My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


5 Comments

We Are All God’s Favorite

tumblr_lsz7ryjOXN1qfet8co1_500

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

 


5 Comments

She Flies With Her Own Wings

fairy+on+butterfly+vintage+image--graphicsfairy008
“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

DSCN2772

DSCN2773
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.

006
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.


5 Comments

The Best Brother in The World

me huging troy with mumps

Comforting my brother when he had the mumps .

As we celebrate National Sibling day I want to take time to honor my brother and only sibling Troy. He has hands down been the best brother a gal could ever have. His long list of virtues could circle the globe with patience and joy steering the helm. God knew Troy would need a heavy arsenal of patience to grapple with the likes of me. Whether I ate his chocolate Valentines heart while he was at school, or sang “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music” repeatedly in the back seat of our Thunderbird, as he reminded a picture of calm. Rarely did I ruffle his feathers in the midst of my tomfoolery.

Like any good brother he brought protection and defense when situations proved dicey, even so far as telling my loving but frustrated mom when I was three, “Say something kind to her, she’s afraid of you”. Full of tenderhearted grace and laughter that simultaneously sparks a twinkle to his eyes. Troy has been a steady pillar of strength and unceasing joy to me and my family and undeniably his own as well.

Now that dementia has attacked his once strong body I reflect on God’s word that tells us, *“The rain falls on the just and unjust like”.  Becoming acutely aware we live in a fallen world where the excruciating truth is: bad things happen to good people; and no earthly umbrella is a worthy opponent against life’s blast of harsh realities.

My intentional steps move towards the cross laying the bitter blows of pain, loss and grief at the feet of Jesus. Solace found in the truth that You became, *” A man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief, surely you have borne our, sicknesses, weaknesses and carried our sorrows”. A trustworthy Father to see us through dark hours of our soul as we find rest in all His good promises. Reminding myself this life is a mere dress rehearsal as we await the glory of heaven where * sighing and sadness shall flee and You will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Today as I reminisce looking through copies of Troy’s baby book, I’m especially touched by what my mom recorded him telling her when I was two,  “I just love my sister, you got her because I wanted a sister “.  Heavenly Father, I want you to know, “I just love my brother, you got him because I wanted a brother” and I thank you that you picked the best one ever!

100_1044  “ Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.” –                                                                                                                                                                     Marc Brown

In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5:45

Isaiah 53:4 Amp Bible

Those the Lord has rescued will return.

They will enter Zion with singing;

everlasting joy will crown their heads.

Gladness and joy will overtake them,

and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 51:11 NIV Bible


7 Comments

A Charmed Life

DSCN2209

As a child I was fascinated with my mom’s charm bracelet nestled in her jewelry box like a hidden treasure. Removing it from the hinged leather case I marveled at its’ intricacies. For swinging from this silver chain were mom’s youthful memories, a cowboy boot, a ladder, a purse and my personal favorite, a small metal disk imprinted with what appeared to be some random letters. However, when spun with a flick of my finger it would magically spell “I LOVE YOU” as it twirled.

Now, as an adult I can look back and see why my love for charm bracelets has never waned. To this day I still collect my share of these beloved bobbles .

One particular charm bracelet that would turn out to be my most cherished is the one that was birthed on our first trip to Disneyland with our children. Drawn into the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique just behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle, excitedly finding my souvenir keepsake charm bracelet.Although it was not the same store it recaptured  sweet memories of a  beloved charm bracelet  I had bought on my first trip to Disneyland in 1968

This bracelet was not clad with Dumbo or Cinderella’s castle in between a string of pearls like my childhood one. Rather, it was merely a sturdy chain with one Mickey Mouse head of sparkling rhinestones positioned at the top by the clasp. Each bare link beckoning me to add my own merriment over time. During this vacation I added Tinkerbell, a crown and another Mickey Mouse head with some bling just to balance it out … you can never go wrong with a little extra bling.

Once back home this sweet little trinket lay in my jewelry box for three years, while occasionally adorning my wrist from time to time. Still the full worth of it to me was hidden in plain view. Soon all that was about to change, because of our next upcoming Disneyland trip was going to jettison this bracelet into a far a greater level of importance to me. This journey was going to bring a deeper level of inner healing and release greater personal freedom.

Three days prior to leaving for the Happiest Place on Earth, revelation unveiled a heartbreaking and painful discovery from my past. Knowing this news was no surprise to God and reminding myself that He makes all things beautiful in His time… I knew this vacation was a gift from my Heavenly Father. Going forward, any new additional charms I had intended to purchase would be added to a bracelet that symbolized milestones in my healing journey.

Charms, these tiny representations symbolizing obstacles I have overcome and ones to overcome in the days and years ahead. These “wee” personal reminders dangle upon my wrist declaring the mighty and merciful goodness of God. Twenty Four charms attached to this silver chain in the six years since I started this particular collection. Each fastened charm, a battle fought, a victory won, a hallelujah sung in the heavens’. My harried soul comforted with the truth and promise of God’s healing.

Someday my bracelet will be completely full, each charm brimming with a story to tell of where and how God met me. I will never tire of sharing how all together lovely and delightful God is!. He is perfectly charming and I have a bracelet to prove it!

