The Whisper Within

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


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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.”


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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,

Jenny & Jacob

and posed for a picture with my kids.

Tarah, Jake, and I.

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


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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.

2nd grade- Little Lisa – “Jesus Little Lamb”

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 this little 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 Him than 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?

“Show the wonder of His great love.” Psalm 17:7


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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 .

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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.”

There is beauty in the breakdown.

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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.

Tarah & I- my peanut!

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.

Tarah & I in NY – May 2022

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!

Happy birthday Tarah!


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A Full life. A Full heart.

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.

Hinsdale South class of 1985
“The gang”

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.

My sorority sisters.

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


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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.

Kris, Jenna, and me

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


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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.”


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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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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 started out like a normal workday making calls and following up with clients but then my normal routine took a turn.

I called a client who I knew was alone. She recently lost her son and her mother. We exchanged greetings and then I told her,”Merry Christmas. I know that it has been tough year but I want you to know that you are loved. ” She started crying and that’s what it occurred to me that there is probably many more who feel this sadness and loneliness this year with Covid that need to hear they are loved.

Here’s some of the list from my calls today:

– A client who was isolated in a nursing home

– a lonely widow

– a client suffering with cancer

One client in particular made an impact on me. I knew he recently had lost his wife of sixty years . I told him I’m sorry again for your loss and Merry Christmas. He said it meant a lot and wanted to share a quick story. He said not only was his wife the love his life but she was the only girl he ever kissed. They dated since they were fifteen. This teared me up.

His story blessed me.

So am telling you, it’s not too late! Who can you call and make a difference and share the true joy of Christmas? You have two full days. Can you make them count? Can you cheer somebody up?

” Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? …”Philippians 2:1


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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.IMG_7824

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.

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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
~Psalm 138:8

 

 

 


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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.

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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


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It has been four years that I became sick with Lyme disease. I have tried to stay patient and daily stay in the joy but the last few weeks seem like a long, drawn-out Chicago Winter, filled with endless days, weeks and months of snow, gray, and bitter cold with no sunshine in sight.

But just like Groundhog Day, after a long Winter spent in a cave; this past week I saw some light. Yes, a new doctor.

She reviewed my new labs and uncovered some hidden new facts to work with.

Sitting in her office, I felt like a bursting daffodil popping through a light Spring snow as I lowered my chin and said, “I WILL get better. God loves me. He sees me. He will heal me.”
She responded, “Oh, Yes, Lisa. I love your faith.  I am a believer too.”

My lips sealed tight. “Ugh! My faith is all I have… My friends and my church in Chicago have all been praying for you ; let my doctor have wisdom.”

I saw her face become flush.” Wow, I am so grateful for you.”

My eyes watered, ” No, I am SO grateful for you.”

She walked me towards the door and hugged me .
I looked at her with soft eyes and said, ” I love that you hugged me .”

“I love hugs too, Lisa. First I will take care of your health and then I’ll help you with the husband.”

I backed away, cocked my head, and asked, “The husband?”

“Yes, the husband.”

I walked outside and made my to my car and questioned, Why did she say, the husband? 

And then tonight, as I walked my neighborhood I saw a quaint hotel setting up for a beautiful outdoor wedding.

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I wandered through the white chairs, bookmarked with lavender and ivy.  Wow, simply beautiful.

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As I a strolled through the adjacent garden, with tables adorned with white linens and peonies, I looked up the sun, Maybe this was why I moved to Santa Barbara … health and who knows maybe a husband?

I felt the wind whisper …
IT IS COMING! Health and a Husband.
I feel it. I know it. Patience.
God’s timing is perfect. He has the plan.

“Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and prayerful always.”

Romans 12:12 The Living Bible


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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.


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On Memorial Day, can’t help but be grateful to the service of those who laid down their life for our freedom .

And to the greatest sacrificial love, Jesus . Without his thorns; we would not have roses .

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

-John 15:13


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“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

 


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This blog may not sit well with some of you . I don’t always have my Sunday church dress on . Sometimes the sassy pants do come out of the closet.

A ding and a text .

What’s up Middle Seat ? I’m in Schaumburg – thinking of you .

The corners of my mouth turned North.

Colin.

My lashes fell and then flickered towards the sky catching the light filtering through the palm tree envisioning that plane ride , four years ago .

“Excuse me is this seat taken ?”

“Umm … I don’t know .”

“Well, my tv screen isn’t working and my Denver Broncos are playing for the championship. It will be a long flight to Chicago if I can’t watch the game .”

