Last weekend was New Year’s Eve. I had a fantastic time celebrating with my friend, Marji, yes in our PJs.
We toasted, giggled, and planned for the year ahead; trips we would possibly take, men we would maybe date, and adventures we would perhaps partake in.
So tonight as I sit in my pjs, yes once again, I am scrolling through Facebook and as expected, my feed is filled with New Year resolutions.
Here are some examples :
-This is the year I’m going to meet my husband.
-This year I’m gonna start my own business.
-I’m going to lose weight.
-I’m going to exercise more.
-I’m gonna get my health back on track.
I…I…I So many I’s!!!
Why do New Year’s resolution fail most of the time?
Because of the I’s!
I have to admit, several years ago, when I was a single mom and my ex became a paraplegic, I believed that willpower, guts, and sheer strength would get me through any trials. I used the Bible verse, “ I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” like armour going into battle.
The problem was the emphasis was on I, not on Christ who gives me strength.
Why did I decide or why do we decide to take the knife in our own hands and attempt to carve out life on our own?
Through time, I learned to say or more realistically, look up and yell at God ,“ I need your help! I’m lost! I’m sad!”
Once I learned to ask for His help,my life may not have gotten easier, but I didn’t feel alone. God was with me.
So you may be thinking, “Well great! Good for you! But I don’t have a faith in God, in fact I don’t even know how to begin? How to let God in?”
Stay tuned for a follow-up blog …can’t wait to share HOW!
But for now, I DO know, going it alone never works because eventually we all get tired, lonely, sad, exhausted, and we need help.
And I have learned this secret, “With God all things are possible!” Matthew 19:26
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 .
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.”
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.
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.
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!
This weekend my daughter, Tarah graduated Pace University in New York City.
As I’m sitting here at Denver Airport waiting for my flight back to Santa Barbara a feeling of overwhelming GUSH, passes over me, tears pour out of me, and the ugly crying begins.
I think,why am I crying?, I just don’t know why.
One moment, I am so proud as I recall moments from this weekend, my grown daughter graduating, crossing a stage,seeing her as a woman this weekend who is strong and independent, intergrating her life, into the BIG APPLE, but moments later my emotions are just like the many subways I traveled on this weekend. I have changed stations . I already miss her.
I pull up a video that I saved on my phone . It is of my little girl, dancing on a chair impersonating Britney Spears but with her own style, screaming the lyrics like the front person of a metal band. ( click video below)
My tears have turned to giggles as I think, she was always unique, always creative, always funny, always childlike, always silly. She always had her own style.
The video clip stops and hit play again.
God made her distinct . She was destined to be an actress.
As I am waiting to board my flight to California, a quiet smile covers my face as I think,THANK you GOD for Tarah ! You made her brave enough to carve out her own original path and take the path less traveled .
I watch the video one more time and remember that time in my life, too. Tarah was just a child.
I shake my head and my lips seal as I think of the crooked path that led to here.
Twenty years ago, I was newly divorced, my ex had just become a paraplegic. I was broke and didn’t think I would survive as a single mom without financial support, let alone see both my kids graduate college. At times, I could only save 25/ month but I did it.
WE did it ! SHE DID IT! And yes without any college debt.
I look up at the ceiling and think,THANK you GOD! You made Tarah unique for a reason.
I look outside at the clouds passing by and think of my daughter,God had the plan and you were brave enough to live it. You are living an authentic life.
I hear the flight attendant say, “Now boarding to Santa Barbara…”
I think, I miss my girl but I am so so proud of my baby.
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.”
I wrote this four years ago but the lessons still hold true.
Tonight, I stroll on the beach, with my straw hat pulled over my brow hoping to get some relief from the triple digits. But not a breeze in sight as sweat drips from my forehead and pours out of my armpits, soaking me like I was fresh out of a shower. I can’t help but wish for a little ice cream or gelato to cool me off.
Ironically, this weekend was Gelato Festival in my new home town but as I passed by the tables, I did not allow for creamy colors of the rainbows to lure me in.
Why? Because I was too busy doing what adults do: being adults, prioritizing life over fun.
With each step I took on the mushy shore, I contemplated this. Why did I lose my fun nature for the routine of responsibility?
My mind drifted like the waves and pulled me back and found a simpler me, sitting on the stone wall of a little Italian town.
I recalled laughing with my mouth wide open, indulging on lavender and blackberry gelato stuck to my teeth. My daughter, thinking it was hilarious,made it part of her Snapchat story.
Seeing the video, I giggled too; embracing the image of spontaneous silliness. Later that night, sitting on an a cobblestone street in San Gimignano, I replayed the video and laughed at the seeing the fifty year old me, feeling like I was sixteen; messy and all.
Messy is good. What was my “messy”?
Fifteen years ago I went through a divorce and months later my ex became a paraplegic. As a single mom,I could not afford a McDonald’s twisty cone for my kids let alone a trip to Italy indulging in the World’s Best gelato.
In the last fifteen years here’s seven things I learned:
1) Be real. Your family, your colleagues, your clients, don’t need and don’t want perfect – they want real. Share your shortcoming. Be vulnerable to show your “ugly food stuck-in-your -teeth” smile.
