The Whisper Within

" Believing that God powers strange coincidences and the journey that lies ahead."


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A paw is pointed . A gardener is stalked . And a face is licked.

“Aww, who do we have here ?”

I tipped my baseball cap .

” This is Kipper .”

” Well, Kipper, I’m Jeannie . I grew up in Santa Barbara and know everyone so you must be new here.”

Seventy years of Santa Barbara history was shared . My Chicago story was shared . And then a ,”Welcome to Santa Barbara, Lisa . You are so normal and we need more normal here .”

Soon paws were trouncing down the hill, dragging a leash and Asics behind .

The day went on and a mailbox was shut . A mailbox was opened and envelopes were retrieved .

“Hey Joe, happy Friday . How are you ?”

“Truthfully, my feet hurt. Kinda tired from dragging the mailbag today .”

A moment was shared. A smile was shared and then, ” Lisa you are so sweet . Have a great weekend .”

I watched the mailbag saunter down to the next mailbox .Being a mailman is a lonely job .

The workday was over and my nightly ritual was in motion .

Sand between toes .A ball is tossed and floppy ears running toward the tide ,but then a hiker’s backpack drew in a bark .

“Can I pet your dog ?”

I adjusted my straw hat . ” Sure. Kipper sit .”

The scruffy beard and flannel looked up ,” Wow . You are a real California girl .”

My lashes fell ,” Actually I moved here from Chicago .”

” Well that explains the niceness .”

One more pet and then a head was cocked and paws were trouncing towards a seagull . My toes walked away but my straw hat looked back at the flannel and thought …. We all want to be seen . Today I was seen and it felt nice .

My toes sunk deeper in the sand and my mind sunk deeper too .

We are all starving for attention . Social media feeds this . How many likes ? How many followers ?

I have been told by a potential publisher that I need more followers . I get it .They want a book to be profitable. What about me ? Do I need more followers to make a difference ?

Jesus only had twelve followers and yet their love changed the world .

Everyone wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be seen. It’s like we are sitting impatiently on our kindergarten mat for ‘Show and Tell’ with an arm raised saying,”Pick me . Pick me .”

Everyone sees and loves Kipper . But maybe it is Kipper who sees them first as her tail wags with enthusiasm that could slice steel as she willing takes the first step toward every stranger as if to say ,” I’m Kipper . I like you . You are someone I want to know .”

What about you ? Can you expose your soft underbelly , take a risk to REALLY see and REALLY love those around you .

I double dog dare you .

Open your eyes . Open your heart .And listen to the Whisper Within.

“Don’t pretend to  love others. Really love them .” Romans 12:9


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I looked at the calendar . Tax time has been brutal and it is always is …but I love what I do . It’s the final week !

Ahh two more days and then it’s “me time “. OMassage. Yoga. Beach time.

A text and then a suggestion .

“Lisa needs to walk in the mountains. Be at peace and pray . After tax season of course- maybe a yoga retreat . Be like Jesus and withdraw to the wilderness …. Fill up your tank .”

I put down my phone and bit my bottom lip.

Go into the wilderness ?

Fill up my tank ?

Jesus went to the wilderness to pray . Later he went to the garden to pray before the cross with his friends . His disciples were his warriors.

My mouth twitched . Who are my warriors ? Who fills up my tank ? Where is my wilderness ?

I opened up the backdoor and found my wilderness.

My morning coffee . My morning peace .

I laced up my Asics and found my second wilderness, a park, blocks away .

And later that day, I walked my wilderness, step by mushy step .

I thought about what my friend said ” Go into your wilderness and pray .”

Umm pray . Listen . Surround yourself with friends …

How about all three ?

When Moses was fighting a battle he needed his friends .

“When Moses arm grew tired …Aaron and Hur held up his hands.”Exodus 17:12

What are you battling ?

Who will hold up your hands ?

I looked at the turquoise ripple crashing over my toes. I have friends . We all need help …

A text . An idea. And a welcome reply .

Life is busy . How about a once a week text of prayer requests and then pray for each other at the same time ?

YES ! Let’s do it !

So how about you ?

I am challenging you this week to DAILY find your wilderness and surround yourself with your warriors .

Can you find two or three friends to start a text chain of prayer requests ? DO IT !

Get lost in your wilderness and listen to your whisper within !

” And we are confident that he hears us whatever we ask for anything that pleases him .”

I John 5:14


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A ding. A text. And then a picture.

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April 9th in Chicago. Will it ever end?

It’s Cub’s home opener; of course.

Sorry , About the snow , Jen.