A seat is filled. My Kleenex is filled . And then the questions began .

“Hey, you’re crying . Are you alright ?”

My mouth twitched. A bottom lip is bit and then I spilled the story .

“So you knew this guy twenty years ago and now you both wanted to see if it could be something now that you’re both single … AND …?”

” AND … I am crushed. I don’t know …”

“I am sorry . No guy is letting a girl like you get away … unless he wants to . It’s over .The sooner you get over this, the better .

My mouth sealed like an envelope . He’s right .

Two hours passed and two strangers became friends .The banter was as sweet as cherry pie.

And soon I heard,”Prepare the cabin for arrival .”

The plane landed . Luggage was wheeled to the terminal .And a smile was waiting , coaxing me over .

“Ms. Schomer, you are the most interesting girl I have ever met. I have a feeling this could be something worth pursuing, what do you think?”

I threw a smirk and then I leaned forward and allowed for my lips to graze his.

” Wow! Like I said, Middle Seat, one of the most interesting girls I have ever met. Let’s keep in touch .”

Life is unpredictable like that plane ride.

Did God intervene for me that day, sending over a seat- mate , to show me a little hope is around the corner or at the next boarding gate ? You never know.

Take the middle seat . You just may find yourself sandwiched between hopeless and hopeful . Who knows, you may double your chances for a connection. Hope may be a seat a away .

But until the real thing sits besides me in my row, I will get out of bed, walk forward , and happily anticipate the unexpected, The Whisper Within…and so should you .

“I will wait for the Lord .” Psalm 24:17


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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


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I did it. I finally did it.

I laid my scissors on the table and looked around the garage; empty boxes and paper tossed about.

The last box .

I open it up and found what I have been searching for ; a journal from my Florence vacation. I brushed my hand across the supple suede, lifted it to my nose and breathed in the leather, like an aphrodisiac luring me in .I open the pages; exposing the crisp creamy white, begging to be defiled .

IMG_3587

I laid the journal off to the side and stared at the last table in the garage to be let go . Why didn’t I leave this a month ago at the curb in Westlake? There is no room for this in Santa Barbara.

A smirked crossed my face as I remembered what a friend said while packing me, “Nothing significant from your past can go to your future?”

“What d’ya mean?”

“Come on, Lis. You wonder why you don’t have a boyfriend? You still have your old bedroom furniture from Chicago. Let it go.”

With a quick press of the app, I uploaded a photo and tagged it. Free. I let go of my past and opened up my future.

I glanced down at the journal on the table. I turned the page. Time for fresh start. This is saved for something special.

And just like the last unopened box …Maybe, just maybe, God is saving the best for last too. It may be what I was looking for all along.

God has written my story already. I just need to be patient and let him fill the pages.

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was written in your book.” Psalm 139:16

Can you let go and let the magic begin?


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

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

How so?

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

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

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

cubs

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

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

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

I rolled my eyes, “Nine years ago.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 


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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.”
Psalm 107:29
“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 laschomer@twc.com .

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.IMG_2504


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Cali!

Funny to think it was five years ago that I wrote this Facebook post.

May 28, 2012

” You know you are living in the wrong place when you you feel complete bliss running the lakefront downtown instead of the streets of Schaumburg.”

That was five years ago when I lived in Chicago … and now I live in CA.

When we were children, we played in the streets. We did not know the meaning of fear. I know I would swing high on a playground swing and when I would reach the top of the arc, I would jump and try to land as far as I could. I was not competing against anyone- except myself . I was not afraid to get a little “road rash”, if it meant a greater achievement for the day. I would dust the pebbles that were embedded in my knees and know tomorrow, I would try for a greater distance.

Can you say this is true for you today? Or have you lost your inner-child like wonder?

Are you just doing enough to get by?

If money, time, and responsibilities were not an option, what would you do to let the child in you free?

God gave you talents and he expects you to use them. You do the world a disservice by not using your gifts. Dream Big!

God knows our heart & plants the whispers, all we need to do is listen … and daily walk forward to get our authentic self .

Yes, the picture is ME-five years ago. I am not afraid to wipe out, dust off the sand, and get back up. It is time to release the child in you and dream BIG! Be brave!

Follow me on Facebook at The Whisper Within.