Charm means…..”delight greatly”
“The power or quality to giving delight or arousing admiration.”

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalms 37:4


Leave a comment

Memorial Poppies

Image

 

A couple of weeks ago I posted on my blog portions of what I read at my mom’s memorial service. Now, I’m going to share the story surrounding her Celebration of Life and how God showed His faithfulness in the midst of it all.

The sun shone vividly the morning of mama’s service, nevertheless my emotions remained engulfed in a deluge of throbbing grief. Wondering if I could hold myself together for the service; let alone muster enough nerve to share the essence of who our mother was. Thankfully deeply embedded within me was a greater desire to honor her, allowing me to override the pain. God filling me with this inner strength to temporarily jump over hurtles of timidity and the fear of public speaking.

As I geared up to head toward that  hopeful direction, I donned myself with waterproof mascara (an absolute must), and still allotted for a potential  backup plan. This crucial plan was comprised of two dear friends gifted in the art of public speaking willing to wait in the wings if things veered south. Still my heartfelt intentions and prayers were earnest to get through the 8 minute time of sharing.

Having countless things my mother taught my brother and I to glean from, I choose a selection of valuable lessons carved through her words or forged by her life. Also, including a sprinkling of her silly antics that made for lots of fun stories to tell.

One of the funny stories that I wasn’t able to share was her first morning ritual, the ceremonial task of opening all the heavily draped windows, giving way to joyful light dancing with the pull of the curtain strings.While simultaneously belting out two silly songs…never deviating from her delightful favorites. Everyday she arose from her bed singing, “Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning, oh, how I hate to get out of bed”, then making her way down the hallway towards the windows finishing off her encore performance with, “Have a Banana, Have a Banana “. We knew mom was up by the sound of her voice caroling down the hall.

Now as an adult I too love to start my day by opening the curtains. Though I’ve taken a fancy to singing little ditties from time to time, I’m sorry to say my repertoire of morning melodies do not include mom’s personal faves… the famous saying “Apples do not fall far from the tree” somehow still rings gloriously true.

So when this little apple opened the shades first thing in the morning of mom’s memorial, my eyes beheld a breathtakingly beautiful red poppy that bloomed overnight. Its’ brightness and contrast to the muted palette shocking me with its’ first vibrant bloom. My mind recalled the field of poppies in the Wizard of Oz, while softly saying yes Lord mom is now experiencing, “There is no place like home”..in Heaven. Profoundly comforted yet still wanting to know more about this new cheery visitor I made my way to the computer, my inquiring mind wanted to learn the meaning of the poppy  more completely. Clicking on Wikipedia my eyes could not believe what I was reading about this flower and their symbolism. It stated that:

“Poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. And  also a remembrance for soldiers handed out around Memorial day.”

Another interpretation of poppies written in Classical mythology is that “the bright scarlet color signifies a promise of resurrection after death.”

What a perfect hug from God, … soon I would be gathering with others not only in remembrance of my mom but also rejoicing in God’s promise. That she now lives in eternal glory, free from pain and suffering. The poppy has become an ongoing comfort to me as I mourn the loss of my best friend and dear mother.

The very next day after the service, my little family somberly celebrated Mother’s Day and I was graced by a second poppy blooming in our yard. Grabbing my camera to snap a photo of this newly opened magnificent bloom hoping to capture its’ delicate form. Afterwards I counted the remaining buds still cloaked awaiting their brilliant reveal. Two were blooming while three were waiting. Five is the number of grace and was the number of people in our family whenever mom hung out with the Jennings.

As I clung to grace celebrating Mother’s Day without mom, we decided to switch our lunch plans for the day from the China Gorge restaurant in Hood River, to Calamity Jane”s in Sandy, Oregon. Playing out the scenario of the day in my mind I was sure that all of us would be getting burgers served in a cast iron skillet. However, my husband ordered a taco salad making me giggle at the scene that previously ran through my mind. Frankly, it matters not what my husband orders, it just seemed unconventional for him to choose a salad at a restaurant known for their burgers… usually his “norm”. Then it all made sense as I glanced at my husband’s finished meal staring at his now empty plate… amazed to see five red poppies designed on the melmac dish.

I love how God shows up in the seemingly common, obscure places, ready to bless us through the smallest details or grandest design. His plan unwrapping in our present. Only requiring eyes ready to see, ears ready to hear, and hearts ready to expect Him to show up.

One year later  still marveling at how poppies show up in curious places my eyes increasingly  mindful of their breathtaking and heartwarming presence… God revealings Himself again and again through their message. Looking forward to sharing more about that in the future.

 

Image


2 Comments

Swatting Lies

Image

We have all heard the expression “They are so sweet, they wouldn’t a fly.” Frankly, my feelings are that this statement cannot be entirely true. No matter how sweet you are, if a fly were dizzily buzzing around you, again and again, your instinct would be to swat it.  Only after repeated shooing away became ineffective of course.

