The Whisper Within

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


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Kipper, looks back at me as if to say,”Come on. Time for the beach.”

She knows the afternoon routine and doesn’t want to wait. Within minutes, my companion is buckled to my left and my Jeep is in drive but then a oil change light illuminated.

My eyes shifted to my left. Jiffy Lube.

Sorry, Kipper. The Beach can wait.”

I pull in Jiffy Lube.Hand the attendant my keys, and Kipper and I walk to a grassy area nearby.

A few minutes pass and a young man joins us.

“Nice looking dog .What kind is it?”

“German Shorthaired Pointer.”

“It kinda reminds me of my girlfriend’s dog. She has a Weinheimer.”

“They’re cousins. Both hunting dogs.”

A baseball cap lowered, ” I am really gonna miss her dog.”

I studied the fresh face. “The dog or the girl?”

His head sunk.” Long distance relationships can work, can’t they?… I mean with FaceTime and texting …”

I sealed my lips in a soft smile.”Ya, it’s not like when I was your age. I had to write a letter and wait a week for HOPEFULLY a response.”

His chin raised. “Ya. It can work.”

He paused and I saw him studying my wrinkles as he asked,”…but what happens if our beliefs don’t match?”

I cocked my straw hat at the sky Really God, the faith question at Jiffy Lube?

I stared at the white eyes of his eyes. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I am a Christian and want to marry a Christian. She isn’t. Can she change?”

My mouth twitched.” Umm, truthfully I don’t want to influence you but I was married…Have two great kids, about your age, from the marriage but we didn’t share the faith.”

His eyes seemed to study my wrinkles further.” So you weren’t equally- yoked?”

He took off his cap and combed his fingers through his hair and shook his head in defeat.”We aren’t equally-yoked either.”

“I am sorry. I have been single for fifteen years. I am waiting for someone who shares my faith.”

He smirked.” Your Boaz.”

I giggled.” Yes, I’m waiting for my Boaz.”

He put his cap back on.” As you should.”

I walked away. An oil change? Or a call for change?

What about you? Are you waiting for change or should you ?

As for me,I will wait for the Whisper Within.

But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn’t happened, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.” Romans 8:25


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Happy Independence Day! Are you taking advantage of your freedom?

Happy Fourth of July. As I walked by flag-adorned lawns this morning, my thoughts brought me back to our forefathers. They fought for independence and to not be held hostage to England. They wanted a fresh start, to escape. My mind jumped like a cricket on the grass as I recalled a time I wanted to escape.

This was fifteen years ago:

As a single mom,with money being tight, the kids and I rarely ever ate out. But tonight I did not have the energy to cook, so I took the easy way out for a change and ordered a pizza. Parking the car in front of Jake’s Pizza Parlor, it should have been a routine pick-up, but it was anything but routine. Walking in with Jake and Tarah, looking at the cashier, I said, “Hi. I’m picking up our pizza.”

“Okay. I’ll be right back.” Then I saw it on the wall. As the man walked to the back of the store, I saw it clear as day—a flyer that read:

“ John, a thirty-seven-year-old police detective, is paralyzed from the waist down after a February snowmobile accident in Wisconsin. He is a fourteen year veteran of the department, battles escalating medical costs from his permanent spinal cord injury.

On April 6th, a benefit will be held.

Smack dab in the middle of the flyer was John’s picture in black and white. As the pizza guy laid the pizza on the counter, Jake, tugged at my jeans and pointed at the flyer, and asked, “Mommy, why’s Daddy’s picture on the wall?”

Suddenly, I lost my appetite.

As I was fumbling through my purse trying to pull out my wallet, I caught the pizza guy looking at me, dumbfounded. His face was stone cold. He glanced down at receipt outside the pizza box, then looked up at me.

Jake always demanding answers to his questions. He tugged at my jacket and once again asked, this time a little louder, “Mommy, why’s Daddy’s picture up there?”

The pizza guy looked at the picture then into my eyes. I did not say a word. He quickly covered his mouth with his hand and closed his eyes ever so briefly. Looking down at Jake, then at me, almost right through me, his eyes offered condolences. He then pleaded, “Please just take the pizza. It’s on us.”

I did not know what to say except the obvious, “Thanks.”

By nature, I don’t play needy, but needy was being dished my way and it was a very deep dish, indeed.

