Category Archives: Encoragement
Today is another rainy day in…opps, I almost wrote Chicago. Santa Barbara. I feel like I am back living in the Windy City instead of sunny California.
Work finished so I made a pot of chicken soup to feel right at home.
As the soup simmered, I listened to a podcast, “How do I know if I’m hearing God?” by one of my favorite pastors, Charles Stanley.
I know many of you have asked me, how do I hear God or as I say, hear the Whisper Within?
Well, if you want to know, then listen to the podcast. The link is below.
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
February 23, 2003
It is not until tragedy strikes that we search for answers, pray, and seek hope to guide us.
I feared that a whisper might either paralyze or propel me. One call would define my courage or my destruction.
I can still hear the phone call. It clings to my memory like the ivy on the brick walls of Wrigley Field. That was twenty years ago.
“Hello? Hello? I’m sorry. I can’t hear you.”
I lunge at the door and step outside The Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. A bitter wind punches my cheeks.
“I can hear you now, Marie.”
“Lisa, there has been a terrible accident! It’s Dan. A helicopter has airlifted him to Minnesota. They’re hoping they can save him!”
“What? What did you say?”
“Danny’s fighting for his life.”
“What? What happened?”
“It was a snowmobile accident. I know this must be hard on you since you and my son just divorced.”
That was twenty years ago today.
It was a devastating day for my ex, the father of my children, as he became a paraplegic and had to be brave to live a challenging life.
That phone call changed everything. It became my rock bottom.
But today, twenty years later, I’m thankful for rock bottom.
No matter what happened to me, I believed that God had a plan for my life.
All the waiting.
Waiting for work.
Waiting for love.
Waiting for the kids to grow up.
Waiting to move.
I grieved. I hurt. But I laughed too. It wasn’t an easy life but I didn’t do it alone.
God was with me, day by day, every step of the way.
I do believe in my heart that God worked on Dan’s behalf too by saving his life on that snowbank.
I walk my neighborhood, tip up my straw hat and look up at the sky. You did it. You moved me here. You knew what you were doing. You had the plan all along, didn’t you?
I do not hear the Whisper Within but I FEEL IT! ( Be sure to read my t-shirt in the picture. This was a lovely gift from my sweet friend Peggy.)
God had the plan and turned all my crises into contentment and blessed me more than I could imagine.
A smile covers my face as I think of my good friends who walked with me and brought light into some of my darkest days. ( Too many of you to mention)
I look up at the sky and whisper You are so so good to me!
Can you trust that God has the plan when your circumstances seem hopeless?
“Now faith is being certain of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”—Hebrews 11:1.
“Wait on the Lord. Be strong and take courage. Yes, wait, and he will help you.” Psalm 27:14
Today I received a text from my best friend.
I saw this on my walk, and it reminded me of you.
Because you are exuberant and full of life.
My friend continue to text me.
I’m still sad about my brother’s passing. I miss friends. I’m trying everything to get back my joy, burning candles, taking walks, blasting music, etc., but I’m just sad.
I responded Tell God you are sad.
So I’m telling you because I’ve been there. Something I learned is to talk to God like a best friend. I’m sad I’m lonely. I need your help. I’m exhausted.
If you don’t know God and don’t have a relationship with him, my suggestion is to start reading the Psalms.
I started reading the Psalms, when I went through a divorce and really relied on them, God’s word, when my ex became a paraplegic.
During this time, I was desperate and learned that I had a personal friend who heard my desperate cries, and wanted to restore my silly joy.
He did then! And He restores my joy now! He will for you too! Just ask!
“Restore unto me the joy…” Psalm 51:12
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
Happy New Year!
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 sidewalk I 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
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
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
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
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
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.“
About a week ago I wrote on my Facebook page:
“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
Tonight I walked the beach with my loyal companion,Kipper,and took in the spectacular view. The beach. The mountains. And even a rainbow .
I snapped a photo and texted it to my kids. Tarah quickly texted back. “That picture makes me so happy. You really did it mom .You achieved your dream.”
My mouth twitched and tears formed as I watched the tide roll in.
I texted back. “Aww Tarah! You are making me cry. I forget that I did . You are right ! This was my dream !”
She responded. “I can’t thank you enough for the life you created for me. You had the courage to better yourself.”
I focused on the rainbow and then texted her back.”Thank you for reminding me. Yes, courage. God gives me strength to walk in his faith.”
I watched the sunset and thought, “I may have Lyme disease but You brought me here God. You make me brave. You brought my dream. You will heal me.”
“Be strong and courageous and get to work. Don’t be frightened at the size of the task, for the Lord my God is with you.”
1 Chronicles 28:20
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.
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.
“Hey, Mom can we go to Mc Donald’s?”
“Sorry, Peanut. Not today.”
“We never go.”
“Tarah, you know mom can’t afford that.”
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
How do you talk to a best friend?
Do you have to be somewhere special?
Do you need to arrange a special time?
Do you have to prepare a special speech?
Do you get nervous telling your best friend bad news?
Do you get excited to tell your best friend the good news?
Who do you call when you need the really hard advice ?
Yep, a best friend !
This is how I talk to God … like a best friend .