” Be strong and courageous. The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 


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“Blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”—Proverbs 14:21

 My eyes were captivated with the water fountain eight floors below. As I gazed out my floor-to-ceiling windows, I caught my reflection and smoothed out my navy blue suit. It had been so many years that I had been out of the business suit that I was not sure the suit would suit me anymore. So many questions filled my thoughts. Will I be able to fit in at Waterstone Financial Group? Will my co-workers like me? Respect me? How about the clients? Will they accept me? Can I do it all—be a mom and full time financial planner? How do I use the copy machine? Where’s the bathroom? From the complex to the simple, the questions all seemed overwhelming.

“Do you have a minute? Can I come in?”

“Yeah sure, Steve”

“So how is it going for you so far, Lisa?”

“Pretty good.”

“Good. I’m glad. I know I really don’t know you, but I’ve heard good things about you.”

“You have?”

“Yes, just a little bit. I’ve heard you’re very smart and good at what you do.” He paused and then slowly added, “But, more importantly, I’ve heard that you have a caring heart.”

“Thank you. I’m flattered.” I felt a mild blush color my cheeks.

“Lisa, I was wondering if I could ask you a favor?”

“Sure.”

“There’s a little old lady up in Rockford whose husband has recently passed away. She’s called several times to another Waterstone representative but is not getting a return call. She needs help reregistering her account to reflect her husband’s passing. I know there really is no money in it for you, and that it is a good hour away, but I was just wondering if you would be so kind? She really could use the help.”

Without hesitating, I responded, “Of course. I’m happy to help.”

“Thanks, Lisa. And, if I haven’t told you already, as the president of Waterstone, I’m happy to have you on board. You’re a good addition to the office.”

As he walked out my office door, I thought, this whole work thing just may be… good.

Saturday came, and I was so busy getting acclimated to the new work environment that I almost forgot it was my birthday. After an hour drive, I made the left-hand turn that brought me straight into a trailer park. I thought to myself, Well, this is not the normal office visit for most CFPs®, but what would Jesus do? He always said to be humble and help the poor and widowed, so I guess I am being called to do both.

Upon arrival to Marilyn’s trailer home, I took a deep breath. Alright, if this is where you want me, God, so be it.

Who am I to question God and his motives?

At first glance, I came to the conclusion that Marilyn was a sweet old lady. She was wearing a blue flowered house frock dress, a navy blue long sweater, and slippers. She made no pretense on her appearance or who she was but simply greeted me warmly, “Hi Lisa. Thanks for coming out. Did you find my house okay?”

“Yes, thanks, Marilyn. No problem.”

Pointing to the kitchen table she continued, “Is this okay? Can we sit here?”

“Yes, this is fine.”

“I know I didn’t know your husband, or you, for that matter, but I’m sorry. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy.”

“No. It has not been easy, but thank you.”

“So, Marilyn, I printed off a copy of your last statement; here it is.”

Taking out her reading glasses, she took the folded copy, peered at it and said,

“Yep, that’s about right.”

“Looks like you and your husband had a trust, with both of you as trustees.”

Chuckling, she added, “If you say so; all of this confuses me.”

Her face started to deflate like an innertube. She let the tears flow down her cheeks.

I leaned forward, reached out, and covered her hand with mine. “You’re going to be alright, Marilyn.”

“I don’t know. I’m alone, and I’m not sure if I can even live on what I have.”

Putting my CFP® hat on, it was time to ask the hard questions. “So, you are concerned about how you’re going to live? Let’s talk about it, Marilyn. My job is to help you live and be happy. Is it okay to ask you some questions, so I can see if I can help you?”

“Sure.”

“So, let’s start out with what you spend; do you have any idea?”

“Yeah, kinda. My place here is paid for, so there is no mortgage. Ummm, let me go get my bank statements. That will tell me what I spend.”

“Yes, that’s the best place to start.”

As Marilyn made her way to a back room, I took a quick glance around. Her “happy abode” mirrored a typical elderly lady’s home, with plenty of knitted afghans and dollies in sight. Nothing looked like it had been updated in years, but I am sure she was comfortable in her humble surroundings.

“I think I found what you were looking for.”

Sitting down a little closer to me, she put down the bank statement on the kitchen table.

I nodded. “Yes, that will help.”

Putting on her readers she said, “Let’s see, it looks like I spend about three thousand dollars a month.

“Okay. That’s a good start. Do you know what income you bring in Marilyn?”

“What do you mean, Lisa?”

“Well, do you receive Social Security payments?”

“Ya, I know I used to get around $2500 when my husband was alive but now, I think it is half the amount since I won’t get his anymore, will I?”

“No, Marilyn, I’m sorry. You get to choose either his or yours, but not both.”