Years ago, when our oldest son Derek was young, his grandma asked him what he wanted for Christmas.  He replied, “a fly swatter.”  this was both adorable and puzzling. Peaking my curiosity, this led me to  ask him about his unconventional request. He charmingly recounted the story of “Winnie the Pooh and Christmas, Too”,  a delightful tale of how Rabbit requested this same wish from Santa while Christopher Robin drafted a letter for the residents of the Hundred Acre Woods. Thankfully, he did not ask for Rabbit’s updated  more outlandish wish… a bug sprayer!

Truth be told, that was by far the cheapest Christmas gift on the pocket book and a cinch to find.  This whimsical request put all my shopping fears to rest and gave me complete confidence, that  no frenzied mom would yank it out of my hand or pull my hair because of its high demand. No Christmas brawls to be had over an everyday, ordinary, household fly swatter.  We’re talking the plain old run of the mill fly swatter, not the bug gun my dad sold when he owned his wholesale distributing business. This baby was something to behold, it had a circular re-loadable plastic screen that you would push down onto its’ spring loaded red handle. You were hoping for a pesky fly to buzz by just so you could say with your best Clint Eastwood impression, “Go ahead make my day”  then shoot your bug gun with swagger.  Nor was it like the bug zapper my husband bought for himself and a few of his lucky friends one year. This invention, shaped like a tennis racket, had electrical currents that can fry a bug carcass with a single swing ― an item you do not want brought out to entertain your guests with, unless you want the smell of burning insects wafting through your home. This is wisdom, spoken from someone who knows first-hand.   It does seem that writing about Rabbit has gotten me on sort of a bunny trail with all this talk of bug instruments of doom.

Thus, my son’s simple request for a fly swatter has reawakened my senses to how truly useful and clever this gift really is.  In fact, I’m planning on getting one for myself as a reminder to  these following truths:
Though flies can transmit disease and spoil food which can be physically devastating, there is a spiritual truth that has eternal consequences that I’m thinking about. The enemy we call Satan or Beelzebub, has other names as well, such as the Lord of Flies.  Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of driving out demons by the power of Beelzebub in Mark 3:22, also found in Matthew 12:24-27 and Luke 11:15,18-19.  Jesus firmly reminded them that a house divided against itself could not stand. He also was ironclad on the devil’s character which is recorded in John 8:44; 
“He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the Father of Lies.”

As Christ followers, we need to wield our sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Adding a fly swatter to tuck into my belt of truth as a visual, assisting in my lie swatting. Satan hopes our stance will be passive, “not even so much as to hurt a fly”, so he can continue to pester us, bringing our demise. Lies come in many forms such as what has been spoken over us by others, our distorted thinking, or circumstances that obscure God’s goodness. With Christ we can stand up as warriors, raising our fly swatters, bug guns or zappers, storming the enemy, holding our rightful position as a son and daughter of the most high God.  Defenders of truth, confident  that God’s goodness and love will always be available to us no matter what is happening in our lives.

Lord, thank You we are called to your SWAT team… Skillful Warriors Advocating Truth… to see the enemy in all his weakness and to see You in all Your glory and strength. We hold onto You, Your truth, hope and promises… swatting the Lord of Flies, one lie at a time. With Your help, we can watch the lies drop like flies… 

International Standard Version
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32


3 Comments

A Diamond and Strawberries

Image

“God’s word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.” Psalms 19 :10  The Message Bible

When I was growing up back in the day, boy does that make me sound old! Our mom would take my brother and I strawberry  picking.  It was a way for all of us to make some cash during the summer months.   Being young I was given grace of a more  lenient work standard based on my age and capabilities.  My smaller hands would grab the biggest and ripest berries that were easily seen, not always moving the foliage to expose the hidden ripe berries.  The farmers called this “creaming the crop” and they never took kindly to pickers doing this.  So much so, that they checked the rows to make sure this type of harvesting was not happening.  Mother was very  mindful and obedient to the rules, thus she encouraged me to pick my rows properly. Doing  my best to follow mom’s instructions she would  still need to pick the concealed berries that I missed.  Making it harder to fill her crates… more work, less perks $$$.

Fondly remembering her acts of love  added to the same memory of  how sweet and delicious those berries tasted from the vine… way better than store bought!  Loving them so much I’m sure I ate my weight in them each summer.  As an adult  it’s a joy to drive by  fruit stands that sell Hood River strawberries… usually seeing lines of people clamoring for their sweetness. Several years ago making a vow that one day I would pull over and treat myself and family to half of flat of these “seasonal jewels”… perhaps this is the year.

So when I came across Psalms 19:10 last year in the Message Bible my heart was blessed even more, realizing that God’s word is better than the strawberries that eager folks wait to purchase.  Even better than diamonds that sparkle with brilliance and are called  “A girl’s best friend”. What a gift your word is Lord!

Image

A couple of Saturday’s ago, Vicky our dear friend, brought a bowl of Hood River berries to our Bible study.  We all thoroughly enjoyed their fresh juicy flavor.  Not only would she be feeding our palate with these delicious strawberries, but also was going to feed our spirit’s with Heavenly fruit that is always in season.

Walking away from the study I realized that it’s true… red ripe strawberries of spring do not compare to the sweetness that comes from delighting  in your Holy word.