I love that Charles Stanley says ( not to discourage attending church),“ Why go to church and spend an hour and walk away with nothing? That’s a bad investment. But what about spending an hour and having God pour truth into your life.”
Church can be like a party where you don’t know anyone there so you may end up feeling more lost, more alone.
Or it can be like attending a concert to a musician that you don’t know the music.
The best way to get to know a new musician is to listen quietly or dance silly in your own home, before experiencing the big concert.
You would not attend a concert to Death Cab for Cutie, if you knew none of the music, so why would you go to church if you don’t already have a relationship with God?
How do you get a relationship with God? Well like listening to new music, you play around with it.
So how do you start listening to this NEW ARTIST and dabble in His music? I’m gonna make it easy; start with Proverbs or with the Psalms. I started reading the Psalms when I was sad and the Proverbs when I needed direction.
Then once you experience God on your own, there’s nothing better than being in a big community of other “concert goers” who love Death Cab for Cutie, or God, just the way you do.
Make yourself some chicken soup, relax and put your feet up, grab a Bible, and ask God to speak to your heart.
And Listen to the Whisper Within.
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8
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
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
This year I collected stickers from all the places I travelled and decorated my water bottle like a second grader decorates their notebook, hopeful for a new school year.
On Saturday, I wandered the quaint Michigan costal village of Saugatuck in hopes of purchasing my sticker souvenir, until one shop caught my eye.
I walked in, browsed, and reached for a sticker at the same time as a young girl handed her sticker to her dad to purchase. As we both waited in line, the banter began.
“Where are you from?”
The gentleman replied, “Toledo. What about you?”
“I used to live in a northwest suburb of Chicago but now I live in Santa Barbara California. Saugatuck is great, isn’t it?”
“Yes it it.”
“What brings you here?”
His eyes lit up like the moon lights a dark sky, “I’m getting married today.”
“Aww! Congrats! So sweet. My nephew is getting married today too.”
Anyone who knows me, knows I am sucker for love and not the ordinary Dum-Dum sucker kind of love; but the HUGE, over-the top Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, rainbow lollipop type of love, so that said, I encouraged the friendly stranger to tell me his story.
He gushed like Buckingham Fountain with pride as he told me about the journey that brought him to co-mingling families and having a beach wedding on Saturday.
He capped off the story with, “… it comes down to faith, hope, and love… She makes me a better person.”
I reciprocated and shared a bit of my journey and the soon-to-be groom replied, “You have to be open to love.”
I felt the nudge like God was tapping me on the shoulder saying, Pay attention, Lisa.
I finished paying for my sticker, walked out of the store with a little bounce in my step, hopeful like a bride on her wedding day.
Later in the day, I ran into the adorable soon-to-be bride and groom and asked to take their picture.
The beautiful beaming bride dished out wisdom like candy on Halloween. She said, “You have to be patient. You have to wait on God. I used to be strong and independent but you need to make space and let someone in.”
My mouth twitched as I thought, Strong? Independent?Let someone in? … GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY!
I wished them well, and thought, Wait on God but let someone in.
Later that evening, I celebrated my handsome nephew and his beautiful bride,
and posed for a picture with my kids.
As I am writing this, I am glancing at the photo of my children like a momma looks at her newborn baby. I am filled with so much joy and proud that they are living their best life, in New York and in Chicago. As for me, I am content and maybe this is a season of just that, contentment; but as two couples showed me this weekend, life is better with love.
I just felt the whisper It is coming! Wait for it!
“To everything there is a season… a time for love.” Ecclesiastes:1,8
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
I can’t believe I wrote this five years ago. I have learned so much since then and appreciate my journey as a single mom. Jake is now twenty-six living in Chicago and Tarah is twenty-five living in New York. GOD has been with us every step of the way.
AUGUST 9, 2017
Climbing through the tattered rubble this morning, I lost my footing on the steps of the Acropolis. I sat on the marble steps and watched my college kids race to the top. I wipe my smirk and sweat from lips. I no longer see Ancient Greece in the distance but visions of Mickey & Minnie dance in the haze.
Even though the long day of Disney left my kids acting like Grumpy;they were not faking it – I was .
Unknown to them we were not on a magical kingdom ride since I was Cinderella about to lose my Prince Charming. Soon I would be like Snow White lost in the forest. We were tossed on the Mad Tea Party Ride, spinning like cups, ready to vomit, until the ride broke. This is where the beauty started.
