My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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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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The Letter

vintage-floral-free-letters-cards-powerpoint_156393One day in 1986 it suddenly dawned on me, I wanted Kevin to move out of the friend zone into the “Dating Zone” Asap!.. only hoping he felt the same way. The eyes of my heart soon opened to this new realization after he payed me a visit at Mall 205 where I worked as a manager at Foxmoor clothing store.
Unbeknownst to us our first meeting in the basement of Laurel Park Bible Chapel in 1983, would one day become life changing. Our sweet encouraging friendship blossomed in the soil of our personal brokenness. Sporadically touching base during the next few years, with occasional phone calls and hand written letters, though we lived a mere three miles apart.

This gem of a soul mate was hidden in plain view during our friendship. Blinded by heartbreak of a short lived first marriage, I plummeted head long into an eating disorder, my futile attempt to gain a measure of control in my life. There In the midst of the pain and brokenness God had a plan, to bring beauty out of ashes, oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Within a couple of weeks of Kevin’s pivotal visit we waved good bye to the Friend Zone. Now standing hand in hand at the threshold of a new beginning eagerly awaiting God’s leading.  Excitement sparked our faith and faith moved us toward what the future would hold for us. We became increasingly aware that we had an adversary that was not ready to see us walk in victory. A persistent seven year battle raged within Kevin that unless he had total freedom from it, our relationship could not proceed to a commitment of marriage.  My heart was not only longing to be married to Kevin, it was longing to see a tormented man set free. Faith rose within me to stand in the gap on his behalf and believe that God would deliver Kevin once and for all. On one particular day I felt the Lord’s strong pressing to write Kevin a letter filled with God’s truth of His deep love for him and mine as well. These truths were the keys that opened up the prison cell that kept Kevin in mental, emotional, and spiritual torment and set him forever free from his particular battle.

Twenty nine years later I still marvel at this beautiful tapestry woven with threads of God’s faithfulness, grace and redemption. Whenever God’s love is coupled with loving safe relationships it never fails to bring healing. I’m eternally  grateful for the love of God and committed friendships that loved me into wholeness. My life has forever changed for the better because of it.

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times ,and is born, as is a brother,for adversity”..

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Brushstrokes of Transformation

Woman On Ladder Painting House

Our house was in dire need of painting, for one, heavy Oregon precipitation had left its’ calling card in the form of algae, firmly imbedding into the crevices of the cedar shake siding. Not wanting to show favorites, the algae blanketed the lower lying hardiplank boards on our 540 sq ft. addition. Unfortunately, unlike the inventive “folks” or should I say “volks” of Hamburg Germany, we were unable to harness the power of algae creating stunning architecture and a reliable energy source.Fearing power washing would harm the delicate 1940’s portion of the house it became apparent that a trip to the paint store was a necessary destination. Finally gathering the materials required for this much needed TLC. Over the years our humble abode had patiently waited as we grappled with finances, illness, loss, depression and grief. Internal storms battered the occupants, while the exterior suffered years of wear and tear.
Now paint brush in hand it dawned on us how much we dreaded this task even more now than 12yrs ago when we last painted the exterior. If our enthusiasm were to be described as a paint sheen we would be labeled as Flat! Relief from our dull and lackluster attitude came by conjuring up mental images of what our completed results would look like. Mindfully staying focused on the goal which felt oh so many gallons of paint away!
What we longed for would take muscle, grit and tenacity. Getting from point A to B usually requires work and it does not help that my painting skills rival Lucille Ball’s clumsy antics. By all accounts it appears that I have been cut from the same cloth; surely Lucy and I share a blood line.
However, if there is indeed no relational ties with Lucy, it goes without saying my mother and I cozily were two peas in a pod when it came to painting. Our expertise (cough, cough) being something to behold. She probably looked down from Heaven elbowing Jesus and proudly saying, “that’s my girl “. Whether it was watching me get my hair stuck in a rose bush, or dropping a paint tray on the one and only uncovered portion of our deck. Most likely, her loudest side splitting laughter came when I gave myself a wedgie not once but twice as my shorts got hooked on a Rhodie bush, while descending the ladder with a paint tray in hand. My only saving grace was behind the large Rhododendron as it somewhat shielded me with its’ prolific foliage. It’s the least it could do after giving me the two biggest whopper wedgies ever!
In the end… no pun intended, as the house stands gloriously completed and the last paint brush rinsed clean… I can almost hear Jesus and mom saying, “Yeap, that’s our girl” all with the familiar tone of love, acceptance and grace.
Transformations for the better… has the potential to get our knickers in a knot making us uncomfortable in the process. Whether it’s chipping away at pesky bad habits, sanding off rough edges of unforgiveness, or rerouting deeply imbedded wrong thinking. We can find ourselves needing to exercise spiritual muscles of discipline, and walking out tenacious faith with God energized perseverance.
Slowly we begin to see the beauty in the process, stepping from one form of glory into a new level of glory. Keeping our eyes on the prize while striking the match that ignites fires of change. Reminding ourselves that the end result will be worth the time and investment it took for radical transformation.
Thank you Lord, for your brushstrokes of mercy over our battered lives… as fresh starts, clean slates and forgiveness wash over our stains of deeply imbedded regret and shame. Thank you Heavenly Father that no matter what has happened in our lives your word has promised that Your love covers all transgressions. That is the best coverage of all!
“Love covers all transgression” Proverbs 10:12