2) Timing is everything. When the kids were little, I saved for their college, even sometimes as small as 25/ month and our fun was free concerts at the park with a McDonalds twisty cone for a treat. Only now, after years of sacrifice and knowing that their college is paid for, did I finally indulge in the big treat; Italy.
3) Admit your faults. I love food, but I am a messy eater. I don’t do pretty. But it’s funny, my friends know this and are willing to offer me a napkin and help me clean-up. Yours may too but you have to be willing to accept the help, from co-workers, friends, and family.
5)Smile a lot . Hard to be mad or disappointed when someone offers you a smile or a gelato cone.
5)Laughing is contagious; enthusiasm is too. On a hot Summer night, ice cream lines are long and get longer because of the excitement of eating together. Not as much fun, eating alone a big bowl of delight, is it?
6) Embrace the ugly. Life is not perfect. Sometimes you may need a napkin to prevent the dripping, but the next sweet taste could be around the corner. Take the bite
7) Do life like you mean it. Italians eat because they enjoy it! Kids eat ice cream with their full mouth. No tiny licks.
Are you really enjoying your life? Your work? Your relationships?
I remember my first boss at Van Kampen Investments now Invesco said I me some thirty years ago, “Don’t burn out. Find the little victories and celebrate.” My celebrations always included ice cream. Heck, my first boyfriend worked at Baskin Robbins. Back then, I would choose my cone based on the prettiest color in the case. My favorite was Daiquiri Ice – kind of like gelato. I guess the girl really hasn’t changed much except to switch from ice cream to gelato.
So tonight, as I strolled on the mushy shore of Butterfly Beach, I tipped my straw hat and thought, I am the sixteen-year-old girl trapped in a fifty-year old body. I am the best Lisa; silly, messy, and needing a friend who can offer me a napkin.
Choose with your eyes. Commit with your heart. Life, work, and relationships are messy. Embrace the messy and the kid in you; buried in an ice cream cone or gelato. The choice is yours. Let’s have the contagious joy that children have just like Jesus intended .
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.
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.
Are you willing to crawl towards a better finish even when faced when obstacles?
The saying goes, “You have everything if you have your health…”
Almost four years ago I finished a triathlon and shortly afterwards I started to have weird symptoms; burning, electric shocks, and my body feeling like I was a cell phone set on vibrate. My Chicago doctor blamed it on adrenal fatigue but then the laundry list of symptoms starts piling up like the dirty laundry basket of my two teenage athletes.
The symptoms of vertigo, tinnitus, night sweats, insomnia, and numbness mirrored the dreadful diseases of MS, Parkinson’s, and ALS. I did not recognize my own reflection in the mirror. I am a buck twenty, maybe a buck and quarter on a good day. After losing twenty pounds over a few months, I found myself sitting in the shower, too weak to stand, hoping the shower would drown my wails of anguish.
After months of MRIs, C-scans, blood work, my doctor was fresh out of ideas and handed me a prescription for Zoloft. I crumpled up the scrap of paper, tossed it in the garbage,and with a crooked smirk laughed, “Come on. You know me. I have been through a divorce, my ex becoming a paraplegic, raising the kids alone for the last dozen years as a single mom , a robbery… Seriously, depression? I will walk my way out of this … just like everything else. I will exercise until I feel better.”
As he walked out the door, he cocked his head around the corner, “Let me know how that works for you?”
Well, it didn’t. No flip turns in the pool would turn my sickness upside down. I was stuck running vicious circles at the track, hoping an answer was around the next bend.
Finally, after a year of misdiagnosis, I had an answer. Lyme disease. Yes, a little crawling tick created all this chaos.
Three year later, watching a crew of wetsuits enter the fog-ridden shore of the Pacific Ocean, I was a little jealous wishing I too could dig my toes in the mushy shore and get in the race. Since my restless energy would not be expended, my curious nature got the best of me. Silently I thought, “Why did this happen to me? Why did I need to be on the sidelines?”
In disappointment, I turned and watched athletes from previous heats cross the finish with smiles plastered across their face, proud of their character of “going the distance”. A smirk crossed over my face, as I realized how far I, too, have come. My course was not easy but through some waves, potholes, and flat tires, my character developed .God was using a rough course to design a better me.
Anyone who knows me, would testify that I am a strong individual competitor, not needing or wanting direction.( You don’t get the nickname ” sassy pants” for nothing.) I like to think, I became sick so maybe, just maybe, I could be weak.
“For when you are weak, He can be strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 10
I am better me. I have surrendered that it is ok not to always be the strong one. I will get back in the game. I will walk away and leave Lyme disease in the dust and hopefully, God-willing, swim, bike, and run to a better finish …and maybe, just maybe I will stop being an individual competitor and allow for a running partner to run beside me or better yet run ahead of me to clear the obstacles so I can have an easier finish.
The journey has been long but I am getting better . Day by day,month by month, year by year, I see the progress . And until my body, completely catches up with my brain, I will keep getting out of bed,work hard,and believe the whisper,” I AM WELL.”
” I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13
Are you willing to face your obstacles, head- on?
Believe in your inner strength , Your Whisper Within.
I looked at the rearview mirror. Umm, my boy. He gets it. I’m doing my best to just hold everything together with a safety pin. First the divorce. Then the accident. Their dad, my ex is a paraplegic. And now I’m broke. When does it end?
