My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


5 Comments

She Flies With Her Own Wings

fairy+on+butterfly+vintage+image--graphicsfairy008
“Alis Volat Propriis” is the Latin words for “she flies with her own wings”. Discovering this little gem , written on my Albertson’s shopping bag while unloading it from our van. My eyes finally catching the full scope of the brightly colored bag’s design. Initially, the artist’s vivid scenes of Portland Oregon distracted me from the writing encircling the base. As a native Oregonian of nearly 54 years I may have already heard these Latin words when studying the history of Oregon.  Forgetting that on May 2, 1843 the Oregon Country Settlers voted to make Alis Volat Propriis our state motto forming a provisional government independent of the U.S. and Great Britain. Whether I learned this once before or not, these words are fresh and relevant for my here and now .

May 1st will be indelibly etched in my mind as the day I lost my mother. Sorrowful thoughts of what life would be like without her deemed unbearable to ponder while she was alive; now have become my altered and difficult reality. God’s word is a comfort to me and to all those who mourn, promising in Psalms 27:13 * “that we can be confident to see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” His goodness descends from Heaven, gentle reminders of His love lessening the chasm of grief, bringing comfort to my heart.

On May 2, 2013 the day after my mama’s passing I wanted to get my mind off all that had happened, exhausted from mom’s illnesses, her death, and painful false accusations against me. I decided to watch American Idol that was recorded on May 1st. When the opening group song started I could not believe my ears… they were singing, “Mama told me not to waste my life she said spread your wings my little butterfly, don’t let what they say keep you up all night, they can’t detain you, wings were made to fly”.

Tears streamed down my face realizing that God had sent me a message about my mama; encouraging me not follow in her footsteps of worrying about what people thought of me. She is fully experiencing freedom from the fear of man that had become a snare, now in Heaven’s glory liberated from its’ restrictions.

My journey towards audacious liberty began at that very moment, albeit I didn’t know it at the time. This butterfly message fluttered once again and came into view a couple of months later. Appearing while my feet dangled out of the small opening into our attic. Staying seated close to the light as I sorted through the few boxes of my mom’s belongings. Grieving her loss was more stiffing than the attics dense, windowless air. While sifting through her stuff I became saddened she had thrown out a lot of her belongings before she moved from her last spacious two apartment, into a much smaller one bedroom apartment. One of those precious item’s I missed was her beloved roller skates. Having fond memories of my brother Troy and I taking turns skating around in our basement as children. The list of missing items was long, realizing her dementia probably was a factor in her out of character decision to toss them. Far beyond the scope of these earthly mementos was the loss of my parents. My soul felt darker than the farthest corners of the attic breathing in the stale air as a orphan. Intermittently, wiping tears from my flushed face as I divided mementos into designated boxes for family members that lined the attic’s opening.  As I continued  to gently look through her belongings I was suddenly surprised to see a bright pink butterfly on a 3X5 index card.  Excitingly pulling it out to examine it closer I flipped the card over to read “All That the father Hath is yours.” My Little butterfly Love Al. My dad had written this to my mother on April 9th 1977, one of the few things she had kept that he had given her. This orphan girl finding solace in his simple yet powerful words

DSCN2772

DSCN2773
A few weeks after that profound discovery my sweet Bff and her hubby surprised me and my husband as I celebrated my first birthday without my mama. Debbie crowned me with a Birthday tiara and my eyes were masked to veil the secret of our destination. Once we arrived and mask removed, I was handed tickets to the American Idol concert. Joy and excitement bubbled within me as we made our way into the coliseum to our amazing seats. Just in time to hear this familiar opening song, “Mama told me not to waste my life, she said spread your wings my little butterfly”. God is over the top with his love and attention to detail , and Mama, you would be proud of me for I’m learning the true meaning of Alis Volat Propriis.

006
Perhaps your longing for more freedom in your life? Whether your weighted down by a loss, rejection, fear or shame. Whatever the need, God wants to set you free!… for those He has set free are free indeed. Go ahead, fly with your own wings because God is the wind beneath them.


