My sentimental journey

An ordinary girl's walk with an extraordinary God.


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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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Making Molehills Out Of Mountains

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Time was well overdue to remove the molehills that  popped up in our front yard nestling up against the curb. The desire to spruce up our flower beds before spring was now joined with increased  pressure to rescue my early blooming  crocuses now completely smothered in mole mania.  This pesky mole burrowing upward caused the crocuses delicate foliage to croak under the mountain of fresh tillage.

Rather hating to admit it, I was ever so slightly admiring this particular mole’s astute sense of focus.  Managing to erupt orderly mounts in unerring rows  while  tunneling through our sod. Somehow he was able to keenly and systematically dot neighboring property with the same impeccable streamline mastery.   Though I marveled that he was a gentleman of order, the mounding piles of dirt were still  a blight on our lawn.  It had been suggested  by a  friend that this was the work of more then one mole; if this was indeed  the case, their impressive team work scores a virtuoso 10. Whatever the scenario, it was nothing short of a  stellar performance. Earlier, I  momentarily reveled in their beauty when the heaps of soil were graced with a light dusting of snow.  These works of art resembled a miniature Rocky Mountain Range along our curb.  Finding this to be a rare occasion to acceptably make a snow covered mountain out of a molehill.

Shortly after removing the mounts of dirt it seemed to my joy and relief they had blazed a trail off into the sunset.  As you can tell by what you have read already, I’m nowhere near being mole savvy. By far, I lack the full knowledge of what these little critters are capable of doing. Let’s just say I greatly underestimated my opponent, this startling truth became painfully evident as I gazed upon my recent edged and weeded walkway. Gasping at what my eyes were beholding… a  fresh knoll of dirt burying my crocuses yet again!

Highly disappointed  that my one little patch of orderliness was no longer in order, wrestling an all to familiar lie that tidiness should magically stay tidy,well for at least 24 hours, right ?.  And when you cross it off your to do list it should stay done.  By now you would think  that my twenty one years of  being a stay at home,  raising and homeschooling our two boys, would have debunked this elephant size fib. Surely, I should have gotten that all too important memo. Truth is, in my heart of hearts. I know the  411. Life is messy and your 100% guaranteed “do overs”  are things like dishes, laundry and other assortment of daily chores.

A confessing slow learner by nature,  regretfully being revealed yet again  by my increased anxiety over this disheveled patch of a nearly perfect garden utopia.  When such emotional intensity flies into my radar it warrants further examination as to why I’m experiencing the growing tension.

Recently, I decided to discuss this dilemma with my dear friend Kelli over lunch.  She patiently listened as I dined away on my firecracker chicken. Hoping to grasp the truth of my underlying issue far better than my novice maneuvering of chopsticks.  My spirit was hopeful because when we seek God we find Him and the truth is revealed, as Kelli and I continued our conversation we were grateful for His faithfulness.  Without a doubt I’m sure He was perfectly content and thoroughly delighted to mingle in our laughter, tickled as we pondered Him, and was not distressed  one bit at my  raw  emotions. So grateful for  God given gift of authentic, deep spirited friendships. At that moment I caught  a glorious revelation exposed;  it was necessary to pull back further from my “tunnel vision” fitting for a mole.  Once again, God spoke His truth over a well worn path of  misconceptions.

Like the moles reappearance so had the flair up  my of irksome Achilles heels… one heel throbbing need  for perfection the other aching with the distortion of  destination rather than journey mentality. So rapid to appear, stirring up my spirit to become disquieted, my thoughts distorted and routed for dissatisfaction instead of  paths of peace that surpass all understanding.  All because  I chose to make mountains out of meager molehills.

I love what Zechariah 4:7 says

“For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain [a mere [a]molehill]! And he shall bring forth the finishing gable stone [of the new temple] with loud shouting of the people, crying, Grace, grace to it!

God  makes a molehill out of our mountains. Oh, how  I long to trust Him with mine.

