Some say we all have that little nagging voice that tells us right from wrong. It is the gut feeling you have deep inside your soul that something just isn’t right. Some call it a sixth sense or is it a sick sense? It is your conscience? Do you believe we all are born with a good and righteous morality? Or ethics? Are you capable of listening to your heart? To your soul? Do you believe in dreams? Or in signs?
So what is the whisper within?
I believe it something different. Something extraordinary.
Something that cannot be simply explained through a Google search or Wikipedia entry but through a life being led.
At this stage of my life, after journaling a decade of “strange coincidences”, I feel compelled to open the tattered, beat-up, spilled on, read and reread pages of my journals and share the recollections of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I Believe GOD powers strange coincidences and the journey called life. This will be a weekly blog of stories that inspire hope, love, forgiveness, and anticipation of the joy that lies ahead.
I love that Charles Stanley says ( not to discourage attending church),“ Why go to church and spend an hour and walk away with nothing? That’s a bad investment. But what about spending an hour and having God pour truth into your life.”
Church can be like a party where you don’t know anyone there so you may end up feeling more lost, more alone.
Or it can be like attending a concert to a musician that you don’t know the music.
The best way to get to know a new musician is to listen quietly or dance silly in your own home, before experiencing the big concert.
You would not attend a concert to Death Cab for Cutie, if you knew none of the music, so why would you go to church if you don’t already have a relationship with God?
How do you get a relationship with God? Well like listening to new music, you play around with it.
So how do you start listening to this NEW ARTIST and dabble in His music? I’m gonna make it easy; start with Proverbs or with the Psalms. I started reading the Psalms when I was sad and the Proverbs when I needed direction.
Then once you experience God on your own, there’s nothing better than being in a big community of other “concert goers” who love Death Cab for Cutie, or God, just the way you do.
Make yourself some chicken soup, relax and put your feet up, grab a Bible, and ask God to speak to your heart.
And Listen to the Whisper Within.
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8
Today I called my ninety-five year old widowed client. I reviewed her investments and cash flow needs and then the conversation turned personal.
“How are you Rosemarie?”
“Honestly Lisa, lonely. If anyone tells you that these are the golden years, punch them in the face for me.”
I giggled. We talked some more and then I responded, “Call me if you need anything even if it just to talk.”
Later in the day, I walked up town to pick up my work mail, and bought some stamps. And not just any stamps but Valentine’s Day stamps.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a sucker for love and not the puny Dum Dum suckers but more like the HUGE Charlie and The Chocolate Factory rainbow sucker type of love, and Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday.
I left the post office and mentally made a list of who I would send cards to. Rosemarie for sure. My widow clients.
A smirk covered my face WAIT! What if I made this a challenge?
So here it is. I am challenging all my Facebook Friends to send 14 cards in the next 14 days…AND SHARE THIS to their page.
If my 500 friends send 14 cards, that is over 7,000 cards sent. If they share the ‘What If’ challenge, the results could be endless.
So can you do your part? Send 14 cards & share this post?
Think of ninety-five year old Rosemarie, wouldn’t it be sweet to share love to someone who may be lonely.
Who knows? By giving love you may feel love.
Who’s in? LET’S DO IT !
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
Last weekend was New Year’s Eve. I had a fantastic time celebrating with my friend, Marji, yes in our PJs.
We toasted, giggled, and planned for the year ahead; trips we would possibly take, men we would maybe date, and adventures we would perhaps partake in.
So tonight as I sit in my pjs, yes once again, I am scrolling through Facebook and as expected, my feed is filled with New Year resolutions.
Here are some examples :
-This is the year I’m going to meet my husband.
-This year I’m gonna start my own business.
-I’m going to lose weight.
-I’m going to exercise more.
-I’m gonna get my health back on track.
I…I…I So many I’s!!!
Why do New Year’s resolution fail most of the time?
Because of the I’s!
I have to admit, several years ago, when I was a single mom and my ex became a paraplegic, I believed that willpower, guts, and sheer strength would get me through any trials. I used the Bible verse, “ I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” like armour going into battle.
The problem was the emphasis was on I, not on Christ who gives me strength.
Why did I decide or why do we decide to take the knife in our own hands and attempt to carve out life on our own?
Through time, I learned to say or more realistically, look up and yell at God ,“ I need your help! I’m lost! I’m sad!”
Once I learned to ask for His help,my life may not have gotten easier, but I didn’t feel alone. God was with me.
So you may be thinking, “Well great! Good for you! But I don’t have a faith in God, in fact I don’t even know how to begin? How to let God in?”
Stay tuned for a follow-up blog …can’t wait to share HOW!
But for now, I DO know, going it alone never works because eventually we all get tired, lonely, sad, exhausted, and we need help.
And I have learned this secret, “With God all things are possible!” Matthew 19:26
I have to admit that this morning, getting out of bed, I was not feeling my normal silly joy, but instead was overwhelmed from a night of listening to sirens warning of evacuations for potential mudslides.
