My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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We Are All God’s Favorite

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A shadow of favoritism formed over my mom at the birth of her younger sister, Donna. Her parents made the poor choice of comparing the two siblings throughout their lives… even on the most menial tasks. The sting of favoritism ,coupled with comparison, delivered a deadly blow to my Mom’s self-worth. She was daily reminded of failure to measure up and it haunted her long after her parents passing .

Mom carried a distorted image God never intended her to gaze upon .She learned of God’s love early on in life while sitting on a little bench in the basement of Minthorne Church’s Sunday school class. But, her heart never fully recovered from the deeply embedded favoritism wounds that plagued her all her life. Her tenacious love for God did enable her to overcome many hardships and disappointments she encountered along the way . And,God’s love gave her wisdom and courage not to repeat the same mistake of showing favoritism and comparison towards my brother and me.

When we look a the definition of favoritism , ” the unfair practice of treating some people better than others,” we know it’s contrary to God’s nature. Numerous Scriptures underline this intrinsic truth of His loving character. Romans 2.11 reminds us ” God shows no partiality .” He is no respecter of persons . Peter exploded with this good news  when God revealed there was not distinction between Jew or Gentile. All are grafted into the same tree. He declares in Acts 10.34  It’s Gods own truth ; nothing could be plainer :God plays no favorites ! It makes no difference who you are or where you are from. If you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open .” (Message)

How freeing it is to belong to such a merciful and loving Papa, who does not compare or measure,raise a high standard or base His love on conditions.

Today I rejoice in the legacy of my mother’s loving choices against favoritism. I am   thankful to a God who declares we are all His favorite.

Published by The Christian Journal May 2014 Lisa Thompson Jennings

 


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Innie or an Outie

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Before you go checking your God given belly button to answer my strange query you can relax no TMI required. Just a simple question birthed from my personal quest on the issue of pride. Apparently, mine is so cleverly disguised and utterly inverted I thought I was free from its’ glaring clutches.
Recently I’ve been lovingly outed on my “innie” pride while sharing a struggle I was desiring to overcome. During two separate conversations with two different friends, they tenderly said, “perhaps it is inverted pride your dealing with”… Gulp!

This reminded me of God’s truth in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”.
My heart longs to pin down hidden or exposed lies to the mat, or better yet deliver a 1- 2 punch of victory rendering a KO in record time. Rather, I stumble in my human frailty unable to move like the fierce Muhammad Ali who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.
Instead, I stand with cauliflower ears scarred by shames relentless beatings, causing my natural defenses to swell with pride covering heightened  insecurities . Or at times, unintentionally hidden under the guise of false humility, pride driven “Innie-ward”, inadvertently … the end results remains the same for middle letter in pride is I . Lack of trust in God’s goodness lands me ,myself and I in the driver seat pushing the petal to the metal,singing Sammy Hager rebellious tune ” I can’t drive 65″
God’s word is clear “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”..
So the journey continues towards healing my Innie and Outie forms of pride… asking God that I would “humble myself under His mighty Hand that in due time He will lift me up.”
Grateful for safe relationships spur us on to be authentic and open without the fear of rejection or ridicule. Becoming a safe haven of unconditional love that allows genuine transformation from our pride, selfishness, and other battles of our fleshly nature.
May we choose daily to no longer hide in any forms of pride forged from our brokenness but move in your Spirit of love. Perhaps with your grace I can float like a butterfly after all .
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

For pride is spiritual cancer it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment or even common sense. C.S. Lewis


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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 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

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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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The Royal Flush

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A month ago it was my turn to lead our Life group discussion on Kris Vallottons’s book the, “Supernatural Ways of Royalty.”  A fantastic read poignantly reminding us we are God’s royal Princesses and Princes.  Simple truths, reiterating who we are in Christ Jesus and walking it out with confident trust.  Since “The Royal Flush” was the title of  chapter 4, I thought it would be clever to play on the words using tools gleaned from a small group training last Fall.  So, what better way to start the evening off than an Ice Breaker using playing cards?  Four different suits, four different questions … having them  pick a card any card. Sharing the following based on which one they selected.

The Heart … What is on your heart?
The Spade… What do you want to cultivate in your life?
The Diamond… What is precious to you?
The Club … What do you want to work on getting rid of in your life?

Everyone selected a card  conveying their choice and what it meant to them.  After all had shared it was my turn to talk, revealing the Spade in my hand  declaring how I wanted to “cultivate” my faith. It sounded  spiritual and all grown up… someone who had put their Big Girl pants on. Having no idea the next two weeks would give ample opportunity to “Cultivate ” my faith.
Here’s the hand I was dealt, starting out with…

My husband loosing half a tooth  while eating his sandwich………… $167 after insurance.
Our family car died as we pulled  into United Battery’s parking lot to drop off our son’s old battery ………….$98.00 for a new battery.
Realizing our alternator was the main culprit…. “DOA” ………………….. $200.
Next, this same car did not pass DMV  and needed the EGR replaced  ………….$216.
Yep, you guessed it, our family car was on a roll… one tire was nearly flat and all 4 were balding ……..$599.
Mixing it up and changing gears, the old Lap Top computer kicked the bucket  ……..$229.
However, the piece  de resistance was the sewer pipe blowing its lid (unbeknownst to us) landing all our Royal Flushing smack dab onto the front yard; for only God knows for how long.  FYI… For those inquiring minds that wonder how we could not have noticed this,  we always enter and exit using our side door.  Temporary sewer fix….$160

Believe me, I’ve had way too much fun thinking about this last one. The thought of bubbling crude erupting like old faithful gushing out onto the yard.  Dingy white toilet paper clinging on for dear life draping  Mugho Pines and a nearby Candy Tuft.  Wondering what the dear postman thought as he whistled happily up the walkway delivering our mail, clueless to this now primitive sewage system.  Wishing at least we could have provided a sign warning, “Their She Blows” before he embarked up  to the mailbox so innocent and unaware.

