The Whisper Within

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


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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.

Tarah, me, and Jake. It has always been…just us.

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.


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Sit down and pour yourself a cold glass of lemonade or your drink of choice, because this one is worth a little indulging and sipping slowly.

I have to admit, a few weeks ago the thought of turning fifty-five did not sit pretty with me. One night, while laying in bed, I looked at the ceiling and yelled, “Come on God. Fifty-five and single. It’s been twenty years. How much longer?”

I waited for an answer but heard nothing . I bit my bottom lip and then lowered my head in defeat, “Well, if you’re not gonna bring me the husband, can you at least restore my joy because I gotta admit THIS HURTS ?”

I turned off the light and went to bed.

The next day, as I took in the smell of my lemon and oranges trees in my backyard, I lowered my eyes, shook my head, and thought why do you yell at God, when he has blessed you so much ? Get over yourself Lisa !

I picked a lemon and then a basketful.

As I sat the basket down on my kitchen table, I thought of the old saying, “ If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I decided to make some lemonade. With a quick Evite, a guest list, a “lemon-squeezy, easy-peasy” birthday celebration on the calendar, I felt like a little girl with pigtails, skipping through the rest of my day.

As the lemon-themed birthday party drew closer, I thought more and more about the whole, lemon to lemonade theme in my life.

For those of you who don’t know my story here’s the quick sour lemon recap: twenty years ago, I went through a divorce, months later my ex became a paraplegic from a snowmobile accident, his second wife sued me for their accident, I was a broke single mom with no child support, our home with burglarized, and years later I suffered with Lyme disease.

Who would think that would be the easy part of my story? The last several years, in ways I am not ready yet to disclose, life handed me a brand new fresh bag of lemons.

Yes! More sour ! I have to admit I am so grateful for this extra helping of sour lemons. Why? Because through it, God drew me closer to him, rid me of my self-reliance, humbled me , and lowered my pride. Yes, I have retired my sassy pants!

I don’t move until God tells me to move. But when God moves, HE REALLY MOVES!

Remember, I wrote that I yelled at God to restore my joy? Boy! Oh boy ! Did he ever !!

Not only , did I have a fabulous birthday party surrounded by friends who love me…

My lemon-squeezy /easy peasy birthday party !

but received a email from the bakery uptown that I won the princess cake.

God is good ! God is great! He is at work all the time, even through our hard seasons of sour lemons.

Life may be sour but I know this to be true, God has blessed me with good friends and no sugar is needed. Friends make life sweet.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For you know, the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.


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I wrote this four years ago but the lessons still hold true.

Tonight, I stroll on the beach, with my straw hat pulled over my brow hoping to get some relief from the triple digits. But not a breeze in sight as sweat drips from my forehead and pours out of my armpits, soaking me like I was fresh out of a shower. I can’t help but wish for a little ice cream or gelato to cool me off.

Ironically, this weekend was Gelato Festival in my new home town but as I passed by the tables, I did not allow for creamy colors of the rainbows to lure me in.

Why? Because I was too busy doing what adults do: being adults, prioritizing life over fun.

With each step I took on the mushy shore, I contemplated this. Why did I lose my fun nature for the routine of responsibility?

My mind drifted like the waves and pulled me back and found a simpler me, sitting on the stone wall of a little Italian town.

I recalled laughing with my mouth wide open, indulging on lavender and blackberry gelato stuck to my teeth. My daughter, thinking it was hilarious,made it part of her Snapchat story.

 

 

Seeing the video, I giggled too; embracing the image of spontaneous silliness.  Later that night, sitting on an a cobblestone street in San Gimignano, I replayed the video and laughed at the seeing the fifty year old me, feeling like I was sixteen; messy and all.

Messy is good. What was my “messy”?

Fifteen years ago I went through a divorce and months later my ex became a paraplegic. As a single mom,I could not afford a McDonald’s twisty cone for my kids let alone a trip to Italy indulging in the World’s Best gelato.

In the last fifteen years here’s seven things I learned:

1) Be real. Your family, your colleagues, your clients, don’t need and don’t want perfect – they want real.  Share your shortcoming. Be vulnerable to show your “ugly food stuck-in-your -teeth” smile.