Sixteen years later, as I watched my kids race to the top, I kicked the rubble at my feet, adjusted my sun hat and my focus.
Off in the distance, I saw the masterpiece of the ruins, The Pantheon and my kids. I climbed each step like an Olympian, torched raised high in victory .
We stood firm on the marble as the fellow tourist took our photo. That moment like the monument was HUGE!
We survived the merry-go-round of life.
No more faking smiles.
No more standing on shaking ground.
Sometimes you need to fall, breakdown, and kick some rubble to appreciate the beauty .
I may love the beach and the sand but ” In Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
Today has been a relaxing Sunday. Church. Grocery shopping and then Kipper and I took a stroll through the neighborhood. As Kipper and I wait to cross the street I think, This fits.
But then I recall what I scribbled in my journal last week as my plane was departing New York City.
The plane tilts. The plane straightens. I am on a flight back from New York, headed home to Santa Barbara.
My thoughts wander just as I did this past weekend through the streets of NYC. I look out the oval plane window and recall my kids and I, enjoying the city.
– Three sets of eyes gazing into the fog peering for a glimpse of The Statue of Liberty
– Jake & I having a New York minute.
– Three pairs of somber eyes looking down into the everlasting waterfall of the 911 memorial.
So much to do! So little time to do it! The weekend was packed with excitement just like a sold out show at Madison Square Garden.
I think, I love the city! I miss the city!
A big grin covers my face as I recall what my kids said to me as I skipped through Central Park, “Mom, you are like a character out of movie! So silly!”
As I recall that observation I think, I am! My mouth twitches as I remember what the main character Melanie from Sweet Home Alabama says near the end of the movie. She says, “My life in New York works, Jake. But then I come down here… and this fits too.”
My eyes shut. My eyes open. Yes, the beach fits but so does the city.
I look out the window and my thoughts are lost in the clouds. What do you want God? Where do I belong ?
I see snow-capped mountains out my window. Wow! Beautiful!
I gaze closer at the mountain range Who knows where I belong ? I don’t . But I know to whom I belong.
Maybe just maybe I will live part time in Chicago and part-time in Santa Barbara. Who knows?
I shut my eyes and dream of all the possibilities.
So the blog I wrote a week ago isn’t about me trying to figure out where to live, the beach or the city. It is about something bigger.
I have heard from many friends and clients who are trying to plan and figure out “The what’s next ?” We are stuck in the day to day but want to know what the next month, year, or even ten years may bring. Will I marry ? Will I move?
So why am I sharing this? Because through my life journey I know we have a real and personal Jesus, who loves us, listens to us, and wants to guide us. We just need to be open, listen, and believe in THE WHISPER WITHIN.
As for me, I plan to be surprised.
“We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands.” Proverbs 16:1
My eyes flickered as a gentle light filtered through my sheer curtains. Monday morning. Time to get up .
Mondays typically have a nice rhythm; work, swim, and then Kipper and I head to the beach. After swimming at the Y, I pulled on my shorts and threw on a t-shirt and hat, and jumped in my Jeep.
As I headed, down the road, I quietly asked God, “Why am I here? Why Santa Barbara? How do you wanna use me?
I waited but heard nothing.
As an elementary school just let out for the day, my thoughts wandered to my own kids. Jake is in Chicago. Tarah is in New York. Why am I here?
Wanting a response I yelled, “Come on! I wanna know why here ? Why Santa Barbara?”
I saw a VON’s sign approaching and thought Bananas . I’m out. I pulled in the parking lot, got out, and within a few minutes my grocery cart was filled and I was checking out.
As my groceries, made their way down the conveyor belt, the girl bagging my groceries said, “I love your purse. It is so cute just like you.” A warm smile covered my face. “Aww thanks! It was a birthday gift.”
We start talking like old friends. As she loaded my groceries in my cart, she leaned in and whispered in my ear. “Thanks for being so nice to me. Right before you came to check out, I said to myself, I need hope. I need to see that someone sees me.”
I looked at her name tag and said, “Karen, can I hug you?” She nodded. I hugged her tight like a favorite teddy bear and whispered into her ear, “I see you. God sees you. You gave me purpose today. I will see you again Karen.”
I pushed my shopping cart out the door and tipped my hat to the sky and thought,You do see me ! You do hear me!
Wanting to remember this moment, I quickly waved a man down in the parking lot and asked him to take a picture of the purse that started it all.