I wiped the sleep from my eyes. Grabbed my journal. Grabbed my pen.

Wonder.

This weekend was all about wonder…

-My Chicago friends wonder will the snow will stop falling? Ugh!

-Another friend wondered when would God bring a husband into her life.

-Pulling weeds for a service project, my fellow volunteer wondered “Will he text me back?”

-A client wondered “When can I retire?”

-I wondered “are my kids in college happy?”

-Will my book get published?

Wonder.

Why do people go on vacation?

To wonder. What does a Cancun turquoise tide look like? What does a hot dog at Wrigley taste like? What does sweat pouring down your forehead, from hiking Yosemite, feel like?

When and why do we stop wondering?

Yesterday, I peeked over my cup of coffee and witnessed a couple eating breakfast outside a café. Newspapers in front. Not a glance. Not a smile was ever shared. They lost the wonder.

Wonder.

How do we not lose the wonder?

I thought about my week…

I wondered about the purple cauliflower making its way down the conveyor belt in front of me at Trader Joes… is it any good? So what did I do? I asked the bushy eyebrows with wavy hair…he responded convincingly. Yep, I ran back for a bunch.

I wondered if a mountain covered in California poppy really looks like a hillside from the Sound of Music? It does.

I wondered,with leashes intertwined and sand-filled paws flopping around at the beach…why did they choose a Labrador, or a Golden, and why did I choose Kipper, my German Short-haired puppy? We all had our reasons.

Wonder.

Life is a series of wonders.

If we fail to wonder, relationships die. Our joy dies.

As another friend put it. “It’s all in the wonder…the why. The where. The when, God?”

I have learned to wonder and have been known to question and sometimes yell at God but lately before I get out of bed I ask this…

“What do you want me to do today, God?… Because I’ll do it… Tell me.

I am learning to be in the wonder. Stop questioning. But instead enjoy the wonder.

Can you?

This week as you make your way in world…really see people. Wonder. What makes them happy? What makes them sad? Why do they always sit in that seat on the train? How are they today? Maybe ask them.

Get lost in the wonder. You may surprise yourself and those around you .

“Blessed be the Lord, who alone works wonders.” Psalm 72:19


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I looked at my computer screen. This has been a long week …. and it’s only Wednesday

How many of you feel this way ?

Is it me? Or tax time – my busy season?

Another call. Another email.

How do we not lose our joy?

A smile. A good cup of coffee. Looking forward to 5 o’clock?

Umm, my 5 o’clock is not until April 17th. I flip the calendar…3 more weeks…

A phone rings.

“Lisa, I need to review your taxes…”

A calculation. A scenario. And then a question.

“Lisa, I noticed your charitable contributions. You moved to California two years ago but you still give to St. Peter’s in Schaumburg.”

My heart fluttered.

“ John , you probably don’t know… fifteen years ago I went through a divorce and months later, the father of my children became a paraplegic. Jake was seven. Tarah was only five…”

I felt like I swallowed a mouthful of marbles.

“St. Peter’s saved me children .”

“ Saved your children ?”

I bit my bottom lip. Tears rolled down my cheek.

“Yep, the teachers surrounded my kids with so much love…Jake is graduating in engineering from Purdue in May. What they did they did for my kids, I can never repay them. I will always give back to St. Peter’s.”

“Wow, Lisa. Did I ever share with you my St. Peter’s connection?”

“A St. Peter’s connection?”

“Yes, my great- great grandfather Frederick Wilhelm Richmann was one of the first pastors as St. Peter’s back in 1858. He wanted the school to be a place we’re children were loved .”

My dimples turned North.

“Lisa, can I share this story with my mom? She would be so happy to hear her grandfather’s legacy of loving children, lived on. Your children are proof.”

I hung up the phone and then it hit me. St. Peter’s mission is “ Loving people. Serving the world .”

I took a moment to slow down in my fast paced environment and relish the last fifteen years.

I can’t help but think, would my kids be the same had they not grown up with people who embraced them with such a loving and nurturing manner, especially at such vulnerable and chaotic time in their young life?

How do we not lose our joy ?

As Mother Theresa said, serve the one in front of you. Or do what Jesus what do, kindness with a smile served up on the cross.

Happy Easter!

“Let is not get tired of doing what is right for after awhile we will reap the blessing, if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” Galatians 6:8

Can you let love be your greatest aim? I intend to.

A special thank you to all the St. Peter’s teachers who made a difference .

Here’s the link to the history of St.Peter’s & Pastor Richmann

https://www.stpeterlcms.org/Page/110


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A cart is pushed . A number is pulled . And an order is placed.