Back then, I felt held hostage to my life in Schaumburg. I needed to escape. I hated that my life, my story, was plastered around town. The only escape I could afford as a single mom, was a short ride around the bend to South Haven, Michigan. In Michigan, my monkeys and I were free and happy.

That was my story but I like our forefathers I opted for a different ending. I decided to dump the bitter “tea” and start drinking coffee. Are you free or are you held hostage to your “England” and to your past? Is it time to dump the tea and start drinking coffee?

Don’t wait until you hear the loud boom of fireworks to claim your freedom. God’s loudest directions are through his whispers. What is God whispering to you? Believe and trust the Whisper Within.


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“Hey, Mom can we go to Mc Donald’s?”

“Sorry, Peanut. Not today.”

“We never go.”

“Tarah, you know mom can’t afford that.”

I looked at the rearview mirror. Umm, my boy. He gets it. I’m doing my best to just hold everything together with a safety pin. First the divorce. Then the accident. Their dad, my ex is a paraplegic. And now I’m broke. When does it end? 

I pulled through the library drive- thru.

“Hello. I’m picking up movies.”

Across the way, I see a Harry Potter movie poster in the window. Only $3.69 a rental. Nope, sorry Blockbuster; the library is free.

 The library clerk handed me the movies. “Ok kids, just one more stop.”

We entered the red dot store. Oh boy, not the dollar bin.Stick to the list and only the list! The basket was filled, but then a wheel came off my cart.

“I want gum.”

“Stop it Tarah! You can’t have any.” He straightened his baseball cap and grabbed her hand.

Buuutt I waaanntt it.”

“Tarah. No. Mom’s in line. We need to go.”

“But Jake, there are Pokemon cards for you.”

I pushed the cart to the side and got out of the checkout line.

“It’s okay, mom. I don’t need anything.”

I dropped to my knees, folded his little body into mine and whispered, “I love you, Jake Gunnar.”

“I love you too, Mommy.”

“You’re my good boy.”

 Inches away, this Hallmark moment was contrasted. Keds were stomping and pigtails were beating the tile floor.

I scooped Tarah up, pushed back my cart, and in one big swoop, threw her on my hip. “Well, we’re out of here.”

I waved my point-finger in Tarah’s face. “That was not nice.”

“Yeah, Tarah. You know Mom can’t buy that stuff. Gosh!”

“Okay. Jake. That’s enough.”

I started the car, turned on the radio and cried. Help me, God. Life should not be so rough. I looked in the rearview mirror.

“Mommy, are you alright?”

“Yeah, honey.”

“Don’t worry, Mommy; ‘God will meet all your needs.’ Philippians 4:19.”

I looked over my shoulder. “What did you say?”

“God will meet all your needs. It’s our memory verse this week.”

It was It’s a Wonderful Life moment.

“Daddy, teacher says every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets his wings.” And George exclaimed, “That’s right! That’s right!”

I closed my eyes, wiped my tears, and squeezed his hand. “That’s right. That’s right. Thank you, Jake Gunnar.”

“No problem, Mommy.”

I backed up the car and looked up at the clouds. Nothing gets pass you. God had the small details of my life and used my own little boy to teach me the biggest lesson.

That was fifteen years ago, and today, just like that moment, is HUGE!

Fifteen years ago, I went through a divorce, months later my ex became a paraplegic. I struggled trying to raise two little kids. I spent nights at the kitchen table teaching math while trying to balance a dwindling checking account. The calendar was always packed; even when bank account wasn’t. I never thought I would survive those years, let alone, ever see the day come when my children would graduate college.

Well, today is that day. Through the grace of God, WE did it.

Yes, Jake worked his butt off at Purdue. I worked my butt off teaching him, saving for him, and paying for his college. But God did his part too. You see, God gave me enough strength. I heard him whisper, “I got you, Lisa. Now get out of bed and do it.”

And God did bless my little engineer, with the gift of math and science. Funny, to think seventeen years ago, I saw his gift ( see the video) and today, Jake is a Purdue University engineer graduate. And if you are wondering , yes,I cried like a baby .

God really does have the plan. Can you trust the Whisper?

“ And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.” Roman 8:28

 


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How do you talk to a best friend?

Do you have to be somewhere special?

Do you need to arrange a special time?

Do you have to prepare a special speech?

Do you get nervous telling your best friend bad news?