I got in the car, giggled, and threw a smirk at the sky and said, “You do see me God! And you saw Karen too. Once again you never surprise me!”
I pulled out of the parking space and silently thought, I do belong here.
As I made way home, I looked through my windshield up at the clouds floating by, You give me purpose, God.
How does God want to use you ? Are you willing ?
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13
This morning I received a text from my brother, Roger, with a cute meme . It had me giggling before breakfast.
I quickly texted back. Aww you made me giggle. I am seeing the beauty of my EASY life.
Moments later, I decided to post the meme on Facebook. The giggle was too good not to share.
Feeling a nudge, I added these words, “My brother sent me this today. It made me giggle. Don’t get me wrong I will someday remarry but for now, I am enjoying my singleness. To all my single friends, may you find the EASY JOY, everyday !
Moments later, Kipper and I were off on our walk, and I had a little extra bounce in my step. Who am I kidding ? I felt giddy and skipped and danced my way through the the streets and parks of Santa Barbara.
On my walk, I asked God , “What is my plan? What is my purpose? I thought I heard a quiet whisper …I have blessed you with joy. Your purpose is to share it.
I skipped my way home feeling a little lighter.
I worked, played Pickleball, made dinner, and then read some of the Facebook responses to my earlier post. Many had me giggling like a schoolgirl but one stood out from the crowd.
We messaged back and forth, just light, easy conversation but then one of her responses welled me up with tears.
“It’s funny. I didn’t know, back in the day, that you would be the “sister” that made me remember what it was all about. You are the glue that keeps stragglers like me on the periphery. We aren’t quite gone because of people like you.”
I had a lump in my throat. I felt it. The nudge. The whisper. This is your purpose. This is why I bless you with joy, to share it with others.
I have to admit, this is not the joy I thought I wanted, the joy of enjoying singleness. But today, I feel happy. I feel content. I feel a new sense of purpose, to share the joy that can only be explained as the Joy of Jesus.
So for today, I am enjoying the season of singleness with purpose. Who knows what tomorrow may bring ?
May this season, whatever season you are in, may you be surprised with unexpected JOY !
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
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
I have to admit that yesterday was pretty magical. I met my small bible study group for outing at beach. We played a few games of spike ball and then the real fun began.
We ran in the water, swam, and some started boogie boarding. Being a Chicago native, I was curious, I watched, and then my curiosity got the best of me. A friend loaned me hers, and with just the first ride, I was hooked. ( click on video arrow )
I giggled so hard bringing me back to my childhood.
Later that night, I was on a group text chat with my fellow boogie boarders. That was so much fun. I think I will buy myself one.
One my friends responded,Maybe Santa will bring you one .
The next morning, I opened the front door to let Kipper my dog outside and she instantly was barking. I stepped outside to find a surprise on my front porch.
I walked back in the house bent over, grabbed my stomach and start giggling . I walked outside, and noticed not one but TWO boogie boards and the sticky note read From Santa.
I texted the group right away and none of them initially fessed up but then I figured it was a young man in the group. He said, “You have always encouraged me and been like a mom to me. Because of your example, I will wait on God for Him to bring the right woman in my life. Heck if you can wait for as long as you have, I can too.” I smiled and told him thanks. He then added, “ I can’t wait to dance at your wedding.”
I ended the call, looked up at the sky and thought You do see me God.
So let’s giggle more like kids!
Love more like kids! And believe like kids not in Santa Claus but in a God that sees us and loves us !
“Let the little children come to me, do not stop them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like children.” Matthew 19:14
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.
“Sometimes you get your dream but realize, you are Dorothy and ‘..there is no place like home.’ I am moving back to Chicago.”
Within minutes the floodgates were open as I was bombarded with texts, private messages, and phone calls; pretty much all saying the same thing, “WHAT THE HECK? What is going on ?” Even my own children texted each other. “Has mom lost it ?”
What occurred to no one was the date of the post, April 1st.
Yes, it was an April fools joke, but was it ?
I have to admit, I love Santa Barbara. I always dreamed I would end my days walking on the beach, and most days, watching the sun kiss the ocean goodnight, does not disappoint. I did think however, I would be walking hand in hand with my husband doing this. Yep, not yet.
So in the past few weeks, something crept in my thoughts, kinda like the rain in Santa Barbara, unexpected and unwarranted. I missed home. I miss my parents, my family, and my friends. As I tied my running shoes this morning I questioned, “Do I really belong here, God? Umm, not sure anymore. I am not feeling it. Are you with me, God? What is your plan?” I grabbed Kipper’s leash and soon, my German short-haired running partner, and I were out the door.
