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
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
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
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.
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…
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.
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 .
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
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
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.
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
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 usin all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.“
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.
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
They say it never rains in Southern California but today it not only rained but stormed. I felt like I was back in Chicago, as the grey dark clouds hovered, the rain came down in buckets, and the power went out several times throughout the day.
Later this afternoon, I walked along a mountain path with Kipper, my German short-haired companion and thought of what a friend asked me. She questioned, ” I haven’t seen you blog in awhile. Why?” I simply answered, “I am still talking to God but I am not hearing any answers.”
As Kipper and I shuffled along the path, I looked at the sun beaming through the clouds and thought, I am not hearing you God. I am in pain. I want my Lyme disease to be gone. If you are going to fully heal me this year. Let me see a sign. Let me see a rainbow.
For the next thirty minutes, I dragged my feet pass park benches, statues, and bridges. I pulled my baseball cap down to keep the sun off my face. I was nearing the end of the trail and the end of my senseless optimism. And then it happened. A sideways rain was hitting my face. I looked at the sun over the ocean and spun around like a little girl, with arms outstretched, looking for the rainbow. And there it was. A rainbow. Faint, maybe difficult to see if you were not looking for it. Kinda like God.
I adjusted my baseball cap and quietly smiled and thought You do see me. You will heal me.
“If I have found favor in your eye, then show me a sign… ” Judges 6:17(ESV)
Today was not exactly a good day. I may not have children playing ball in the house but I do have Kipper, my rambunctious German short-haired pointer. Her energy definitely overflows her dog bowl and today was no different.
As I am working from home, I see her pacing the floor, stalking a small object, and then springing into action. I think to myself, What is she trying to catch? And then I see it. A fly.
My eyes divert back to my computer screen until I hear a crash. I walk into the next room and see Kipper’s eyes, telling half of the story.
Guilty! I question my puppy thinking she can answer and then survey the room.
Ugh! A cracked window!
I roll my eyes. Great! I walk back to my computer and quickly Google, window repair.
Within an hour, a glass repair man arrives, an estimate is received, and then a story.
“Lisa, you were so nice to work with. I am so thankful that God brought me to your house today. You see, I have six children and fifteen grandchildren. One was just born the other day. Do you want to see him?”
He scrolled through his phone and proudly showed me. “This is Samuel, named after the prophet.” He continued on, “Truthfully I don’t want to be doing this. I want to be a pastor, administer and pray for those with health concerns.”
I responded,”If that is your desire, God will honor it. It’s Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.(ESV)'”
The man openly started crying and then he grabbed my hand, and started praying, “Thank you God for Lisa. Please Jesus, I want to be a Pastor…”
The prayer was over. He gave me hug and headed out the door; leaving both of our hearts cracked open.
It has been four years that I became sick with Lyme disease. I have tried to stay patient and daily stay in the joy but the last few weeks seem like a long, drawn-out Chicago Winter, filled with endless days, weeks and months of snow, gray, and bitter cold with no sunshine in sight.
But just like Groundhog Day, after a long Winter spent in a cave; this past week I saw some light. Yes, a new doctor.
She reviewed my new labs and uncovered some hidden new facts to work with.
Sitting in her office, I felt like a bursting daffodil popping through a light Spring snow as I lowered my chin and said, “I WILL get better. God loves me. He sees me. He will heal me.”
She responded, “Oh, Yes, Lisa. I love your faith. I am a believer too.”
My lips sealed tight. “Ugh! My faith is all I have… My friends and my church in Chicago have all been praying for you ; let my doctor have wisdom.”
I saw her face become flush.” Wow, I am so grateful for you.”
My eyes watered, ” No, I am SO grateful for you.”
She walked me towards the door and hugged me .
I looked at her with soft eyes and said, ” I love that you hugged me .”
“I love hugs too, Lisa. First I will take care of your health and then I’ll help you with the husband.”
I backed away, cocked my head, and asked, “The husband?”
“Yes, the husband.”
I walked outside and made my to my car and questioned, Why did she say, the husband?
And then tonight, as I walked my neighborhood I saw a quaint hotel setting up for a beautiful outdoor wedding.
I wandered through the white chairs, bookmarked with lavender and ivy. Wow, simply beautiful.
As I a strolled through the adjacent garden, with tables adorned with white linens and peonies, I looked up the sun, Maybe this was why I moved to Santa Barbara … health and who knows maybe a husband?
I felt the wind whisper … IT IS COMING! Health and a Husband.
I feel it. I know it. Patience.
God’s timing is perfect. He has the plan.
“Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and prayerful always.”
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.
Are you willing to crawl towards a better finish even when faced when obstacles?
The saying goes, “You have everything if you have your health…”
Almost four years ago I finished a triathlon and shortly afterwards I started to have weird symptoms; burning, electric shocks, and my body feeling like I was a cell phone set on vibrate. My Chicago doctor blamed it on adrenal fatigue but then the laundry list of symptoms starts piling up like the dirty laundry basket of my two teenage athletes.
The symptoms of vertigo, tinnitus, night sweats, insomnia, and numbness mirrored the dreadful diseases of MS, Parkinson’s, and ALS. I did not recognize my own reflection in the mirror. I am a buck twenty, maybe a buck and quarter on a good day. After losing twenty pounds over a few months, I found myself sitting in the shower, too weak to stand, hoping the shower would drown my wails of anguish.
After months of MRIs, C-scans, blood work, my doctor was fresh out of ideas and handed me a prescription for Zoloft. I crumpled up the scrap of paper, tossed it in the garbage,and with a crooked smirk laughed, “Come on. You know me. I have been through a divorce, my ex becoming a paraplegic, raising the kids alone for the last dozen years as a single mom , a robbery… Seriously, depression? I will walk my way out of this … just like everything else. I will exercise until I feel better.”
As he walked out the door, he cocked his head around the corner, “Let me know how that works for you?”
Well, it didn’t. No flip turns in the pool would turn my sickness upside down. I was stuck running vicious circles at the track, hoping an answer was around the next bend.
Finally, after a year of misdiagnosis, I had an answer. Lyme disease. Yes, a little crawling tick created all this chaos.
Three year later, watching a crew of wetsuits enter the fog-ridden shore of the Pacific Ocean, I was a little jealous wishing I too could dig my toes in the mushy shore and get in the race. Since my restless energy would not be expended, my curious nature got the best of me. Silently I thought, “Why did this happen to me? Why did I need to be on the sidelines?”
In disappointment, I turned and watched athletes from previous heats cross the finish with smiles plastered across their face, proud of their character of “going the distance”. A smirk crossed over my face, as I realized how far I, too, have come. My course was not easy but through some waves, potholes, and flat tires, my character developed .God was using a rough course to design a better me.
Anyone who knows me, would testify that I am a strong individual competitor, not needing or wanting direction.( You don’t get the nickname ” sassy pants” for nothing.) I like to think, I became sick so maybe, just maybe, I could be weak.
“For when you are weak, He can be strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 10
I am better me. I have surrendered that it is ok not to always be the strong one. I will get back in the game. I will walk away and leave Lyme disease in the dust and hopefully, God-willing, swim, bike, and run to a better finish …and maybe, just maybe I will stop being an individual competitor and allow for a running partner to run beside me or better yet run ahead of me to clear the obstacles so I can have an easier finish.
The journey has been long but I am getting better . Day by day,month by month, year by year, I see the progress . And until my body, completely catches up with my brain, I will keep getting out of bed,work hard,and believe the whisper,” I AM WELL.”
” I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13
Are you willing to face your obstacles, head- on?
Believe in your inner strength , Your Whisper Within.