I pulled through the library drive- thru.
“Hello. I’m picking up movies.”
Across the way, I see a Harry Potter movie poster in the window. Only $3.69 a rental. Nope, sorry Blockbuster; the library is free.
The library clerk handed me the movies. “Ok kids, just one more stop.”
We entered the red dot store. Oh boy, not the dollar bin.Stick to the list and only the list! The basket was filled, but then a wheel came off my cart.
“I want gum.”
“Stop it Tarah! You can’t have any.” He straightened his baseball cap and grabbed her hand.
“Buuutt I waaanntt it.”
“Tarah. No. Mom’s in line. We need to go.”
“But Jake, there are Pokemon cards for you.”
I pushed the cart to the side and got out of the checkout line.
“It’s okay, mom. I don’t need anything.”
I dropped to my knees, folded his little body into mine and whispered, “I love you, Jake Gunnar.”
“I love you too, Mommy.”
“You’re my good boy.”
Inches away, this Hallmark moment was contrasted. Keds were stomping and pigtails were beating the tile floor.
I scooped Tarah up, pushed back my cart, and in one big swoop, threw her on my hip. “Well, we’re out of here.”
I waved my point-finger in Tarah’s face. “That was not nice.”
“Yeah, Tarah. You know Mom can’t buy that stuff. Gosh!”
“Okay. Jake. That’s enough.”
I started the car, turned on the radio and cried. Help me, God. Life should not be so rough. I looked in the rearview mirror.
“Mommy, are you alright?”
“Don’t worry, Mommy; ‘God will meet all your needs.’ Philippians 4:19.”
I looked over my shoulder. “What did you say?”
“God will meet all your needs. It’s our memory verse this week.”
It was It’s a Wonderful Life moment.
“Daddy, teacher says every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets his wings.” And George exclaimed, “That’s right! That’s right!”
I closed my eyes, wiped my tears, and squeezed his hand. “That’s right. That’s right. Thank you, Jake Gunnar.”
“No problem, Mommy.”
I backed up the car and looked up at the clouds. Nothing gets pass you. God had the small details of my life and used my own little boy to teach me the biggest lesson.
That was fifteen years ago, and today, just like that moment, is HUGE!
Fifteen years ago, I went through a divorce, months later my ex became a paraplegic. I struggled trying to raise two little kids. I spent nights at the kitchen table teaching math while trying to balance a dwindling checking account. The calendar was always packed; even when bank account wasn’t. I never thought I would survive those years, let alone, ever see the day come when my children would graduate college.
Well, today is that day. Through the grace of God, WE did it.
Yes, Jake worked his butt off at Purdue. I worked my butt off teaching him, saving for him, and paying for his college. But God did his part too. You see, God gave me enough strength. I heard him whisper, “I got you, Lisa. Now get out of bed and do it.”
And God did bless my little engineer, with the gift of math and science. Funny, to think seventeen years ago, I saw his gift ( see the video) and today, Jake is a Purdue University engineer graduate. And if you are wondering , yes,I cried like a baby .
God really does have the plan. Can you trust the Whisper?
“ And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.” Roman 8:28
Do you get nervous telling your best friend bad news?
Do you get excited to tell your best friend the good news?
Who do you call when you need the really hard advice ?
Yep, a best friend !
This is how I talk to God … like a best friend .
When my ex had a snowmobile accident leaving him a paraplegic and I, a single mom, was headed for financial ruin with two little kids in tow … I yelled at God ,”Do you see me ? I need your help … come on !”
When his second wife sued my home owners insurance for HIS accident AND won … I looked up at the sky and yelled,”THIS ISNT FAIR … Show me ,you’re with me .”
When my kindergarten girl was banging her head on Target’s floor because she wanted gum but a tile away was soft hazel eyes saying,”I don’t need anything Mom ,” I silently begged with tear-filled eyes ,”Come on God ! Life shouldn’t be so hard … I need help!”
And years later,when my business grew, I allowed my lashes to fall as I saw my picture in Chicago Magazine as one of best financial advisors in Chicago ,”This was ALL YOU, God .You rescued me.”
And when I walk on the beach and look up at the sky ,”YOU did this . You brought me here .”
So on National Day of Prayer, I’m challenging you .
Don’t go anywhere special .
Don’t think of the right words.
Don’t arrange a special time.
Talk to your best friend .
Tell him ….
I lost my job.
I feel my life is going nowhere.
I love my life.
Like a best friend, he wants the real you … the good, the bad ,and the ugly.
Some of you may say, “I pray but I don’t hear answers back .”
Well, I do find, the time I do hear answers ,are when I’m quiet .
Not praying in a pew in church .
Not praying in bed before I close my eyes .
But in nature ,walking .
And yes ,my daily walks on the beach are my best conversations with God . I simply say, “So here’s what’s going on ..”
My friends say I’m like Batman and I have a direct signal to God.
I don’t know about that, but I do know, as I walk ,a quiet calmness comes over me that can be only described as the Whisper Within…
Hope you,too, can hear the whisper.
“Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything and you will feel his peace .” Philippians 4:6
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 .
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 .”
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 .
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
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.
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.”
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.
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!
July 4th 2001. Not single yet… but definitely beach bound.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who make hard choices !