I got out of bed and looked up at the ceiling and said, “Ok!God, let’s do this!”
I started my workday, called a few clients, and then decided to call a special client, my brother-in-law.
Before I called, I pulled up his profile and looked at his age, and thought,How is Doug going to be 60? Wait! If Doug is going to be 60, that means my sister is going to be 60.How is this possible?
An image quickly flashes through my memory of a perfect summer day watching my sister Debbie ride bareback her horse,Blazer.
Recalling that memory, I thought, if Debbie was 16 then, I was only 12.
I grabbed my cell phone, tapped my sister’s name and within seconds, we were reminiscing about the good old days.
I hung up the phone and thought, I am going to be 56 next month. Ugh!
I walked to my bathroom and put my hair in pigtails to feel like I was twelve years old again.
I continued working, the rain blew over, and the sun came out. My work day is completed. I look over at my office partner and say, “Kipper time for a walk.”
As I walk down the rain soaked sidewalkI thought,I am not getting any younger. What am I waiting for? When am I gonna start living my purpose?
What is my purpose? To be the best financial advisor? No!
Maybe it is my age speaking or maybe it’s a brand new start to a brand new year? Or maybe it is the realization of friends, family, and clients who have passed this year.
But whatever it is, I want to be silly Lisa who had this contagious joy to share the JOY of JESUS!
What is your purpose? Please comment! Love to hear!
“For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.” Philippians 2:13
I’m at the airport, killing time until my flight. I quietly smile as I remember the first night in New Orleans at dinner when Jake and I handed back the menus and, at the same time, said, “Thank you so much!” Tarah threw a smirk at us and said, “Jinx!”
We all started giggling. Our drinks came, and once again, at the same time, Jake and I said, “Wonderful!”
I hear over the airport intercom, “We will be boarding United Flight 2108 to Denver shortly.” I sit back in the stiff airport chair and scroll through my phone; my dimples are exposed as I glance at photos of eating beignets and exploring the Bayou.
My heart is full, but a tightness sets in as I think of hugging goodbye to my kids at security as we roll our luggage to separate planes; New York, Chicago, and Denver en route to Santa Barbara. I hear the flight attendant say, “We are ready to board flight 2108 to Denver.”
I stand, grab my roller board, head to the gate, turn back to look at the line behind me, and think my kids are heading home, and so am I.
As I walk down the ramp, I remember their smiles and think, I am so proud of the wonderful, polite adults they have become, but I sure do miss my babies.
“Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.” Proverbs 22:6
His sermon spoke of being stuck in the burden of trying to make a living, TRYING to find happiness, peace, and JOY… and TRYING to accumulate prestige and prominence… and he said to LET ALL THAT GO and LEARN to sing at the TOP of your voice with JOY no matter of your circumstances.
His sermon gave me so much peace that I drifted off to sleep like a swaddled baby.
And for some silly reason, I sprung out of bed this morning with childish unexplainable joy, and my children’s kindergarten song, “Jesus’ love is bubbling over,” ran through my brain, but I couldn’t remember the tune.
I quickly texted my daughter Tarah and asked her to sing the song.
Here is the song. Click on arrow!
So, I know you are probably thinking, “Well, that’s good for you, Lisa. You are silly. You are ridiculous. You have no idea the problems I have. Life is rough for me. I am in a season of ugly.”
Well, I can tell you this, twenty years ago, one of the most brutal times of my life, when I went through a divorce, my ex became a paraplegic, and I was a broke single mom; I remember a guy whom I started dating told me you are one of the happiest people I know. Even though you have all this crap, how are you still happy?
It wasn’t my inner strength. It wasn’t me trying to have a pleasant disposition. It was ALL GOD! I knew my troubles were more than I could handle on my own. I asked God to fill me with unexplainable JOY! And He did! And he does now! But sometimes, I am a spoiled brat, like a kindergartener who wants her toy back, and I scream at God, “GIVE ME JOY!”
So, as I skip the streets of Santa Barbara this afternoon, heading to yoga, I am sending you all love and asking you to ask the one who sees you, loves you, and wants to help you; to ask Him to fill you with the JOY of JESUS.
Salt gives food flavor. You can BE JOY! Share JOY! You are the salt of the earth! Can you be salty?
“You are the salt of the Earth.” Matthew 5:13
“… I have learned the secret of being content in every situation… I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians4: 12-13
If you don’t know this fact about me, I’m a concert junkie. So last week at the Death Cab for Cutie concert, I was like a teenager at Lollapalooza, standing by the stage, belting out the lyrics to the complete setlist. While I got lost in the moment, I paid dearly for it the next day. I lost my voice. As a friend joked, I am literally The Whisper Within. Haha!
Yes, it has been almost a whole week of having laryngitis. Not fun, for sure, but brutal for an extrovert. Work has been complicated, to say the least. Thank God for email and a really good assistant.