” I’ll take a half of pound of honey roasted ham .”

” Sure thing . You aren’t from here …”

Oh boy ! Here we go again…

Yes, I do live here but I’ve just moved from Chicago …”

” Have you found a church ?”

A half pound of ham, salami & then an invitation to a church and a women’s retreat .

” Sandee, how did you know that you could talk to me about God ?”

” I saw a kindness about you . A genuine smile when you came to the deli counter .”

I pushed my heavy cart out the door but my load somehow felt lighter .

A threw a smirk at the sky . How do you do it God ?

Groceries are unloaded . My Jeep is parked . And my thoughts are overloaded and spilling on the church pew .

I closed my eyes . Taxtime . Pay bills . Do laundry . Ugh ! Focus !

“Today is Palm Sunday …

The message was read.

Jesus command two of his disciples .” Go to the village and find and untie a donkey & bring it to me …. tell Jerusalem her King is coming and will be riding on the donkey .”

It hit me . Didn’t the disciples think this was weird ? Didn’t they think … I don’t want this job?

I am sure . But what about you ? What about me ? What is your donkey ?

What in your life are you questioning ? A job ? A relationship ? A path leading nowhere ?

What is God telling you to do ?

The donkey was for Jesus to ride, like a parade ,through Jerusalem but getting the donkey was not the glamorous job .

I know myself sometimes I am searching so hard for the end result that I miss the daily journey of just being .

Being kind. Being open . Really seeing the one in front of me .

Maybe right now, you are getting the donkey … stuck in a somewhat useless path … but who knows the donkey may lead to a parade .

I left church and thought about Sandee , the deli girl . She just serves the one in front of her . She is obedient in the mundane … serving kindness , one slice at a time .

What is your donkey ?

Open your eyes . Open your heart . Serve the one in front of you . What is your heart whispering to you ?

Who would think a stinking donkey would end in a parade? Happy Palm Sunday …. from my palm tree to yours .

” Whatever you do,do it as if serving the Lord ” Colossians 3:23


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Sometimes it takes a lifetime of being patient to figure out the simple is all you need . The beach . These smiles . My pup.

” And we know it all things God works for the good of those who love him ” Romans 8:28

What is your simple ? What is your heart whispering to you ?Comment below


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Ugh garbage night !

Yep, we all do it , but mine is a bit tricker than just dragging the bins to the curb . I live on a hill .

So one bin down . Then I’m down . And then the garbage is spread on the sidewalk like a Thanksgiving feast in reverse .

Crap !

Light blue Converse are sprawled and a set of work boots come walking .

” So you must be my new neighbor …”

” Yep, I’m Lisa .”

” I’m hearing Chicago or New York … can I help you ?”

“Nope . I’m fine .”

” Definitely Chicago. Stubborn .”

A crooked smirk is thrown and a strong hand pulls mine .

“So, why here ,Chicago girl ?”

” I wanted the simple life .”

” The simple life ? Don’t you know that Santa Barbara is heaven on earth ? There is even a secret stairway that will take you to a view that’s just like heaven . It’s right up the hill .You should wander .”

A fire . An evacuation. A mudslide . An evacuation . Yep, this is paradise .

But a few months later, I wandered, step by step . A secret stairs led to a secret park . I took in the view .

The beach. The mountains . The sun setting over the horizon .

Wow,this is heaven on earth .

A deep breath in . A deep breath out. Time to go .

Step by step I walked down the cobblestone walkway .

A glance. A smile . And then a story . Her white locks drew me in .

“Hi Lisa . I’m Nan. So nice to meet you …. You’re from Chicago? I grew up right outside Chicago in LaGrange . I moved here when I was sixty- seven after my husband passed .Why did you move here, Lisa ? Did your husband get a job transfer ?”

” Nope . I’m single .”

I leaned down and pet the Cocker Spaniel .

” How old are you , Lisa?”

” I’m fifty . ”

” You’re just a baby . I’m ninety . Do you know the secret to being happy ? Get a dog not a man . ”

I leaned in and hugged the white locks.

So … say hello to Kipper .

I prayed for companionship and God brought me a dog . Next time I yell at God ,I’ll learn to be more specific in my prayers .

Have I given up on love ? Heck no ! It IS coming .I will be patient and wait for the real thing. God knows my heart and will fulfill my desire .

In the meantime, someone or something has to keep this Chicago girl warm during a BRUTAL Santa Barbara Winter.

” Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire .”

Psalm 37:4