Because I loved my kids …the benefits of being raised by a single mom …
1) You learned if you didn’t get up for school a bucket of water would be dumped in you .
2) You learned that mouthing off would result in a “free pass” to walk to school in the middle of winter .
3) You learned that misbehaving at x-mas eve service would earn you… the ” push-ups for presents ” prize.
4) You learned that NOT learning math was NOT an option- I was not afraid to be called a math nazi .
5) You learned if something stunk – it was time to crawl under the deck to see what creature was rotting – usually a raccoon .
6) You learned how to earn a wage at 8 & 9 yrs old – I think $5 is a fair wage for staining a deck .
7) You learned summer was not a vacation from homework … that worksheets before breakfast is part of life .
8) You learned that no matter what , WE were a team – poor but surviving .
9) You learned that I was always in your corner .I would pour every ounce into you – but you had to do the same – FOR YOU !
10) You learned that I love you – no matter what ! #mothersday#momlife#mom#singlemom
“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?”
“Good. I’m glad. I know I really don’t know you, but I’ve heard good things about you.”
“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?”
“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?”
“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.
2002 was the year my life forever changed… divorced and shortly afterwards my ex became a paraplegic. That year, I had learned to scrimp on everything and live off very little. McDonald’s was an infrequent dining experience, free videos from the library saved a trip to Blockbusters and the hefty $3.69 rental fee, garage sale shopping became an art form, and trips to Target were only made to acquire necessities. My kids were five and six. We were team, poor but surviving. I thought for sure I would remarry and pretty quickly,but my plans were not God’s plans.The financially worry was taken off the table but he never let my potential husband pull up a seat to join me, even for dessert. By 2010, when my first born entered high school I made a deal with God, “I get it. You want me to stay single. Fine. I’ll take your deal and raise it by two chips… but by the time I’m 50 I don’t want to be dating.”
Well, this week I turned 50 … and without a husband in sight. I thought God forget to deal me my cards. Before I could blow out my birthday candle a friend reminded me , “Lisa once again you were not specific with your prayers to God .You said you did not want to be dating and you’re not!” The room of friends giggled like schoolgirls at a sleepover.
As I blew out my candle I was eight years again with braces and pigtails making a wish. I know it is bad luck to tell your wish but my wish doesn’t need any luck. You see, I no longer wish for a husband (Oh I still want one )… but I wished that I keep surrendering to HIS Plan. I see God has granted me all my wishes in HIS time. The beach. The mountains. And good friends.
I know God loves me and knows my heart. There are no more deals since I am waiting for the real deal( and so should you!) Proverbs 20:24 ” I don’t know where the path is leading but I know who is leading the path.” I am 50 and happy. No deals. No wishes. Only God’s whispers. I will bravely cross the bridge to the other side and willingly walk to where God is leading me. Can you be brave enough to wait and listen to the Whispers Within?
This may come to a surprise to my friends but I don’t like Christmas. I would rather “shoot my eye out,” than walk into a mall at Christmas. Any single person knows what I am talking about; couples walking hand in hand, fused together like conjoined twins. This week as I sat on the couch watching The Holiday, surrounded in wadded up tissue from nursing a cold, the sadness crept in; tiptoeing around my Christmas tree like the Grinch. Not even Jude Law’s dreamy blue eyes could spark excitement. The holidays can be simply depressing for the single person.
Attempting still to get in the mood, I resorted to the classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. No matter how many times I have seen it, the ending still grabs me. I feel like I am swallowing marbles and my eyes are pools of emotion every time I watch it. That’s when Christmas hits me like Santa’s sled going full steam.
We know the reason for the season but in a commercialized world we need to make the joy ourselves. So, I wadded up my tissue and threw them in the trash along with pity and heard God whisper down the hall. I made little booklets that read, “You have been a gift to me. In turn, I want to give you a gift of my favorite Bible verses.”
Here were some of the responses:
“Your booklet helped me this week” ~ my massage therapist
“The best gift is when you give of yourself” ~ a client
“Thank you for the reminding me, that the thirteen-year-old me had good instincts. I can’t imagine how someone from so long ago and so far away could feel as connected right now, but I do.” ~ a High school friend.
Sitting on the bathroom floor, letting the tears pour down my face, I was transported back to high school Biology class with my braces, pony tail, and all. We all want love; whether we are thirteen or a hundred and thirteen.
There is a week before Christmas and someone you may know may be lonely. I “triple dog dare you” to reach out and make a difference. Do you bake? Bring cookies to a neighbor. Write a note “You are loved this Christmas.” Give an extra Christmas hug.
Be willing to give love. “No man is a failure who has friends,” God whispered to me. What is God whispering to you?
Philippians 2:1 “Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up.”
I don’t like Christmas. I love Christmas. Be willing to find the true magic of Christmas
I have been single for fifteen years so I am always looking for signs that I am on the right path. Some people wait to see one sign in their whole lifetime.A friend says I’m greedy. I get three in a week and I am still begging God for answers. This past this week, my greed factor was escalated.
On Monday, as I bent down to tie my running shoes I was happily surprised to see rain outside. That’s right, the rarity of rain! It is true it really does not rain in Southern California and this Chicago girl misses the sweet taste of raindrops christening her face. The moment was sweet but short-lived because as I turned the corner, a second display of extraordinary was flaunted; a rainbow, biblically announcing that hope was in the horizon. Letting my mouth give way to a smile, I let my running shoes guide me home.
