My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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The Best Brother in The World

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Comforting my brother when he had the mumps .

As we celebrate National Sibling day I want to take time to honor my brother and only sibling Troy. He has hands down been the best brother a gal could ever have. His long list of virtues could circle the globe with patience and joy steering the helm. God knew Troy would need a heavy arsenal of patience to grapple with the likes of me. Whether I ate his chocolate Valentines heart while he was at school, or sang “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music” repeatedly in the back seat of our Thunderbird, as he reminded a picture of calm. Rarely did I ruffle his feathers in the midst of my tomfoolery.

Like any good brother he brought protection and defense when situations proved dicey, even so far as telling my loving but frustrated mom when I was three, “Say something kind to her, she’s afraid of you”. Full of tenderhearted grace and laughter that simultaneously sparks a twinkle to his eyes. Troy has been a steady pillar of strength and unceasing joy to me and my family and undeniably his own as well.

Now that dementia has attacked his once strong body I reflect on God’s word that tells us, *“The rain falls on the just and unjust like”.  Becoming acutely aware we live in a fallen world where the excruciating truth is: bad things happen to good people; and no earthly umbrella is a worthy opponent against life’s blast of harsh realities.

My intentional steps move towards the cross laying the bitter blows of pain, loss and grief at the feet of Jesus. Solace found in the truth that You became, *” A man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief, surely you have borne our, sicknesses, weaknesses and carried our sorrows”. A trustworthy Father to see us through dark hours of our soul as we find rest in all His good promises. Reminding myself this life is a mere dress rehearsal as we await the glory of heaven where * sighing and sadness shall flee and You will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Today as I reminisce looking through copies of Troy’s baby book, I’m especially touched by what my mom recorded him telling her when I was two,  “I just love my sister, you got her because I wanted a sister “.  Heavenly Father, I want you to know, “I just love my brother, you got him because I wanted a brother” and I thank you that you picked the best one ever!

100_1044  “ Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.” –                                                                                                                                                                     Marc Brown

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5:45

Isaiah 53:4 Amp Bible

Those the Lord has rescued will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;

everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 51:11 NIV Bible


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Tender Hearts & Thick Skins

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Janet and I were neighbors and all around best buddies, our closeness evident by the telltale photo of the matching outfits we sported on our grade school field trip to OMSI.  We completed our wardrobe down to the lucky rabbits foot dangling from our Levi belt loop’s.  Really, how lucky could that poor rabbit have been?  When I think of Janet my mind is flooded with happy memories and funny stories, they are like brilliant stars nestled in a night sky of gratefulness.  A treasured childhood friend to share silliness and secrets, whether walking to school, playing together, or during sleepovers; experiencing laughter till our sides hurt brought on by our countless goofy ways we could amuse ourselves.

One of our favorite games was playing Montgomery Wards catalog, in our day (which sounds incredibly old ) you could pick up and return your orders to the Mall 205 Ward’s store. During that age they relied on employee customer service and good old fashion handwritten files to keep track of it all. What fun it was to play after school, setting up shop downstairs on my parents covered pool table.  A toy pink phone for imaginary calls… check, a Ward’s catalog… check, files made up with fake names like Frank Frone… check, all the proper tools to ignite our wild imaginations. Why we never worked at Montgomery Ward’s when we got older I will never know. We had serious mad skills I tell you!

Some of our other memories were going door to door collecting money for the Christian Children’s Fund. One time, we chose to clean the handwritten graffiti from bathroom stalls during recess just for fun!  Each school week was occasionally mingled with some mischief… at times less than angelic.  Rounding out our Friday’s with our hit single we belted out our song, “We’re going home today, today, today!! ushering in our weekend.  It makes me giggle at the very thought of it.

