My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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The Best Brother in The World

me huging troy with mumps

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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The Letter Part Two

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After posting “The Letter” I was asked if I would be willing to share some of its’ content and am happy to do so.  I’m still amazed at the power that one letter did to change the course of history for Kevin and me.  And yet I’m reminded that the Bible is filled with countless love letters signed with passionate devotion by our Heavenly Father. Each sealed by His promises and delivered to each of us for our personal deliverance and comfort.

God’s letters have touched my heart, healed my wounds, and guided me in my darkest hours. Before I wrote this letter Kevin confided in me that he was struggling with God being His best friend and worst enemy. While I did not have that particular struggle, I did struggle with trusting in people.  Kevin’s mom had a gracious trust in people which made it easier for him to see the best in others.  However, I was raised with a mother that loved God as her best friend, confident she could fully trust in Him, but with people not so much. Personal traumas resulting from the wrong choices of others made it easy to turn to God for both my mother and I.

A dovetail of freedom unfolded from this match made in Heaven, as I helped Kevin out of the black hole and seeing God as His BFF, he in turn has helped me to learn how to trust healthy people. Giving me vital connections that have blessed my live so richly.

Following are some excerpts from that letter.

“Kevin Honey, I pray with all my heart that the Holy Spirit will allow you to see the truth in God’s powerful words and truths that have stood the test of time and struggle. Therefore if any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature old things are passed away, behold all things become new.  God is never the author of bondage, wickedness or any other area of darkness. There is no bondage of darkness that Jesus Christ cannot break. This terrible bondage cannot be broken with good confession or good intentions, it cannot be broken with willpower. Only when we fully accept the great sacrifice paid at the cross, the blood of Christ breaks every bondage of darkness. Therefore, we can be totally confident of deliverance… set free by the power of His shed blood.   Pray in the blood of Jesus, He will set you free.  Remember this, it is truly the answer you have been searching for.”

Love you Always,Lisa

My letter was simply God’s truths handwritten with love and faith eager to see Kevin’s transformation into a life of freedom. We have a God that is smitten with us, loves us through all eternity and died to set us free! May His resurrection serge life into you, bring you peace and joy unspeakable.

023


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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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The Royal Flush

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A month ago it was my turn to lead our Life group discussion on Kris Vallottons’s book the, “Supernatural Ways of Royalty.”  A fantastic read poignantly reminding us we are God’s royal Princesses and Princes.  Simple truths, reiterating who we are in Christ Jesus and walking it out with confident trust.  Since “The Royal Flush” was the title of  chapter 4, I thought it would be clever to play on the words using tools gleaned from a small group training last Fall.  So, what better way to start the evening off than an Ice Breaker using playing cards?  Four different suits, four different questions … having them  pick a card any card. Sharing the following based on which one they selected.

The Heart … What is on your heart?
The Spade… What do you want to cultivate in your life?
The Diamond… What is precious to you?
The Club … What do you want to work on getting rid of in your life?

Everyone selected a card  conveying their choice and what it meant to them.  After all had shared it was my turn to talk, revealing the Spade in my hand  declaring how I wanted to “cultivate” my faith. It sounded  spiritual and all grown up… someone who had put their Big Girl pants on. Having no idea the next two weeks would give ample opportunity to “Cultivate ” my faith.
Here’s the hand I was dealt, starting out with…

My husband loosing half a tooth  while eating his sandwich………… $167 after insurance.
Our family car died as we pulled  into United Battery’s parking lot to drop off our son’s old battery ………….$98.00 for a new battery.
Realizing our alternator was the main culprit…. “DOA” ………………….. $200.
Next, this same car did not pass DMV  and needed the EGR replaced  ………….$216.
Yep, you guessed it, our family car was on a roll… one tire was nearly flat and all 4 were balding ……..$599.
Mixing it up and changing gears, the old Lap Top computer kicked the bucket  ……..$229.
However, the piece  de resistance was the sewer pipe blowing its lid (unbeknownst to us) landing all our Royal Flushing smack dab onto the front yard; for only God knows for how long.  FYI… For those inquiring minds that wonder how we could not have noticed this,  we always enter and exit using our side door.  Temporary sewer fix….$160