I have drunk enough tea and honey to fill a swimming pool; today, my frustration got the best of me.
Today, I took a work break, walked Kipper, and asked God, “What should I do? I can’t get in for a doctor’s appointment for a month. Urgent care is usually swamped without an appointment. I know I can try to get a same-day urgent care appointment; if it is, your will let it work out. Let it be the easy button.”
I walked home and logged into the online urgent care scheduling system. The system had a pop-up window that stated, send code to text. I responded and waited. No text. Tried again. No text. Third time. No text. I thought, “Ok, God, is this your answer?”
I tried email to get the code and received it. Soon my fingers were typing like I was playing the piano in a concert, fast and furious as I attempted to secure an appointment. I was at the final question, “The reason for your visit.” I scrolled down all the illnesses listed, COVID, Flu, high fever, etc., and checked the box to OTHER. A Pop-up window appeared, DENIED. You must call to schedule an appointment.
Call? Are you kidding me? I slapped my hands on my face like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone and shut my laptop in defeat. But then, I looked at the ceiling and thought, “I wanted the answer, God, and I said if it wasn’t easy, it wasn’t meant to be. You answered!”
So how do you hear God? I am not special. Ask Him specific questions, and if you believe he will answer you, HE WILL!
Oh, and I will admit, I don’t always ask God to guide me. I am guilty, too, of not listening to Him. One brief example is that I was looking to go on a trip to start a relationship with someone potentially. Everything that could go wrong that week did. Our dog bit someone, the snowblower didn’t work after a massive snowstorm, and the water pipes burst and flooded our house in the middle of winter. I was not supposed to go on the trip. I didn’t listen, and the weekend was a disaster. God warned me. He knew best.
So yes, God may answer you through hardship.
In this minor inconvenience, God humbles me, teaches me patience, and leads me to be silent and listen for The Whisper Within. Now back to drinking more tea.
“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him and He will gladly tell you.” James 1:5
This past weekend, I attended my church retreat in the Santa Monica Mountains.
It was beautiful, fun, and restful. As I made new friends and visited with familiar ones, I felt like a kid at camp, sitting on a log, roasting marshmallows on a stick.
Even though I was filled with bliss over the weekend, I admit that yesterday, as I washed my dinner plate, I thought, Ugh! Why do I feel the funk creeping back in?Ugh! You are alone.
I dried my dish and thought of the demographics of the retreat attendees. Married! So many married couples!
I looked out the window and up at the sky and said, “You know what is going on? Let me keep focused on all the good you bring me. Drown negative thoughts and restore my silly, child-like joy.”
Today, as the light filtered through my sheer curtains, a smile covered my face. Morning! I love that God does not allow my hiking boots to get stuck in the mud but gives me clean fresh boots every morning. And like a kid excited to go hiking at camp, I strapped on my backpack, hopeful, for the new day.
I worked and then looked at the clock and thought, 10 o’clock. Time for Kipper’s walk. But before I did, I heard the whisper, call the box office. So, I did!
“Hello! I’m looking for tickets for a Death Cab for Cutie?”
“We have one ticket left in general admission, and we take no phone orders.”
I looked at my officemate and said, “Kipper, let’s go! Time for a walk.”
Kipper must’ve anticipated my excitement because I was not prepared for a run, but Kipper was on a full pace and had me not skipping but jogging down the street in no time.
Eight blocks later, I walked up to the ticket booth and said, “Is that one ticket still available?” It was meant to be. A credit card was handed, I snapped a picture and then sent a text to my favorite concert junkie saying, “Guess who is going to Death Cab for Cutie?”
Tarah, my daughter, responded, “cute.”
As I walked home, I tipped my hat and threw a smirk up at the sky, you do hear me!
1 John 5:15 “And since we know that he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
This year I collected stickers from all the places I travelled and decorated my water bottle like a second grader decorates their notebook, hopeful for a new school year.
On Saturday, I wandered the quaint Michigan costal village of Saugatuck in hopes of purchasing my sticker souvenir, until one shop caught my eye.
I walked in, browsed, and reached for a sticker at the same time as a young girl handed her sticker to her dad to purchase. As we both waited in line, the banter began.
“Where are you from?”
The gentleman replied, “Toledo. What about you?”
“I used to live in a northwest suburb of Chicago but now I live in Santa Barbara California. Saugatuck is great, isn’t it?”
“Yes it it.”
“What brings you here?”
His eyes lit up like the moon lights a dark sky, “I’m getting married today.”
“Aww! Congrats! So sweet. My nephew is getting married today too.”
Anyone who knows me, knows I am sucker for love and not the ordinary Dum-Dum sucker kind of love; but the HUGE, over-the top Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, rainbow lollipop type of love, so that said, I encouraged the friendly stranger to tell me his story.
He gushed like Buckingham Fountain with pride as he told me about the journey that brought him to co-mingling families and having a beach wedding on Saturday.
He capped off the story with, “… it comes down to faith, hope, and love… She makes me a better person.”