2) Timing is everything. When the kids were little, I saved for their college, even sometimes as small as 25/ month and our fun was free concerts at the park with a McDonalds twisty cone for a treat. Only now, after years of sacrifice and knowing that their college is paid for, did I finally indulge in the big treat; Italy.

3) Admit your faults. I love food, but I am a messy eater. I don’t do pretty. But it’s funny, my friends know this and are willing to offer me a napkin and help me clean-up. Yours may too but you have to be willing to accept the help, from co-workers, friends, and family.

5)Smile a lot . Hard to be mad or disappointed when someone offers you a smile or a gelato cone.

5)Laughing is contagious; enthusiasm is too. On a hot Summer night, ice cream lines are long and get longer because of the excitement of eating together. Not as much fun, eating alone a big bowl of delight, is it?

6) Embrace the ugly. Life is not perfect. Sometimes you may need a napkin to prevent the dripping, but the next sweet taste could be around the corner. Take the bite

7) Do life like you mean it. Italians eat because they enjoy it! Kids eat ice cream with their full mouth. No tiny licks.

Are you really enjoying your life? Your work? Your relationships?

I remember my first boss at Van Kampen Investments now Invesco said I me some thirty years ago, “Don’t burn out. Find the little victories and celebrate.” My celebrations always included ice cream. Heck, my first boyfriend worked at Baskin Robbins. Back then, I would choose my cone based on the prettiest color in the case. My favorite was Daiquiri Ice – kind of like gelato. I guess the girl really hasn’t changed much except to switch from ice cream to gelato.

So tonight, as I strolled on the mushy shore of Butterfly Beach, I tipped my straw hat and thought, I am the sixteen-year-old girl trapped in a fifty-year old body. I am the best Lisa; silly, messy, and needing a friend who can offer me a napkin.

Choose with your eyes. Commit with your heart. Life, work, and relationships are messy. Embrace the messy and the kid in you; buried in an ice cream cone or gelato. The choice is yours. Let’s have the contagious joy that children have just like Jesus intended .

 

 ” Let the children come to me… ” Matthew 19:14

 

 

 


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Tonight I sat on my front porch, talking with my Chicago friend, Chris.We talked about being “empty-nesters.” Her last son left for college this week and my kids have been out of the nest for awhile. She questioned , “We raised the kids. They gave us purpose but what is next?”

We bantered for awhile,laughing about filling our days with work, pickleball, yoga, swimming, bible study groups, etc. She then said,“ Lis, I’ve read a book about when people had near death experiences, the stories are similar about Jesus telling them to love his people.” She continued, “so maybe our purpose is everyday to get up and ask God to show us how to do that.”

I quickly agreed saying, “Yes, during Covid, before I got out of bed, I would say, “ Show me what you want me to do God and I’ll do it .”

Chris and I made a pact, to ask God every morning that question and then tell each other how God uses us during the week.

So I’m taking this further ….

What if more people did this? What if YOU, asked God,“Tell me how you want to use me today ? Show me how you want to use me God?”

-Maybe it’s just smiling at someone at the grocery store.

-Being kinder to the difficult co-worker.

-Listening to a friend

I do believe, if we ask God to show us, to open our heart, open our ears to REALLY listen, to open our eyes to REALLY see others; He WILL use us to REALLY LOVE others!

I would like to challenge YOU, YES YOU, to be the “WHAT IF” in your community.

I would love to,next week, hear how God used YOU!

Open your heart. Open your eyes. Open your ears and listen to what God whispers to you. The Whisper Within.

Psalm 119:13 “Just tell me what to do and I will do it, Lord.” TLB


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It has been over a year and half since I traveled by plane. I am sure many of us feel the time lost. I close my eyes and rest my head on the headrest and a soft smile covers my face. I can’t wait to see my children. My family. My dad. I’m going home.

My mouth twitches Is Chicago home?

My lips seal like an envelope. Home?

Quickly images of my Fourth of July backyard party fill my head. I recall giving a toast to my friends, all gathered around my table. In the toast, I reference the movie Under the Tuscan Sun starring Diane Lane as Francis.In the movie, she gets divorced, buys a run-down house in Tuscany, and in moment of weakness, confesses to the realtor that she is sad but wants a wedding and family at this new house; that she was tired of being alone.

I quietly smile recalling telling my friends how at the end of movie, the realtor tells Francis, “I think you got wish.” She smiles, “ You’re right. I got my wish.”

