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
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
This past weekend, I attended my church retreat in the Santa Monica Mountains.
It was beautiful, fun, and restful. As I made new friends and visited with familiar ones, I felt like a kid at camp, sitting on a log, roasting marshmallows on a stick.
Even though I was filled with bliss over the weekend, I admit that yesterday, as I washed my dinner plate, I thought, Ugh! Why do I feel the funk creeping back in?Ugh! You are alone.
I dried my dish and thought of the demographics of the retreat attendees. Married! So many married couples!
I looked out the window and up at the sky and said, “You know what is going on? Let me keep focused on all the good you bring me. Drown negative thoughts and restore my silly, child-like joy.”
Today, as the light filtered through my sheer curtains, a smile covered my face. Morning! I love that God does not allow my hiking boots to get stuck in the mud but gives me clean fresh boots every morning. And like a kid excited to go hiking at camp, I strapped on my backpack, hopeful, for the new day.
I worked and then looked at the clock and thought, 10 o’clock. Time for Kipper’s walk. But before I did, I heard the whisper, call the box office. So, I did!
“Hello! I’m looking for tickets for a Death Cab for Cutie?”
“We have one ticket left in general admission, and we take no phone orders.”
I looked at my officemate and said, “Kipper, let’s go! Time for a walk.”
Kipper must’ve anticipated my excitement because I was not prepared for a run, but Kipper was on a full pace and had me not skipping but jogging down the street in no time.
Eight blocks later, I walked up to the ticket booth and said, “Is that one ticket still available?” It was meant to be. A credit card was handed, I snapped a picture and then sent a text to my favorite concert junkie saying, “Guess who is going to Death Cab for Cutie?”
Tarah, my daughter, responded, “cute.”
As I walked home, I tipped my hat and threw a smirk up at the sky, you do hear me!
1 John 5:15 “And since we know that he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
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
Yesterday, my daughter who is now twenty-five (How is that possible?) asked me to find a picture of her on the first day of Freshman year of high school. With all the back-to-school posts on Facebook, is it possible she is getting sentimental?
As I dug through boxes, I found this little girl.
I examined my 2nd grade “picture day” photo and remembered how I worried about being ugly; recalling being teased and given the nickname “The Bucktooth Beaver.” (Kids can be so mean!) As I looked closer at the photo I also remembered what my Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Succop called me too, Jesus Little Lamb. I grabbed my phone and texted her the picture and wrote.
My beautiful teacher~ I look at thislittle girl and remember being so worried about the mean girls making fun of me … I worried I never would fit in. But because of your love, showering me with the love of Jesus, I stopped worrying and started wondering, wondering about our Savior, and start wondering more about Himthan myself.
The next day she responded telling me it was a privilege to love me and a gift to see really young ones who the world did not know or value.
Her response got me thinking, when did we replace wonder with worry?
What do you worry about?
Will I get the right job? Will my kids get the right job?
Will my kids go to college?
Will my family stay healthy?
What do you wonder about?
Think back to your childhood…
What did you want to want to be?
What did you wonder?
Was it, would I get picked for the recess kickball game?
I admit I was boy crazy since first grade. I wondered if I would get to sit on the bus next to Eric Berg for the field trip.
Close your eyes and think back to maybe the summer of 1981? or 1985? What songs were playing on the radio? What color was your bike that you rode around the neighborhood with your best friends until dark? Did you wonder what high school would be like? Or who you would go to Prom with?
With a new school year starting and none of my children in school, I do think time is passing so quickly.
I am older and my dad is eighty-nine, so I do think about or wonder when he will die. I don’t worry since I know he will go to heaven and enjoy a new life of wonder.
As I am writing this, I am looking at my 2nd grade picture, buckteeth and all, and remembering and thanking God for my sweet teacher, who made a difference in my life, and helped me wonder. ( Yes, you teachers DO make a difference!)
God does not want us to worry but to wonder. I would love to hear what you remember about your childhood. What did you wonder?
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.”
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
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
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.
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
About a week ago I received a sweet card that stated :
May you receive abundant blessings in return for the special way you expressed His love.
It was from my dear friend Kris, thanking me for time she and her beautiful daughter Jenna spent at my house over spring break. She enclosed a picture collage of our few days together.
I reread the personalized message she wrote and then notice this Bible verse.
I was welled with tears of joy. I recalled what one of my Santa Barbara friends said to me when I questioned, “Why here? Why Santa Barbara?”
Her response was, “Because everyone who comes to your house, you will bless and tell them about how God has blessed you. I am renaming your house THE BLESSINGS HOUSE.”
As I pondered this further, I sat on the ground with legs crossed, looked up at the sky and asked, “Is this it God? You bless me so I can bless others?”