I reciprocated and shared a bit of my journey and the soon-to-be groom replied, “You have to be open to love.”
I felt the nudge like God was tapping me on the shoulder saying, Pay attention, Lisa.
I finished paying for my sticker, walked out of the store with a little bounce in my step, hopeful like a bride on her wedding day.
Later in the day, I ran into the adorable soon-to-be bride and groom and asked to take their picture.
The beautiful beaming bride dished out wisdom like candy on Halloween. She said, “You have to be patient. You have to wait on God. I used to be strong and independent but you need to make space and let someone in.”
My mouth twitched as I thought, Strong? Independent?Let someone in? … GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!
I wished them well, and thought, Wait on God but let someone in.
Later that evening, I celebrated my handsome nephew and his beautiful bride,
and posed for a picture with my kids.
As I am writing this, I am glancing at the photo of my children like a momma looks at her newborn baby. I am filled with so much joy and proud that they are living their best life, in New York and in Chicago. As for me, I am content and maybe this is a season of just that, contentment; but as two couples showed me this weekend, life is better with love.
I just felt the whisper It is coming! Wait for it!
“To everything there is a season… a time for love.” Ecclesiastes:1,8
I am headed to Michigan this weekend to celebrate the wedding of one of my favorite nephews, Jacob.
This afternoon, after I finished packing my carry-on ,I zipped it up and thought, should I park my car at the airport or should I text a friend to drive me?… the airport is only 10 minutes away, I could ask my friend Heidi or I could just pay the 20/day fee?
I scratched my head and thought Ok God, you know I don’t want want to be a burden to anyone, what should I do…
Before I could finish my thought I received a text, Hey Lis, when are you going? Do you need a ride to and from the airport?
A smirk crossed my face as I looked up at my ceiling and thought YOU DO SEE ME!
I texted Heidi, YOU and God REALLY love me!
I called Heidi and gave her the details on my trip to Michigan.
After I hung up the phone, I dug through a box of old photographs and found this picture.
I glanced at the photo and thought, my babies.
I studied the photo and recalled that months before this beach snapshot, my ex had become a paraplegic. With no child support, a quick weekend away to Southaven Michigan was all I could afford. Every year the trips to Michigan became symbolic, as if the sun setting over the pier was God saying to me, I got you Lisa.
And he did then… and twenty years later,he still does. He knows my thoughts and answers my requests. Even the silly ones.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” James 4:3
Yesterday, I was in planting my fall mums when my cell phone rang and with one syllable I felt transported from my backyard, to my house in Westmont, the house of my youth.
“Well hello Amy. How is my girlfriend today?”
Within moments, it was as if no time had passed; as if we were sharing stories, freshman year in the cafeteria line or on the bleachers of a Hornet football game.
“Who did you go to prom with?”
“Who was your big crush?”
“Do you remember that toga party at Knez’s?”
It was like I was fourteen years old again and could still feel my braces getting caught on my gums as I giggled.
We shared memories from our youth but also some of the lows of today; aging parents, work, jobs, life, etc.
I hung up the phone, looked over at my mums and instead of resuming planting, I put down my shovel and went inside.
I thought more about Amy. That girl always could make me laugh.
I dug through my old photo album and found a picture of us. I can still hear “Surprise!!!” echoing the hallway of my childhood home.
I thumbed through the photo album labeled SWEET SIXTEEN PARTY and saw friends of my youth.
As I recalled names of the faces who gathered in my streamer-filled basement, a quiet smile covered my face as I remember how happy I was that night but then another thought entered my mind.
Wait! That was also the same day of my high school conference gymnastics meet.
That meet still ranks as my most embarrassing moment EVER! Let’s just say, “my monthly friend” decided to pay me a visit in the middle of my floor routine. SURPRISE! And this SURPRISE visit was not something that was easily disguised. I remember Amy sitting outside the shower as I cried with utter distress.
I thumbed through some more pictures and thought how could I be SO FREAKED OUT and SO HAPPY all in the same day. And then I heard the whisper, ” With me anything is possible.”
So you may ask, why do I share such raw and personal stories? For likes? For Comments? Self-promotion?
No. None of above.
The reason is simple; to show that no matter what you are going through, or how your day, your week, your month, or yes- even your painstaking year is going- that we have a real and personal Jesus who sees us, loves us, and listens to us.
He wants to help us, if only we will ask.
So if you are stuck in a season of slow bleeding… ( Sorry, I am giggling! God wrote that! I didn’t.)
Don’t be stuck! You have a friend who wants to be with you; whether you are crying in the shower or celebrating a birthday. God is good and will meet you right where you are!
“Many are asking,’ Who can show us any good? Lift up the light of your face upon us Lord.” Psalm 4:6
Yesterday, my daughter who is now twenty-five (How is that possible?) asked me to find a picture of her on the first day of Freshman year of high school. With all the back-to-school posts on Facebook, is it possible she is getting sentimental?
