My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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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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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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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