Verse 6 chpt. 4 Zechariah says how we can achieve  this:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit [of Whom the oil is a symbol], says the Lord of hosts.”
So, until I get the problematic mole(s) eradicated for good, I will choose to let those mounts of earth remind me that God’s turning my mountains of troubles  into mere molehills while saying His grace is sufficient.  This comforts my heart that I’m loved without performing or arriving, but  simply being  His daughter… the same holds true for everyone.

Do you  have a looming mountain of human obstacles in your way? May we move forward in God’s power and might  declaring His promise together saying … So big mountain,who do you think you are ? you’re nothing but a molehill!.
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When the cherry trees don’t blossom

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During the past few weeks I could not but help notice the cherry blossoms that were in full bloom at the Portland Adventist hospital where mama was staying.  Nor the trees yielding showy pink blooms along the route charmingly called Cherry Blossom Drive. Choosing  this quaint direction from time to time to mix up the daily mundane freeway scenery that I viewed during each trip to the hospital.  My spirit yearning for abundant splatters of joy in the midst of my grief stricken senses. Regardless, it didn’t matter how stunning  those cherry blossom trees were, still my heart was painfully  heavy not being able to hear my mother’s joyous comments about their frilly radiance. Never failing to do so when nature showed her spring splendor.  My childhood home was a showcase of these fair trees framing our corner lot , edged with God’s breathtaking creation. Though show stopping with filigree elegance, they were hard work keeping them that way. When properly maintained, the mailman was ridiculously happy being able to drive his truck up to the mailbox with ease. Once, there was a time that my mother was extremely weary with these beastly beauties threatening to severely prune them down .Wasting no time to beg her to “save the trees”  allowing  for the spring time blooms to appear. Solemnly promising to help her prune them when  she needed to. Thankfully she agreed to hold off her certain plans waiting to prune them after their bloom season had ended.  When that day came I watched out our living room window as my selfless mother trimmed  all the trees while I cozied myself our champagne velvet sofa for a nap. Looking back, not one of my prouder moments!

It’s no surprise why the book of Habakkuk resounded in my spirit as I sat  reading it next to my mother’s hospital bed.  “Though the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries don’t ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheep less and the cattle barns empty,  I’m singing joyful praise to God. I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Counting on God’s Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength. I run like a deer. I feel like I’m king of the mountain!  Habakkuk 3:17–19 The Message Bible
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Slowly losing my precious mother to dementia and a severe infection;  taking a toll on her fragile body.  This being her third time in the hospital within the last five weeks  lessening her ability to bounce back after each return visit.  Yesterday, I watched my mom peacefully sleep while the family gathered to meet with hospice, discussing her care for the days that lay ahead. Feeling numb as my husband and I left her room;and seeing we would be greeted with blustery rain and hail if we decided to head to our car. Instead drawn to wait out the storm in the hospital chapel.  A picture of Jesus painted larger then life on the wall, a box of tissues saying, “It’s my grief and I’ll cry if I want to.” Sitting on the pew, my husband’s arms and prayers consoling me. The cherry blossoms are fading, the rain and hail knocking the last bit of bloom the tree had to offer.. and God’s word rings true…

“To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.”

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Lord, help me to trust in you at all times,even if the cherry trees don’t blossom and the strawberries refuse to ripen.  When I’m frightened, heartbroken, or grieving; help me trust in you even though life does not make sense.

Counting on your rule to prevail, so I take heart and gain and strength in knowing you are good all the time.


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Redefining True Beauty and Brawn

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There is no doubt in my mind that a good part portion of my life has been strongly following  what our society has focused on, whether it be outward appearances, position, or possessions.  My fragile self worth hinging vicariously on the  approval of others.  Compelling images on screen or print drove me to strive for acceptance as it  encourages the population to worship physical beauty, strength and the dew of youth.  Even  though I know Proverbs 31 tells us, “beauty is vain (because it is not lasting….” still  my past choices gave too much energy and exertion on achieving shiny bouncing hair, pearly white teeth, or  the “perfect pant size”.