As I dug through boxes, I found this little girl.
I examined my 2nd grade “picture day” photo and remembered how I worried about being ugly; recalling being teased and given the nickname “The Bucktooth Beaver.” (Kids can be so mean!) As I looked closer at the photo I also remembered what my Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Succop called me too, Jesus Little Lamb. I grabbed my phone and texted her the picture and wrote.
My beautiful teacher~ I look at thislittle girl and remember being so worried about the mean girls making fun of me … I worried I never would fit in. But because of your love, showering me with the love of Jesus, I stopped worrying and started wondering, wondering about our Savior, and start wondering more about Himthan myself.
The next day she responded telling me it was a privilege to love me and a gift to see really young ones who the world did not know or value.
Her response got me thinking, when did we replace wonder with worry?
What do you worry about?
Will I get the right job? Will my kids get the right job?
Will my kids go to college?
Will my family stay healthy?
What do you wonder about?
Think back to your childhood…
What did you want to want to be?
What did you wonder?
Was it, would I get picked for the recess kickball game?
I admit I was boy crazy since first grade. I wondered if I would get to sit on the bus next to Eric Berg for the field trip.
Close your eyes and think back to maybe the summer of 1981? or 1985? What songs were playing on the radio? What color was your bike that you rode around the neighborhood with your best friends until dark? Did you wonder what high school would be like? Or who you would go to Prom with?
With a new school year starting and none of my children in school, I do think time is passing so quickly.
I am older and my dad is eighty-nine, so I do think about or wonder when he will die. I don’t worry since I know he will go to heaven and enjoy a new life of wonder.
As I am writing this, I am looking at my 2nd grade picture, buckteeth and all, and remembering and thanking God for my sweet teacher, who made a difference in my life, and helped me wonder. ( Yes, you teachers DO make a difference!)
God does not want us to worry but to wonder. I would love to hear what you remember about your childhood. What did you wonder?
So I gotta admit this week the pain crept into my “happy space” and it was unexpected and unwelcomed like the flu in the middle of August. I cried, and it was not a pretty cry with tears flowing softly down my cheeks, wiped away with one little Kleenex. No, it was the downright, face contorting, ugly cry.
My soul was in need of reinforcement so I pressed the button on my cell phone in hopes of reaching my college roommate, Kristin. When she answered my call, I was hyperventilating, choking out my words, or should I say inaudible sounds and syllables sounding like a first-time mom giving birth.
“Lis… Are you alright?”
I finally gathered some composure and said, “No, I hurt. It’s been twenty years this week that I have been divorced.”
She listened but she knows me, I am stubborn and even though I love parties, I am not a willing participant in any sort of PITY PARTY. I deflated any balloons that would be used for that kind of party and dished back a big slice of “GOD’S GOT ME” cake.
She responded, “Yes, I know, Lisa. You know God has you but it is ok to tell God you are sad, that you thought by now you would be married.”
So I did! That night, I made some tea and went to my sacred space and told God, “I’m sad. I hurt. Fill me with JOY!”
The very next day, for reasons I can’t explain, I was back skipping the streets of Santa Barbara. I was like sixteen year old me, before a Turnabout high school dance. I may have been dateless but it didn’t matter because I knew I had lots of friends who allow me to be silly Lisa and dance without a date in sight.
So today, I have to admit I woke up and took a selfie before I went to church.
No filter was needed. I am joyful. I am happy.
Praying for a husband isn’t REALLY my focus anymore. I pray more to be filled with joy and if my SOON-to-be husband wants to join me in this wonderful journey called life; that would be wonderful TOO… but if not, I know, I am LISA, a BEAUTIFUL CHILD Of GOD!
And just like the ending of the movie Sixteen Candles, when Jake Ryan waited outside the church for Samantha; I believe my happy ending will be unexpected and welcomed and as easy as my mom inviting the “new church family from Omaha” over for dinner. When “Farmer Ted” walked in the door, I was “ALL- in.”
So today, I know God will continue to surprise me, fill me with joy, all because I am willing to give him, my ugly cry.
“And the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:3
Today. As the light filtered in through my sheers curtains I stretched out my body like a rubber band and thought, Yes! A full nights sleep!
I reached over, grabbed my phone and quickly texted and thanked my friend Jen for her prayers. She responded, Lucky! I slept well until 1:30, then was up the rest of the night.
I responded, UGH! That’s my prayer for YOU tonight! LET’s do this God!… Oh I just heard God say- you are prayer penpals!
She texted back, How do you hear him?
I responded a long winded text of something to the effect of I’m always asking, questioning, and listening for Him, basically spending time with him, talking to Him like a best friend.
Moments later, I started “the scroll”, yes the five minute Facebook scroll of who is doing what. Today’s feed was filled with cute back-to-school pictures.
I LIKED a few and then decided one friend needed a personal touch. I texted, Good morning! Saw your beautiful girls are off to school. How are you?
