Were”, but who we are in the light of eternity. One day we will all be home together again celebrating our new celestial bodies in our heavenly homes. Walls reverberating with laughter, filled with love that knows no measure… once again hearing my brother’s familiar voice calling me Lisgang… What a beautiful reunion!


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Sisterhood of the Travailing Plants

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While strolling with my friend through her enchanting cottage garden  I tried to stay focused on instructions  of how  to properly water her garden of Eden; while she was on vacation with her husband. Unfortunately, my visual senses were taking their own personal holiday. How could they not? Their property holds  breathtaking views of Oregon and Washington,  kicking my cell phone into digital roam, stunning pops of color displayed beautifully with annuals and garden ornaments. Whimsy and charm worthy of gracing the pages of Garden Gate magazine, made reining in my concentration difficult, rivaling  the enthusiasm of a  kid in a candy store.

We concluded our stroll poised underneath the house eaves gazing at a cleverly designed  rebar plant holder for three hanging baskets. The first basket a Fuschia plant was flourishing full of life and vibrant bloom, the second  basket’s plant was showing signs of distress; withered brown curled up leaves. The third plant was down for the count, the hanging basket removed from  the spotlight now placed on the ground, because the plants swirled up and died.

We discussed the dying plant as gardeners do, my friend saying she needed to take the second one down too, it was right then and there I shared with her one of my true confessions. Telling her there have been times when my beautiful hanging flower baskets have bitten the dust before their natural time to do so. Causing guilty feelings to arise within me, that I should’ve paid closer attention to their need.  This was poignantly displayed even greater when my mom’s illness escalated, her extra need care;  made my daily tasks more difficult to accomplish.

Wrapping up with this deeper confession… it was those times that whenever I happened to drive by a house and saw someone elses dying  flower basket, it brought a sigh of relief and an emotional connection.  Experiencing first hand the old saying, “misery loves company”.  After divulging my heart we gave each other the knuckle bump connection, the “New School” version of the original “High Five”.  In closing, this gracious and very compassionate friend choose to leave the second faltering basket up… to encourage other weary sisters that they are not alone. What a heart of gold !

C.S Lewis writes:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.

In the movie the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” four best girlfriends pass around a pair of secondhand jeans that flatter their figures despite their very different measurements. Planning to stay connected during their separate journeys through summer, equally sharing  the opportunity to  wear “the traveling pants”.

No matter what our differences we all put our pants on one leg at a time. Once our feet hit the floor of life we stand on common ground when it comes to facing our own  struggles, suffering and sorrows that come in all shapes and sizes.

What a comfort to know we are not alone!  We can have the privilege of a close friendship with Jesus our precious Savior. Plus the added blessing of  God bringing friends  and family along our path to share our highest highs and  lowest of lows.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 is both revealing and  comforting… receive God’s encouragement with His following words of love for you.

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.”    The Message Bible
Thank you Lord that we are called your friend’s. May we walk this life with the full assurance of your outrageous love and friendship for us. Often times manifested  creatively through the love of friends, family and even strangers.  A perfect fit as we travel life in the well worn comfort of your grace.

Light is sown for the  righteous and strewn along their pathway, and joy for the upright in heart [the irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection].

Psalm 97:11-12          Amplified Bible (AMP)

A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a difficult time. Proverbs 17:17


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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.