The Whisper Within

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


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

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

How so?

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

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

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

cubs

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

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

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

I rolled my eyes, “Nine years ago.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 


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As you head into your work week, can you be like Polly and accept the easy cracker?

I used to love the sweet taste of ice cream but lately salt is what my body craves.  As I dove in the salt water pool today, I caught a mouthful of salt in my mouth that awoke my senses.

After a few laps, my memory recalled another sweet or should I say, salty memory.

I was not in a pool swimming laps but walking laps at “Home of the Hornets”, that’s right my old high school alma mateur, Hindsdale South, with my friend , Mary Flanagan.

Let me take you back to July.

As Mary and I walked around the hurdles of the track field, reminiscing about classes and crushes, we passed by some young boys who just finished soccer practice. One sweaty boy, called out to us, “Hey, would you like a Saltine?” Mary and I stopped in our track.

I blurted out with a side smirk, “What? Is it laced with something?”

The lean athlete responded, “Come on. I’m eating it.”

The optimism of his youth lured me in or maybe with each step towards him I was losing some of my cynicism and willing to become like him, open and carefree

Mary and I walked over and each took a cracker.

We chomped on our Saltine, almost spitting as we laughed and we walked away.

I felt like I was sixteen again, wearing my cheerleading skirt and cheering for the big game. Life was easy at sixteen. It still can be …cheerleading

Career, relationships and life should be that easy or do they feel like you are running the hurdles?

Funny, in high school I was more individual participant; long jump and gymnastics were my events; but maybe high school was preparing me to be an entrepreneur. I excelled when I don’t have to rely on the performance of others.

Ask yourself where do you excel?

Is your best event a relay race? Do you excel jumping hurdles and the difficult course? Or is your race more like the fifty-yard dash to accept the easy cracker as a reward at the end of the race?

At sixteen, I was probably more the sweet girl but this week, I realized being a little salty is a good thing. Or maybe I am like my favorite ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate, the perfect combo of sweet and salty.

But maybe I don’t have to be salty or sweet. Maybe through a sixteen-year-old boy offering me a cracker, I can learn to accept the easy.

There may be hurdles in life but be willing to walk around them otherwise trying to jump over the hurdles you may end up with road rash.

This week, can you accept the easy cracker that God is offering or whispering to you? Honor your saltiness.

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.square-crackers1-640x480


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Ok. Today may not sit well for some of you… But today I cried.

Yep. The girl whose hope rises and sets with every beach sunset, cried. And not the “turn on the facet and let the tears flow” kinda cry. It was more like a gut- wrenching drowning, a rip-tide pulling me under.

I was tired. I hurt. I cried.

I am a dog -person but not any dog. I don’t want a little dog yelping at my feet. I need a big dog, who can run beside me as my running partner.

They say a dog’s personality reflects their owner and I kinda believe it. Hunter, my Vizsla, was all me. He was a bursting ball of energy as we ran the tree- lined streets of Schaumburg, side by side, morning and night. Hunter’s vivacious personality attracted friends easily. But it was his strength that always impressed me; he was solid.

But even a big dog gets tired, hurts, and whines a little bit. Today, I am that dog. I am flat on the mat, hiding beneath covers.

hunter sick

My Lyme disease was drowning me. I thought I was twenty this past week and did four flights in six days. I let my adventurous side get the best of me. My doctor said it best, “You think you are super woman and can do it all. Put away your cape and allow yourself to heal.”

I am not good at showing my soft under-belly, few get to see it. I don’t allow myself to be called off my mat to be petted or comforted. I guess, right or wrong, it is because of the Bible verse, “Do everything without complaining and arguing “Philippians 2:14

But today, hearing my Chicago pastor’s voice, I took down my fence, took off my collar, and whimpered like an injured dog.

Why don’t  I allow others to see this side?

Is it because I think I will be less loveable? or better yet, I think no one will want to adopt me? Or rescue me?

My college roommate, Kristin, sent me card that I keep by my desk that reads, God loves the real you… and so do I.

Pastor Greg reminded me that it is ok to want to be healed and that God knows I hurt and suffer. And then he quoted one of my favorite verses, “God will meet all your needs.” Philippians 4:19

But I admit, I am the stubborn dog.

So to you, my friends, today I was tired. I hurt. And I cried. I am resting on the mat. But only for today. Tomorrow I will be back chasing the ball in the yard. After all, someone just may want to rescue me… and I may just allow it.

Can this stubborn girl learn a new trick? With the right treat, I think anything is possible… for all of us.

hunter running


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Back twenty years ago my mother-in-law lovingly said,”Jake is  one and half and doesn’t talk. You may want to get him checked.”

A week later as my mom poured batter into a cake pan, Jake did not just say a word, but a whole sentence. With eyes, as big as gumdrops, three words dripped out of his mouth like the cake batter dripping from the bowl into the pan, “I WANT CAKE.”

And just like Jake, I wanted cake too.

About four years ago, after a decade of scrimping on crumbs as a single mom, I had enough Midwestern meat and potatoes and I was ready to finally order cake… and I wanted a HUGE piece. Jake (yes, the once speech- challenged boy) was wait-listed at Duke so North Carolina was potentially a future home.

Later that Fall, a quick visit to Colorado, hanging out with college friends, the dessert menu looked appetizing or maybe it was the beer menu? All I knew was North Carolina and Colorado were two slices of cake that tempted me to close the menu and potentially the bland chapter of my tasteless existence.