When my ex had a snowmobile accident leaving him a paraplegic and I, a single mom, was headed for financial ruin with two little kids in tow … I yelled at God ,”Do you see me ? I need your help … come on !”
When his second wife sued my home owners insurance for HIS accident AND won … I looked up at the sky and yelled,”THIS ISNT FAIR … Show me ,you’re with me .”
When my kindergarten girl was banging her head on Target’s floor because she wanted gum but a tile away was soft hazel eyes saying,”I don’t need anything Mom ,” I silently begged with tear-filled eyes ,”Come on God ! Life shouldn’t be so hard … I need help!”
And years later,when my business grew, I allowed my lashes to fall as I saw my picture in Chicago Magazine as one of best financial advisors in Chicago ,”This was ALL YOU, God .You rescued me.”
And when I walk on the beach and look up at the sky ,”YOU did this . You brought me here .”
So on National Day of Prayer, I’m challenging you .
Don’t go anywhere special .
Don’t think of the right words.
Don’t arrange a special time.
Talk to your best friend .
Tell him ….
I lost my job.
I feel my life is going nowhere.
I love my life.
Like a best friend, he wants the real you … the good, the bad ,and the ugly.
Some of you may say, “I pray but I don’t hear answers back .”
Well, I do find, the time I do hear answers ,are when I’m quiet .
Not praying in a pew in church .
Not praying in bed before I close my eyes .
But in nature ,walking .
And yes ,my daily walks on the beach are my best conversations with God . I simply say, “So here’s what’s going on ..”
My friends say I’m like Batman and I have a direct signal to God.
I don’t know about that, but I do know, as I walk ,a quiet calmness comes over me that can be only described as the Whisper Within…
Hope you,too, can hear the whisper.
“Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything and you will feel his peace .” Philippians 4:6
I turn the last page of the book, The Circle Maker , and set it on the sea glass table beside me. I recline in the wicker lounge chair and take a deep breathe in. A combination of salt and rosemary lingers in the air as I take in the amazing balcony views of the Greek island of Mykonos.
I am a million miles from home but which home? The new home I have made in Los Angeles, the city of angels or the place of my childhood and last 48 years, Chicago, the Windy City.
Mykonos is so windy I feel like I am being whipped like a sailboat on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Mykonos’ intoxicating turquoise waters lures me in, completely heavenly like the city of angels, Los Angeles. I observe the palm tree branches blowing in the breeze and think of my friends from Los Angeles to Chicago and like Mark Batterson, the author of The Circle Maker encouraged, I circle them with prayer.
I text :
“I read an amazing book on this trip called The Circle Maker. It is about an old testament man, Honi, who circled his prayers. He asked persistently for rain. Right now I am thinking of my friends from the West Coast to the Midwest; and circling them and their families with prayers of love, peace, and safety. I hope you feel lifted up .”
The response was overwhelming …
‘I do 🙂 you helped me through 24 hrs of travel. Just driving from airport home!!!! Had a weird delay at Charles de Gall, somebody left an unattended bag and it was creepy…felt uncertain with all the issues there this summer. Thanks for the circles :-)’
That’s amazing!! I feel peaceful this morning and optimistic. 😊 Thank you. I will read too and you are in my circle. 🙏
Thank you for sending love our way! Everyone woke up so happy and full of life this morning. Today is my Birthday and this was my first text .
‘Nice to hear from you! When I got your text just now I was outside gazing at the stars after my walk, thank you for your prayer!’
As the texts came in, I thought of how blessed I am. If I did not have this patio quiet time how could I lift up my friends to the one who hears me?
This alone time is all mine. No husband. No kids. Just me and the wind.
I picked up my book, glanced one more time at the cyan blue Mediterranean Sea and felt the wind whisper, “Your time is coming. Soon.” God’s timing is always perfect. The winds are changing.I will wait for the soft calming breeze.
“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”
“God is for you. If you don’t believe that, then pray small timid prayers; if you believe it, then you will pray big audacious prayers…Who you become is determined by how you pray.” ~ Mark Batterson author of The Circle Maker
I challenge you all to boldly circle your friends and family in prayer . Would love to hear your stories . Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org .
By the way, I have not lost my sweet tooth. I still crave a husband like the scrumptious taste of baklava topped with a creamy side of vanilla ice cream.
Today Facebook reminded me of this special day, two years years ago.
July 17, 2015 will forever be etched on my brain. I am so grateful for all my friends who …supported me through my journey, my new CA friends, but mostly to God who makes me brave and happy. He had the plan all along.
” The heart that is brave is not ours; it is God’s ” ~ Randall Wallace
JULY 17, 2015
In the last 14yrs, through the divorce,the father of my children becoming a paraplegic, being a single parent , being broke, dealing with a home robbery, and now Lyme disease, the grace of God sustained my hope and gave me strength to daily walk forward . Well today I did not just walk, I took a leap . I signed a lease in CA and purchased a one way tix to LAX . Gotta trust God has the plan. So grateful to all my friends and family who have blessed my amazing journey . I have seen Jesus reflected through you . I may not know where the path is leading but I know who is leading the path . I am ready yet scared to start the next chapter . I will miss you all dearly & until we meet again ” I thank God everytime I remember you .” Phil 1:3