The Whisper Within

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


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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 .

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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

 

 

 

 

 


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south haven

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 a 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, roughly 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 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?

Follow me on FB  @ The Whisper Within.


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farmers mkt new

It is Sunday . I am a habit of creature . The above picture is my Sunday ritual – church and then the farmer’s market .Nick, my avocado farmer said ,”You are my favorite customer . You are always so happy . I think we need to take a picture and show your Chicago friends how happy you are.”

I am happy. 

This simple life is what I craved. I wanted lazy weekends relaxing at the beach or adventurous ones maybe hiking a mountain.judy-and-marji

I recently moved from Chicago to California and God surrounded me with two friends, Judy and Marji, who live their dream every weekend. They hike and kayak almost every weekend. They know how to rejuvenate. Do you?

Here are 7 weekend activities to create a more productive work week.

1 ) Sleep in . Give your body & your brain permission to relax. In our ” high productivity ” go- go – go” society – we lack the downtime & therefore our mind, body, and spirit suffer. 

 2)Create alone time and read outside – the view helps relax the mind.

3)Go for a walk or hike with a friend – sharing laughs & stories. The time spent with Judy and Marji lift me up, plus I get benefit of the endorphin release. Bonus.

4)Have a Sunday ritual – whether it is attending a farmers market, going to church , or going for a bike ride .

5)Do your laundry- clean your house but only for an hour. Yes, you heard me right I find I have a better work week if my physical space is not cluttered .- cluttered house equals cluttered mind .

6)Take time to hug someone . Lacking personal contact is the biggest emotional drain. How often during the work day do you hug someone ? You have to get it sometime .

 7)Go to bed early. Turn off the news, quiet your mind, and envision what a happy work week looks like .

What can you add to the list ? You need to create your own joy .

You are the only one who is responsible for your happiness . Give yourself permission to rest . 

” And on the seventh day .. God rested .” 

Are you brave enough to live the authentic life your heart desires ?

What is your soul whispering to you ? Will you listen ? 

 Follow me on FB at the Whisper Within .

 

 


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“Blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”—Proverbs 14:21

 My eyes were captivated with the water fountain eight floors below. As I gazed out my floor-to-ceiling windows, I caught my reflection and smoothed out my navy blue suit. It had been so many years that I had been out of the business suit that I was not sure the suit would suit me anymore. So many questions filled my thoughts. Will I be able to fit in at Waterstone Financial Group? Will my co-workers like me? Respect me? How about the clients? Will they accept me? Can I do it all—be a mom and full time financial planner? How do I use the copy machine? Where’s the bathroom? From the complex to the simple, the questions all seemed overwhelming.

“Do you have a minute? Can I come in?”

“Yeah sure, Steve”

“So how is it going for you so far, Lisa?”

“Pretty good.”

“Good. I’m glad. I know I really don’t know you, but I’ve heard good things about you.”

“You have?”

“Yes, just a little bit. I’ve heard you’re very smart and good at what you do.” He paused and then slowly added, “But, more importantly, I’ve heard that you have a caring heart.”

“Thank you. I’m flattered.” I felt a mild blush color my cheeks.

“Lisa, I was wondering if I could ask you a favor?”

“Sure.”

“There’s a little old lady up in Rockford whose husband has recently passed away. She’s called several times to another Waterstone representative but is not getting a return call. She needs help reregistering her account to reflect her husband’s passing. I know there really is no money in it for you, and that it is a good hour away, but I was just wondering if you would be so kind? She really could use the help.”

Without hesitating, I responded, “Of course. I’m happy to help.”

“Thanks, Lisa. And, if I haven’t told you already, as the president of Waterstone, I’m happy to have you on board. You’re a good addition to the office.”

As he walked out my office door, I thought, this whole work thing just may be… good.

Saturday came, and I was so busy getting acclimated to the new work environment that I almost forgot it was my birthday. After an hour drive, I made the left-hand turn that brought me straight into a trailer park. I thought to myself, Well, this is not the normal office visit for most CFPs®, but what would Jesus do? He always said to be humble and help the poor and widowed, so I guess I am being called to do both.

Upon arrival to Marilyn’s trailer home, I took a deep breath. Alright, if this is where you want me, God, so be it.

Who am I to question God and his motives?

At first glance, I came to the conclusion that Marilyn was a sweet old lady. She was wearing a blue flowered house frock dress, a navy blue long sweater, and slippers. She made no pretense on her appearance or who she was but simply greeted me warmly, “Hi Lisa. Thanks for coming out. Did you find my house okay?”

“Yes, thanks, Marilyn. No problem.”

Pointing to the kitchen table she continued, “Is this okay? Can we sit here?”

“Yes, this is fine.”

“I know I didn’t know your husband, or you, for that matter, but I’m sorry. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy.”

“No. It has not been easy, but thank you.”

“So, Marilyn, I printed off a copy of your last statement; here it is.”

Taking out her reading glasses, she took the folded copy, peered at it and said,

“Yep, that’s about right.”

“Looks like you and your husband had a trust, with both of you as trustees.”

