The Whisper Within

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


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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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Messy is good. What was my “messy”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 


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

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

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

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

So I’m taking this further ….

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

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

-Being kinder to the difficult co-worker.

-Listening to a friend

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

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

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

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

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


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

My mouth twitches Is Chicago home?

My lips seal like an envelope. Home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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


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

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

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

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

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


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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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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


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This morning, I received many texts of snow-filled pictures from my Chicago friends and family. ” Snow! Ugh! Look what you’re missing .”

As I laid in bed, I thought I miss the snow.

Ok . Maybe not driving in it and shoveling it, but I miss snowy days, when you have an excuse to do nothing and stay inside. When I lived in Chicago, I always felt the urge when the sun was shining to make the most of it. Well, it really is always sunny here in California so I feel guilty staying in on a sunny day. I know, poor me. Yes, I am a stinker.

But this morning was different in a good way.

This morning the sun was not filtering through my sheers slowly waking me up, but the gray foggy mist lingered.

I looked over at Kipper as she was draped in a sheet with her head resting comfortably on my belly.

I grabbed my journal. I grabbed my pen and the scribbling began.

I miss snowy days.

An hour passed. Then another. I read. I journaled and Kipper did not move .

In my mind, I visualized the list I wrote the night before of everything I wanted to accomplish today.

Then it hit me, this is what I craved. This is what I needed. A snow day.

Even Kipper did not want to move.She gave me a look that said,”Seriously, mom, let’s stay in bed.”

So in honor of my Chicago friends, I stayed in my Pjs and made some pancakes. As I drank my coffee and enjoyed the fog, I heard the whisper that said, quit pushing. Quit trying. Be quiet. Be still.

Enjoy the snow day.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10