My heart is full as I recalled telling my friends that having my table filled on the Fourth of July brought me so much joy that I feel like Francis from the movie. I got my wish! I continued to say that I had been praying for twenty years for a husband but if I met my husband in Chicago I would not be here and through all the trials and tribulations, God orchestrated a life better than I could possibly imagine and that it was only possible through him.

The evening went on, we prayed.We ate. We danced with sparklers like little kids, and yes, we watched fireworks. The night was magical.

Near the end of the night, my friend’s husband, John, gave me some parting advice, “ When you go back to Chicago, keep your eyes down. We don’t want you finding your husband in Chicago, unless he is willing to move to Santa Barbara.” I remember smirking.

I hear over the intercom, “Please prepare the cabin for takeoff.” I look out the small oval window and see palm trees kissing the blue sky and think Thank you God for unanswered prayers. You knew me better than I knew myself.

Are you willing to wait on God and trust him to provide for you ?

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4


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Two weeks ago, on Easter, I gave a testimony of my faith. I debated on whether to share it or not. Last night, while tucked in bed, reading the Bible,I got my answer.

“But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? ” Romans 10:14

I took my pen and wrote in my journal ,”Why would I keep this a secret?”

My mind quickly jumped to the second grade song I used to sing, “Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine! ” This song is about telling people about Jesus.

So in my second grade spirit… here’s my five minute testimony of how God has made a difference in my life. My testimony starts around the eight minute mark. May you discover the JOY of Jesus.


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This past Friday, a friend and I connected through text. Because of the Chicago rains,her house had flood damage. Ugh! The May rains! Not fun!

We texted back and forth for the next several minutes and then she said something that struck me, “…you are a joy giver but don’t forget to let others bring you joy.”

Am I joy giver? Do I not allow others to bring me joy ?

The next day I received an expected card in the mail with the simple words Thinking of you . A soft smile came across my face .

Monday, I received a text from my dear college friend, Wendy, who I haven’t heard from in over a year. Just seeing her name across my screen, warmed my heart. I felt loved.

Today, I received a voicemail from a widowed client, saying she was enjoying reading a bible verse booklet I gave her years ago and wanted to let me know she was grateful to have it in the lockdown. Hearing her voice, I closed my eyes and was filled with gratitude and thought God is with me.

Kipper and I went for a walk and thought about joy .Three times in the last few days I was showered with JOY ! I am a lucky girl !

Can you despite this season of rain bring joy to others ?

Can you bring the joy to maybe one person this week? Or maybe two ?

Please share your ideas on how you bring the joy to others.

“The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10


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Tonight as I was watering my plants on the front porch, I heard, “Is this 1740?” I turned to see a UPS driver carrying a package. I turned and said, “Yep,” as I made my way down the porch steps.

The driver handed me the package and I quickly tore open the yellow envelope. “Oh, it’s my Lyme disease book .”

He questioned ,”You got Lyme disease ? Where did you get it?”

I nodded and explained how I moved here from Chicago and was bit by a tick in my backyard and contracted the disease.

His head hung low, “So sorry honey . I’ll be praying for you .”

I turned to walk up my steps but then looked back and yelled out, “Hey, what do you need prayers for ?”

His eyes lifted off his hand- held computer, “What did you say?”

I walked until I was standing face to face with the delivery man and then asked again, “I said, What do you need prayers for ?”

His head hung low, “Truthfully, I want a baby. We’ve been trying…”

His voice trailed off as he shook his head, “I don’t want to be forty and just starting a family .”

I asked his name and shared mine. We hugged and agreed to pray for each other.

I gotta admit, I have learned to live with Lyme disease but I truly want to be fully healed. I believe God can and will do that. It is the hope I cling onto.

As I walked up the stairs to my house, a quiet smile covered my face as I silently thought Hope. Hope today was delivered right to my front porch . It is coming .

I sat on my wicker chair and thumbed through my book, and thought, What If we all took the time, like the delivery man to say the simple words , “I’ll pray for you ,” and REALLY meant it .

What about you? Are you willing to do it?

We all need hope and you, like the UPS delivery man, may be the special delivery of hope that someone needs. Open your mind. Open your heart and listen to the whisper within.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1


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Yesterday, I went berry picking so tonight I sat on my deck plopping them into my mouth. As I savored their sweetness, I thought why isn’t life always this sweet ?

