My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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She Flies With Her Own Wings

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“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

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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.

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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.


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The Journey of a Thousand Little Goodbyes

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Saying good bye to those we love is never easy, it will undoubtedly tug strongly on our heart strings and if it’s final  well, that will reach far beyond a yank. Pulling our heart to their breaking point due to the forcible impact of our loss. As time marches on and my years head towards the golden, I’m painfully aware saying goodbye will be woven more frequently and tightly, as the lives around me lose theirs or relationships sadly dissolve.
This summer I had the pleasure of seeing Amy Grant in concert thanks to my friends generosity which extended to buying me her new CD.  Though my spirit was moved  tremendously by her song, “Don’t Try so Hard” honest words I can completely relate to. Her thought provoking song  “Is it Better Not to Know” seemed to rank  just as high on my favorite tunes list.  The chorus goes as follows:

“Oh… nothing stays the same
Life flickers like a flame
As the seasons come and go
Goodbye more than hello
It’s better not to know
Is it better not to know?  Amy Grant

I’ve asked myself that question when life has dealt me blows that have blindsided me and sent me reeling, my mind spinning  into a autopilot of “Whys?”  Oh, I know I’m not suppose to ask  the “why” question but I do.  I compare pictures I had of my future and the one I have been given. Strangely they rarely look the same; as I search for God in the sea of chaos  like a  “Where’s Waldo” in this newly  replaced image.  Straining to see Him in my overcrowded crestfallen circumstances. Instead of looking for Waldo’s  striped shirt and  beanie I look for God, nail scarred hands and feet, wounds He bore for you and me.
Isaiah 53:5 says…

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole”.

And then my eyes see Him, He was there, all along, never failing or forsaking me. Hidden in plain view surrounded by life’s  beautiful messes, joy and sadness, triumph mingling with tragic.  And even when my mind floods with questions and doubt, God prevails.  We don’t have to live long to know… death can come sudden with no warning, no chance for farewells or a proper send off or it comes in what I call “The Journey of a Thousand  Little  Goodbyes.”  Existing in the slow day to day departures to what was once normal, watching loved ones slip away one painful closure at a time.  Greeting the dawning of a new day not knowing what part of their personality and capabilities will be gone forever.  And while you hold onto every essence of who they are in that moment, in a blink of a eye it shifts yet again, finding yourself saying goodbye once more.

So long to what was normal, familiar, into a sinking sand of grief,  weighty sorrow and  sadness… pulling you down into a tomorrow that seems bleaker than today, enveloped in irretrievable grains of  “use to be’s” .

Confronted with excruciating truth that….

One day  your loved one can call you or give you a hug.

One day they can brush their teeth, comb their hair, dress and feed themselves.

One day they can walk, tell you they love you and fill the air with laughter.

And then one day it is gone… forever.

So far when it has come to losing my family members it has been one  a  “Journey of Thousand Little Goodbyes”. Losing my dad at the age of 27 to cancer after 6 months from  his diagnosis.  Fast forward twenty five years later my thousand farewells  began again with  my mama as her dementia and congestive heart failure  chipped away at her  strong body and vibrant personality.  Going home to be with the Lord  only five short months ago. While at the same time my only sibling was fighting his personal battle with Lewy Body dementia  dove tailing with moms illness. Waves of loss washed over me as my mother and brother needed help to get them into the car, buckle their seat belts, form words or be their memory. Silently mourning a family I would never see whole again until we all reunited in Heaven. My journey of thousand  little goodbyes continues as my brother battles his disease with grace, humor and a dignity that is humbling.  And though I do not know what the future holds I choose to place my one hand in God’s  while I wave  temporary  goodbyes large and small with the other.

I don’t know what goodbyes you’ve had to face, if they were sudden or drawn out. I do know God wants to bring you comfort in every grief stricken situation past, present or future .

God, thank you that you hold tightly on to our hands saying to us, fear not I will help you. Your love and faithfulness is a shield round about us.  When we walk through the fire we will not be burned  and through the floods we will not drown. Your grace covers us “when it’s better not to know.”