One moment we walked to grade school as children, next thing you know we were catching the bus to Junior High with the first stroke of blush applied to our cheeks. Time flew by but the memories linger remaining a steady source of joy.  Recently,  while at the check stand I was gazing at the outrageous tabloids that slander and exploit people without grace or kindness. I wondered how does one being attacked handle such lies, falsehoods and slander without being able to tell their side of the story? A two sided coin only baring one side oblivious to the other side’s details.

We have all struggled with hurtful and untrue stories told that slammed against the walls of  our integrity. Casting suspicion on our foundation we hold so dear.  Sometimes, I am guilty of setting my eyes on only one side being represented, believing that to be the whole truth without hearing the other side.

As I wrestle with my own personal pain from untruthfulness spun against me, it presses me into seeking endurance for the injustices. Causing me to mumble this question to myself as I unloaded my shopping cart ”  How do they do it God?  I gently   heard the words “thick skin” rise up in my spirit, and the memories of how Janet and I had a pre-summer ritual.

Before summer arrived we would prepare our tender feet for the freedom of barefoot days by toughening them up.  Our solution: A “foot boot camp” without boots.  These tender feet that were previously cradled in warm socks and comfortable shoes, barely seeing the light of day, would be exposed not only to the sunlight but the dark hard asphalt and rough cement, going… “all natural”.  Quickly acclimating our tender soles to lessen the nuisance of feeling every poke and jab of the harsh ground beneath.  Thus, giving way to a foot loose and fancy free summer!

It made so much sense to me back then, and it so applicable to me now. My tender heart and thin skin feels every poke and jab of harshness and disapproval of others toward me, focusing my attention on my wounded soul.  Instead, I want to use these opportunities to develop a thick skin of grace foregoing being callous to their deep woundedness.  This allows me the freedom to enjoy the green pastures the Lord leads me to. His endless glory stretched out beneath my eager feet.  His glowing canopy of  approval and forgiveness gives me the strength to say, *1  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  *2  “Being able to throw open our doors to God and discover at that same moment that He has already thrown open his door 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 praises… with our Tender Hearts and Thick Skins.

1*  Luke 23:34 NIV

2*Romans 5 1:2 The Message Bible


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What My Mother Taught Me

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Last year, a day before Mother’s Day, we celebrated our Mother’s life as she peered down from Heaven’s glory.  Even though the memorial was to celebrate her life it was the hardest good-bye I have ever faced.   The following, is in part, what I shared to honor my mom’s life on that day.  I wrote this from the perspective of being her daughter.

 

Proverbs 1:8:9 says: “Never forget what you learned from your mother… Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,like rings on your fingers.

My mother taught me how to laugh at myself …. her unspoken motto was, “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused.”

Because of the many silly things she would do,  Mom was never short of material to laugh about.  During my teenage years I found most of her stories amusing,  while at other times  I was completely  mortified.   However, it did not take me long to realize that I was cut from the same cloth, fighting a battle I could not win…slowly beginning to embrace the joy and freedom that comes in laughing at one’s self.

 

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My brother Troy and his love for wheels.

 

My mother taught me the joy of worshiping the Lord.
I have fond memories of mom and I singing hymns while she played on the piano in our basement.  She had a thankful heart and loved to worship God in song.

My mother taught me to celebrate life ….

Mom was eager celebrate and have fun … when we where younger she made every occasion special and festive, full of life and laughter…. even the simplest things felt over the top because of all the love she poured into it.

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For as long as I can remember, before we ate our dinner she would put a paper napkin on her head as if it were a hat; making sure everyone could see her to get a laugh.  I never tired of watching her get the biggest kick out of that!  I have no doubt that she is feasting in Heaven with everyone joining in her napkin hat merriment ..

My mother taught me to be frugal.

Mom knew how to pinch pennies, get a bargain and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.  Thanks to her I realized how much product is left in a toothpaste tube, or a shampoo bottle if you cut them in half getting every last bit from the container.  Mom would be giddy when I gave her my old plastic grocery bags so she could recycle them for her garbage. Her exuberance would make me laugh and I would say, “Oh mom, thank you but I’m only giving you plastic bags.”