Within seconds my cell rang and I answered, “Well, what a happy surprise, Kyla”
We spent the next hour REALLY connecting, REALLY sharing the REAL. It was not Facebook pretty. We did not wait to scroll through our photo app to get the right picture, instead we showed the ugly, the just out of bed, no-make-up and hair mangled look.
Even though, we live hundreds of miles apart, I felt like she was on my front porch sharing a cup of coffee. After an hour we hung up and got on with our day but my mind was still drawn back to that conversation. As I poured another cup of coffee I thought, We all want to connect hence the allure of social media and Facebook but are we really connecting or servicing up LIKES and comments like an appetizers, a quick fix, when we long for the main course?
I am guilty of this. How many likes? Who commented? What did they say?
As I walked into my office, I thought of what Jen asked me, “How do I hear God?”
Even though I enjoy Facebook, or the quick text from a friend, those are just stars stickers on the top of a homework assignment, where as my deep friendships are those who sit with me in the boring History lectures without a sticker in sight.
The same is true with God. He wants not the quick prayer, the quick request. He wants us to talk to Him like a best friend. He wants OUR TIME. Our Truth. I’m Happy. I’m Sad. I hurt. He doesn’t want our Facebook pretty.
So the question I have for you, who do you do life with? Hundreds of friends or those who you share deep personal connections with? Do you give your friends or God the time they deserve or are you just serving up a LIKE or a prayer, not lingering and enjoying a slow cup of tea or fine wine at the end of a day?
I can’t believe I wrote this five years ago. I have learned so much since then and appreciate my journey as a single mom. Jake is now twenty-six living in Chicago and Tarah is twenty-five living in New York. GOD has been with us every step of the way.
AUGUST 9, 2017
Climbing through the tattered rubble this morning, I lost my footing on the steps of the Acropolis. I sat on the marble steps and watched my college kids race to the top. I wipe my smirk and sweat from lips. I no longer see Ancient Greece in the distance but visions of Mickey & Minnie dance in the haze.
Even though the long day of Disney left my kids acting like Grumpy;they were not faking it – I was .
Unknown to them we were not on a magical kingdom ride since I was Cinderella about to lose my Prince Charming. Soon I would be like Snow White lost in the forest. We were tossed on the Mad Tea Party Ride, spinning like cups, ready to vomit, until the ride broke. This is where the beauty started.
Sixteen years later, as I watched my kids race to the top, I kicked the rubble at my feet, adjusted my sun hat and my focus.
Off in the distance, I saw the masterpiece of the ruins, The Pantheon and my kids. I climbed each step like an Olympian, torched raised high in victory .
We stood firm on the marble as the fellow tourist took our photo. That moment like the monument was HUGE!
We survived the merry-go-round of life.
No more faking smiles.
No more standing on shaking ground.
Sometimes you need to fall, breakdown, and kick some rubble to appreciate the beauty .
I may love the beach and the sand but ” In Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Warning: this blog is self-indulging like a over-flowing ice cream sundae, dripping in hot fudge sauce.Today I am spectacularly,happy!Today is my daughter, Tarah’s 25th birthday.
Last night, I found a picture of us when she was five years.
As I study the picture this morning a soft smile covers my face. I recall braiding our hair but also that time in my life where things were not so sweet. I was newly divorced, my ex had become a paraplegic, and I was trying hold everything together with a safety pin.
But today, as I received a FaceTime call from Tarah who now lives in New York, I could not contain my silly joy. I was grinning ear to ear as I wished my baby, Happy Birthday!
I know most moms love their kids and are proud of them but I feel something special for my peanut.
Even though on most days we can’t share a picnic blanket like we did in New York a few months ago, we do share something extraordinary.
As I look at the photo above, I know Tarah inherited my silliness, my smile as well as my strong independent nature. I think Boy, am I lucky. It wasn’t easy but she was worth it!
I’m sitting at O’Hare Airport, waiting for my flight back to Santa Barbara.
As I sip on my mint tea, images like Polaroids flutter through my mind.
I take out my phone and tap my photo app and scroll through the smiles of my high school friends. My dimples raise as I recall the fun night we had as we got together for an impromptu high school reunion.
I keep scrolling through my photos and I see other smiles, smiles of my sorority sisters, and a fun Sunday gathering. A smirk crosses my face as I recall giggling like schoolgirls as we retold goofy stories of our college adventures.
I put down my phone, lean back in the airport chair and close my eyes. Thoughts of walking in my old neighborhood this past week, flutter through my mind. As I walk down memory lane, I reminisce of boys that I kissed, friends that I had, and backyard tent-outs with the group that I called “the gang.”
It is like I’m sixteen years old again, and just had my first kiss. I’m feeling nothing but butterflies. The innocence of youth.
I hear the flight attendant announce, “We will be boarding shortly flight 742 to Santa Barbara…” I sit up and take another sip of tea and can’t help but thank God for all the lives that have made an impression on my life.