Chuckling, she added, “If you say so; all of this confuses me.”

Her face started to deflate like an innertube. She let the tears flow down her cheeks.

I leaned forward, reached out, and covered her hand with mine. “You’re going to be alright, Marilyn.”

“I don’t know. I’m alone, and I’m not sure if I can even live on what I have.”

Putting my CFP® hat on, it was time to ask the hard questions. “So, you are concerned about how you’re going to live? Let’s talk about it, Marilyn. My job is to help you live and be happy. Is it okay to ask you some questions, so I can see if I can help you?”

“Sure.”

“So, let’s start out with what you spend; do you have any idea?”

“Yeah, kinda. My place here is paid for, so there is no mortgage. Ummm, let me go get my bank statements. That will tell me what I spend.”

“Yes, that’s the best place to start.”

As Marilyn made her way to a back room, I took a quick glance around. Her “happy abode” mirrored a typical elderly lady’s home, with plenty of knitted afghans and dollies in sight. Nothing looked like it had been updated in years, but I am sure she was comfortable in her humble surroundings.

“I think I found what you were looking for.”

Sitting down a little closer to me, she put down the bank statement on the kitchen table.

I nodded. “Yes, that will help.”

Putting on her readers she said, “Let’s see, it looks like I spend about three thousand dollars a month.

“Okay. That’s a good start. Do you know what income you bring in Marilyn?”

“What do you mean, Lisa?”

“Well, do you receive Social Security payments?”

“Ya, I know I used to get around $2500 when my husband was alive but now, I think it is half the amount since I won’t get his anymore, will I?”

“No, Marilyn, I’m sorry. You get to choose either his or yours, but not both.”

“Ya, that’s what I thought. So, if that’s the case, how am I gonna live?”

“Umm I am not sure. So let’s see, we do have these investments…” I showed her a copy of the most recent statement. “We could have the dividends paid to you as an option but that won’t make up the difference. We may have to start selling some of the investments to give you additional income.”

“Oh, no. My husband said never to sell any of the investments. He always said to hold on to them. It was our rainy day money.”

“But Marilyn, I know your husband would hate to see you like this, worrying and all.”

“I’ll manage, don’t worry, Lisa. Why don’t you just help me get my husband off the account for now? I’ll worry about everything else later.”

“Okay, Marilyn, if you insist. We’ll start there. By any chance, do you have a copy of Burt’s death certificate?”

“I do. I’ll be right back.”

As Marilyn made her way to the back room again, vibrating sounds emanated from my purse. Leaning down, I pulled my cell from the side pocket. Glancing at the screen, I spotted a text from my friend, Chris: ‘Hey, Lis, are we still on for your birthday? Dinner and a movie?’

I quickly typed back…Yes. I think. I’m in a meeting. It’s taking longer than I thought. I’ll text when I’m finished.

As I put my phone away, Marilyn walked in the room, dragging her feet, almost tripping on her slippers. “Here, Lisa. Here is the death certificate.”

“Okay, Marilyn, I need you to sign this form stating that you want to be listed as the only trustee of the trust. Sign right here, Marilyn.”

I noticed her hand shake a little. I was unsure if it was nervousness or arthritis.

Marilyn signed on the line and then slid the paper over to me along the oak wooden table.

“Good. That will be updated on Monday.”

“Lisa. Thank you. You were kind enough to come out. No one would even return my call.”

“It’s okay, Marilyn. I think this is how God has called me to serve.”

“Oh, Lisa, I don’t really know you, but I feel lucky to have met you. It is rare to find someone who truly cares.”

“Thanks, but I have to admit I’m a little worried about you. How are going to survive?”

Marilyn put both her hands on the kitchen table for leverage and then pushed her chair away from the table. “I’ll be right back.”

Her house dress swayed from side to side as she made her way to the back room.

What’s she up to now?

As she made her way back to kitchen table, I noticed Marilyn not only had a white shawl covering her shoulders but a stack of white papers, about six inches high, covering her forearms.

Releasing the papers to me she asked, “Do you think these could help?”

I took the stack of papers and placed them on the kitchen table.

“So, will they help?” Marilyn asked with round eyes.

I looked at the stack in front of me and realized they were not just any papers but stock certificates of AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.

“Marilyn, where did you get these?”

“Burt always had them in a box under the bed. He said just keep them. They were for a rainy day. So do you think that maybe they are worth something? That they could help me?”

“Oh my goodness. Yes, Marilyn.”

I quickly pulled up Bloomberg on my phone and researched stock quotes to obtain price information. Taking out my calculator, I did some quick estimations on what all the paper in front of me equated to. A million dollars’ worth of stock? Not believing my eyes, I added the certificates up one last time. “Marilyn, these stocks are worth about a million dollars.”

“What?” Her eyebrows shot up in shock.

“I said that these stocks are worth a million dollars. Marilyn, you’re a millionaire.”

“Are you sure? It can’t be.”

“Yes, I’m sure. You’re going to be fine, Marilyn.”

