The Whisper Within

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


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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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As you head into your work week, can you be like Polly and accept the easy cracker?

I used to love the sweet taste of ice cream but lately salt is what my body craves.  As I dove in the salt water pool today, I caught a mouthful of salt in my mouth that awoke my senses.

After a few laps, my memory recalled another sweet or should I say, salty memory.

I was not in a pool swimming laps but walking laps at “Home of the Hornets”, that’s right my old high school alma mateur, Hindsdale South, with my friend , Mary Flanagan.

Let me take you back to July.

As Mary and I walked around the hurdles of the track field, reminiscing about classes and crushes, we passed by some young boys who just finished soccer practice. One sweaty boy, called out to us, “Hey, would you like a Saltine?” Mary and I stopped in our track.

I blurted out with a side smirk, “What? Is it laced with something?”

The lean athlete responded, “Come on. I’m eating it.”

The optimism of his youth lured me in or maybe with each step towards him I was losing some of my cynicism and willing to become like him, open and carefree

Mary and I walked over and each took a cracker.

We chomped on our Saltine, almost spitting as we laughed and we walked away.

I felt like I was sixteen again, wearing my cheerleading skirt and cheering for the big game. Life was easy at sixteen. It still can be …cheerleading

Career, relationships and life should be that easy or do they feel like you are running the hurdles?

Funny, in high school I was more individual participant; long jump and gymnastics were my events; but maybe high school was preparing me to be an entrepreneur. I excelled when I don’t have to rely on the performance of others.

Ask yourself where do you excel?

Is your best event a relay race? Do you excel jumping hurdles and the difficult course? Or is your race more like the fifty-yard dash to accept the easy cracker as a reward at the end of the race?

At sixteen, I was probably more the sweet girl but this week, I realized being a little salty is a good thing. Or maybe I am like my favorite ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate, the perfect combo of sweet and salty.

But maybe I don’t have to be salty or sweet. Maybe through a sixteen-year-old boy offering me a cracker, I can learn to accept the easy.

There may be hurdles in life but be willing to walk around them otherwise trying to jump over the hurdles you may end up with road rash.

This week, can you accept the easy cracker that God is offering or whispering to you? Honor your saltiness.

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.square-crackers1-640x480


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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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It is Sunday . I am a habit of creature . The above picture is my Sunday ritual – church and then the farmer’s market .Nick, my avocado farmer said ,”You are my favorite customer . You are always so happy . I think we need to take a picture and show your Chicago friends how happy you are.”

I am happy. 

This simple life is what I craved. I wanted lazy weekends relaxing at the beach or adventurous ones maybe hiking a mountain.judy-and-marji

I recently moved from Chicago to California and God surrounded me with two friends, Judy and Marji, who live their dream every weekend. They hike and kayak almost every weekend. They know how to rejuvenate. Do you?

Here are 7 weekend activities to create a more productive work week.

1 ) Sleep in . Give your body & your brain permission to relax. In our ” high productivity ” go- go – go” society – we lack the downtime & therefore our mind, body, and spirit suffer. 

 2)Create alone time and read outside – the view helps relax the mind.

3)Go for a walk or hike with a friend – sharing laughs & stories. The time spent with Judy and Marji lift me up, plus I get benefit of the endorphin release. Bonus.

4)Have a Sunday ritual – whether it is attending a farmers market, going to church , or going for a bike ride .

5)Do your laundry- clean your house but only for an hour. Yes, you heard me right I find I have a better work week if my physical space is not cluttered .- cluttered house equals cluttered mind .

6)Take time to hug someone . Lacking personal contact is the biggest emotional drain. How often during the work day do you hug someone ? You have to get it sometime .

 7)Go to bed early. Turn off the news, quiet your mind, and envision what a happy work week looks like .

What can you add to the list ? You need to create your own joy .

You are the only one who is responsible for your happiness . Give yourself permission to rest . 

” And on the seventh day .. God rested .” 

Are you brave enough to live the authentic life your heart desires ?

What is your soul whispering to you ? Will you listen ? 

 Follow me on FB at the Whisper Within .

 

 


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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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A year ago, as I was about to move from Chicago to LA a friend said, “ Pollyanna, you are too kind . You will be eaten alive. No one in Los Angeles is nice.”

Well a few Sundays ago, my friend was proven wrong. I was sitting at The Malibu Farmer’s Market enjoying a Greek salad, like my grandma Genevieve used to make, when an unkempt man approached me. He sat down at my table and said, “That looks good. I am starving. Do you have any money so I could buy one?”

Before I could answer, a gentleman approached the table and said, “If you’re hungry, I would be willing to share my sandwich.” The homeless man, got up and walked away.

I asked the kind stranger, “You want to join me?”

For the next two hours Robert and I shared stories like old friends. He told me a miraculous story about a life- threating car accident when his car was hit by a twenty -five foot truck and spun like a carnival ride gone crazy. He remembers not much more until he was surrounded by dozen or so white coats. The head of trauma said, “What God do you pray to? Because he or she really loves you. Protection shields are covering you that we’ve never seen before. It is a miracle you are alive.”

My open-mouth response was, “Wow.”

Robert continued to tell me that the over the next couple of months, his bruises never had a chance to heal since that was only the first of three car accidents!

We continued to share stories and then he asked me, “Do you know what Schomer means?”

“Shoemaker.”

“Yes, but it also means to guard, watch, or preserve The way you embraced that stranger you have spiritual kindness about you.”

I blushed with embarrassment, “I did nothing~ you were the one intervening.”

We laughed as kindred spirits until it was time for him to head back home. As Robert stood up from the table he said, “Lisa, I want to tell you one more thing. I wasn’t planning to come here today but something nudged me, last minute, to turn into the farmer’s market.

I said, “We were supposed to meet. That is how God works.”

Robert walked away and I thought, here is a man who has suffered so much but he is sympathetic to the homeless, shares his gentle spirit without restraint, and lifted up a stranger. Robert was a gift that afternoon, like an angel.

Hope is right front of you. You have to be willing to open your heart or invite it sit at your table.

Hebrews 13:2 “Don’t forget to be kind to strangers, for some who have done this, have entertained angels.’

This Midwestern Pollyanna knows that I am home. I have become me. I have arrived in the city of Angels.


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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.”