My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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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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The Journey of a Thousand Little Goodbyes

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Saying good bye to those we love is never easy, it will undoubtedly tug strongly on our heart strings and if it’s final  well, that will reach far beyond a yank. Pulling our heart to their breaking point due to the forcible impact of our loss. As time marches on and my years head towards the golden, I’m painfully aware saying goodbye will be woven more frequently and tightly, as the lives around me lose theirs or relationships sadly dissolve.
This summer I had the pleasure of seeing Amy Grant in concert thanks to my friends generosity which extended to buying me her new CD.  Though my spirit was moved  tremendously by her song, “Don’t Try so Hard” honest words I can completely relate to. Her thought provoking song  “Is it Better Not to Know” seemed to rank  just as high on my favorite tunes list.  The chorus goes as follows:

“Oh… nothing stays the same
Life flickers like a flame
As the seasons come and go
Goodbye more than hello
It’s better not to know
Is it better not to know?  Amy Grant

I’ve asked myself that question when life has dealt me blows that have blindsided me and sent me reeling, my mind spinning  into a autopilot of “Whys?”  Oh, I know I’m not suppose to ask  the “why” question but I do.  I compare pictures I had of my future and the one I have been given. Strangely they rarely look the same; as I search for God in the sea of chaos  like a  “Where’s Waldo” in this newly  replaced image.  Straining to see Him in my overcrowded crestfallen circumstances. Instead of looking for Waldo’s  striped shirt and  beanie I look for God, nail scarred hands and feet, wounds He bore for you and me.
Isaiah 53:5 says…

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole”.

And then my eyes see Him, He was there, all along, never failing or forsaking me. Hidden in plain view surrounded by life’s  beautiful messes, joy and sadness, triumph mingling with tragic.  And even when my mind floods with questions and doubt, God prevails.  We don’t have to live long to know… death can come sudden with no warning, no chance for farewells or a proper send off or it comes in what I call “The Journey of a Thousand  Little  Goodbyes.”  Existing in the slow day to day departures to what was once normal, watching loved ones slip away one painful closure at a time.  Greeting the dawning of a new day not knowing what part of their personality and capabilities will be gone forever.  And while you hold onto every essence of who they are in that moment, in a blink of a eye it shifts yet again, finding yourself saying goodbye once more.

So long to what was normal, familiar, into a sinking sand of grief,  weighty sorrow and  sadness… pulling you down into a tomorrow that seems bleaker than today, enveloped in irretrievable grains of  “use to be’s” .

Confronted with excruciating truth that….

One day  your loved one can call you or give you a hug.

One day they can brush their teeth, comb their hair, dress and feed themselves.

One day they can walk, tell you they love you and fill the air with laughter.

And then one day it is gone… forever.

So far when it has come to losing my family members it has been one  a  “Journey of Thousand Little Goodbyes”. Losing my dad at the age of 27 to cancer after 6 months from  his diagnosis.  Fast forward twenty five years later my thousand farewells  began again with  my mama as her dementia and congestive heart failure  chipped away at her  strong body and vibrant personality.  Going home to be with the Lord  only five short months ago. While at the same time my only sibling was fighting his personal battle with Lewy Body dementia  dove tailing with moms illness. Waves of loss washed over me as my mother and brother needed help to get them into the car, buckle their seat belts, form words or be their memory. Silently mourning a family I would never see whole again until we all reunited in Heaven. My journey of thousand  little goodbyes continues as my brother battles his disease with grace, humor and a dignity that is humbling.  And though I do not know what the future holds I choose to place my one hand in God’s  while I wave  temporary  goodbyes large and small with the other.

I don’t know what goodbyes you’ve had to face, if they were sudden or drawn out. I do know God wants to bring you comfort in every grief stricken situation past, present or future .

God, thank you that you hold tightly on to our hands saying to us, fear not I will help you. Your love and faithfulness is a shield round about us.  When we walk through the fire we will not be burned  and through the floods we will not drown. Your grace covers us “when it’s better not to know.”

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that is why we call it the present.” Bil Keane


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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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Last week I posted my story “Dancing Queen” and then remembered it was not the first time I was encouraged to dance. So here I am shaking my tail feathers in 2009 and the reason why below.Image

Approaching the church where our friends daughter was having her high school graduation ceremony it became clear that I had misjudged the travel time and arrived far too early.  This would account for the sparse amount of cars in the parking lot, upon which I double checked my watch, it confirmed my oversight.  Rather than waiting around with my two sons I suggested  a quick look at the Good Will store just down the road. Wasting no time, off we went, bargain shopping in our blood coursing through our veins.

Once there, it was “divide and conquer”, three people with seemingly choreographed moves fanning out to their promising sections of interest. The boys headed for electronics,  while I ventured to the wall hangings, acute to the fact our wall space is limited. Regardless,  there I stood  looking at a eye catching wooded sign.  Rich  brown tones, golden accents and letters gracefully  spelling out the invitation “I Hope You’ll Dance”. Promptly I began reasoning with myself how the colors were indeed perfect for our living room, softly in awe of this item while its’ tempting price tag boldly  declared BUY ME!.  Surely our  walls could accommodate just one more modest sized plaque. Looking at my watch yet again, being  mindful not to be late to the commencement, I made my purchase, found my sons and away we went.

Later after the sweet ceremony, my evening came to a close relaxing at home. “I Hope You’ll Dance” was my song choice for the night… listening to it over and over on YouTube, letting it’s lovely truths lull me.

The  very next day a dear friend and former neighbor stopped by to drop off a graduation gift for our son Trent.  During her visit she wondered if one of our two sons would dance with her daughter Evelyn at her Mis Quince Anos celebration, and much to my delight our oldest son Derek agreed to.  My heart  warming as my mind dawdled down memory lane. It seemed like only yesterday when this  wonderful family had moved into our neighborhood from California. My husband and I found ourselves instantly forging a friendship with them.  Their two children were the same age as ours, a three year old and the other, a mere eighteen months.  Now standing before us  was a beautiful  young woman and handsome young men. Where did the time go?

Just as quickly as vivid snippets of the past quickly inundated my thoughts, they just as rapidly took a  sharp turn. With a flip of the switch a light bulb moment illuminated my mind as to why I was so drawn to the “I Hope You’ll Dance”  plaque; a fresh new perspective, a fascinating mystery solved.  But you know how the saying goes, “there is always more to the story” and this is no exception. Shortly after Derek was asked to dance with Evelyn a change of events occurred,  leaving her first dance to now be with her father.

As the months passed, my thoughts didn’t reflect on that wooden plaque unless it was time for a occasional dusting, which come  few and far between.  Before I knew it October rolled around and the time had come for Evelyn’s Mis Quince Anos.  Decorations were up, people arrived and the celebration began. Halfway through the event the banquet hall  was hushed to stillness as a  beautifully touching slide show of Evelyn life was played. Thoughtful moving music added sentiment to the presentation and then the unexpected happened… the song “I Hope You’ll Dance” began to play… Those words  gave me  that same stirring that happened four months prior when I found my sign at Goodwill. Thus, it was not a big surprise when later in the evening the DJ invited the audience to a group dance, choosing to seize the moment, longing to conquer my fears of looking foolish and uncoordinated. Collecting myself together, and in one quick moment I stepped onto the dance floor and danced;… something I have not done for over 25 years!  It’s been said, “To conquer life is to take one step at a time”.  How fun to do it in the form of a dance step… having no doubt that I looked foolish, the unpolished dancer that I am, somehow it seemed rather okay, I was just obeying the “Sign”… I Hope You’ll Dance.