A few days later, I received another rare sign as I received this text from my nephew, Jacob.
“Hey, Aunt Lisa! I’m in LA. Going to see the Cubs. Wanna join me?”
Jacob, a lifetime Cubs fan, flew in from Denver to see his beloved Cubbies in the playoffs for the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Within seconds I responded,” SURE! Send me your ticket.”
With seconds, I had a picture and moments later, I found a ticket one seat away from him for only $80! Talk about luck or a perfect sign.
Without hesitation, I texted, “I’M IN! SEE YOU AT 5!
Sharing the once in a lifetime experience of watching my beloved Cubbies in the playoffs with my nephew was rare and simply priceless.
Sitting in the stands, I became a little reflective on all the good in being single for fifteen years.
“There is a right time for everything and a season for every activity.” Ecc.3:1
Embrace your single time!
Be content in who you are. Be ok sitting alone in the bleachers.
Being alone means no bathroom lines like at the ballpark and you avoid sticky shoes or sticky floors from a miss-aimed toilet.
Eat what you want, when you want. You want a helmet full of nachos washed down with a “soda” of choice, do it!
No need to ask permission to do anything. I want to go to the game, I go to the game.
You are a free agent, not tied to any team. You have options to move from Chicago to Los Angeles (like I did!)
You get to play the field.
Embrace the dugout. Hang out with your teammates and have some fun!
Stay in the game! Work out like a player. Do not get out of shape like a retired manager or someone who is out of the game.
Do I want companionship? Heck ya, just like my Cubbies want to be World Series champions!!
Is this the year of the Cubs or me? Either way I came to play, enjoy the game, and enjoy the moment.I will wave the white W flag not in surrender but in victory; because just getting to participate in life is winning. I am patient like the Cubs; it took them 71 years to attend the rare dance of the World Series but just like finding that perfect mate, tonight will be SWEET.
So YES, I believe in Rain, Rainbows, and the Rare Event!
The year was 2003 when everything changed for my beloved Cubs and for me. It was a bone-chilling, blustery February day that life as I knew it would never be the same. I can still hear the phone call from thirteen years ago, clinging to my memory like the ivy on the brick walls of Wrigley Field.
I was newly divorced and financially broke, single mom of two young children when I was confronted with the news that my ex had a horrible snowmobile accident, leaving him a paraplegic. That was the same year my beloved Cub’s heart was broke as well. When Bartman leaned forward to catch Marlin’s second baseman, Luis Castillo’s, foul ball. His attempt distracted Cubs left-fielder, Moises Alou. Marlins wound up scoring eight runs that inning. The Cubs lost. They were eliminated the next night. The curse lived on or was it really a curse?
I don’t believe in “The Bartman curse,” and I don’t believe the curse of the Billy Goat either. I am hopeless optimistic like a loyal Cub fan at Wrigley; who waves the W flag when their precious Cubbies are losing 8-0 in the bottom of the ninth. I believe that even if you are dealt a bad pitch or someone plays interference, you always have a choice to dig deep, brush the dirt off, play a little scrappy, but get the job done.
That’s what I did, without a relief pitcher in sight. Thirteen years later, I see how things turned around for my kids and me; as well as the Chicago Cubs. My kids, Jake and Tarah ,are both in college and the Cubs are in the playoffs, hopefully, heading to the World Series.
How does one keep walking forward with hope when your world seems hopeless?
1) Get out of the dugout, (or your bed) every day. You may fall on your face but at least it is momentum in the right direction.
2) Never settle. Wake up every day and say “Nothing but greatness today.” Play like a champion.
3) If you are unsure of an answer – Do nothing! Don’t try to pick up a “new player” or spouse. That is not your answer .
4) Be open to change. The best plans change without your permission. You need to be flexible to adjust. You need to know when it is time to steal 2nd.
5) Write down your thoughts every day.The Good, the bad & the ugly. See your progress. What are your stats?
6) In this time of transition – be the best you. The Cubs may not have always have a winning team- but they are the best team at Wrigley.
7) Do everything without complaining and arguing. Nobody likes a poor sport!
8) Always believe you will win. Get The W flag out and start waving. Fake it until you feel it. 9) Trust the plan. No matter what it is. You may not agree with the GM or God but they are in charge.
10) Allow yourself to be sad but you need to get up and take another swing. You could hit a home run.
11) And lastly as a “suffering cubs fan” there is always next year!… Hopefully this is the year!
I know I said 10 ways… but the 11th is the bonus! Hoping me, you, and my beloved Cubbies get an extra inning – if it means winning.
UPDATE : This was written pre- World Series . 2016 was the Cub’s year & mine as well ! Here is hoping the winning streak continues in 2017!
As a CFP®, I am analytical to a fault. I love to crunch numbers and have all the data add up before I draw any conclusions. However, I know some of my best decisions happened in a blink of an eye.
One of the best books I have ever read was “Blink,” The Power of Thinking, Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. Mr. Gladwell distinctly writes, “Our unconscious reactions come out of a locked room, and we can’t look inside that room. But with experience we become experts at using our behavior and our training to interpret-and decode-what lies behind our snap judgements and first impressions.”