Makes me wonder if  praying to cultivate my faith fell  along the  same  lines as praying  for patience.  Desiring a goal devoid of the pain, or the process of getting there.  More often than not, in order to develop patience it requires having difficulties to encounter.  For example, you pack for a balmy  trip to Cancun and are  greeted with the biting cold of Nome Alaska instead.

Perhaps my pageant answer was too cliche when it was my turn to share.  If I had truly thought through what it means to “Cultivate”,  another card would have been my choice. Webster’s dictionary defines  it: “to loosen and break up the soil, to improve by labor, care, or study”… adding  in unpleasant manure is usually part of the process.  Flowery words spoken dare not grow nor thrive without being planted in rich fertile soil.  What you practice is way more challenging  than merely preaching. Still, my heart  has a deep longing  to live with authentic faith.  Having well worn rubber meet life’s hard to travel roads.  Being mindful that there isn’t a day that goes by, that I haven’t fallen short and my faith tires have gone flat. Thankfully, God already knows, His countless promises remind me of that.

Psalms 73:26 says:  “My flesh and my heart fails: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”

Feeling like doodoo has hit the fan?  Your desire is to press into the Lord but you can’t wade through all the manure of life.  Good News!  God is there with wading boots on, ready to pull you out of the muck and mire.  Your needs, well, God has them covered too; He provides daily manna from Heaven a rich storehouse of provision.

All the drains to our bank account  did increase my faith for when I cried uncle God showed  up.  Writing this story  I’m  conscious that many of you have far greater situations  to recover from.  May I encourage you, God is faithful and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. He knows when your toilet overflows, or if someone you love walks away. No matter how great or small, God sees it all and cares with a love that is outrageous.

Father God, thank you that you hold our times in your hands, all  our needs, hurts, and fears are safe in your redeeming grace filled hands. Hands that rock mercy, display forgiveness and reach out to us with tender compassion… a winning hand time after time.


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Flowers Cleverly Disguised as Weeds


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As a child, dandelions were not  pesky weeds to me, but rather beautiful flowers bright as sunshine and full of cheer. Begging to be picked into a innocent bouquet enveloped  by my chubby fingers. Overnight enchantment  transformed  them into whimsical wish makers, now a fluffy ball concealing miniature umbrellas. Standing poised, eagerly  awaiting to be whisked away by my secret wishes, dancing in the wind of mingled breath and whispered hopes.

Back then, it seemed completely dreamy to have a yard brimming full of them, picking flowers until my heart’s content.  These days, those dreams are more comparable to a  nightmare as I assess my own flourishing field of golden weeds.  Which causes me to wonder if one gentle blow of those puffy heads years ago blew my childhood wish into current reality.  Thriving, they are oblivious to how painfully difficult it is for me to see them as charming or winsome any longer. Shining in all their God given identity regardless of my spoken displeasure over them.

There was a time when our boys were young that I did regain my delight with these handpicked  arrangements. Captured with their enthusiasm, sparking my heart with  a rekindled love for these peculiar flora. Once again, seeing through the eyes of a child, they became breathtaking. A FTD florist couldn’t hold a candle to these special deliveries of pure love and exuberance.

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Derek at 4yrs                                                                                           Trent at 2 yrs

During their teenage years I heard them listening to a song called, “Dandelions” by the group Five Iron Frenzy; my heart warmed with its’ truth reminding me of photos I had taken of the boys when they were little.

Here are some of the lyrics:

“In a field of yellow flowers,
Underneath the sun,
Bluest eyes that spark with lightning,
Boy with shoes undone.
He is young, so full of hope,
Reveling in tiny dreams,
Filling up his arms with flowers,
Right for giving any queen.

Running to her beaming bright,
While cradling his prize.
A flickering of yellow light,
Within his mother’s eyes.
She holds them to her heart,
Keeping them where they’ll be safe,
Clasped within her very marrow,
Dandelions in a vase.

She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds.
All hope is found.
Here is everything he needs….”

The chorus:

Lord, search my heart,
Create in me something clean.
Dandelions
You see flowers in these weeds.
What a stunning picture of God’s love, seeing beauty sprouting from weeds. How comforting to have a Father that never grows tired or weary of us.  He is not fickle and impatient but rather sees our full potential.

Ralph Waldo Emerson  wrote:

“What’s a weed ? a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Heavenly Father , Thank you that you see flowers in these weeds  Your word says,
“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” * Help me to see with eyes of faith, drawing from the deep wells of your truth, confident Jesus knows me this I love…

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them”.  A.A. Miles

It’s been said, “When you look at a dandelion you can either see a hundred weeds or a hundred wishes” .

*Romans 12:2 (GNT)
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