Believe me, I’ve had way too much fun thinking about this last one. The thought of bubbling crude erupting like old faithful gushing out onto the yard.  Dingy white toilet paper clinging on for dear life draping  Mugho Pines and a nearby Candy Tuft.  Wondering what the dear postman thought as he whistled happily up the walkway delivering our mail, clueless to this now primitive sewage system.  Wishing at least we could have provided a sign warning, “Their She Blows” before he embarked up  to the mailbox so innocent and unaware.

Makes me wonder if  praying to cultivate my faith fell  along the  same  lines as praying  for patience.  Desiring a goal devoid of the pain, or the process of getting there.  More often than not, in order to develop patience it requires having difficulties to encounter.  For example, you pack for a balmy  trip to Cancun and are  greeted with the biting cold of Nome Alaska instead.

Perhaps my pageant answer was too cliche when it was my turn to share.  If I had truly thought through what it means to “Cultivate”,  another card would have been my choice. Webster’s dictionary defines  it: “to loosen and break up the soil, to improve by labor, care, or study”… adding  in unpleasant manure is usually part of the process.  Flowery words spoken dare not grow nor thrive without being planted in rich fertile soil.  What you practice is way more challenging  than merely preaching. Still, my heart  has a deep longing  to live with authentic faith.  Having well worn rubber meet life’s hard to travel roads.  Being mindful that there isn’t a day that goes by, that I haven’t fallen short and my faith tires have gone flat. Thankfully, God already knows, His countless promises remind me of that.

Psalms 73:26 says:  “My flesh and my heart fails: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”

Feeling like doodoo has hit the fan?  Your desire is to press into the Lord but you can’t wade through all the manure of life.  Good News!  God is there with wading boots on, ready to pull you out of the muck and mire.  Your needs, well, God has them covered too; He provides daily manna from Heaven a rich storehouse of provision.

All the drains to our bank account  did increase my faith for when I cried uncle God showed  up.  Writing this story  I’m  conscious that many of you have far greater situations  to recover from.  May I encourage you, God is faithful and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. He knows when your toilet overflows, or if someone you love walks away. No matter how great or small, God sees it all and cares with a love that is outrageous.

Father God, thank you that you hold our times in your hands, all  our needs, hurts, and fears are safe in your redeeming grace filled hands. Hands that rock mercy, display forgiveness and reach out to us with tender compassion… a winning hand time after time.


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Flowers Cleverly Disguised as Weeds


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As a child, dandelions were not  pesky weeds to me, but rather beautiful flowers bright as sunshine and full of cheer. Begging to be picked into a innocent bouquet enveloped  by my chubby fingers. Overnight enchantment  transformed  them into whimsical wish makers, now a fluffy ball concealing miniature umbrellas. Standing poised, eagerly  awaiting to be whisked away by my secret wishes, dancing in the wind of mingled breath and whispered hopes.

Back then, it seemed completely dreamy to have a yard brimming full of them, picking flowers until my heart’s content.  These days, those dreams are more comparable to a  nightmare as I assess my own flourishing field of golden weeds.  Which causes me to wonder if one gentle blow of those puffy heads years ago blew my childhood wish into current reality.  Thriving, they are oblivious to how painfully difficult it is for me to see them as charming or winsome any longer. Shining in all their God given identity regardless of my spoken displeasure over them.

There was a time when our boys were young that I did regain my delight with these handpicked  arrangements. Captured with their enthusiasm, sparking my heart with  a rekindled love for these peculiar flora. Once again, seeing through the eyes of a child, they became breathtaking. A FTD florist couldn’t hold a candle to these special deliveries of pure love and exuberance.