Leave a comment

Memorial Poppies

Image

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted on my blog portions of what I read at my mom’s memorial service. Now, I’m going to share the story surrounding her Celebration of Life and how God showed His faithfulness in the midst of it all.

The sun shone vividly the morning of mama’s service, nevertheless my emotions remained engulfed in a deluge of throbbing grief. Wondering if I could hold myself together for the service; let alone muster enough nerve to share the essence of who our mother was. Thankfully deeply embedded within me was a greater desire to honor her, allowing me to override the pain. God filling me with this inner strength to temporarily jump over hurtles of timidity and the fear of public speaking.

As I geared up to head toward that  hopeful direction, I donned myself with waterproof mascara (an absolute must), and still allotted for a potential  backup plan. This crucial plan was comprised of two dear friends gifted in the art of public speaking willing to wait in the wings if things veered south. Still my heartfelt intentions and prayers were earnest to get through the 8 minute time of sharing.

Having countless things my mother taught my brother and I to glean from, I choose a selection of valuable lessons carved through her words or forged by her life. Also, including a sprinkling of her silly antics that made for lots of fun stories to tell.

One of the funny stories that I wasn’t able to share was her first morning ritual, the ceremonial task of opening all the heavily draped windows, giving way to joyful light dancing with the pull of the curtain strings.While simultaneously belting out two silly songs…never deviating from her delightful favorites. Everyday she arose from her bed singing, “Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning, oh, how I hate to get out of bed”, then making her way down the hallway towards the windows finishing off her encore performance with, “Have a Banana, Have a Banana “. We knew mom was up by the sound of her voice caroling down the hall.

Now as an adult I too love to start my day by opening the curtains. Though I’ve taken a fancy to singing little ditties from time to time, I’m sorry to say my repertoire of morning melodies do not include mom’s personal faves… the famous saying “Apples do not fall far from the tree” somehow still rings gloriously true.

So when this little apple opened the shades first thing in the morning of mom’s memorial, my eyes beheld a breathtakingly beautiful red poppy that bloomed overnight. Its’ brightness and contrast to the muted palette shocking me with its’ first vibrant bloom. My mind recalled the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz, while softly saying yes Lord mom is now experiencing, “There is no place like home”..in Heaven. Profoundly comforted yet still wanting to know more about this new cheery visitor I made my way to the computer, my inquiring mind wanted to learn the meaning of the poppy  more completely. Clicking on Wikipedia my eyes could not believe what I was reading about this flower and their symbolism. It stated that:

“Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. And  also a remembrance for soldiers handed out around Memorial day.”

Another interpretation of poppies written in Classical mythology is that “the bright scarlet color signifies a promise of resurrection after death.”

What a perfect hug from God, … soon I would be gathering with others not only in remembrance of my mom but also rejoicing in God’s promise. That she now lives in eternal glory, free from pain and suffering. The poppy has become an ongoing comfort to me as I mourn the loss of my best friend and dear mother.

The very next day after the service, my little family somberly celebrated Mother’s Day and I was graced by a second poppy blooming in our yard. Grabbing my camera to snap a photo of this newly opened magnificent bloom hoping to capture its’ delicate form. Afterwards I counted the remaining buds still cloaked awaiting their brilliant reveal. Two were blooming while three were waiting. Five is the number of grace and was the number of people in our family whenever mom hung out with the Jennings.

As I clung to grace celebrating Mother’s Day without mom, we decided to switch our lunch plans for the day from the China Gorge restaurant in Hood River, to Calamity Jane”s in Sandy, Oregon. Playing out the scenario of the day in my mind I was sure that all of us would be getting burgers served in a cast iron skillet. However, my husband ordered a taco salad making me giggle at the scene that previously ran through my mind. Frankly, it matters not what my husband orders, it just seemed unconventional for him to choose a salad at a restaurant known for their burgers… usually his “norm”. Then it all made sense as I glanced at my husband’s finished meal staring at his now empty plate… amazed to see five red poppies designed on the melmac dish.

