The Whisper Within

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


12 Comments >

Are you willing to crawl towards a better finish even when faced when obstacles?

The saying goes, “You have everything if you have your health…”

Almost four years ago I finished a triathlon and shortly afterwards I started to have weird symptoms; burning, electric shocks, and my body feeling like I was a cell phone set on vibrate. My Chicago doctor blamed it on adrenal fatigue but then the laundry list of symptoms starts piling up like the dirty laundry basket of my two teenage athletes.

The symptoms of vertigo, tinnitus, night sweats, insomnia, and numbness mirrored the dreadful diseases of MS, Parkinson’s, and ALS. I did not recognize my own reflection in the mirror. I am a buck twenty, maybe a buck and quarter on a good day. After losing twenty pounds over a few months, I found myself sitting in the shower, too weak to stand, hoping the shower would drown my wails of anguish.

After months of MRIs, C-scans, blood work, my doctor was fresh out of ideas and handed me a prescription for Zoloft. I crumpled up the scrap of paper, tossed it in the garbage,and with a crooked smirk laughed, “Come on. You know me. I have been through a divorce, my ex becoming a paraplegic, raising the kids alone for the last dozen years as a single mom , a robbery… Seriously, depression? I will walk my way out of this … just like everything else. I will exercise until I feel better.”

As he walked out the door, he cocked his head around the corner, “Let me know how that works for you?”

Well, it didn’t. No flip turns in the pool would turn my sickness upside down. I was stuck running vicious circles at the track, hoping an answer was around the next bend.

Finally, after a year of misdiagnosis, I had an answer. Lyme disease. Yes, a little crawling tick created all this chaos.

Three year later, watching a crew of wetsuits enter the fog-ridden shore of the Pacific Ocean, I was a little jealous wishing I too could dig my toes in the mushy shore and get in the race. Since my restless energy would not be expended, my curious nature got the best of me. Silently I thought, “Why did this happen to me? Why did I need to be on the sidelines?”

In disappointment, I turned and watched athletes from previous heats cross the finish with smiles plastered across their face, proud of their character of “going the distance”. A smirk crossed over my face, as I realized how far I, too, have come. My course was not easy but through some waves, potholes, and flat tires, my character developed .God was using a rough course to design a better me.

Anyone who knows me, would testify that I am a strong individual competitor, not needing or wanting direction.( You don’t get the nickname ” sassy pants” for nothing.) I like to think, I became sick so maybe, just maybe, I could be weak.

“For when you are weak, He can be strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 10

I am better me. I have surrendered that it is ok not to always be the strong one. I will get back in the game. I will walk away and leave Lyme disease in the dust and hopefully, God-willing, swim, bike, and run to a better finish …and maybe, just maybe I will stop being an individual competitor and allow for a running partner to run beside me or better yet run ahead of me to clear the obstacles so I can have an easier finish.

The journey has been long but I am getting better . Day by day,month by month, year by year, I see the progress . And until my body, completely catches up with my brain, I will keep getting out of bed,work hard,and believe the whisper,” I AM WELL.”

” I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13

Are you willing to face your obstacles, head- on?

Believe in your inner strength , Your Whisper Within.


8 Comments >

“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?”

“Yeah, honey.”

“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

 


2 Comments >

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’m lost.

I’m sad.

I’m happy.

I lost my job.

I’m broke.

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


4 Comments >

Ugh garbage night !

Yep, we all do it , but mine is a bit tricker than just dragging the bins to the curb . I live on a hill .

So one bin down . Then I’m down . And then the garbage is spread on the sidewalk like a Thanksgiving feast in reverse .

Crap !

Light blue Converse are sprawled and a set of work boots come walking .

” So you must be my new neighbor …”

” Yep, I’m Lisa .”

” I’m hearing Chicago or New York … can I help you ?”

“Nope . I’m fine .”

” Definitely Chicago. Stubborn .”

A crooked smirk is thrown and a strong hand pulls mine .

“So, why here ,Chicago girl ?”

” I wanted the simple life .”

” The simple life ? Don’t you know that Santa Barbara is heaven on earth ? There is even a secret stairway that will take you to a view that’s just like heaven . It’s right up the hill .You should wander .”

A fire . An evacuation. A mudslide . An evacuation . Yep, this is paradise .

But a few months later, I wandered, step by step . A secret stairs led to a secret park . I took in the view .