Her face became flush and her eyes began to water. “Oh my God! I don’t believe it. Burt always said to save the box for a rainy day.”

“Well, Marilyn, today it’s not raining. It’s pouring!”

I went on to explain the formalities of how I would reregister the physical stock certificates into book entry form, start paying the dividends to her in cash, and establish a direct deposit so that her income worries would be no more. She would have a comfortable and secure retirement.

When all the business was done, Marilyn walked me to the door and hugged me. “You truly are a gift.”

“Today’s my birthday. You were my gift, Marilyn. I was happy to help.”

 

Driving out of the trailer park, I shook my head, looking at my humble surroundings. Who would have thought that this is how the day would turn out?

I guess I should never question how, when, or where God wants to use me. Heck, I am sure even the stable owner never thought his barn would be the birth place of Jesus… and, like that miracle, today felt like a miracle too, delivered for a sweet old lady, named…. Marilyn.

As the old saying goes, it is better to give then to receive. No birthday cake or presents were needed. This birthday girl adorned a giant smile, and not even a party hat would make her outfit more complete.

 


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wish

2002 was the year my life forever changed… divorced and shortly afterwards my ex became a paraplegic. That year, I had learned to scrimp on everything and live off very little. McDonald’s was an infrequent dining experience, free videos from the library saved a trip to Blockbusters and the hefty $3.69 rental fee, garage sale shopping became an art form, and trips to Target were only made to acquire necessities. My kids were five and six. We were team, poor but surviving. I thought for sure I would remarry and pretty quickly,but my plans were not God’s plans.The financially worry was taken off the table but he never let my potential husband pull up a seat to join me, even for dessert.  By 2010, when my first born entered high school I made a deal with God, “I get it. You want me to stay single. Fine. I’ll take your deal and raise it by two chips… but by the time I’m 50 I don’t want to be dating.”

Well, this week I turned 50 … and without a husband in sight. I thought God forget to deal me my cards.  Before I could blow out my birthday candle a friend reminded me , “Lisa once again you were not specific with your prayers to God .You said you did not want to be dating and you’re not!” The room of friends giggled like schoolgirls at a sleepover.

As I blew out my candle I was eight years again with braces and pigtails making a wish. I know it is bad luck to tell your wish but my wish doesn’t need any luck. You see,  I no longer wish for a husband (Oh I still want one )… but I wished that I keep surrendering to HIS Plan. I see God has granted me all my wishes in HIS time.  The beach. The mountains. And good friends.cambria

I know God loves me and knows my heart.  There are no more deals since I am waiting for the real deal( and so should you!)  Proverbs 20:24 ” I don’t know where the path is leading but I know who is leading the path.” I am 50 and happy. No deals. No wishes.  Only God’s whispers.  I will bravely cross the bridge to the other side and willingly walk to where God is leading me. Can you be brave enough to wait and listen to the Whispers Within?cambria-bridge

 

 

 

 


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angels-2

A year ago, as I was about to move from Chicago to LA a friend said, “ Pollyanna, you are too kind . You will be eaten alive. No one in Los Angeles is nice.”

Well a few Sundays ago, my friend was proven wrong. I was sitting at The Malibu Farmer’s Market enjoying a Greek salad, like my grandma Genevieve used to make, when an unkempt man approached me. He sat down at my table and said, “That looks good. I am starving. Do you have any money so I could buy one?”

Before I could answer, a gentleman approached the table and said, “If you’re hungry, I would be willing to share my sandwich.” The homeless man, got up and walked away.

I asked the kind stranger, “You want to join me?”

For the next two hours Robert and I shared stories like old friends. He told me a miraculous story about a life- threating car accident when his car was hit by a twenty -five foot truck and spun like a carnival ride gone crazy. He remembers not much more until he was surrounded by dozen or so white coats. The head of trauma said, “What God do you pray to? Because he or she really loves you. Protection shields are covering you that we’ve never seen before. It is a miracle you are alive.”

My open-mouth response was, “Wow.”

Robert continued to tell me that the over the next couple of months, his bruises never had a chance to heal since that was only the first of three car accidents!

We continued to share stories and then he asked me, “Do you know what Schomer means?”

“Shoemaker.”

“Yes, but it also means to guard, watch, or preserve The way you embraced that stranger you have spiritual kindness about you.”

I blushed with embarrassment, “I did nothing~ you were the one intervening.”

We laughed as kindred spirits until it was time for him to head back home. As Robert stood up from the table he said, “Lisa, I want to tell you one more thing. I wasn’t planning to come here today but something nudged me, last minute, to turn into the farmer’s market.

I said, “We were supposed to meet. That is how God works.”

Robert walked away and I thought, here is a man who has suffered so much but he is sympathetic to the homeless, shares his gentle spirit without restraint, and lifted up a stranger. Robert was a gift that afternoon, like an angel.

Hope is right front of you. You have to be willing to open your heart or invite it sit at your table.

Hebrews 13:2 “Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this, have entertained angels.’

This Midwestern Pollyanna knows that I am home. I have become me. I have arrived in the city of Angels.