I love how God shows up in the seemingly common, obscure places, ready to bless us through the smallest details or grandest design. His plan unwrapping in our present. Only requiring eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear, and hearts ready to expect Him to show up.

One year later  still marveling at how poppies show up in curious places my eyes increasingly  mindful of their breathtaking and heartwarming presence… God revealings Himself again and again through their message. Looking forward to sharing more about that in the future.

 

Image


Leave a comment

Feathering the Empty Nest

Image

 

It seems like only yesterday that Kevin and I filled  the air with excitement as we delightfully  prepared a room for the arrival of  our first-born son. Fueled with anticipation and joy, more animated than the Daisy Kingdom wallpaper that paraded around the walls of his soon to be nursery.  Light danced on the now glossy white crib positioned beneath the window, each intricate spindle sanded and painted,  a labor of love by my husband. Transforming the worn hand me down wood into a crisp, brilliant white. The closet brimmed with an assortment of  adorable clothes in a variety of styles, and sizes, for every season.  A handmade wooden Noah’s ark nestled in the far left corner, my thrift store find just days after the thrilling news “it’s a boy! “,  was confirmed by the ultrasound imaging.
While waiting for Derek’s birth you could either find me waddling around (did I just admit that?) adding feathers to our nest or propping my swollen feet up to read the latest How To parenting book. As each day drew nearer to the delivery date, so did my joy and optimism; confident my husband and I could do this thing called parenting.

Apparently there is no prerequisite to mastering this skill before you give birth to your first-born or even your second. For lo and behold two and half-years later we welcomed our second son Trent. Doubling our happiness and compounding the realization that books give you only limited training in the true art of being a parent.

Now twenty-two years and far too many mistakes later, we stand in awe at the honor of raising such wonderful sons in spite of our flaws and brokenness. Gloriously tallied into the raw equation is God’s grace equaling the sum that otherwise seems mathematically impossible.
And while the clock ticks away and within a few short hours, this stay at home mom and former homeschooler, will become an empty nester. No stranger to the knowledge of this incurring reality,  lingering in the far recesses of my mind ever since our boys entered this world. Aware of the fact  just as the appointed time led them to leave the womb, so also one day they would leave the nest.   A familiar quote by Reverend Henry Ward Beecher comes to mind, “There are two things we should give children, one is roots and the other one is wings.”  Today our son Trent takes flight, propelled by wings of independence gilded with freedom. Soaring to new exhilarating heights and rich depths, fulfilling all God has called him to be. Whether finding themselves aloft over mountain top successes or thrust down into canyons of failures, character and destiny still forging with every flap of their pinions.

Concluding this chapter in my life has gone all too quickly.  Now my heart waits for the dust of bittersweet memories to settle, and the echo of an empty room to begin to pulse with life once again.  Asking Papa Daddy’s (God’s) help transitioning into whatever He for me next as He re-feathers my nest with His promises.

I love Psalms 91:4 assuring truths:
“He will shelter you with his feathers; you will find safety under his wings. His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall”

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness, a love that is never-failing and generous compassion, even mindful of every sparrow that falls to the ground. Your attention to the smallest detail brings a reassuring peace. We stand awestruck gazing at your unfathomable love that comforts to the core and covers every human condition. We long to trust in you Papa, grounded in the roots you have given us while we soar victoriously with you providing the wind beneath our wings.

“But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me
Within your mighty hands
When the ocean rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still and know you are God
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust
When the ocean rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are King over the flood
I will be still and know you are God

“Still” By HillSong


2 Comments

Konnichiwa to Peace

Image

Our son  and his friend were going on trip of a lifetime, a two week vacation in Tokyo. Beholding all the sights and sounds of a rich culture, not to mention it being an electronic mecca. A virtual treasure trove  of all things “arcadic”  that would be video arcade + archaic =  arcadic  my creative liberties for the day.  If anyone knows me in the ever so slightest way they would know  this was not going to be a cake walk on my part. In all the years of  being  a mother  I have battled fears, foreboding  thoughts of  possible abuse, kidnappings, accidents or sicknesses  and all the alarming stuff in the middle.  In fact, if you can name it I  probably have feared it.  Been there done that.