Some were my first loves. Some allowed me to be silly and goofy. Some are my forever friends. They all have touched my life and impacted me to become who I am today.
I look out the window at the plane that I’m ready to board and think, I am pretty lucky. I have lived a good life. I have had a lot of wonderful friends and still have a lot of wonderful friends.
The flight attendant announces,”We are now ready to board flight 742 to Santa Barbara.” I stand up and grab my carry-on and wheel it towards the gate.
I get in line and a quiet smile covers my face, as I see families and couples getting in line around me. I receive a text from a Santa Barbara friend offering to pick me up from the airport.
I smile and think ,I may be single but I am not alone. I am loved. I am cared for. I am blessed.
I pull my rollaboard forward and head toward the plane.
“…a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9
Today has been a relaxing Sunday. Church. Grocery shopping and then Kipper and I took a stroll through the neighborhood. As Kipper and I wait to cross the street I think, This fits.
But then I recall what I scribbled in my journal last week as my plane was departing New York City.
The plane tilts. The plane straightens. I am on a flight back from New York, headed home to Santa Barbara.
My thoughts wander just as I did this past weekend through the streets of NYC. I look out the oval plane window and recall my kids and I, enjoying the city.
– Three sets of eyes gazing into the fog peering for a glimpse of The Statue of Liberty
– Jake & I having a New York minute.
– Three pairs of somber eyes looking down into the everlasting waterfall of the 911 memorial.
So much to do! So little time to do it! The weekend was packed with excitement just like a sold out show at Madison Square Garden.
I think, I love the city! I miss the city!
A big grin covers my face as I recall what my kids said to me as I skipped through Central Park, “Mom, you are like a character out of movie! So silly!”
As I recall that observation I think, I am! My mouth twitches as I remember what the main character Melanie from Sweet Home Alabama says near the end of the movie. She says, “My life in New York works, Jake. But then I come down here… and this fits too.”
My eyes shut. My eyes open. Yes, the beach fits but so does the city.
I look out the window and my thoughts are lost in the clouds. What do you want God? Where do I belong ?
I see snow-capped mountains out my window. Wow! Beautiful!
I gaze closer at the mountain range Who knows where I belong ? I don’t . But I know to whom I belong.
Maybe just maybe I will live part time in Chicago and part-time in Santa Barbara. Who knows?
I shut my eyes and dream of all the possibilities.
So the blog I wrote a week ago isn’t about me trying to figure out where to live, the beach or the city. It is about something bigger.
I have heard from many friends and clients who are trying to plan and figure out “The what’s next ?” We are stuck in the day to day but want to know what the next month, year, or even ten years may bring. Will I marry ? Will I move?
So why am I sharing this? Because through my life journey I know we have a real and personal Jesus, who loves us, listens to us, and wants to guide us. We just need to be open, listen, and believe in THE WHISPER WITHIN.
As for me, I plan to be surprised.
“We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands.” Proverbs 16:1
This weekend my daughter, Tarah graduated Pace University in New York City.
As I’m sitting here at Denver Airport waiting for my flight back to Santa Barbara a feeling of overwhelming GUSH, passes over me, tears pour out of me, and the ugly crying begins.
I think,why am I crying?, I just don’t know why.
One moment, I am so proud as I recall moments from this weekend, my grown daughter graduating, crossing a stage,seeing her as a woman this weekend who is strong and independent, intergrating her life, into the BIG APPLE, but moments later my emotions are just like the many subways I traveled on this weekend. I have changed stations . I already miss her.
I pull up a video that I saved on my phone . It is of my little girl, dancing on a chair impersonating Britney Spears but with her own style, screaming the lyrics like the front person of a metal band. ( click video below)
My tears have turned to giggles as I think, she was always unique, always creative, always funny, always childlike, always silly. She always had her own style.
The video clip stops and hit play again.
God made her distinct . She was destined to be an actress.
As I am waiting to board my flight to California, a quiet smile covers my face as I think,THANK you GOD for Tarah ! You made her brave enough to carve out her own original path and take the path less traveled .
I watch the video one more time and remember that time in my life, too. Tarah was just a child.
I shake my head and my lips seal as I think of the crooked path that led to here.
Twenty years ago, I was newly divorced, my ex had just become a paraplegic. I was broke and didn’t think I would survive as a single mom without financial support, let alone see both my kids graduate college. At times, I could only save 25/ month but I did it.
WE did it ! SHE DID IT! And yes without any college debt.
I look up at the ceiling and think,THANK you GOD! You made Tarah unique for a reason.
I look outside at the clouds passing by and think of my daughter,God had the plan and you were brave enough to live it. You are living an authentic life.
I hear the flight attendant say, “Now boarding to Santa Barbara…”
I think, I miss my girl but I am so so proud of my baby.
My eyes flickered as a gentle light filtered through my sheer curtains. Monday morning. Time to get up .
Mondays typically have a nice rhythm; work, swim, and then Kipper and I head to the beach. After swimming at the Y, I pulled on my shorts and threw on a t-shirt and hat, and jumped in my Jeep.