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Derek at 4yrs                                                                                           Trent at 2 yrs

During their teenage years I heard them listening to a song called, “Dandelions” by the group Five Iron Frenzy; my heart warmed with its’ truth reminding me of photos I had taken of the boys when they were little.

Here are some of the lyrics:

“In a field of yellow flowers,
Underneath the sun,
Bluest eyes that spark with lightning,
Boy with shoes undone.
He is young, so full of hope,
Reveling in tiny dreams,
Filling up his arms with flowers,
Right for giving any queen.

Running to her beaming bright,
While cradling his prize.
A flickering of yellow light,
Within his mother’s eyes.
She holds them to her heart,
Keeping them where they’ll be safe,
Clasped within her very marrow,
Dandelions in a vase.

She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds.
All hope is found.
Here is everything he needs….”

The chorus:

Lord, search my heart,
Create in me something clean.
Dandelions
You see flowers in these weeds.
What a stunning picture of God’s love, seeing beauty sprouting from weeds. How comforting to have a Father that never grows tired or weary of us.  He is not fickle and impatient but rather sees our full potential.

Ralph Waldo Emerson  wrote:

“What’s a weed ? a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Heavenly Father , Thank you that you see flowers in these weeds  Your word says,
“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” * Help me to see with eyes of faith, drawing from the deep wells of your truth, confident Jesus knows me this I love…

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them”.  A.A. Miles

It’s been said, “When you look at a dandelion you can either see a hundred weeds or a hundred wishes” .

*Romans 12:2 (GNT)
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When the cherry trees don’t blossom

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During the past few weeks I could not but help notice the cherry blossoms that were in full bloom at the Portland Adventist hospital where mama was staying.  Nor the trees yielding showy pink blooms along the route charmingly called Cherry Blossom Drive. Choosing  this quaint direction from time to time to mix up the daily mundane freeway scenery that I viewed during each trip to the hospital.  My spirit yearning for abundant splatters of joy in the midst of my grief stricken senses. Regardless, it didn’t matter how stunning  those cherry blossom trees were, still my heart was painfully  heavy not being able to hear my mother’s joyous comments about their frilly radiance. Never failing to do so when nature showed her spring splendor.  My childhood home was a showcase of these fair trees framing our corner lot , edged with God’s breathtaking creation. Though show stopping with filigree elegance, they were hard work keeping them that way. When properly maintained, the mailman was ridiculously happy being able to drive his truck up to the mailbox with ease. Once, there was a time that my mother was extremely weary with these beastly beauties threatening to severely prune them down .Wasting no time to beg her to “save the trees”  allowing  for the spring time blooms to appear. Solemnly promising to help her prune them when  she needed to. Thankfully she agreed to hold off her certain plans waiting to prune them after their bloom season had ended.  When that day came I watched out our living room window as my selfless mother trimmed  all the trees while I cozied myself our champagne velvet sofa for a nap. Looking back, not one of my prouder moments!

It’s no surprise why the book of Habakkuk resounded in my spirit as I sat  reading it next to my mother’s hospital bed.  “Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheep less and the cattle barns empty,  I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!  Habakkuk 3:17–19 The Message Bible
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Slowly losing my precious mother to dementia and a severe infection;  taking a toll on her fragile body.  This being her third time in the hospital within the last five weeks  lessening her ability to bounce back after each return visit.  Yesterday, I watched my mom peacefully sleep while the family gathered to meet with hospice, discussing her care for the days that lay ahead. Feeling numb as my husband and I left her room;and seeing we would be greeted with blustery rain and hail if we decided to head to our car. Instead drawn to wait out the storm in the hospital chapel.  A picture of Jesus painted larger then life on the wall, a box of tissues saying, “It’s my grief and I’ll cry if I want to.” Sitting on the pew, my husband’s arms and prayers consoling me. The cherry blossoms are fading, the rain and hail knocking the last bit of bloom the tree had to offer.. and God’s word rings true…

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.”