Malcolm’s “Blink” is right on the money. I had too many strange coincidences to ignore the signs as I was contemplating a move from Chicago to Westlake Village, CA, July 2015.
As I wrote in a previous blog, I had the coincidental pleasure of meeting Gregg Vanourek, an inspiring author and professor, just as I was contemplating this move. Read blog at link below.
Greg said, “Lisa the Brave, Lisa the Happy. You need to do this.” He was the first sign I received that weekend. The signs continued. I decided to try a few Churches in the area, one in particular, Calvary Community. After the service, I went up to Pastor Shawn and introduced myself. The conversation went something like this.
“Hi. I am visiting from Chicago and may be looking to move here in the Fall.”
Pastor Shawn reaching out and shaking my hand he said, “Chicago? I was just there last night, a town called Schaumburg.”
I felt the chills up and down my spine, “Schaumburg? Really? That’s where I am from.”
Pastor Shawn looked quizzically at me, “Really? I was there for an Iwana’s conference in Streamwood.”
“Well, thanks for the sermon. I may see you in a few months. We shall see.”
I closed my eyes, slightly nodded my head and walked away knowing I received another confirmation. I spent the remainder of the day looking for a place to live. After viewing rental upon rental, my agent and I were parked in a driveway of the last home. I was exhausted and didn’t even want to go in.I walked into the last place. blink. It just felt right. I knew it was the one.
Later that afternoon, while signing the lease the real estate agent asked, “So tell me about your kids?”
“My daughter is LA at Otis College of Arts in Design and my son is at Purdue.”
She said, “Purdue? My son went there and now he is professor. What is your son studying?”
Looking astonished she said, “My son is an Engineer Professor.”
Blink. It happened again. I knew this move was the right decision and being blessed by God. Once all the contracts were signed, I decided to take a drive. Years ago Colorado was on my radar screen to move to since I love the mountains. North Carolina was also a possible destination since I love the beach. Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw the Santa Monica Mountains, in front to me I saw the crystal sands and the turquoise waves in Malibu calling me, calling me home. Tears ran down my face as I realized God knew me better than I knew myself. He gave me both the mountains AND the beach. It has been worth the journey seeing this is what God had planned for me, after being a single mom for almost fifteen years.
Amazingly, the following week my home in Chicago sold. A few weeks later as the moving company was packing up my belongings one of the movers commented, “Well, don’t worry .Rob told us to take good care of you.”
Looking puzzled, “Rob?”
The mover confirmed, ” Yes, Rob . He said he was your ex’s roommate in college.”
Blink. Unknown to me the President of the moving company that I hired was not only a fellow Leatherneck, WIU alumni, but my ex’s roommate who I spent a lot of time with my Senior year. Another sign God was orchestrating this plan. Proverbs 20:24″ Since the Lord is directing our steps why try to understand everything that happens along the way?”
With a Blink of an Eye…everything changed.
The power of “Blink” was overwhelming or as I like to call it the whisper within.
So in career, life, and maybe even in love trust your “blink” instincts. Have you experienced a blink moment, where no analysis or spreadsheet was necessary it just felt right? Feel free to comment .
Today, I needed to take a break from work. Coffee wasn’t the drug I needed to get rejuvenated. I knew a walk would do the trick after stepping outside and feeling the warmth of the sunshine on my face. Heading around the corner, I saw a man standing on a driveway looking in my direction.
He said, “Hi. Are you taking a meditative walk?”
Looking at the stranger I asked, “Excuse me what did you say?”
As he walked around his carpet cleaning van, coming closer to me, he repeated the question, “Are you taking a meditative walk?”
I admitted my truth, “Yea. I needed to relieve some stress.”
He says, “What I do is look up at the sky and ask for help, His Ever Lasting Presence.” He then added, “You know how to restart your day? Hugging.” Without hesitation the man leaned and wrapped his arms around me.
After a few seconds I pulled away and with a gentle smile said, “Thanks I needed that.”
The older, weathered-looking man glanced back at me and asked, “What’s your name?”
“Lisa, and yours?”
“Nice to meet you meet you Pete.’
The stranger confidently added, “Lisa, our paths crossing was no coincidence. It was God knowing we both needed a hug to restart our day.”
As I stepped back to examine the worker all I could say was, “Wow.”
He then added, “I know, kinda crazy getting advice let alone a hug from a complete stranger.”
Silently I laughed and with a smirk added, “No, you obviously don’t know me. I hug and talk to strangers all the time.”
With an inviting smile Pete added, “Me too. You see I am trying to turn over a new leaf. I spent time in jail and daily I am trying to do good, even in small ways.”
God has the small details in our life and can use anyone to make a difference. You just need to be open to it and keep looking up for HELP, His Ever Lasting Presence. Do you have a story that a complete stranger made a difference? Feel free to share in the comment section below
July 4th 2001. Not single yet… but definitely beach bound.
I was not planning on blogging today but then found this picture . Looking at it I see so many ironic messages . I was alone even though I was married . I was headed to the beach; my happy place then and now. The smiles were contagious . How could I be sad when I had my two greatest gifts by my side? Even though the picture is faded and blurry, I remember the day very clearly. This was the day I found out that I needed to be brave and be single. Little did I know HOW brave I needed to be. Months later, I was divorced, financially broke, and my ex became a paraplegic.