Well, because it isn’t . We all suffer one way or another and in this past week I felt my bad symptoms intensify;burning, electric shocks, vibrations. I have to admit, I did beg God or tell God,”Enough! Have mercy. How much longer must I suffer? Why do you allow me to suffer?”

As I plopped another raspberry in my mouth, I thought of who God put in front of me this past week; others who suffer, one way or another,like myself. Here’s a list of a few:

A colleague inquiring about his wife’s weird symptoms of numbness, tingling, electric shocks,and vibrations; symptoms I feel most days from Lyme disease.I told him,”Scary stuff. Let me know if your wife needs a doctor or someone to talk to.”

A client who just retired with her husband expressing joy that they bought the fifteen acre ranch in Montana ,”HE is so happy but truthfully, I am lonely.” Do I understand loneliness? Yep, you bet. I told her I would pray for HER JOY!

A parent who is having difficulty raising his teenage boy, “He’s just a jerk.” I quickly replied, “Don’t beat yourself up.They all are at the age. You will get through it and trust me they become sweet again.”

So as I plopped a black raspberry in my mouth, I thought why isn’t life always sweet? Because it isn’t. Sometimes life is painful and hurts. I know God allows suffering so that we may help, encourage and love those around us, with greater understanding. Who can you help through your trials? Be open, God may want to use you.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.


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I gotta admit, I wrote this blog months ago but never posted.Why ? Because I would have to completely rip-off my band-aid and show my ugly scab. Well, today I am ripping off the band-aid. Let the bleeding begin.

I’m not perfect.

Let me say again. I am not perfect.

Yep, several times this week I was told that I acted,or tried too hard to be perfect;not showing signs of weakness or sadness.
Here’s the week recap:

My thirteen year neighbor girl came over for dinner. We laughed.We giggled and then she said,”I have to admit I was nervous coming over to see you. You seem so perfect. You are actually fun and easy to be with.”

“Perfect? Why did you think that?”

“I don’t know you seem so put together; like always taking Kipper, your dog, for walks at the same time everyday .Organized.”
“Oh,trust me I’m far from perfect .”

Later in the week at a doctor’s appointment my doctor asked, “How are you feeling?”
I quickly responded,”I’m fine.I’m staying in the joy.”

“Staying in the joy? Lisa, it’s ok to say you hurt. In fact it is healthy to talk about it .Why do you feel like you have to hold it together?”

I lowered my head,“I don’t know. I feel the need to not complain about my sickness .”

“Lisa,it is ok to say you hurt . You aren’t perfect.”

Then today I opened my manuscript for my book. My editor had comments peppered throughout about me being self-admonishing and prideful. Ouch ! This hurts!

I looked at the computer screen, “Am I?”
The whole reason I have wrote the book is that others may trust God no matter what is tossed at them…it’s not supposed to be about “look what I have done but what has God accomplished?”

Maybe memoirs just suck. MAYBE memoirs are self-absorbed.
I walked the beach and cried .
I am sorry. I am so so sorry, God.

Is this you God?

Did all the years of hold everything together as a single mom, did I have too much pride? Did I put too much emphasis on the “I ” in the  Bible verse,” I can do everything  through Christ who gives me strength,” instead of on Christ?

Was my Lyme disease sickness allowed to prick at my pride?
In the Bible, Paul was afflicted with some disease so that he would not get puffed up.His disease was meant to humble him.

I AM HUMBLED.

For those of you who knew “sassy pants ”, that girl is gone. I am leveled. I am just me. And yes, I hurt. I am messy, just ask my kids about some of my eating habits or ask my friends the condition of the inside of my Jeep; far from perfect. And like Paul in the Bible, sometimes I am lonely.

Yes, I still desire a husband but maybe,just maybe, I WAS (emphasis on was) too independent, too self-sufficient to let a guy take care of me. I wanted to keep control.
Well, that girl is gone! I am ready to relinquish the reins and have someone take care of me for a change. The Band-aid is off. I willingly expose my scab, ugly and all.
As I walked the beach tonight I heard God whisper, “Get rid of your pride. You are not perfect.”
So here I am. No filter. No make-up. Just me.

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God has humbled me and made make a softer and a more vulnerable girl.
What is God whispering to you? Are you willing to listen?

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (TLB) 2 Corinthians 12:10