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Lord, help me to trust in you at all times,even if the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries refuse to ripen.  When I’m frightened, heartbroken, or grieving; help me trust in you even though life does not make sense.

Counting on your rule to prevail, so I take heart and gain and strength in knowing you are good all the time.


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Redefining True Beauty and Brawn

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There is no doubt in my mind that a good part portion of my life has been strongly following  what our society has focused on, whether it be outward appearances, position, or possessions.  My fragile self worth hinging vicariously on the  approval of others.  Compelling images on screen or print drove me to strive for acceptance as it  encourages the population to worship physical beauty, strength and the dew of youth.  Even  though I know Proverbs 31 tells us, “beauty is vain (because it is not lasting….” still  my past choices gave too much energy and exertion on achieving shiny bouncing hair, pearly white teeth, or  the “perfect pant size”.

Nearly 30 years ago it caused me to fall headlong into crippling eating disorder after my failed first marriage. The grip of anorexia squeezed out any of the vibrant life God had for me. Only being able to overcome its’ strong clutches through the power of my praying mother.  Within a year my eyes were opened to the devastation of what the eating disorder was doing to my body. Sadly, a few years later my poor body image reared its’ ugly head again due to my weight gain shortly after I got remarried. This time narrowly escaping a potential battle with bulimia. My husband somehow opened the bathroom door that I “knew” I had locked, he saw me leaning over the toilet to rid myself of my last meal.  This was a profound wake up call  from a gracious God sparing me from another pit of personal destruction.  After that miraculous encounter I never again struggled with any kind of eating disorder.

For the most part, we can agree there is nothing wrong with admiring external beauty or brawn, enjoying healthy hair, whiter teeth or battling the bugle. Our bodies are the temple of the Lord, and we are encouraged to take care of them.  Still, it  becomes clear that I want to shift my attention to a boarder picture of  true beauty and brawn. That which is not  highlighted in fashion nor physical fitness magazines, becoming more confident that true beauty comes from within and strength is measured beyond bulging muscles and washboard abs.  Longing to view mankind as God does, for His word says, “Man looks to the outward appearances while God looks at the heart”.  Not judging a book by its’ cover as the prophet Samuel did when on a mission to choose the next King of Israel, had it not been for the Spirit of God telling him otherwise, Samuel would have anointed the wrong man.  Almost overlooking  the ruddy David who tended sheep but had a heart for God. Once again God reveals that true “strength” and “beauty” has nothing to do with outward appearances but rather what is in the heart and spirit of a man or woman.

God applauds the stouthearted  spirit of the  elderly, the perseverance of the disabled and all those battling crippling diseases or limitations whether in mind or body. This reevaluation is pounding hard,  hitting home as I  watch a loved one’s heroic stamina tackle life.  Where walking, brushing teeth, or eating  has become laborious. This changes the face of what “powerful” really is, a rugged human spirit determined to live with dignity in spite of adversities. What I once put so much stock in has lost  its’ value challenging and rocking the very core of my flimsy standards. Smashing the idols of self worth and worldly value and realigning my perspective as to what real beauty and strength is.

The reality is we all carry within us weaknesses, scars, and flaws that reside in our heart’s and mind’s…. crippling us from soaring as God intended. A fortified internal city  masking our shortcomings and  inner wounds.  And yet God beckons us to “glory in our weakness and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell upon me”. * His power is shown up in our weaknesses.

Thank you Lord that Your love and approval does not depend on ones physical strength or outward beauty.  In fact, true strength and beauty is determined by what is on the inside of a person.  Not only that, but  your love is absolutely unconditional even in our brokenness. Redefining to a needy culture what true “Beauty and Brawn” is.

Training the body helps a little, but godly living helps in every way. Godly living has the promise of life now and in the world to come.   1  Timothy 4:8

*2 Corinthians 12:9