Any loving  mother no doubt has  combated most of all of these same fears for her children. It is a natural desire to nurture and protect our babies no matter how old they are.  However, for me it went far beyond normal trepidations that come from a caring parent, but rather  becoming irrational and larger than life ones. Going so far as to  crippling me from releasing our sons to go anywhere with their dad or anyone else.  Words cannot begin to express  how incredibly hard this was for my husband, children and even me.

Now  looking back, and having come to greater depths of healing in this area,  I marvel and am utterly humbled that Kevin stayed married to me.  Through those layers of  painful growth came revelation to why my fears where at critical mass, some were fostered  from past personal sexual abuse I was aware and unaware of.  Buried deep, pushed down by stratum of shame, denial and  trauma, manifesting itself through unhealthy behaviors.  Perhaps some came from  being  carried in my mother’s womb only three months after burying her 9 month old son Brent, he died unexpectedly from compilations due to anesthetic from what was suppose to be a routine hernia surgery.

Personally, I cannot fathom my mom’s fears and grief as she carried me… what a bitter sweet time for her.  It’s important that I make this very clear, I’m  in no way blaming anyone  for my behavior, we all have personal  choices to make regarding what we with do with what has been given us.  For whatever reasons my fears were real, intense and even when prayers like, “God has not given me the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” * did not bring complete relief;  I would want to run away from the visible pain that I was causing my husband  and children.  Fighting  my fears seemed fruitless, freezing up and paralyzing so my only final option was to flee. Fortunately these were only fleeting lies, for I knew I could never ever leave my family that I love so dearly.

Today, I’m so thankful to God who has shone me His perfect love that casts out fear, for my husband and  children that endured the strain of my intense struggles for freedom with their love and forgiveness.  Plus, where would I be without the love and support of mentors / friends that have also walked with me through it all.  And though they did not  wrestle the same degree of debilitating demons as I, they chose to stand by me in my brokenness.  Loving me without judgement, offering me compassion and grace that became a breeding ground for my healing. Whenever  I mustered up strength to take a  baby step they applauded with such exuberance you thought I had run a marathon being the first to break the finishing line ribbon.

My boys are grown adults now and yes I still worry too much  I know.  It’s hard to know what is normal when your pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction.  I do know I’m walking in more freedom than ever before and I’m trusting God that it will only increase.

Currently, our son Derek is thoroughly enjoying Tokyo, a dream of his fulfilled.  Counting down the days to see him and hear of his grand adventure.  Mindful of my tradition to keep a memento, a dated trophy if you will, of how God helped me walk in peace as my children soar to new heights. Just like I did many years ago by saving his glass Yahoo milk bottle from his first purchase, a walk to the neighborhood market with his friends… a huge triumph back in the day !.

Recently, I started rereading “Mountains of Spices” the sequel to “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” by  Hannah Hurnard’s.  Even though it has been over  twenty years of reading these two books, I still can relate to her preface to this allegory.  She writes about herself as follows,  “I can speak with the most authority.I was born with a fearful nature– a real slave to the Fearing Clan ! But I have since made the glorious discovery that no one has such a perfect opportunity to practice and develop faith as do those who must learn constantly to turn fear into faith. One must either succumb to the fearing nature altogether and become a “Craven Coward” for the rest of one’s life; or by yielding that fearful nature wholly to the Lord and using each temptation to fear as an opportunity for practicing faith, be made at last into a radiant “Fearless Witness” to his love and power.”

For this writer I’m so not there yet, I will no less continue to “seek peace and pursue it “, falling down and getting back up again and again, spurred on by the ground I have already won with God’s help… turning my weaknesses into His strength.