Do you get excited to tell your best friend the good news?

Who do you call when you need the really hard advice ?

Yep, a best friend !

This is how I talk to God … like a best friend .

When my ex had a snowmobile accident leaving him a paraplegic and I, a single mom, was headed for financial ruin with two little kids in tow … I yelled at God ,”Do you see me ? I need your help … come on !”

When his second wife sued my home owners insurance for HIS accident AND won … I looked up at the sky and yelled,”THIS ISNT FAIR … Show me ,you’re with me .”

When my kindergarten girl was banging her head on Target’s floor because she wanted gum but a tile away was soft hazel eyes saying,”I don’t need anything Mom ,” I silently begged with tear-filled eyes ,”Come on God ! Life shouldn’t be so hard … I need help!”

And years later,when my business grew, I allowed my lashes to fall as I saw my picture in Chicago Magazine as one of best financial advisors in Chicago ,”This was ALL YOU, God .You rescued me.”

And when I walk on the beach and look up at the sky ,”YOU did this . You brought me here .”

So on National Day of Prayer, I’m challenging you .

Don’t go anywhere special .

Don’t think of the right words.

Don’t arrange a special time.

Talk to your best friend .

Tell him ….

I’m lost.

I’m sad.

I’m happy.

I lost my job.

I’m broke.

I feel my life is going nowhere.

I love my life.

Like a best friend, he wants the real you … the good, the bad ,and the ugly.

Some of you may say, “I pray but I don’t hear answers back .”

Well, I do find, the time I do hear answers ,are when I’m quiet .

Not praying in a pew in church .

Not praying in bed before I close my eyes .

But in nature ,walking .

And yes ,my daily walks on the beach are my best conversations with God . I simply say, “So here’s what’s going on ..”

My friends say I’m like Batman and I have a direct signal to God.

I don’t know about that, but I do know, as I walk ,a quiet calmness comes over me that can be only described as the Whisper Within…

Hope you,too, can hear the whisper.

“Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything and you will feel his peace .” Philippians 4:6


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27 years and 2000 miles apart.

It all started with my blog post. 10 wisdoms I learned in #Chicago.

A follower commented,” Your faith and perseverance are impressive…I should add impressively optimistic for Cub’s fan.”

I responded and then he private messaged me.

Dan: Had no idea you had this in you when we worked together.

ME: We worked together? Help me I’m getting old…

Dan: Yep, 27 years ago at Canon in Downers Grove.

What? Now I need the story

ME: How did you find my blog? How did you know it was me?

Dan:One of my buddies and I were talking about one hit wonders and the song “Rock Steady” came up. I searched it and came up with the Whispers as the group that sang it. When I searched “The Whispers”, I believe your website came up before I hit the letter “s” in Whispers. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link. I thought I recognized the name Lisa Riehm, as someone I worked with at Canon. I have a really good memory for names and faces, I thought your face looked familiar. I went to the photos and when I saw the Hinsdale South HS photo, I knew it was the young lady I worked with at Canon.

Who would guess? Twenty-seven years and two thousand miles apart, two co-workers would reconnect.

“Since the Lord is directing our steps why do we question everything that happens along the way?’ Proverbs 20:24

Strange coincidence, maybe? But it does make you wonder. Doesn’t it?Santa Barbara sunset


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I did it. I finally did it.

I laid my scissors on the table and looked around the garage; empty boxes and paper tossed about.

The last box .

I open it up and found what I have been searching for ; a journal from my Florence vacation. I brushed my hand across the supple suede, lifted it to my nose and breathed in the leather, like an aphrodisiac luring me in .I open the pages; exposing the crisp creamy white, begging to be defiled .

IMG_3587

I laid the journal off to the side and stared at the last table in the garage to be let go . Why didn’t I leave this a month ago at the curb in Westlake? There is no room for this in Santa Barbara.

A smirked crossed my face as I remembered what a friend said while packing me, “Nothing significant from your past can go to your future?”

“What d’ya mean?”

“Come on, Lis. You wonder why you don’t have a boyfriend? You still have your old bedroom furniture from Chicago. Let it go.”

With a quick press of the app, I uploaded a photo and tagged it. Free. I let go of my past and opened up my future.

I glanced down at the journal on the table. I turned the page. Time for fresh start. This is saved for something special.

