My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Seeds of Promise

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New garden catalogs are arriving in my mailbox brimming with endless possibilities, my eyes drinking in the bounty that could await me. Realizing before you know it sunshine and warm breezes will replace this bitter cold as it bows to a new season. With each turn of the glossy pages I’m practically able to taste the  juicy vine ripe tomatoes, fresh basil  and sweet  strawberries some of our favorites.

Presently cold harsh winds swiftly blow over our barren and bleak garden that at the present moment lacks color and bounty,  However as I examine these vibrant photos, curled up with a steaming cup of a tea and toasty quilt  I’m reminded of the endowment presented in a  tiny seed of promise. Hope planted in my heart not just for my lifeless gardens to one day flourish again, but an assurance that when bitter winds of adversity charge across my soul they will not stay forever. Winter will give way to spring  and spring to summer carrying optimistic seeds of change. Gardens void and bare will rally to natures gentle nudge bursting forth in all their glory,while winter’s severity will become a mere memory. So, it is with our heartaches they too shall mellow with time,  and we will not only survive but thrive with spring in our hearts once more.

“Grant me, O God , the power to see in every rose, eternity.  In every bud , the coming day; In every snow the promised May; In every storm the legacy of rainbows smiling down on me!”  …Virginia Wuerfel
“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”  Isaiah 35:1


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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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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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When Life Is Not So Ducky

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Life can throw you a curve ball  when you least expect it causing you to feel more like a “Sitting Duck” than a lucky one.  No longer being able to count your “ducks all in row” because it appears they have declared a mutiny breaking rank and file.

During the past month I have encountered some challenges that have increasingly escalated. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster watching my precious 80 year old mother almost succumbing to pneumonia while also having a staph infection.  Landing her in the hospital for almost a week.  Barely recovering from this, only to return to the same hospital a week later for confusion coupled with undeviating restlessness. Her determination to continually get out of bed made her a high risk for falling. Even though she had a “call cord” to pull her dementia prevented her from remembering to use it.  Her new hospital stay would reveal she had a distended bladder from her new medications.  Added to the mix was her  mysterious new state of not talking in full sentences…just a word or two at the most.  Mom’s inability to communicate what she needed and the confusion of the changing environment, resulted in her grabbing at anything she could. An arm to be pulled on, clutching her gown to remove it , or pulling on her  iv.  She would repeat this over and over again until she would fall asleep. Only to awaken shortly to start the whole process all over again.
My heartbreaking over my limited ability to comfort my mother’s suffering and fearing she may never recover. Every day  finding myself at her bed side, reading her scripture , holding her hand  and praying for her healing. Rejoicing in any glimpses of  improvements we observed throughout this whole process. Counting my blessings with  profound gratefulness  for family, tireless nurses, doctors and caregivers  all working towards a common goal of getting mom well.

Gleaning from all the current resources that I had to best help my mama, there was one particular idea from her caregiver that struck a chord in my heart.  She suggested perhaps a soft plush animal might be the solution….her thought was that my mom could hold onto it, thus distracting her from pulling on her gown or anything else like her iv. blankets, etc..

Taking action on her idea while I was shopping at Fred Meyer I went directly to the Easter section looking for a cheery stuffed animal.  I was saddened  that this fluffy friend would not be sitting on my mom’s dresser, nor hearing her comments on how cute it was, but instead clenching it in a state of toil and angst.  After carefully looking over the selection, I settled on a bright yellow ducky even if the chances where slim of it cheering her, it  might ever so slightly do so for me.

The next morning it was time for my daily visit, anxious to see mom and in a rush with the days demands.  Hastily retrieving the bag with my Bible, journal, and assorted snacks to aid me while I sat by mom’s bed side. Swooping up the ducky from the sofa table, my hand was surprised by a damp feeling on its’ plush  head, quickly  pulling it back to take a look at what was causing this abnormal sensation. Within seconds it occurred to me that our dog Buddy thought the ducky was his new chew toy. Not only sucking on this poor duck’s head, but nibbled off one of the eyes in the process. My guess was our son Trent had rescued the duck from his total demise. Continuing in the spirit of rescuing  I whisked it off for a speedy fluff of hot air from my blow dryer. Desperate times deserve desperate measures!.

Looking at that poor disheveled duck reminds me of how I feel at times. One minute cheery, full of promise and purpose, the next minute chewed on, battle worn and dogeared feeling like a duck out of water.  However….
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What a blessing when we call to remembrance  that God understands everything and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. Allowing Him to enter into our deepest pain, sorest frustrations and shattered dreams. Being a God of all comforts He is able and ready to bring needed consolation to our hurting lives. Even when our days are less then ducky we can trust in Him at all times, pouring out our hearts to Him to ease our pain and worries. Reassuring us he is in control even when our ducks are not in a row.
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“But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:
It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassion’s fail not.
They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.”  Lamentations 3:21–24 AMP


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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.


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Lucky U

While anxiously waiting for my counseling appointment which I had extended an olive branch for a family member to attend, my hopes were high to come to a peaceful resolution.  It was time for the wise counseling of a professional to help  repair the severed relationship. Beginning the process of mending torn emotions to a place of strength and deeper healing.  Like tiny tears of muscle that pave the way to increased muscle mass, so too our relationship would optimistically be built up.  As my upcoming appointment drew near the prayer of King David in Psalms 139 :23-24 came to mind,  “Search me thoroughly O God, and know my heart ! Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there is any wicked or hurtful ways in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”   Longing that my heart would  stay on the  course of truth  joined hand and hand in love.