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Feathering the Empty Nest

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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


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Justice Like Snowflakes

The  weatherman’s predictions for a winter storm arrived as promised, delivering a healthy dose of snow accumulation. Before this, the season had only graced us with rapidly melting flakes and a scant  light dusting of powder. Perhaps  Mother Nature  had grown weary of being poked fun at  for her lackluster display of wintery splendor,  or merely saving her best for last.  Whatever the reason, it’s here now blanketing our neighborhood  with a soft hush that silents the clamor.  A glistening brilliant white coverlet stretching far as the eye can see.

Snow can have  a way of bringing out the child within, beckoning us to come out and play. Reminiscing about my childhood, snow days were counted as some of my favorites. My brother and I raced to get  bundled up quickly, braving the cold, enthusiastic to chuck freshly made snowballs at each other. Or simply relishing falling  backward into a pile of snow  imprinting  heavenly angels. Rounding out our day of fun building an impressive snowman together.

As the years passed, occasionally our age difference caused a natural chasm of joint activities. One particular evening,  twilight was settling as I constructed Frosty alone. Street lights cast a glow, as gentle flakes fell on my creation, growing increasingly eager to remove my damp clothes and wrap my hands around a warm mug of cocoa. Crossing my cold fingers hoping we had whip creme or marshmallows to garnish my steaming drink.

Toasty and settled in, it was  time  to peer out our second story  window to admire my work below.  Gazing downward expecting to be greeted by a beaming face, carrot nose and  smile made of small stones.  Instead, to my dismay, I was saddened to realize someone had  destroyed  Frosty  leaving him in a heap. Anger and hurt welled up as  I  lamented my woes  to my folks, dad wasted no time to rise to this newly appointed challenge. Legendary  in the neighborhood  for chasing  after anyone that messed with his  property.  No doubt he found this to be another golden opportunity to hopefully catch the culprits and bring them to swift justice. Fashioning a  snowman for his trap, he carefully slipped into our darkened garage which became his makeshift stake out. Willing to wait patiently,  the orange glow of his lit cigarette the only revealing clue to  his whereabouts.  Not long afterwards  two boys  appeared, kicking this decoy snowman to its’ demise.  Hastily they became aware of my dad’s trap, his notorious reputation, and stellar gazelle moves, simultaneously  running away pell mell!  Before mom and I  knew it, my dad had not only caught the mischievous boys, but  marched  them back to the scene of the crime instructing them to rebuild my demolished snowman… not to their liking or specifications no less, but to mine. Sharp contrasting  scenes played out through the same window, one moment destruction, the next, restoration… victim, to victorious. Now wholly justified, redemption rolled out from snow under my dads’ watchful eye. My soul  warmed to the depths where the the bitter chill of injustice once lay.  God’s word tells us in  Psalms 68 :14
“God scattered their enemies like snowflakes melting in the forests of Zalmon”.

What a comfort to know God’s  got your back, He is  mindful of every hurt and loss you have or will ever encounter. He watches over you like a protective Papa Daddy.  Comforting us with this promise…
“Anyone who strikes you strikes what is most precious to me.” So the Lord Almighty sent me with this message for the nations that had plundered his people: *

Even though I don’t know what is going on in your life, I’m confident of this  .. God is a God of justice and He sends the neighbor bullies running. Your rejection, false accusation, harsh sting of injustice, or loss.  With this be warmed with the promise of His love and faithfulness to you now and forever. Whether you see justice here or in eternity, God  will work out all things for the good. All things plundered tethered to His promise.

So, “baby it might be cold outside” and  inside your soul too… no matter the situation allow God’s sympathetic embrace to melt away any bitterly cold concerns… bringing sunshine to your inmost being.  His 100% emotional weather forecast  is always  accurate!

*Zechariah 2:8 GNT


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God’s Lemon-Aid Stand

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Rolling up to the stop light, my eyes caught a sign to the left of me which cheerfully read “Lemonade $2 for a 16oz. cup”.followed by “First time stand has opened “. Though shocked by the price it was catchingly  framed with pastel colored balloons, a gentle persuasion, swaying in the breeze, wooing parched folks to acquire some refreshments.

It brought back fond memories from my first childhood entrepreneurial endeavor. Our home was  merely a hop, skip and jump away from the Standard T.V and Appliance store. This store was a virtual treasure trove of discarded refrigerator boxes. Providing unlimited fun for my brother and I to amuse away our summer.  Co laboring to lug their large and cumbersome frames home, which we would  then quickly transform these cardboard canvases  into new creations ignited by our  imagination .

One day while my brother was playing with his friends, I decided to  create a lemonade stand with the recent box we dragged home.  First order of business was to cut out a window to hand out these thirst quenching drinks to eager awaiting customers, not that I had a line of them, but in my minds eye I did; envisioning them clamoring to partake of the concocted nectar. Next, was to determine the selling price… happily deciding to set it at two cents per Dixie cup. Neatly stacking them strategically along side the pitcher of freshly made Kool Aid lemonade.