Nearly 30 years ago it caused me to fall headlong into crippling eating disorder after my failed first marriage. The grip of anorexia squeezed out any of the vibrant life God had for me. Only being able to overcome its’ strong clutches through the power of my praying mother.  Within a year my eyes were opened to the devastation of what the eating disorder was doing to my body. Sadly, a few years later my poor body image reared its’ ugly head again due to my weight gain shortly after I got remarried. This time narrowly escaping a potential battle with bulimia. My husband somehow opened the bathroom door that I “knew” I had locked, he saw me leaning over the toilet to rid myself of my last meal.  This was a profound wake up call  from a gracious God sparing me from another pit of personal destruction.  After that miraculous encounter I never again struggled with any kind of eating disorder.

For the most part, we can agree there is nothing wrong with admiring external beauty or brawn, enjoying healthy hair, whiter teeth or battling the bugle. Our bodies are the temple of the Lord, and we are encouraged to take care of them.  Still, it  becomes clear that I want to shift my attention to a boarder picture of  true beauty and brawn. That which is not  highlighted in fashion nor physical fitness magazines, becoming more confident that true beauty comes from within and strength is measured beyond bulging muscles and washboard abs.  Longing to view mankind as God does, for His word says, “Man looks to the outward appearances while God looks at the heart”.  Not judging a book by its’ cover as the prophet Samuel did when on a mission to choose the next King of Israel, had it not been for the Spirit of God telling him otherwise, Samuel would have anointed the wrong man.  Almost overlooking  the ruddy David who tended sheep but had a heart for God. Once again God reveals that true “strength” and “beauty” has nothing to do with outward appearances but rather what is in the heart and spirit of a man or woman.

God applauds the stouthearted  spirit of the  elderly, the perseverance of the disabled and all those battling crippling diseases or limitations whether in mind or body. This reevaluation is pounding hard,  hitting home as I  watch a loved one’s heroic stamina tackle life.  Where walking, brushing teeth, or eating  has become laborious. This changes the face of what “powerful” really is, a rugged human spirit determined to live with dignity in spite of adversities. What I once put so much stock in has lost  its’ value challenging and rocking the very core of my flimsy standards. Smashing the idols of self worth and worldly value and realigning my perspective as to what real beauty and strength is.

The reality is we all carry within us weaknesses, scars, and flaws that reside in our heart’s and mind’s…. crippling us from soaring as God intended. A fortified internal city  masking our shortcomings and  inner wounds.  And yet God beckons us to “glory in our weakness and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell upon me”. * His power is shown up in our weaknesses.

Thank you Lord that Your love and approval does not depend on ones physical strength or outward beauty.  In fact, true strength and beauty is determined by what is on the inside of a person.  Not only that, but  your love is absolutely unconditional even in our brokenness. Redefining to a needy culture what true “Beauty and Brawn” is.

Training the body helps a little, but godly living helps in every way. Godly living has the promise of life now and in the world to come.   1  Timothy 4:8

*2 Corinthians 12:9


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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.