A few blocks from home, a lady being pulled by her Husky yelled, ” Hey neighbor.” I waved and Kipper and I crossed the street. A few blocks later, a man stepped out of his parked car and blocked the sidewalk and asked, “Are you, Lisa?”
Puzzled, I asked how he knew my name and he quickly explained that he met me a year ago when Kipper was just a puppy.We exchanged pleasantries and soon Kipper and I were back on our morning routine. As we neared home, another neighbor stopped to say hello and wanted to know my story. The short conversation ended with a gentle smile and her nodding, “We should go out sometime, Lisa and better yet, we need to get you out dating.”
I giggled and walked away.
The day went on. I worked and once again Kipper and I headed out the door for a walk. Just as we walked down my outside stairs, Heide from my Bible study group passed by my house with Cooper, her Golden Retriever, and she invited us to join them.
A quick walk and then a glance at my phone Oh! I gotta go. It’s book club night.
At the library, we sat in a circle, shared our perspectives and our insights on Less by Andrew Sean Greer. The hour was over and as I walking away, Libby quickly tracked me down ,her hand touched my shoulder and said, “Hey Lisa! It was nice to meet you. I hope you come back next month and since you’re new in town, if you need a friend, I would like to get to know you better, maybe hang-out.” I nodded, smiled, and walked away.
As I walked over to my Jeep, I received a group text from ladies I met outside my home the previous week while pulling weeds, “Free on Friday?”
As I recalled all the events of the day, I threw a smirk to the sky, and silently acknowledged, You do see me. You do hear me. I do belong here. You have provided friends.
Driving home I recalled what Brenda, another neighbor, another Chicago transplant, said to me a few weeks ago,”Moving ain’t for sissies, let alone as a single woman. But you did it! It takes work but you did the work and now have friends.”
I parked my Jeep and walked up the poorly lit staircase to my home, and I thought of my birthday a few months ago.
I do have friends. Next is the husband .God has the plan.
Can you trust the plan even when you are feeling lost in the dark, walking up poorly lit stairs?
“ The Lord will accomplish what concerns me.” TLB
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.
I looked at the rearview mirror. Umm, my boy. He gets it. I’m doing my best to just hold everything together with a safety pin. First the divorce. Then the accident. Their dad, my ex is a paraplegic. And now I’m broke. When does it end?
I pulled through the library drive- thru.
“Hello. I’m picking up movies.”
Across the way, I see a Harry Potter movie poster in the window. Only $3.69 a rental. Nope, sorry Blockbuster; the library is free.
The library clerk handed me the movies. “Ok kids, just one more stop.”
We entered the red dot store. Oh boy, not the dollar bin.Stick to the list and only the list! The basket was filled, but then a wheel came off my cart.
“I want gum.”
“Stop it Tarah! You can’t have any.” He straightened his baseball cap and grabbed her hand.
“Buuutt I waaanntt it.”
“Tarah. No. Mom’s in line. We need to go.”
“But Jake, there are Pokemon cards for you.”
I pushed the cart to the side and got out of the checkout line.
“It’s okay, mom. I don’t need anything.”
I dropped to my knees, folded his little body into mine and whispered, “I love you, Jake Gunnar.”
“I love you too, Mommy.”
“You’re my good boy.”
Inches away, this Hallmark moment was contrasted. Keds were stomping and pigtails were beating the tile floor.
I scooped Tarah up, pushed back my cart, and in one big swoop, threw her on my hip. “Well, we’re out of here.”
I waved my point-finger in Tarah’s face. “That was not nice.”
“Yeah, Tarah. You know Mom can’t buy that stuff. Gosh!”
“Okay. Jake. That’s enough.”
I started the car, turned on the radio and cried. Help me, God. Life should not be so rough. I looked in the rearview mirror.
“Mommy, are you alright?”
“Don’t worry, Mommy; ‘God will meet all your needs.’ Philippians 4:19.”
I looked over my shoulder. “What did you say?”
“God will meet all your needs. It’s our memory verse this week.”
It was It’s a Wonderful Life moment.
“Daddy, teacher says every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets his wings.” And George exclaimed, “That’s right! That’s right!”
I closed my eyes, wiped my tears, and squeezed his hand. “That’s right. That’s right. Thank you, Jake Gunnar.”