As I headed, down the road, I quietly asked God, “Why am I here? Why Santa Barbara? How do you wanna use me?
I waited but heard nothing.
As an elementary school just let out for the day, my thoughts wandered to my own kids. Jake is in Chicago. Tarah is in New York. Why am I here?
Wanting a response I yelled, “Come on! I wanna know why here ? Why Santa Barbara?”
I saw a VON’s sign approaching and thought Bananas . I’m out. I pulled in the parking lot, got out, and within a few minutes my grocery cart was filled and I was checking out.
As my groceries, made their way down the conveyor belt, the girl bagging my groceries said, “I love your purse. It is so cute just like you.” A warm smile covered my face. “Aww thanks! It was a birthday gift.”
We start talking like old friends. As she loaded my groceries in my cart, she leaned in and whispered in my ear. “Thanks for being so nice to me. Right before you came to check out, I said to myself, I need hope. I need to see that someone sees me.”
I looked at her name tag and said, “Karen, can I hug you?” She nodded. I hugged her tight like a favorite teddy bear and whispered into her ear, “I see you. God sees you. You gave me purpose today. I will see you again Karen.”
I pushed my shopping cart out the door and tipped my hat to the sky and thought,You do see me ! You do hear me!
Wanting to remember this moment, I quickly waved a man down in the parking lot and asked him to take a picture of the purse that started it all.
I got in the car, giggled, and threw a smirk at the sky and said, “You do see me God! And you saw Karen too. Once again you never surprise me!”
I pulled out of the parking space and silently thought, I do belong here.
As I made way home, I looked through my windshield up at the clouds floating by, You give me purpose, God.
How does God want to use you ? Are you willing ?
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13
About a week ago I received a sweet card that stated :
May you receive abundant blessings in return for the special way you expressed His love.
It was from my dear friend Kris, thanking me for time she and her beautiful daughter Jenna spent at my house over spring break. She enclosed a picture collage of our few days together.
I reread the personalized message she wrote and then notice this Bible verse.
I was welled with tears of joy. I recalled what one of my Santa Barbara friends said to me when I questioned, “Why here? Why Santa Barbara?”
Her response was, “Because everyone who comes to your house, you will bless and tell them about how God has blessed you. I am renaming your house THE BLESSINGS HOUSE.”
As I pondered this further, I sat on the ground with legs crossed, looked up at the sky and asked, “Is this it God? You bless me so I can bless others?”
Waiting for God to answer, I remembered sitting unknowingly next to a pastor on a plane ride and he stated, “You know Santa Barbara is one of the most unchurched places in America… I think that’s why you are here.”
I whispered Is it God ? You bless me so I can bless others?
So, this blog is not about God blessing me with a cottage by the beach, even though I am grateful for that, it is about a much bigger blessing and purpose.
The purpose is share the love and joy of Jesus…And there is not a better time than now, with Easter around the corner.
Who can you bless? Who can you invite to Easter service? Who needs to know the why your heart is filled with joy, stuffed like a plastic Easter egg with chocolate?
It is not too late. Share the blessing.
“ I will bless you… and you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2
This morning I received a text from my brother, Roger, with a cute meme . It had me giggling before breakfast.
I quickly texted back. Aww you made me giggle. I am seeing the beauty of my EASY life.
Moments later, I decided to post the meme on Facebook. The giggle was too good not to share.
Feeling a nudge, I added these words, “My brother sent me this today. It made me giggle. Don’t get me wrong I will someday remarry but for now, I am enjoying my singleness. To all my single friends, may you find the EASY JOY, everyday !
Moments later, Kipper and I were off on our walk, and I had a little extra bounce in my step. Who am I kidding ? I felt giddy and skipped and danced my way through the the streets and parks of Santa Barbara.
On my walk, I asked God , “What is my plan? What is my purpose? I thought I heard a quiet whisper …I have blessed you with joy. Your purpose is to share it.
I skipped my way home feeling a little lighter.
I worked, played Pickleball, made dinner, and then read some of the Facebook responses to my earlier post. Many had me giggling like a schoolgirl but one stood out from the crowd.
We messaged back and forth, just light, easy conversation but then one of her responses welled me up with tears.
“It’s funny. I didn’t know, back in the day, that you would be the “sister” that made me remember what it was all about. You are the glue that keeps stragglers like me on the periphery. We aren’t quite gone because of people like you.”
I had a lump in my throat. I felt it. The nudge. The whisper. This is your purpose. This is why I bless you with joy, to share it with others.
I have to admit, this is not the joy I thought I wanted, the joy of enjoying singleness. But today, I feel happy. I feel content. I feel a new sense of purpose, to share the joy that can only be explained as the Joy of Jesus.
So for today, I am enjoying the season of singleness with purpose. Who knows what tomorrow may bring ?
May this season, whatever season you are in, may you be surprised with unexpected JOY !
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”