” Always be full of Joy in the Lord; I say it again rejoice! Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything” Phillippians 4:6
Some say, ” Fake it to you make it,” or “A smile disguises a broken heart.” But I disagree. You don’t need to fake it. TRUST God will give you answers and the courage to daily walk forward. He gave me the special gift of the Holy Spirit to guide me daily on my journey through the good, the bad ,and downright ugly.
Fifteen years later, I am still not married but I am not alone. Even though my kids are both in college and not glued to my hip, their smiles still make me contagiously happy. I don’t just visit my happy place on occasion , I moved there. Yes, to the beach. The picture is clearer now, too- literally and figuratively.
“Philippians 4:12 I have learned the secret of being content in every situation … I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”
I trusted God and he has given me the strength to be single. He whispered to me then that I would be alright and today I hear him loud and clear! God has used my time of being single for a purpose. As a CFP(R) I teach Women and Investing seminars to educate woman how to be financial independent. In addition, I lead a single woman’s small group. We inspire each other to be strong and be content – just where we are.
Serendipity: Luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for; A fortunate happenstance. (Merriam-Webster)
I tossed. I turned. I took Sominex. Nothing worked. Not even the softest 1000 thread count sheets and cloud-like down comforter could lull me to sleep and finally ease my restless mind. As I pulled back the stiff tan curtains and stared at the mountainside, the morning sun came blasting in and exposed my doubtful mind, “What am I doing in Calabasas, CA? I am crazy? I can’t do this but this is all this I dreamed about.” Just then I hear my cell ringing. Walking in a daze over to the night stand, I see the name “JULIE” on the phone and quickly answered.
“Hey, how are you doing?” Julie asked.
“Not good. I didn’t sleep a wink.”
“I figured you didn’t. That’s why I called.”
“Julie, I gotta admit, I am nervous. I have been praying for an answer, for a sign.”
“Are you kidding me? Lisa, seriously some people pray that they get one sign in their whole life. You get three in a week and you are still questioning God to show you more.”
Bowing my head down, my mouth twitched in defeat, “You are right. Thanks Jules. I am going to go for a walk and hopefully get my answer.”
After pressing the end call button, I let the phone fall onto the comforter. I peeled off my pajamas hoping the doubt from that sleepless night would leave me too. Quickly, I threw on my running shorts, laced up my Brooks, threw my hair in a messy bun, and headed out the door. All good intentions of a run to clear my head was detoured with the smell of bacon. Grabbing a plate at the buffet line, I loaded up on bacon, pancakes, fruit, almost everything; until not a trace of the plate was exposed. Heading out the glass door, I made my way to a round table outside by the pool to take in the sunshine.
As I was sipping my coffee, a stranger walked by and with a pleasant smile said, “Wow, that’s how you should eat breakfast. Outside.”
Quickly the jovial stranger walked away but in a few minutes, he appeared balancing a plate full of breakfast and a coffee cup headed in my direction. “Do you mind if I join you?”
“No, of course not.”
Sitting poolside, the gentleman did not put his toes in but jumped in my pool of thoughts, “So what are you doing here?”
“Well, I am from Chicago, but I am thinking of moving to WestlakeVillage/Thousand Oaks area. I may sign a lease today.”
“Really? That’s where I grew up but now live in Sweden.”
“Sweden? What are you doing here?”
“Family wedding…but the real question is what’s your story? Why are you moving?”
With a smirk I said, “My story? Do you have five minutes or five hours?”
“Let’s go for 5 minutes.”
I proceeded to tell the friendly stranger my story, “About fifteen years ago I went through a divorce, my ex became a paraplegic, I grew my business, and as a single mom went through the rollercoaster of raising my kids by myself. I always said that when they got to college I would do something different. So I guess here is different.”
“Wow that is not a story. That’s a book.”
“Ha, Ha. Funny you say that, I wrote a book about all my strange coincidences.”
“Well then, you need to do this!”
Looking at the outgoing man, I lowered my head and softly answered, “Thanks. I probably will.”
Picking up his plate… he sincerely said, “Lisa the Brave, Lisa the Happy. Let’s exchange emails.”
A few days later I have to admit I had to know who this inspirational stranger was so I Googled him. He is an author, a leader, a teacher. I have read his book, “Life Entrepreneurs – Ordinary People: Creating Extraordinary Lifes. ” By Gregg Vanourek .One of the best books I have read about carving a life for yourself filled with passion and happiness. It asks the question, “How can we live extraordinary lives?” One of the best quotes in the book is, “Once we have a clearer sense of who we are and what we need and value, we become more awake to opportunities that may rise that resonate with what we want to do with our lives.”
How ironic, just as I was contemplating a life change, God led Gregg to me;the inspiring author of “Life Entrepreneurs,” a book that inspires courage to pursue the passionate life you were meant to lead. Gregg inspired me to walk forward and carve out the life I desired. Pick up his book; it could lead you on the journey that you have been searching for. Gregg left a footprint on my life. Inspiring book. Great author. Better person.
“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him and he will gladly tell you.” James 1:5
Once again I asked for a sign and God answered. Some call it serendipity or a strange coincidence. I like to call it the whisper within.