Waiting for God to answer, I remembered sitting unknowingly next to a pastor on a plane ride and he stated, “You know Santa Barbara is one of the most unchurched places in America… I think that’s why you are here.”
I whispered Is it God ? You bless me so I can bless others?
So, this blog is not about God blessing me with a cottage by the beach, even though I am grateful for that, it is about a much bigger blessing and purpose.
The purpose is share the love and joy of Jesus…And there is not a better time than now, with Easter around the corner.
Who can you bless? Who can you invite to Easter service? Who needs to know the why your heart is filled with joy, stuffed like a plastic Easter egg with chocolate?
It is not too late. Share the blessing.
“ I will bless you… and you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2
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.”
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.
This story has a few head-fakes and “meet-cutes”, almost like a silly Rom-Com I USED to love. STAY-TUNED! It is worth a good commercial.
I haven’t blogged in awhile because I haven’t heard God, The Whisper Within, for some time. Probably my fault, because you can’t hear someone if you are not spending time with them. Just like a friend, if you are not spending time in person or otherwise, how do you know what’s going on in their life? Simply put, I know God speaks to me through reading his word but over the last month or so, I’ve been out of touch.
This past week, I am back reading the Bible and listening, and funny, God orchestrated his usual, funny circumstance.
On New Year’s Eve, as me and my friend were walking up the steps from the beach, a man yelled, “Hey Chicago.” Forgetting I was wearing a Cub’s hat, I turned and said, “Oh Hey.” We quickly exchanged information that we both were from Chicago but now live here, we both have an eighty-eight year old parent living back in Chicago, and definitely don’t miss the snow.
I quipped, “Ya, today Chicago is getting snow and that’s probably why I can’t get a hold of my dad. He’s probably out there snow blowing.”
The man remarked, “Your dad is eighty-eight and snow blowing?” My friend retorted, “You don’t know her dad. He’s amazing. He seriously is a cat and has nine lives.” My friend went on to explain that a year ago my dad was hit by a speeding car while he was walking and broke no bones, survived cancer, fell off a ladder, still gardens and donated like a hundred pounds or more to the food bank…”
The man stated, “You know the secret to living a good life is to have a life with purpose. Your dad has purpose.”
The man asked, “Where does your dad live?” I said, “Darien.” He said, “Wow. I grew up in Westmont. Small world.” I giggled and said, ” I grew up in Westmont, too.” He called his mom and asked, “Mom, what was our address in Westmont?” He turned to me and said, “I grew up on Cass Avenue and 56th Street.” I shook my head and said,” I grew up on Cass Avenue by 63rd Street.” I overheard him say to his mom, “I’m talking to this lady, she grew up down the street from us. What was grade school did we go to, mom?”
He looked at me and said, “Did you go to Maercker grade school?… Ah, I probably would not have know you, I’m fifty five and you are younger than me.” I said, “I went Zion Lutheran in Hinsdale and I’ll be fifty five next month.”
As the man continued to talk with his mom on the phone, the wheels in my brain were turning. Same age. We grew up just blocks apart. We both live here. Is this my perfect Rom- Com “meet cute”?
He hung up the phone with his mom and said, “I would love to hear more about your dad, actually MY WIFE, is a journalist and she probably would love to write a story about him. Yep, wife. My Rom- Com perfect ending was over. But I did hear God whisper, ” It will be that easy for you, Lisa. Trust me.”
Here’s the head-fake. This blog is not about me but something bigger.
Last night, I was looking at my daughter’s website and saw a picture that she took of my dad.
I couldn’t help but think of what the man from the beach said about living a good life.
What is a “Good Life?”
Is it having the spouse? friends? relationships? right job? enough money or things?
My Bible devotion today was about relationships. It stated the foundation of our relationship should be with God because sooner or later, our relationship with a spouse, our children, our friends, may break down. I know I have painfully experienced this.
So what is the “Good Life” ?
I looked at the picture of my father and smiled knowing that he exemplifies the “Good Life”, living a life with purpose, for the glory of God.
” …Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” Corinthians 10:13
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
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.
Today, Facebook reminded me of a post that I wrote ten years ago today. It read:
Headed to South Haven, MI today. Once again makes me wonder,why do I live in Chicago? I am a beach girl.
When Facebook reminded me of that memory, I smiled and quietly thanked God. He moved me to the beach.
As I waited, for my Keurig to dispense my morning coffee, I thought about this further.Moving to the beach was something I desired. It was just something I wanted. It was not a need.
As I sat at my desk, sipping my coffee, I thought, If God took care of this want, he has the big stuff.Truthfully I needed this reminder. I think through my sickness,I haven’t forgotten or doubted this. God has my needs.
He has your needs too.
What do you need?
Ask God. He never gets tired of hearing from us.
“And my God will supply all your needs…” Philippians 4:19
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