Recently, not to long ago it dawned on me, I to get gleeful when I can reuse a plastic bag… just like my mother!

 

My mother taught me how to love my children selflessly.

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Charles Lamb said:  “A mother’s love grows by giving”

 

My mother taught me the power of prayer…

My mother’s prayers for me and my family brought comfort, strength and joy. Having a deep and rich reservoir of answered prayers within my spirit to remember God’s goodness with.

Abraham Lincoln
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life ..

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Kevin and I renewing our vows on our 25th wedding anniversary in 2011, with our pastor and our two sons.

 

My mother taught me to Love God …..

By far her greatest hope and desire was that her family knew Christ as their personal Savior, living daily staying close to His side. To love His word and putting their trust in all His promises.  Knowing for themselves He is good all the time. Walking by faith even when life seems difficult and disappointing.

Displaying this so beautifully throughout her life even to the end. Even during the eight hospital stays in less then a year, and in the midst of rapidly declining health.  One particular day after telling her I loved her, I finished by saying God is good. Mustering up enough strength she replied boldly, “Oh you better believe it “.

One time while visiting my mom at the hospital I read to her this verse.
Psalms 71:17-18 “O God, you have taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared your wondrous works. Yes, even when I am old and grey headed, O God, forsake me not, but keep me alive until I have declared Your mighty strength to this generation, and your might and power to all that are to come.”

Thank you mom for your shining example in human frailty.  Your love, sacrifices and unwavering faith accompany me as I mourn your loss. Thank you God for reassuring me and all of us with your promise, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Though I miss you something terrible, I know your having the best Mothers Day ever in all of Heaven’s glory. I love you

 

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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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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.

Closer to God

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Whenever my mom would share something exciting that the Lord had done for her she would more then likely end her story with one of these sayings, the first one being ” I’m so excited I could jump up and click my heels”  quickly followed with “but I’m afraid I might fall and break my hip”. Afterward she would give a chuckle at the thought of it and I would gladly join in all her amusement. Secondly, she’d share was how she longed to go up to Columbia River Gorge and praise the Lord over the breathtaking scenery. Most of the time my mom talked of this while visiting our home, afterwards  she would then proceed to walk out to our small deck along the north side of our home.  As her feet landed on the wood planks she would lift her arms thanking and praising God. Returning inside, quite content her face beaming and she would gush how much she enjoyed the deck that Kevin built. Our modest deck with no sweeping views seemed to satisfy my moms’ yearning to stand and give God glory. Whether or not I accompanied  her as she positioned herself  to extol our adoring creator, in the back of my mind I longed to someday take my mother to her “dream spot”.
Years went by with only my good intentions, she never got to stand and worship the lover of her soul at the gorge…….until last week. The sun was shining, the air crisp and leaves ablaze with vivid hues forming a pleasant parade route up the scenic highway welcoming her long awaited arrival. Arm and arm Kevin and I escorted her to drink in the panoramic view and to finally stand in the place she always dreamed about.  Praise rolled off her tongue as she looked at all the beauty our Heavenly Father created.  While standing next to her I was hungry to hear every word that mom uttered.  Though it was hard to leave her side I managed to pull myself away to get a couple of photos to remember this day.  It wasn’t long before the sun slowly began to subside and the chill of the air nudged us to bring this remarkable event to a close. Thus, it was time to gingerly help my mom back into the warm cozy car for our trip home.
Leaves danced and twirled in celebration as we wound our way back down the old scenic highway; holding in our hearts warm memories of our splendid day together….a prolonged dream realized.
Beholding the work of a God that makes all things beautiful in His time. A brilliant and glorious crescendo with the best seats in the house. In humbleness we offered our God a  well deserved standing ovation poised on holy ground; filled with deep appreciation and gratitude, watching my mother’s desire fulfilled….to stand closer to God.