My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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Kind Words Never Hurt

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The older I have gotten the more I have found names like Sweetie, or Dear rolling off my tongue to complete strangers…women mind you.  And if by chance I’m fortunate enough to be your friend your name might  become Sweet Pea, Honey Bunny, Pumpkin or other smattering terms of endearment. Perhaps this has been handed down from my mother who gushes praises over every sales clerk or anyone for that matter that has shown her kindness… primarily referring to them as  “Dear Heart”.   Recently, quite unintentionally, she upped her repertoire by calling Alena one of her sweet caregivers a “Beautiful Babe”, causing the three of us to giggle.   

Years earlier, I was less then thrilled when mom would declare her glowing praises and pet names to almost everyone she encountered.  Allowing my schedule, or pressures of life to override my thoughts rather than taking the time to linger with the kind words she had spoken.  This is not to say my heart wasn’t inclined to do so, I was just unequipped to rival my mom’s steroid induced hoopla and fanfare. Choosing not to exercise my puny praise physique preferring to risk the possibility of getting sand kicked on it instead.  

Now that I’m older, I want to strengthen my love and build up my gratitude toward others carrying the torch and legacy of her exuberant encouragement.  A woman  who lights up faces as she sings their praises, who calls them “Dear Heart” and means it!  

So it’s no surprise, the thrill my soul received to be called “Love Muffin” the other day by Judy, an adorable elderly door greeter and checker at Walmart. It felt like a comforting hug from my mom who rarely shops with me due to her health challenges. This warmhearted sentiment seems like the perfect name to call my husband, causing me to smile all the way to the return line.  My heart was hoping to see her again so that I could let her know how much her affectionate name blessed me.

Finally, everything on my list was ready to be purchased, rolling up to the self checkout registers with no helpers in sight caused me to feel some apprehension…. it seems like I always need assistance with these “self  checkouts” I forged ahead very timidly and began unloading my cart.  Just when I lifted my honeysuckle candle to scan, there she was right next to me commenting on the lovely color.  My excitement bubbled up over this divine opportunity to see Judy again.  Because of her comment about the candle I raised it up for her to smell the heady aroma… once again she expressed a beautiful array of fond words, calling me Angel and Love while greeting other shoppers with equally amicable sentimentality. After bagging my last item I longed to hug her, adopt her, load her up in my cart and take her home… she touched my life, making me feel like I mattered.

Oh, the undeniable power of a kind word!  Like a warm embrace on a chilly winter day or an unexpected cool breeze on a balmy summer night.  Simple acts of kindness to those who cross our paths can invigorate and refresh their spirit and ours. God’s word tells us those who refresh others will too be refreshed. My mother understood that and displayed it beautifully throughout the years, even now still staying true to this while in the midst of her battle with Dementia.

Perhaps “Love Muffin” is not part of your amorous vocabulary especially if you were to say it to someone you don’t even know, but let’s be open to sharing kind words and gestures to those we come into contact, whether family, friends, or strangers. You’ll be a “Dear Heart” if you do.

Lord help the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable to you oh Lord our Rock and Redeemer. May we love as you love and speak with tones of grace and gratitude.* “Thinking of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds”.

* Heb. 10:24

Proverbs 25:11  “A word fitly spoken, and in due season is like apples of gold in settings of silver”‘
     Though I was not able to get a photo with Judy, the top picture is me and my mama on her 80th birthday.

 


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Dancing Queen

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Strolling through the household items while at the Salvation Army store my eyes became completely drawn to a beautiful picture frame. Black glossy details on crisp white ceramic with a swirl of chartreuse, its’ top bedecked with a stunning jeweled crown.  Upon examining the framework more closely it revealed the beautiful scrolled  words  “Dancing Queen” written on the base. Thus far this little gem was scoring winning marks on all counts… then suddenly plummeting from it’s current number one position.