“No problem, Mommy.”
I backed up the car and looked up at the clouds. Nothing gets pass you. God had the small details of my life and used my own little boy to teach me the biggest lesson.
That was fifteen years ago, and today, just like that moment, is HUGE!
Fifteen years ago, I went through a divorce, months later my ex became a paraplegic. I struggled trying to raise two little kids. I spent nights at the kitchen table teaching math while trying to balance a dwindling checking account. The calendar was always packed; even when bank account wasn’t. I never thought I would survive those years, let alone, ever see the day come when my children would graduate college.
Well, today is that day. Through the grace of God, WE did it.
Yes, Jake worked his butt off at Purdue. I worked my butt off teaching him, saving for him, and paying for his college. But God did his part too. You see, God gave me enough strength. I heard him whisper, “I got you, Lisa. Now get out of bed and do it.”
And God did bless my little engineer, with the gift of math and science. Funny, to think seventeen years ago, I saw his gift ( see the video) and today, Jake is a Purdue University engineer graduate. And if you are wondering , yes,I cried like a baby .
God really does have the plan. Can you trust the Whisper?
“ And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.” Roman 8:28
Yep, we all do it , but mine is a bit tricker than just dragging the bins to the curb . I live on a hill .
So one bin down . Then I’m down . And then the garbage is spread on the sidewalk like a Thanksgiving feast in reverse .
Light blue Converse are sprawled and a set of work boots come walking .
” So you must be my new neighbor …”
” Yep, I’m Lisa .”
” I’m hearing Chicago or New York … can I help you ?”
“Nope . I’m fine .”
” Definitely Chicago. Stubborn .”
A crooked smirk is thrown and a strong hand pulls mine .
“So, why here ,Chicago girl ?”
” I wanted the simple life .”
” The simple life ? Don’t you know that Santa Barbara is heaven on earth ? There is even a secret stairway that will take you to a view that’s just like heaven . It’s right up the hill .You should wander .”
A fire . An evacuation. A mudslide . An evacuation . Yep, this is paradise .
But a few months later, I wandered, step by step . A secret stairs led to a secret park . I took in the view .
The beach. The mountains . The sun setting over the horizon .
Wow,this is heaven on earth .
A deep breath in . A deep breath out. Time to go .
Step by step I walked down the cobblestone walkway .
A glance. A smile . And then a story . Her white locks drew me in .
“Hi Lisa . I’m Nan. So nice to meet you …. You’re from Chicago? I grew up right outside Chicago in LaGrange . I moved here when I was sixty- seven after my husband passed .Why did you move here, Lisa ? Did your husband get a job transfer ?”
” Nope . I’m single .”
I leaned down and pet the Cocker Spaniel .
” How old are you , Lisa?”
” I’m fifty . ”
” You’re just a baby . I’m ninety . Do you know the secret to being happy ? Get a dog not a man . ”
I leaned in and hugged the white locks.
So … say hello to Kipper .
I prayed for companionship and God brought me a dog . Next time I yell at God ,I’ll learn to be more specific in my prayers .
Have I given up on love ? Heck no ! It IS coming .I will be patient and wait for the real thing. God knows my heart and will fulfill my desire .
In the meantime, someone or something has to keep this Chicago girl warm during a BRUTAL Santa Barbara Winter.
” Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire .”
A follower commented,” Your faith and perseverance are impressive…I should add impressively optimistic for Cub’s fan.”
I responded and then he private messaged me.
Dan: Had no idea you had this in you when we worked together.
ME: We worked together? Help me I’m getting old…
Dan: Yep, 27 years ago at Canon in Downers Grove.
What? Now I need the story…
ME: How did you find my blog? How did you know it was me?
Dan:One of my buddies and I were talking about one hit wonders and the song “Rock Steady” came up. I searched it and came up with the Whispers as the group that sang it. When I searched “The Whispers”, I believe your website came up before I hit the letter “s” in Whispers. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link. I thought I recognized the name Lisa Riehm, as someone I worked with at Canon. I have a really good memory for names and faces, I thought your face looked familiar. I went to the photos and when I saw the Hinsdale South HS photo, I knew it was the young lady I worked with at Canon.
Who would guess? Twenty-seven years and two thousand miles apart, two co-workers would reconnect.
“Since the Lord is directing our steps why do we question everything that happens along the way?’ Proverbs 20:24
Strange coincidence, maybe? But it does make you wonder. Doesn’t it?