Words fall flat at how thrilled I was when my first customer, a young gentleman, moseyed down the dusty unpaved road, which upon arriving he ordered a cup and a refill to boot!  A whooping four cents right off the bat.  Even though I was in
a stuffy box and only leaving for short periods of time to cool down from the heat, my thoughts were of shear joy… not a word of complaining… this whole experience  was exhilarating!

Even though I never squeezed an actual zesty lemon in preparation, it  does makes me think of the saying, “When life gives you a lemon make lemonade”. Life can be good at handing us an unexpected lemon from time to time. Presented with these sour orbs we have a choice, to either allow ourselves to become soured and embittered, or to whip up a batch of sweet satisfying lemonade with these disappointments.  At times my attitude  puckers up to a surly disposition worthy of the bitter fruit I had just been served. Repugnant in my spirit, methodically slow to add sweetness in my thoughts that could change the outcome of this tart and testy intrusion.

Jesus shares a powerful truth in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.

Children are teachable, forgiving, good humored and full of wonder, while modeling Christ like humility.

How fitting that for many children their first entrepreneurial business is making a lemonade stand, turning the bitter into sweet and serving cups of contentment. One of countless lessons that can be learned through the eyes of a child.

Today I can choose to change my unfitting adult perspective that lacks trusting You with childlike faith. Making a stand to enter into your Kingdom promises that declare, ” You came that they would have life and have it in abundance ( to the full, till it overflows) ” John 10:10.  So when the next time life gives me a lemon… I’ll accept God’s transforming promises to turn this lemon into new life… something sweet indeed!

Thank you Lord for the power to make bitter waters sweet, to taste and see that you are good when life has left a bitter taste in our mouth’s….that what has been served to us, past or present, does not need to fuel our future. May today be all about the business of Heaven, where it can be lived out here on earth as it IS in Heaven as your word promises. Guide us to be people of integrity with simple hearts endeavoring  to love you and to love others as ourselves. Calling all those who are thirsty to come and drink from the wells of living water… NO money required!

Lord with your mercy and grace you continually bring to me the aid I need change my lemons into lemonade. Gathering trust and strength in knowing that the lemonade I enjoy today first came to me disguised as a lemon.

“If you can change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
Wayne Dyer
Pocketful of promises ….
Exodus 15:22-27 , Psalms 19:9-10  , Psalms 119 -103


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Do you ever feel that the demand on you is greater then the supply ? or perhaps  what you have to offer pales in comparison to what it takes to meet the need  ..  Well , do I have good news for you .First of all your in good company ..Moses rescued from a basket floating in the Nile..grew up to see the unveiling of a promise that started swaddled in a blanket of his mothers love. Tenderly nursing of seeds of greatness and destiny ..Moses at the edge of  that destiny stared trembling at  his weakness ,lacking eloquent not equipped to be a man of words,slow of speech and having a heavy and awkward tongue .. Moses heart burning like the God fueled  bush,  fully ablaze with a fiery passion to serve .. flames dossed with the stark reality of his lack .. Somehow Moses must have thought God was unaware of his shortcomings.. perhaps pointing them out one by one would surely change the course that God was mapping out for him ..God  however did not allow how Moses felt about himself derail His  divine plans for deliverance. He chose to send a deliverer which also needed delivering.Human fragility imprinted with the image of Yahweh and  still equipped to do the work in his human condition. Moses  the mouthpiece ,slow of speech ,but a mouth formed by  almighty God, and as God was freeing His people from bondage He was freeing Moses as well  His all consuming fire . Burning the chaff , Breaking  chains of inadequacies and lack to truths that would set Moses free..  Honesty I have lost count of the times I have told God of my lack ..  sure I know   “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me ” by heart and that     God’s word is true for  he is not a man that He can lie ..  still I  find myself doubting ,or even  comparing myself with others knowing full well I’m not suppose to . And  when faced with a assignment that  required shoes to big  for my feet to fill . I look to God and want to say “are you  talking to me?” . Questioning  the God of the cosmos ,the one that knitted me in my mothers womb , that knows me intimately my raising and my sitting and finds in each one of us  intrinsic value . as I write these words I pray little by little , precept upon precept ..line upon line I will grasp  his truth ,truth that will empower me . Longing  for the day I no  longer say like Moses “here I’m Lord send Aaron” but I will go ,trusting in a God that knows all about me and loves me anyway .. that me plus God equals mountain moving faith , that my five loaves and two fish offering can fed the masses  simply because God blessed it .. Using me, “this basket case” of woven insecurities to reveal God’s glorious case through a basket …

Flotations of faith

Lord , Bless our hearts with a burning desire to follow you and trust you where you lead us..May we know your strength is made perfect in our weakness , to glory in our weakness because where we are weak you are strong … thank you for the big shoes we may be called to fill can be removed as we stand on your holy ground where size does not matter ….Thank you that we can serve such a awe inspiring God who sees  our less as more  …