“Ya, that’s what I thought. So, if that’s the case, how am I gonna live?”

“Umm I am not sure. So let’s see, we do have these investments…” I showed her a copy of the most recent statement. “We could have the dividends paid to you as an option but that won’t make up the difference. We may have to start selling some of the investments to give you additional income.”

“Oh, no. My husband said never to sell any of the investments. He always said to hold on to them. It was our rainy day money.”

“But Marilyn, I know your husband would hate to see you like this, worrying and all.”

“I’ll manage, don’t worry, Lisa. Why don’t you just help me get my husband off the account for now? I’ll worry about everything else later.”

“Okay, Marilyn, if you insist. We’ll start there. By any chance, do you have a copy of Burt’s death certificate?”

“I do. I’ll be right back.”

As Marilyn made her way to the back room again, vibrating sounds emanated from my purse. Leaning down, I pulled my cell from the side pocket. Glancing at the screen, I spotted a text from my friend, Chris: ‘Hey, Lis, are we still on for your birthday? Dinner and a movie?’

I quickly typed back…Yes. I think. I’m in a meeting. It’s taking longer than I thought. I’ll text when I’m finished.

As I put my phone away, Marilyn walked in the room, dragging her feet, almost tripping on her slippers. “Here, Lisa. Here is the death certificate.”

“Okay, Marilyn, I need you to sign this form stating that you want to be listed as the only trustee of the trust. Sign right here, Marilyn.”

I noticed her hand shake a little. I was unsure if it was nervousness or arthritis.

Marilyn signed on the line and then slid the paper over to me along the oak wooden table.

“Good. That will be updated on Monday.”

“Lisa. Thank you. You were kind enough to come out. No one would even return my call.”

“It’s okay, Marilyn. I think this is how God has called me to serve.”

“Oh, Lisa, I don’t really know you, but I feel lucky to have met you. It is rare to find someone who truly cares.”

“Thanks, but I have to admit I’m a little worried about you. How are going to survive?”

Marilyn put both her hands on the kitchen table for leverage and then pushed her chair away from the table. “I’ll be right back.”

Her house dress swayed from side to side as she made her way to the back room.

What’s she up to now?

As she made her way back to kitchen table, I noticed Marilyn not only had a white shawl covering her shoulders but a stack of white papers, about six inches high, covering her forearms.

Releasing the papers to me she asked, “Do you think these could help?”

I took the stack of papers and placed them on the kitchen table.

“So, will they help?” Marilyn asked with round eyes.

I looked at the stack in front of me and realized they were not just any papers but stock certificates of AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon.

“Marilyn, where did you get these?”

“Burt always had them in a box under the bed. He said just keep them. They were for a rainy day. So do you think that maybe they are worth something? That they could help me?”

“Oh my goodness. Yes, Marilyn.”

I quickly pulled up Bloomberg on my phone and researched stock quotes to obtain price information. Taking out my calculator, I did some quick estimations on what all the paper in front of me equated to. A million dollars’ worth of stock? Not believing my eyes, I added the certificates up one last time. “Marilyn, these stocks are worth about a million dollars.”

“What?” Her eyebrows shot up in shock.

“I said that these stocks are worth a million dollars. Marilyn, you’re a millionaire.”

“Are you sure? It can’t be.”

“Yes, I’m sure. You’re going to be fine, Marilyn.”

Her face became flush and her eyes began to water. “Oh my God! I don’t believe it. Burt always said to save the box for a rainy day.”

“Well, Marilyn, today it’s not raining. It’s pouring!”

I went on to explain the formalities of how I would reregister the physical stock certificates into book entry form, start paying the dividends to her in cash, and establish a direct deposit so that her income worries would be no more. She would have a comfortable and secure retirement.

When all the business was done, Marilyn walked me to the door and hugged me. “You truly are a gift.”

“Today’s my birthday. You were my gift, Marilyn. I was happy to help.”

 

Driving out of the trailer park, I shook my head, looking at my humble surroundings. Who would have thought that this is how the day would turn out?

I guess I should never question how, when, or where God wants to use me. Heck, I am sure even the stable owner never thought his barn would be the birth place of Jesus… and, like that miracle, today felt like a miracle too, delivered for a sweet old lady, named…. Marilyn.

As the old saying goes, it is better to give then to receive. No birthday cake or presents were needed. This birthday girl adorned a giant smile, and not even a party hat would make her outfit more complete.