You can follow my blog at http://www.thewhisperwithin.live
This was not last sign from that crazy weekend. Stay tuned for future blogs …
I know with all certainty, through my journey ,that we are all connected. God has put individuals along my path; however the reason I may not discover until years later.Sometimes it took a whole decade to discover why…
Rolling up my yoga mat and wiping the perspiration off my forehead… who am I kidding? More like toweling off after a long shower, with my body drenched in sweat, I step outside into a beautiful Chicago Spring day to feel the wind at my neck, cooling me off. Standing outside, enjoying the breeze is my yoga teacher. With gratitude I comment, ” Thanks, Corey. Great class!
Looking over he says, ” I notice something about you. You can do the poses but you don’t know how to practice yoga.”
Looking over at my teacher( who I admired , may I add), ” What do you mean? I don’t get it?”
” Yep. ” he quipped. “Like I said you don’t do know how to practice yoga. You don’t release. You practically hold your breath during the poses.”
I tried to offer an explanation, “I guess it’s the years of being a gymnast, I would hold my breathe before tumbling passes.”
” No, it is more than that. You need to learn to surrender, ” Corey said.
Feeling slightly offended, I tried to defend myself, “Hey, you don’t know me. I have been through a lot .” My frustration sparked my spontaneity to continue, “A divorce, my ex becoming a paraplegic, being a single mom for the last dozen years, running my own business. I am strong. I don’t need to surrender. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13″
Shaking his head slightly, the master yogi responded, ” Strength is in surrendering.”
Knowing I was not going to win this battle, I conceded. I nodded my head and said, ” Alright, see ya Corey.” and walked away.
Fast forward, to 2014, After a year of MRIs, Cat scans, blood tests, numerous doctors, no one could figure out why I was sick.Finally in 2015, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease It was humbling. I was no longer strong physically or mentally… and ” Sassy pants”, as some of my friends call me, did not exist. It was humbling but truthfully it was the best thing that could happened to me .
I finally learned to surrender. ” For when I am weak , then I am strong-the less I have, the more I depend on God.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
So today, in yoga class, as I am laying in savasana( translated :the dead mans pose for non yogis) I thought about Corey, my master yoga teacher, and silently I laughed . He was right ! There is strength in surrendering! As I lay on my mat I took a deep breath in and finally released a HUGE exhale. Thanks Corey!And as I looked at the ceiling… my eyes try to penetrate through to the sky to the heavens and thank the one who knows my heart and keeps me surrendering. Namaste.
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was different but not in the normal way that one wants to be. My first recollection of this was in second grade. I was not pretty by normal standards in fact my nickname was “Buck Tooth Beaver”. Kids can be so cruel. If I couldn’t be the “pretty girl” at least I could be the “smart girl” or “nice girl”. At times it was very painful to be teased, but at other moments I knew it was NOT who I was. I knew deep in my soul that I was special. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Succop told me so. (God bless her, wherever she is today!) She wrote on my report card,” You can truly tell Lisa has Jesus in her heart through her words and actions. She is Jesus’ little lamb.” (I think my mom still has that report card today if you want to see it! Ha!)
Mrs. Succop had the kindest spirit and inspired me to have a caring heart. She was an example of a servant and I wanted to be like her. Years later, as a CFP®, I take my calling to serve very seriously. I am blessed to serve wonderful clients who have trusted me through the good and bad times of the stock market…. And some downright UGLY times.
Sometimes you have to go through a little ugly to end up prettier on the other side… Growing up on five acres in rural Chicago, my dad taught me and my three siblings that horse manure made the crops grow. Sometimes you just have to dig deep, shovel the sh##, and be patient and the garden would flourish. Same can be applied to investments. Even though last August the market stunk like manure; the DJIA was around 15,400 but if you dug deep and did not abandon your crops, a year later The DJIA(8/29/16) closed at 18,668. History has shown that some of the ugliest sectors, the year following can be the best sector. Will this be true for oil investments?
Patience paid off for my clients this year and patience also paid off for the little eight year old, “buck tooth beaver” . I embrace the hard lessons. God sometimes brings us through the tough times, to build trust. As a CFP® I am thankful my clients have learned to trust me and know that eventually things do turn around…and I am thankful for those mean girls too. They gave me the motivation to work harder, be smarter, but most of all, just like my childhood days shoveling manure in the barn, they dished me the crap… so I could blossom. I learned the hard lesson that with the right amount of “crap”… eventually everything would be smelling like roses.
…Romans 8:28 “And we know God works all things for good for those who love him.”… EVEN The Bad stuff!
So what is your ugly story? How did your “bad” turn to good? Where did patience finally pay off?
I call it the gift. The gift is my unadulterated skill to fall asleep anywhere, anytime…within minutes. I embrace my talent without any shame. I could be on a plane and before the pilot can announce, “Prepare for take off, ” I am already sound asleep, mouth wide open like a big mouth bass, letting the drool dribble down my chin like a hook is stuck in the back of my throat. This was my gift… until unexpected about a year and half ago, the Grinch appeared and robbed me. And just like a wide-eyed Who from Whoville, I was left with an empty stocking hanging on the fireplace mantel with only the Grinch’s stench left behind. No, I take that back, he filled my stocking with an expected present… insomnia. Continue reading →