How could I, a bona fide two time ballet school drop out, who preferred  clinging  to the ballet bar rather than  venture out onto the dance floor possibly relate to the declaration “Dancing Queen”?  Not an affirming  message I hoped to add to my newly decorated craft room.  For when decorating I find it important  that it matches the color palate or theme.  Advantageous  if it holds a special meaning or memory, that stirs my heart in such a way making me confident it will make our house more like home.

Even though its’ title threw me off momentarily  this item was compelling enough to keep a hold of it tightly in hand pondering it as an option. Continuing leisurely, I made my way through other favorite sections of the store, while music softly played. Suddenly, I heard something that made my ears perk up to the next song serenading us overhead;  to my utter astonishment  it was the song from  Abba, the “Dancing Queen”.  Temporarily frozen in my tracks, clutching a frame bearing the very same title, I somehow  gathered my senses.  My legs began to propel onward looking for my family, excitement mounting while eager to show them this silly coincidence.

No other sign now needed, this 2.99 purchases had a special meaning for me!  What glory would it unfold as it graced my new space?, which  formally had been our oldest sons room. Perhaps its’ presence reminding me to see myself in a new  light, that had through time grown dim. During my childhood years I dreamed of being a ballerina yet  early on it was clear I lacked the confidence and determination to be one.  Plagued with self depreciation in the mirror of my mind it revealed a distorted image. Over and over rehearsing the lies and half truths  till they spun out of control.

This frame already began igniting  truths to see  myself not with  limited abilities but rather unlimited possibility.  Dancing if not fully in body  (though I still give it a try in  private) certainly could allow my spirit to confidently move within my soul.  An open invitation  graciously extended to all His sons and daughters.

Our King of Kings and Lord of Lords who rejoices over us with singing, lovingly calling us to dance with Him; moving us with glided steps, twirling freedom and  leaps of faith  producing joy before our feet even touch the floor.  Eyes fixed on the lover of our soul never longing to stray nor wander from His plans and purposes… in step with His lead.  While He remains completely enthralled with us regardless of our two left feet, capturing His acceptance  with reckless abandonment.

What a comfort to know that this dance school drop out is free from the shame of past mistakes and labels imprinted with lies as ink. The safety of the ballet bar no longer needed beyond its’ true intent and purpose.

Clinging to Christ alone and letting go of our crutches, may “We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his doors 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 praise”.* Today may you accept His invitation to dance, walking away from past hindrance or good intentions, stepping out into your life filled with a plethora of dreams, a gleaming new start pulsating with vibrant hope.  When you do you don’t be surprised to experience what Abba sings so poignantly that not only can  you  dance you’ll be…  “having the time of your life”.

*Rom. 5:2-4 The Message Bible.


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No Regrets

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If there is one thing that Michelle my dear friend and mentor for over twenty four years likes to do is to pray big, bold, audacious prayers. Prayers that rock my spiritual world to its’ very core. Shaking its’ foundation with thunderous possibilities. Oh, don’t get me wrong I love praying larger than life prayers for others too, though my faith may be the grain of a mustard seed. This tiny seed of faith takes wings soaring with bated  breath, watching mountains careening into the mighty roaring sea. Knowing with confidence God is able and  more than willing to bless them. However, there are moments when prayers that are said over me wax bold and require wide-eyed faith tethered to tenacious trust. Causing my spirit to nervously gulp, while legs quake in my less then well traveled spiritual boots. How I long to grab a hold of the  horns of the altar refusing to let go until the grand answer is revealed. Assured these powerful prayers have become a fragrant perfume sweet to the nostrils of God, stirring Him to my attention. Tipping the bowl of petitions until each spoken prayer becomes reality.  Thus, releasing times of rapturous ensuing praise of my faith becoming sight.

Sad to say, my faith is less then stellar at times, falling short of God’s glory. Determined daily to set my heart upon a deeper trust in Him, while finding enormous comfort that we serve a God that loves far beyond our failings. Our lack or wavering faith never changes the character of a loving and compassionate God. Thankfully, His grace and mercy shows up over and over again triumphing over seeded doubt or mustered up faith.