 


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Snow vs. Beach – Evil vs. Good

beach-vs-snow

The other day, Facebook had an event reminder, “Things that happened on this day.”

Mine read:  December 3, 2012

“Always have to believe that God has the big plan and a reason for everything. Our house was broke in today. Just one more reason for God leading me out of Schaumburg to a better place. Blue skies are coming !!!”

I remember the day so clearly. Driving home from work I received a call from my son.

“Mom, you may want to come home.”

“Jake are you alright?”

“I’m fine but… um… the back door has been kicked in.”

“What?”

“Yeah. We’ve been broke into.”

“I’m on my way. Get out of the house, right now. Wait on the driveway.”

On my short drive home, panic overtook. All I could think was Could this really be happening? Really God? Here we go again.

      I arrived home to see my six-foot son standing like a military officer, commanding control, protecting,    and guarding his post. I pulled in the garage and walked in the house. As I entered the crime scene, I felt a chill that was not related to the cold air penetrating my family room from the exposed backdoor.
I brought my hands up and covered my mouth,“Oh my God.” Shaking my head, my eyes drifted and saw Jake standing beside me, trying to be the  brave “man of the house.”

“Wow, looks like they just kicked-in the door. This isn’t right.”

Jake leaned in, comforting me. “It’s okay, Mom.”

“Jake, I don’t know anymore.” In disgust, we both walked away from the door, the entry point of evil.

     Five hours later all the formalities of finger prints, photographs, and investigations were completed. It was time for bed.

For some reason, I did not worry since I knew God promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
 I laid my head on my pillow and glanced around my chaotic room. I felt the hope, the peace, and the comfort that could only be explained as the whisper from within. I felt safe. Evil would not dampen my hope and win out. What the devil intended for destruction, God used as construction.

Did I know four years ago when I wrote that Facebook post that God had big plans for me and was moving me to the beach? Hell no, I barely knew a little over a year ago. But He did. He knew my heart and gave me the mountains and the beach.mountains

“And we know in all Things God works for the good of those who love Him” Romans 8:28

 


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marshmellow2           My email inbox is already stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with “Black Friday” sales. I can’t help but envision Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory screaming, “I want it now.” I would put money on it that Veruca would fail the marshmallow test, but how would you fair?

The first “Marshmallow Test” was a study conducted at Stanford University . Kids were given the choice of eating a marshmallow right away or if they waited fifteen minutes they would receive two marshmallows. The purpose of the original study was to understand delayed gratification. The study found that children who could wait tended to have better life outcomes, educational attainment, and health.

How can you benefit this holiday season by delaying instant gratification?

1) Fitness: Before you put on your fuzzy slippers, wrap yourself in a Snuggie, and plop yourself down on the couch to watch TV after work, go for a thirty-minute walk to avoid the winter weight. Eccles. 7:18 “Live a balanced life.”

2) Relationships: The holidays bring out tempers. Instead of lashing out immediately or sending a harsh email. Write the email but do not send it. Wait, your emotion will hopefully pass to preserve the relationship.  How about a little Christmas kindness? Proverbs 12:16  “A fool is quick-tempered; a wise man stays cool when insulted.”

3) Love: I know the holidays can be lonely but wait for the real thing. Don’t settle for a “New Year’s Eve date.” Be confident to be alone, not fearful that you will never find love. 1 John 4:18 “Perfect love has no fear.”

4) Finances: Do you want the iPhone 7? Or the new Lexus wrapped in a bow? Put your wants on hold until they become a need. You will have more money to save or invest. Start small, how about no peppermint mochas or salted caramel lattes for the month of December and save that money in jar?

My clients who are disciplined and delay a purchase until it becomes a need and not simply a want, are successful investors. They set a budget and stick to it. By systematically paying themselves first, they save more and retirement can be achieved.

What is your score from 1-10 on your ability to delay gratification?  Can you wait for the second marshmallow? Feel free to comment your score.

Proverbs 25:28 “A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city without walls.”

 

 


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A few years ago, I had a day as surreal as a Stanley Kubrick film. As I dug in my purse for change to pay for my Heath bar, a stranger behind me laid a dollar on the counter, purchased my candy bar, and told me to “Pay it forward”.  I turned to him, dumbfound and quipped, “Thanks.”  I walked away, savoring the sweet taste of chocolate, and shook my head in disbelief.

Later that afternoon, I drove down Schaumburg road, and made my way into the snow-covered parking lot of a laundry mat. I pulled my laundry baskets out of my trunk as the bitter wind punched my cheeks. Why did my water pipes break this week? Why did my life have to be this hard?