And just like the last unopened box …Maybe, just maybe, God is saving the best for last too. It may be what I was looking for all along.

God has written my story already. I just need to be patient and let him fill the pages.

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was written in your book.” Psalm 139:16

Can you let go and let the magic begin?


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Disclaimer: the blog is longer but like the  Chicago Cubs winning the World Series at the bottom of the tenth inning ,this blog ( hopefully ) will not disappoint . Pull up a chair, pour your favorite beverage, and get ready to enjoy the extra innings.

I am analytical to a fault. I guess it is habit of my day job being a Certified Financial Planner®. I love to crunch numbers and thrive on spread sheets. I have been called endearingly “Mrs. Right Now” – Yes, I like to “ get it done” and check the box but as a planner I have learned sometimes the plan changes without your permission, as did my own plan.

How so?

Here’s the quick “After the Game” recap for those of you who were not an active viewer of all my strike outs and losing seasons.

Fifteen years ago, I went through a divorce, months after, the father of my children became a paraplegic, I struggled financially raising my two little kids as a single mom, was sued by his second wife for his accident, survived a home robbery, and now have been battling Lyme disease for the last few years. It was not the easy pitch I wanted.

Like a suffering Cub’s fan, I would quip, “Well, there is always next year.”

cubs

As I waited for my winning season to begin, I dug deep, played hard, and trusted that someday God would grant me a victory.

I had my sights on always winning my ” World Series” and to not settle for ordinary.

Six years ago, Pastor Hudak, my Chicago pastor, when I was advising him on his pending retirement said, “ How long ago was John’s accident?”

I rolled my eyes, “Nine years ago.”

“How have you stayed single, Lisa? You really are spectacular.”

Biting my bottom lip to fight back the tears I said, “It hasn’t been easy. I think God has forgotten me.”

Putting his hand over my shaking hand, he said, “Oh, Lisa. He hasn’t forgotten you. He has big plans for you. Your husband is not here. He  is where you are going to be. “

Shaking my head , I asked,“Where am I am going?”

With a comforting smile he said, “You love to run on the beach. I think you are moving to the beach someday. He’s not here. He’s there. It’s coming.”

Well today, like for the Cubs, is a HUGE day. Tonight, the Cubs are headed to the playoffs after winning the World Series last year and I am getting ready to wave my W banner too.

Why?

About two years, I jumped from Chicago to California. And like the Cubs, just making it to the playoffs, this was HUGE. But my dream was to live near the beach and win my own  “World Series”.

For the last six months, I spent most weekends looking for a home by the beach to call mine.

The season seemed so long. I would lose securing a contract to buy, one house after another even when my stats were good. I bid over market. I would throw in a letter of “pick me” hoping a bunt would advance me across home plate. Sometimes even God intervened. When I was the only team playing or bidding on a house, he would give me information, to back out of the batter’s box.

God did not allow me to wave my W flag but taught me patience instead. He loved building the excitement through defeat. Running the bases to be tagged out as I slid into home plate was not the fun I signed up for but I learned to dust of the dirt, wrap up my scrapes and wait for the right pitch or house.

What if the Cubs swept the Indians in the World Series? It would not have been as much fun. Instead God allowed the heavens to open up, come pouring down, and create a rain delay. Why? Because he loves the dramatic.

And boy, I have had enough drama to fill a good series.

So today, the Cub’s playoffs begin and through my numerous “a swing and a miss” times a bat, today I am crossing home plate. When God moves; he moves…. And quickly. It wasn’t long after the rain delay in Cleveland that Cubs became World Series Champs. And the same for me.

Yes, I am realizing my dream. I am moving to the beach and as some call it, “Santa Barbara, heaven on earth.”

So maybe my pastor was right. My husband wasn’t there… but maybe he is here. It’s coming.

Doing a walk-through of my house, my real estate agent quipped, “Lisa, there are two sinks in the master bathroom…. Maybe he is coming.”

With a giggle I replied, “Great. I’ll just spit in one and keep the other warm for him.”

The Cubs waited one hundred and six years to win the World Series. I have waited fifteen so what’s another season?

Time to quit checking boxes, be patient, and wait for God to orchestrate the surprise in His dramatic fashion.

Hebrews 12:1 “Let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”

Whatever your current situation … kick back, pour yourself a cold one, and enjoy your view.    Trust that God’s timing is always perfect. Go Cubbies!santa barbara