The beach. The mountains . The sun setting over the horizon .

Wow,this is heaven on earth .

A deep breath in . A deep breath out. Time to go .

Step by step I walked down the cobblestone walkway .

A glance. A smile . And then a story . Her white locks drew me in .

“Hi Lisa . I’m Nan. So nice to meet you …. You’re from Chicago? I grew up right outside Chicago in LaGrange . I moved here when I was sixty- seven after my husband passed .Why did you move here, Lisa ? Did your husband get a job transfer ?”

” Nope . I’m single .”

I leaned down and pet the Cocker Spaniel .

” How old are you , Lisa?”

” I’m fifty . ”

” You’re just a baby . I’m ninety . Do you know the secret to being happy ? Get a dog not a man . ”

I leaned in and hugged the white locks.

So … say hello to Kipper .

I prayed for companionship and God brought me a dog . Next time I yell at God ,I’ll learn to be more specific in my prayers .

Have I given up on love ? Heck no ! It IS coming .I will be patient and wait for the real thing. God knows my heart and will fulfill my desire .

In the meantime, someone or something has to keep this Chicago girl warm during a BRUTAL Santa Barbara Winter.

” Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire .”

Psalm 37:4


7 Comments >

Happy Valentine’s Day, my favorite day of the year.

I remember as a kid decorating a shoebox and excited for it be filled with paper hearts. Yep, I am the biggest hopeless romantic. Just ask me how many Rom-Com DVDs I have in my collection, I dare you.

On Valentine’s Day, I am confident of this one certainty: true love does exist. It is extremely rare but oh, so, spectacular. I received my first lesson in love from the 1974 movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Robert Redford, need I say more. My heart was swayed at the mere age of seven.

“He knew when he kissed this girl… his mind would never romp again…”   Gatsby has ruined me.

 But honestly, I wasn’t feeling it this year. Don’t know why…

My shoebox was empty and so was my heart.

But then…I came across a lone red envelope sticking out of my mailbox… And it hit me. The memories of past crushes, past loves, cutting out paper hearts, and a subtle secret kiss that no one saw. And suddenly my shoebox was filled to the top.

IMG_4638

I walked to my mailbox and took out my cards. One struck in me in particular. “Here’s to the girls who takes on the world and fights for what they love.”

 What do I love? Who would I fight for?

 Here is a smattering of pink frosting…

  • A boy with a smirk and girl with a smile who once were glued to my hip, but now are miles apart.
  • A stranger who joins me picking up sea glass on the beach.
  • Friends who gave me a bike with a basket.
  • A kind smile across a room of yoga mats.
  • A text from a girl who shared the nickname “Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.”
  • A girl who screams, “Riehm!” as I pick up the phone.
  • A girl who chased me with snakes but calls me Baby doll.
  • And the one who knows my heart and whispers to me…

I am loved and so are you. There is someone today who is wanting to get your scribbled name on the bottom of a Peanut’s Valentine.

To get love; you must give love. So, get busy!

“If I do not give love, I am nothing.” I Corinthians 13:2

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Would love to hear about your most memorable  Valentine’s Day memory…. Please comment below.

 


7 Comments >

27 years and 2000 miles apart.

It all started with my blog post. 10 wisdoms I learned in #Chicago.

A follower commented,” Your faith and perseverance are impressive…I should add impressively optimistic for Cub’s fan.”

I responded and then he private messaged me.

Dan: Had no idea you had this in you when we worked together.

ME: We worked together? Help me I’m getting old…

Dan: Yep, 27 years ago at Canon in Downers Grove.

What? Now I need the story

ME: How did you find my blog? How did you know it was me?

Dan:One of my buddies and I were talking about one hit wonders and the song “Rock Steady” came up. I searched it and came up with the Whispers as the group that sang it. When I searched “The Whispers”, I believe your website came up before I hit the letter “s” in Whispers. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link. I thought I recognized the name Lisa Riehm, as someone I worked with at Canon. I have a really good memory for names and faces, I thought your face looked familiar. I went to the photos and when I saw the Hinsdale South HS photo, I knew it was the young lady I worked with at Canon.

Who would guess? Twenty-seven years and two thousand miles apart, two co-workers would reconnect.

“Since the Lord is directing our steps why do we question everything that happens along the way?’ Proverbs 20:24

Strange coincidence, maybe? But it does make you wonder. Doesn’t it?Santa Barbara sunset