Within minutes the washing machines were jammed with my dirty clothes, but it was my emotions that were burst and soiled. In the next thirty minutes, I watched my clothes being tossed against the glass round window, flopping around without any clear direction, mirroring my haphazard day. Just then a wind gust blew the door open and a lady dressed in red flannel PJs bottoms and a black wool coat, walked in. Within seconds she was crying with despair,

“Thunder and Lightning ran out of gas and are stranded.”

“Who are Thunder and Lightning?”

Between broken sobs she continued,” They are my twin girls.”

“Really? Thunder and Lightning?  Where do they go to school?”

“Schaumburg High School. They are Sophomores. They are track stars.”

Lines on my forehead formed like an EKG read-out,” Oh, are they? I have a sophomore girl at Schaumburg, too. Her name is Tarah.”

“You do? Maybe my girls know her.  They are on the track team and are wicked fast… but they need help. Do you have any money for gas?” She pleaded, “I am a single mom. Please can you help me?’

Her eyes melted my soul like whip cream on hot chocolate. I reached in my wallet and took out a ten-dollar bill. “I am a single mom, too. This is for your girls.”

She hugged me like a momma who just found her lost child at Disney World,” Thank you. Thank you.”

I watched her walk out of the frosted glass door and disappear into the blizzard. I dialed Tarah on my cell.

“Tarah do you know any girls called Thunder and Lightning at your school?”

“Yeah, mom. They are track stars, why?

“Never mind… I’ll see you in a bit.”

Pressing the end button on my cell phone, I looked up at the ceiling and laughed as I thought of the gentleman who said, “pay it forward.”  I felt an unnerving stillness come rush over me like a gentle brook streaming over a rock.

As I left the laundry mat, the snow continued to fall making the roads slick. I stopped at a stoplight right by Schaumburg High School just as a car skidded into me tapping my bumper. As I walked to rear of my Murano, I saw a nervous chubby cheeked face looking down at the dent and then his hazel eyes quickly darted to meet mine. With his corners of his mouth turned down he uttered, “I, I am so sorry,” As he tugged at grey knitted cap, he lowered his head and closed his lips like a trap. Looking up at the rosy cheeks I asked, “Are you hurt? Are you ok?”

In confusion, he replied, “Yes. I am fine.”  Looking down at the silver dented bumper and then up at the boy, “Well, it’s only a dent. No one was hurt. Forget about it. Just be careful.”

His hand brushed to push his mocha colored bangs to the side and added,” Are you serious?”

I nodded. “Yep.”

“Thanks. I just got my license and my dad would kill me.’

I shuffled through the snow-covered street and made my way back into my SUV right before the light turned green. As I sat for a moment, I realized that I was given the gift to” pay it forward.” not once but twice.  I released my right foot from the brake pedal and pressed the gas pedal down. As I drove into the intersection, I looked up at the sky and smirked knowing that angels were probably smirking too.

 

 

 

 


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I am an unapologetic hugger .  One Sunday  when ” sharing the peace”, instead of stretching my hand out , I looked into the soft, gentle blue eyes of the stranger,  leaned in and gave the petite frame an embracing hug. After the church service the lady said to me, ” What a lucky coincidence to sit next to you today. I just lost my husband and I really needed a hug.” Looking straight into the white of her eyes with conviction added, “There are no coincidences. This I know to be true.”

That happened, almost a year ago. It was my first Sunday  in Westlake Village, CA after moving from Chicago.  A year later, Hilda is not only attends the small group that I lead but has become a good friend. God does have the big and small details of our life. This I know to be true.

 

hug


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The Whisper Within

What is the whisper within?

Some say we all have that little nagging voice that tells us right from wrong. It is the gut feeling you have deep inside your soul that something just isn’t right. Some call it a sixth sense or is it a sick sense? It is your conscience? Do you believe we all are born with a good and righteous morality? Or ethics? Are you capable of listening to your heart? To your soul? Do you believe in dreams? Or in signs?

So what is the whisper within?

I believe it something different. Something extraordinary.

Something that cannot be simply explained through a Google search or Wikipedia entry but through a life being led.

At this stage of my life, after journaling a decade of “strange coincidences”, I feel compelled to open the tattered, beat-up, spilled on, read and reread pages of my journals and share the recollections of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I Believe GOD powers strange coincidences and the journey called life. This will be a weekly blog of  stories that inspire hope, love, forgiveness, and anticipation of the joy that lies ahead.

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