Whether your taking quantum leaps of faith or faltering  baby steps, God applause’s them both .  He delights in each step or leap you take towards Him. Cheering you on not matter where your starting line begins and rejoices with you at your victorious finish.

Father, we praise you, in awe of your delight for us and the comfort you bring in our storm tossed seas . Providing  perfect peace as our mind stays on you, trusting you over the mounding waves of fear. Learning to say  Sayonara  (Goodbye) to fear and  Konnichiwa  ( Hello ) to peace..

Image
Having the  Japanese symbol of peace painted on my big toe …. A beautiful reminder to stay in a place of peace.

Image

My  friend Kelli ordered this mug for me and it arrived the day I was starting to worry about the Typhoon that had hit Japan.

3 You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You  .Isaiah 26:3 AMP bible

*  II Timothy  1:7


Leave a comment

You’ve Got Mail

Image

When our boys were 5 and 7 yrs old one of my prayers for them was to have a dog. Growing up my brother and I had a lot of fond memories of Herbie our little poodle mix.  As parents my husband and I wanted our children to have some special moments similar to ours growing up.  Although we now wrestled with the fact our money was tight and our cottage home small… a tight situation on both ends. I began praying asking God with these specifications….for a little dog that was also CHEAP.  Trusting in a God who loves to  give us the desires of our heart.

One day while answering the phone I was delighted to hear my bubbly friend and mentor, Michelle on the other end. In her trademark cheerful tone mixed with  passionate zeal, she exclaimed… “Guess what Lisa !?”,  to which I replied,  “What”  trying to reach her level of enthusiasm. She chimed in with such exuberance it could have motivated a failing football team into the state championships.
“God says you’ve got mail” she said eagerly making me laugh at her perky statement. Being a routinely self confessing Eeyore from time to time, I greatly appreciated having a Tigger bouncing around to lift my occasional drooping spirits.

After our conversation ended there was a new found spring in my step faintly resembling that of “T  I  DOUBLE  GER” throughout my day’s errands. Finishing up that afternoon with a trip to our neighborhood post office, I amused myself while waiting in line by reading the signs below the counter. An unfamiliar sign was posted that caught my eye which  simply read “Lost dog ask clerk”.  When it came time to step up to the counter my casual statement to the clerk was , “Oh how’s the lost dog doing?” trying to engage her in a brief exchange of pleasantries, She didn’t miss a beat by saying, “Would you like us to bring her over to your house today?” I’m like whoa!.. that was not what I was expecting to hear, neither was I expecting  to hear myself blurt out an unwavering “Yes.” Walking away from the counter wondering what just happened.

That same day at 3.00 p.m a sweet lady mail carrier brought over a puppy cute as a button. A Blue Heeler–Boarder Collie– with a splash of Corgi in the mix.  All dressed in a striking black and white coat.  Upon opening the front door she wasted no time cleaning up a bounty of cheerios the boys had spilled the living floor.  This act alone sealed the deal for me, her efficient clean up worked better than any vacuum cleaner I ever owned… making Kerby, Hoover, or Dyson completely fitting names if my husband agreed to keep this loveable pooch. A petite four legged creature she  became fast a friend with the boys and I,  waiting only for a quick nod of my husband’s approval… and that is exactly what he did.

Within  24 hours we had our little, cheap (free!), and I might add, cute dog I had  been praying for. God is so good, He gives us exceedingly, abundantly more than we could think or ask for. When petitioning for a family pet my prayers never included asking for a new collar, or for our new dog to have all its’ current shots from the vet.  However, the kind woman that brought us our new doggie, provided both as a gift.  Through the generosity of this woman God added in all the bells and whistles for good measure.

I Corinthians 2:12 God says He wants us to realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly bestowed on us.   More appropriately than naming her after a vacuum cleaner we decided to name her Buttons because she truly is as cute as one.  Currently we have had our precious little dog for over 14 years. She has been sweet and dear companion to all of us.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  Ephesians 3:20

Today, God is saying to each of us,  “You’ve got mail”,  and we can be sure it’s definitely not junk!