My Sentimental Journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God


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!


Confessions of the Too Tight Tutu


Excitement filled the fall air as my first  ballet class at the coveted Judy Marsh School of dance had arrived. At a mere tender age of eight yet feeling well on my way to becoming a budding prima ballerina. Thoughts long had danced in my mind laced with ballet shoe ribbons,  twirling images of lavish costumes and billowing tutus.

And now entering my class full of anticipation accompanied by jittery nerves.  Newly purchased pink tights providing necessary support to my now wobbly knees. Little ballerinas  all a flurry while small hands and feet energetically removing our coats and shoes. Emerging ready to dance,  donning soft  pink leather ballet shoes scurrying to position ourselves at the polished wooden ballet barre lining the mirror.  Miss Marsh’s serene voice instructing and encouraging her little ballerinas to greatness.

Each week I was resolved to faithfully attend class, while at home committed to practicing my newly learned dance steps. As the weeks progressed my enthusiasm digressed with each class technique I could not master. What I had envisioned for myself and what I was capable of doing were two completely different things.  From my perspective, it seemed so effortless, yet it was considerably harder and more difficult to perform causing my spirits to droop right along with my tights.

My slouching deposition heightening after each class  as I returned to a car filled with the wafting smell of delicious Fryer Tuck spuds. Wishing I had skipped class and ate those tender morsels right along with my waiting mom and brother. Questioning yet again if class time was worth missing out on the pipping hot bounty of potato wedges as I dug into the foil bag for a few lukewarm leftovers. This ballerina was swiftly losing passion and  appeared on all accounts to be ready for her final swan song.

Finding myself ready to prepare for the final curtain call on my short lived aspirations, a second wind arose upon  learning  Mrs. Marsh  had a Christmas surprise for each of us.  Gathering at the ballet barre, anxiously wiggling and chatting, one by one we had our waists measured for her plans.  Within a few short moments it was time for the  golden tape to be slipped around my waist soon revealing its’ measurements. Completely confident of the proper etiquette when having one’s waist measured I did what I thought was the  right thing to do… you take a deep breath and suck it all  in !

However, this “right” answer turned out to be terribly “wrong” considering I was getting fit for a tutu  made with a snap closure waistband. Elastic would have been far more forgiving for a girl who loved Fryer Tuck spuds so dearly.

For immediately upon wearing this heavenly white tutu of layered tulle with a satin waistband, it exploded off my unrestricted waist every time I bowed to  plie or breathe normally. The class erupted in wild giggles, instantly becoming the unintentional class clown, cheeks warm from the blush of embarrassment. The dream of being a refined and elegant ballerina was already fading fast and now it was gone in a “snap” because  of my too tight tutu. The time had  indeed come to lay to rest the dream of learning ballet, thus choosing to retire this tutu and shoes into a box of memories.

Many years have passed since that final curtain call and still somehow those memories seemed rather unfinished.  Thus, I began to trust in a God  that loves to restore what the locust have eaten. Deciding in my late twenties to give ballet a good old college try regardless of my mediocre skills… signing up at Mt Hood Community College.

Mustering up the nerve to face my fears and attempt to relearn ballet . Once again I found myself in the same predicament… never finishing this class either. However, God who is so loving and  full of mercy brought me needed healing;  gently reminding me it’s all about the journey and never about the envisioned or perceived destination.  For not only did this class bring me more closure to my first wildly “unsnapped” ballet ending, it also gave me the idea of starting a cottage business making ballerina bears… which by the way is a whole other story!

Do you ever feel like you don’t measure up?   Perhaps you’ve had to “suck it up” to fit in. God’s word lovingly encourages us, “not to compare ourselves with each other as if one of us was better and the another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives, each of us is an original “.*  Though I was too young to know then what I’m journeying to fully grasp now, my heart is profoundly grateful to God for… “By His grace I am what I am, and His grace towards me was not in vain.”**  And so it is with you.. because you matter incomparable to Him, more then measuring up in His eyes, as He  beckons you to breathe freely and generously, His heart bursting with love and acceptance for the one of a kind you.  So come into His presence fully accepting all He longs to give you, arms open wide to embrace you… too tight tutu and all. While possibly saying  to yourself “Oh Snap” Why didn’t I do this sooner….

You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.
Psalm 30:11  The Message (MSG)

* I Cor.15:10  NKJ Bible      ** Gal. 5:26  The Message Bible