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Beauty in our Barren Places

ImageAwhile back my husband and I  watched  Steve and Geoff the “Meteorite Men ” trek through  barren and high altitudes parts of  the Chilean Desert called the Imilac Strewnfeilds,  as far as the eye could see it looked  lifeless to me.  I’m not a big fan of the desert, however if you add an extra S to desert it becomes the word dessert and that I am a huge fan of.  I did  become enthralled  with the whole process, seeing that  void stretch of Terra ferma  reminded me of my life at times.  When my spirit  feels barren, arid and lifeless, the  grit  of my  circumstance blurring my vision  no longer  being  able to see any evidence of value or purpose in the wasteland of suffering. How comforting to know even in our desert times of feeling  spiritually dry, parched by life’s scorching trials. God sees  the  value, the nuggets of truth, tried by the fire and ready to mine the deposits left by our painful feelings of loss and devastation.     Steve and Geoff were excited with the possibilities…they saw the gold mine that lay at their dusty boots, armed with magnetic devices and keen eyes they gushed at the wealth they were beholding, one precious rough rock  at a time. So too  God mines our souls sweeping across them with the powerful attraction of His Grace, stooping down to marvel at the beauty and value of  which we often mistake as worthless.  Beauty for ashes, life spoken over the dry bones, humanity formed from dust …. God’s redemption in the most  drought stricken  and lifeless situations.  How precious to have such a loving Father as he; to see the value  when we see none, to rejoice over what the world would overlook.
Heavenly Father and miner of our souls, thank you for knowing first hand  the value in suffering.  As we travel through the desert times may your well traveled hand guide us with  your truths and  water our weary and torrid soul’s.  May our mind be refreshed in your promises and the hope that one day we will be coming up out of the wilderness times leaning on our beloved; and just as the  iron entered Joseph’s  soul when he was chained with fetters.  Make us strong, fortified with your walls of love, seeing beyond the pain to your exceedingly bright and precious promises.  Thus,  knowing that you make all things work together for our good.  From glory to glory, one  priceless nugget at a time….

Matthew Henry commentary says, “Afflictions are among our mercies. They prove our faith and love, they humble our pride, they wean us from the world, and quicken our prayers”

“Let the thankful heart sweep through the day and as the magnet finds iron, so it will find, in every hour some heavenly blessing.” Henry Ward Beecher

Isaiah 43:19…”Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”


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Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

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Ever since “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” aired in 1965 I have been a fan of this beloved holiday
special. Immediately bonding with an endearing kindred spirit towards Charlie Brown with all his self doubt and insecurities, firmly believing Charles Schulz portrait of Charlie Brown was sketched out not only about himself, but a myriad of others like me that have walked a similar journey of shame.

However, an even deeper resounding chord beyond my familiarity with Chucks’ self doubt and low self esteem was how he embraced a sorrowful looking Christmas tree in its poor state.  Wondering how Charlie Brown saw beauty, potential, and  a victorious story waiting to be told through its seemingly defective branches. Chuck was ever so willing to take a chance on the last “real” tree in the lot. Losing more precious pine needles on it’s already sparse limbs along its way home.  Dreaming of what it would look like and not of its’ present condition. Perhaps Chuck could identify with the downcast drooping tree and his own slumped spirit he found himself contending with at times.

For I know when I look at that tree it reminds me of my former wounded and broken self. Painfully bowed down with shame and guilt to see any real value in myself. Feeling bare and stripped of a rich, full  life.  Not having the eyes, nor strength to see any further then my current inner struggles. Thankfully we have a God that cares tenderly for our broken hearts, the downcast finding a home under the shelter of His wings. His love bringing us back to wholeness, while gently sending us loving people to minster healing to our deep hurts and broken places. Just as Linus secured the wobbly tree base with his prized blanket, so too friends rally to reinforce our shaky souls with their blanket of love and sacrifice.  Decorating our wounded spirit with words of affirmation, encouragement and the light of hope. Their compassionate touch transforms us into a thing of beauty that we were meant to be all along.  Just as I marveled at Charlie Browns’ boost of confidence that he mustered up for  his tree, I too marvel at Gods’ rock solid confidence He has towards me.  Not to mention all the friends He has sent my way  that exhibited that same kingdom grace and throne room love.

Perhaps your spirits are drooping today and  joy is falling off you like dead pine needles with no hope of new life.  God promises to bring you tidings of comfort and great joy.  He is a God of all Comforts and He will never fail you nor forsake you.  His grace transforming your spirit and situation with new life and hope, and just like Linus reminded Charlie Brown….”because really that’s what Christmas is all about”.

Luke 2:8-14  “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”