So fast forward to this past week, with my window down and hair whipping in the wind, I took in the majestic landscape of the Rocky Mountains. The openness of the Colorado mountain range felt right, like a good piece of chocolate cake. A day later, the scent of salt water tantalized my skin as I dipped my toes in the shoreline of Atlantic Ocean at Kure Beach, North Carolina. The purity of white sand was like vanilla cake, simple and sweet.

Colorado and North Carolina, were both good choices like chocolate or vanilla cake but God had something special for me planned, not chocolate or vanilla but red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Something I never would of thought to order but everything I could possibly hope for; served up especially for me.

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

So today as I weave the Pacific Coast and see the familiar scene of surfers waiting for the perfect ride on their board and as I wind my way through The Santa Monica Mountains, envisioning hikers off in the distance, I am home. God knew me better than I knew myself. Not any beach. Not any mountain. But the beach and the mountains.

My taste buds are alive with adventure… and that’s the icing on the cake. I’m licking my fingers not wanting to waste a smidge of the sweet creamy taste.

Maybe, just maybe, you can have your cake and eat it too. Choose your cake.

north carolina beach

Kure Beach, North Carolina

colorado

Rocky Mountains, Colorado

santa barbara

Santa Barbara, California


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Last Sunday was so hot I took my top off ; my jeep that is. I may live in California but  I still ooze with Midwestern blood.

As I  parked my car, a man wheeled up  and asked, ” Hey  do you know where I can grab a cup of coffee?”

Throwing on my straw hat, I nodded and said, ”  Follow me.”

Attempting to wheel up an incline the man said, ” Go ahead. I won’t be able to keep up.”

” No worries. I will push you.”

” Wow. So nice of you.”

” No big deal.  I get it. The father of my kids is a paraplegic. ”

I pushed him across the street and we made our way to coffee shop. Over an  ice coffee, he told me his story about becoming homeless and because of the kindness of The Santa Barbara  Mission he is getting back on his feet.

When we both saw the bottom of our coffee, I said, ” Hey, I need to get going. I am looking at some homes today.  Maybe looking to move here.”

As we walked away, he said, ” I am glad I met you Miss  Lisa. You should move here. You will make friends here since you are kind like the people of Santa Barbara.”

I leaned in to his sweat- soaked shirt and  with a hug said,”Thanks, Steve.”

I straightened my straw hat and turned to walk away when I heard, ” Oh hey, Lisa. Thanks for the push.”

With a crooked smirk I said, “Steve,thanks for the push, too.”

Later that day, I met with my real estate agent, Jim Callahan, and his wife Kristin. We saw a house, near the beach but was not my ideal.  I am not sure which one said it  but I do remember one of them saying, ” I know you want a house, blocks from the beach but there is a really cute cottage near The Mission. You should check it out.”

….And as if God was sending a sign, BOOM, out of nowhere a microburst storm  hit. Within five minutes, I was soaked looking like a wet rat.  Making my way through flooded and  tree-debris streets,  drenched or not, I felt a tugging or pushing of some sorts, to head to the next open house.

I walked in. A feeling washed over me like a tide pulling me home to shore.   It was nothing I expected but everything I wanted. I was… happy.  So the control freak in me, needed to let go and allow for the gentle tugging to reel me in; or like the homeless man from earlier in the day, wheel me in…

I admit, I am a stubborn German. I think I always know best but maybe it takes a push  or two to free myself and allow my heart to be… Happy.  Thanks to Steve, Jim, and Kristin for the extra push.

”  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire.” Psalm 37:4

And as Paul Harvey always said, “And here’s the rest of the story…” Stay tuned in thirty days for the rest of the story.  Can you be brave enough to let yourself be happy and listen to what God is whispering or pushing you to do?

santa barbara

 

 

 

 


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tri santa

The saying goes, “You have everything if you have your health…” Three 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 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 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 for the last dozen years by myself, 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 too. 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.

santa barbara tri


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As I breathe in the grape sweetness of wine in the making, my eyes dance at the miles of the vines kissing the horizon .

Dents form on the sides of my mouth and give way to dimples. I cannot disguise my smirk , gushing like grapes in the wine vat.

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I feel like Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun when she says , ” I got my wish . Everything I asked for …”

Fifteen years ago I could not afford a “happy meal” for my kids and now I am here .I got my wish .

Diane’s character runs parallel to my life . Divorced , loses it all , sad, wandering without direction, jumps to a foreign country( I think California qualifies as foreign ) but like all Rom-Com movies , the heroine’s train changes track .

Ms.Lane narrates at the end of the film ,”They say they built the train tracks over the Alps between Vienna and Venice before there was a train. They built it anyway . They knew one day a train would come. Any arbitrary turn along the way and I would be elsewhere . I would be different .”
And so would I …

Diane’s soothing voice closes the film like dew on magenta grapes .
” Unthinkably good things can happen . Even late in the game . It is such a surprise .”
I tilt my sun hat to cover my blushing .The last few years have been a complete surprise . I never envisioned that my sour grapes would turn sweet .

” I don’t know where the path is leading but I know who is leading the path .” Proverbs 4:10

Embrace the twists of turns of life and dare to be surprised. I intend to.
Maybe like the movie, a Tuscan Villa has my name on it with an American gentleman who lives in Florence, ready to carry me over the threshold .
If that is God’s plan ,I’ll be all in ; like a grape stomper-barefoot and all .