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that is why we call it the present.” Bil Keane


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Jesus , my wake-up call

ImageThree months ago, while talking with a friend on the phone , the name “Jesus Tellez” showed up on the screen as another call came in. I jokingly told her , “Jesus is calling but I’m not going to answer it.” Jesus continued to call . At last , I realized I had to tell “Jesus” he had the wrong number, When I answered the phone , I was shocked to recognize mom’s caregiver calling from her cell phone. It became a comfort to get a call from Jesus to know how mom was doing. On April 28th , my husband and I reluctantly went to the beach for one night , feeling mom was still well enough to do so . At a thrift store, I purchased a mug, decorated with a vintage black phone and the saying ” Jesus is my wake-up call’.  Three days later, on May 1st, I was awakened by the phone ringing . it was “‘Jesus” (mom’s caregiver) letting me know my mother did not make it through the night . Jesus was indeed my wake-up call ,telling me mom had arrived safely home. When clearing out mom’s room I asked the caregiver why her name showed up like that and she had no idea…

Lord , Thank you for showing up in our times of pain and loss. We praise you that you “got our number ” .. we just simply need to answer your call ..


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Welcome Change

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While I was working with great toil to redo a garden area along the side of our house, my mind was a bevy of mixed emotions. This small area of land was my first attempt at gardening seventeen years ago, nestling next to the detached garage of our starter home. Every year I would add an extra something to enhance its’ cottage charm.   A climbing white rose, Lady’s’ Mantle from the annual Powell Valley plant sale, a blown glass snail, a birthday gift from my mama.   As our little slice of garden heaven evolved so had our home….our starter home was now becoming our “finisher home”. What once was a detached garage, has become a very attached master bedroom.
The new plans included a french door exit into a small enclosed patio adjacent to our bedroom. Hands laboring and feet planted firmly on the cold soil I slowly began removing stones that lined our pea gravel path. God’s word came to mind as I worked, “A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones”. It was now the season to cast those familiar aisle of stones once gathered from a neighbor’s yard long since moved away….it then began to hit me. It was more than just rocks, pea gravel and discounted plants dotting the small landscape. It had become part of this girls’ sentimental journey. A discovery of beauty merging out of barrenness, kindred neighbors sharing their garden treasures. Memories played in my mind with each new task of removing parts of my cherished established garden. As the day wore on my feet became frozen and my heart was feeling heavy, it was then I decided to call it a day and head for a relaxing hot shower. Hoping that my body and soul would once again feel the warm anticipation of a new patio and not be laden with increasing sadness, and the sense of loss brought on by change.
After placing my tools in the shed, I thought it would be nice to surprise my husband, by cleaning up the dogs business making it one less thing to do when he got home. Who doesn’t appreciate less poop to scoop? Grabbing a recycled plastic grocery bag from a decorative mail box where they’re stored, I quickly opened the bag my eyes widened as I spotted a single fortune from a cookie. This was the only tangible evidence from our delightful Kung Pao chicken we enjoyed weeks earlier. . Placing one of my muddy garden gloves in the bag I pulled it out and read the only two words that graced the slender white paper….there in small black type were the words “Welcome Change”. These powerful words warmed my chilly soul. Leave it to God to show up in the most creative places. Proving Himself to be faithful as He has promised again and again lest we forget. Friends are you facing change today? Perhaps not just small changes but big life changes. I know for me, my changes extend far beyond the borders of my tiny disrupted garden. Change at times can be an unwelcome guest forcing us to shift, transform and adapt to a “new normal”. With the Lord’s unwavering help I’m learning how to navigate my only sibling’s diagnosis of early onset Dementia, my mothers dementia & congestive heart failure. Now, adding into the mix is our first-born son preparing to leave the nest into his newly purchased home…all the while I’m hormonally challenged! There is a whole lot of changes going on !!!
Whatever you are facing you can be confidant God has it covered. Join me in taking comfort in a God that does not change, He remains the same, and never fails us. He is always faithful and pours out His everlasting love and mercy to us daily. His love will see you through every challenging situation. His word is a shield to all who put their trust in Him. My prayer is that today He surprise you with joy in the most unexpected places.
Lord, Thank you for your unchanging love, where there is no variation, rising or setting or shadow cast by your turning. Seasons change from springtime to harvest but your steadfast love remains the same. You, oh Lord, have appointed the moon for the seasons, the sun knows the exact time of its’ setting. From glory to glory changing us while you are unwavering, timeless, your truths transforming us as we yield to your perfect plan for our lives. Thank you for truth that sets us free that we may embrace change knowing whether it’s big or small you can handle it all .
Psalms 102:27 “You remain the same ,and your years will never end”‘
Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord , I change not”.