As the meeting came to a close, regretfully the outcome was not what we had hoped for. Deeply wrestling with discouragement the ride home was a somber one. Feeling an intensified and rather profound sense of loss, 2012 was closing its chapter to more sorrow then I had  ever bargained for. My mom’s congestive heart failure, increasing dementia, while also mourning  my only other sibling health challenges.  And now the golden thread of hope of restoration severed, swaying frayed and raw, making the approaching holidays more poignant with overwhelming sadness and grief.

Upon arriving safely at home I was greeted with a  rousing welcome from my loving husband, thoughtful son and two exuberant and lavishly affectionate dogs, Buddy and Buttons. My soul and body instantly sinking into a cozy place called home, their listening ears slowly warming my chilly spirits, thawing out the cold harsh situation. Shortly after our conversation the phone rang, it was Lawrence the husband of my dear friend Lisa from high school calling to plan a surprise for her birthday the following day. His cleverly devised plan was as follows….First, his limo driver would pick us up, then swing over to their house for the birthday girl, surprising her when she got inside with my unannounced presence.  After that, it was time to drive to the Chart House for Lawrence’s company party.  Photos were taken and hugs exchanged then off my husband and I went for over a two hour ride in the limo….all for free! Her husband’s generosity extending not only to his lovely wife but a gift to Kevin and I as well.

It’s safe to say that it’s been well over twenty six years since I have yearned to ride in a limousine with my husband. The odds never  looked good considering for twenty one of those years we have lived only on one income, while I stayed home, homeschooling our two boys, coupon clipping, bargain hunting and pinching pennies tell they squealed.  Honesty, that desire got placed so far on the back burner, I forgot it was still a simmering dream. However, God is mindful of our dormant dreams, His  word promising to give us the desires of our heart.  That same joy of watching my precious friend’s elation on her special day, so too God rejoices over us, watching our astonishment at His glorious celebration on our behalf. This was truly a magical night of sparkling cider toasts, birthday gifts and photos. Then the two of us riding in high style touring Christmas lights, gazing at twinkling stars and city lights from the heights of Rocky Butte. Finishing our glorious night eating at the same Denny’s where we first met after a college career church gathering… sharing french fries like we did thirty years ago. This wondrous adventure fulfilled in a Limo with the License plate,  “LUCKY  U”

Perhaps you too are struggling with a painful hurt or loss?  Do you feel like the chips are down and down on your luck?  May I encourage today with the promise of a God who knows your heart and heartache. He is a God that binds up the brokenhearted repairing and restoring them to wholeness.  His favor and grace resting on the broken and downtrodden. So, whether you find yourself in a luxury Limo ride or not, the Lord wants to bless you  knowing the secret petitions of your heart. This for sure, we serve a mighty God that daily loads His children with benefits.  With this profound  truth I lift my glass of sparkling cider with a toast in honor of a very highly favored and… LUCKY U


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Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

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Ever since “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” aired in 1965 I have been a fan of this beloved holiday
special. Immediately bonding with an endearing kindred spirit towards Charlie Brown with all his self doubt and insecurities, firmly believing Charles Schulz portrait of Charlie Brown was sketched out not only about himself, but a myriad of others like me that have walked a similar journey of shame.

However, an even deeper resounding chord beyond my familiarity with Chucks’ self doubt and low self esteem was how he embraced a sorrowful looking Christmas tree in its poor state.  Wondering how Charlie Brown saw beauty, potential, and  a victorious story waiting to be told through its seemingly defective branches. Chuck was ever so willing to take a chance on the last “real” tree in the lot. Losing more precious pine needles on it’s already sparse limbs along its way home.  Dreaming of what it would look like and not of its’ present condition. Perhaps Chuck could identify with the downcast drooping tree and his own slumped spirit he found himself contending with at times.

For I know when I look at that tree it reminds me of my former wounded and broken self. Painfully bowed down with shame and guilt to see any real value in myself. Feeling bare and stripped of a rich, full  life.  Not having the eyes, nor strength to see any further then my current inner struggles. Thankfully we have a God that cares tenderly for our broken hearts, the downcast finding a home under the shelter of His wings. His love bringing us back to wholeness, while gently sending us loving people to minster healing to our deep hurts and broken places. Just as Linus secured the wobbly tree base with his prized blanket, so too friends rally to reinforce our shaky souls with their blanket of love and sacrifice.  Decorating our wounded spirit with words of affirmation, encouragement and the light of hope. Their compassionate touch transforms us into a thing of beauty that we were meant to be all along.  Just as I marveled at Charlie Browns’ boost of confidence that he mustered up for  his tree, I too marvel at Gods’ rock solid confidence He has towards me.  Not to mention all the friends He has sent my way  that exhibited that same kingdom grace and throne room love.

Perhaps your spirits are drooping today and  joy is falling off you like dead pine needles with no hope of new life.  God promises to bring you tidings of comfort and great joy.  He is a God of all Comforts and He will never fail you nor forsake you.  His grace transforming your spirit and situation with new life and hope, and just like Linus reminded Charlie Brown….”because really that’s what Christmas is all about”.

Luke 2:8-14  “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”