Recently Michelle’s dauntless prayer came to fruition, unfolding before my very eyes.   Through the years her fearless prayers were for me to have no regrets with my mother.  For as the years went by, so to had my mounting tension and concern increased. Her deteriorating mental health issues loomed over our relationship….longing to help and her refusal wearied me. Michelle’s petitions for total reconciliation felt sorely beyond my grasp. However, she knew inevitably her requests were going to be answered. God had mended the breach between Michelle and her mother, He would surely do the same for me….and  indeed He did, beginning through a whirlwind of events.

For in April of 2012, within a 24 hour period, my mama went from living alone and driving, to needing around the clock care with a blown heart value and rapidly visible and increasing dementia. During the next three weeks I cared for her 24/7 until we could get her into proper adult foster care. My heart softening with each act of servant hood, every stroke with the hairbrush to her beautiful auburn hair, rubbing her swollen legs and feet, or being her memory as hers was growing dimmer. Slowly a deepening love and appreciation for my mother emerged. My initial frustration and anger vanished while her profound gratitude flourished; our love blossoming in the soil of adversity, blooming in spite of human frailty.

God using ashes to bring beauty, answering prayers in ways we at times grapple to understand. As the dust unhurriedly settles, we reverently gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, standing in awe, humbled and  profoundly grateful. God’s word declaring “Behold I’m doing a new thing, your going to have to see it to believe it. God’s splendid sense of humor allowing little old me to walk in liberating freedom of no regrets.  From one that masters an impeccable hind sight of 20/20, and rather quick to bemoan her lack of foresight to have ordered the soup of the day instead. Has found herself smack dab in the middle of a full blown miracle, shaking her head in joyful astonishment.

God’s grace is always sufficient in our time of need. Since God is no respecter of persons, what He did for me and my friend Michelle He wants to do for you. Whatever you may be contending with let God be your ever present help in times of trouble. Even if your faith is a little wobbly don’t you worry, your in good company…. so what do you say? lets go grab some front row seats and watch mountains be hurled into the sea, together.

Closer to God

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Whenever my mom would share something exciting that the Lord had done for her she would more then likely end her story with one of these sayings, the first one being ” I’m so excited I could jump up and click my heels”  quickly followed with “but I’m afraid I might fall and break my hip”. Afterward she would give a chuckle at the thought of it and I would gladly join in all her amusement. Secondly, she’d share was how she longed to go up to Columbia River Gorge and praise the Lord over the breathtaking scenery. Most of the time my mom talked of this while visiting our home, afterwards  she would then proceed to walk out to our small deck along the north side of our home.  As her feet landed on the wood planks she would lift her arms thanking and praising God. Returning inside, quite content her face beaming and she would gush how much she enjoyed the deck that Kevin built. Our modest deck with no sweeping views seemed to satisfy my moms’ yearning to stand and give God glory. Whether or not I accompanied  her as she positioned herself  to extol our adoring creator, in the back of my mind I longed to someday take my mother to her “dream spot”.
Years went by with only my good intentions, she never got to stand and worship the lover of her soul at the gorge…….until last week. The sun was shining, the air crisp and leaves ablaze with vivid hues forming a pleasant parade route up the scenic highway welcoming her long awaited arrival. Arm and arm Kevin and I escorted her to drink in the panoramic view and to finally stand in the place she always dreamed about.  Praise rolled off her tongue as she looked at all the beauty our Heavenly Father created.  While standing next to her I was hungry to hear every word that mom uttered.  Though it was hard to leave her side I managed to pull myself away to get a couple of photos to remember this day.  It wasn’t long before the sun slowly began to subside and the chill of the air nudged us to bring this remarkable event to a close. Thus, it was time to gingerly help my mom back into the warm cozy car for our trip home.
Leaves danced and twirled in celebration as we wound our way back down the old scenic highway; holding in our hearts warm memories of our splendid day together….a prolonged dream realized.
Beholding the work of a God that makes all things beautiful in His time. A brilliant and glorious crescendo with the best seats in the house. In humbleness we offered our God a  well deserved standing ovation poised on holy ground; filled with deep appreciation and gratitude, watching my mother’s desire fulfilled….to stand closer to God.