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.
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
Facebook kindly reminded me that four years ago today, I was in North Carolina as my son was contemplating University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Duke University as possible college choices. I remember standing clear as as the blue sky in the photo, dreaming of the beach cottage to call mine. I was ready that someday, maybe ten to fifteen years from then, I would retire on the East Coast and be a storybook character in one of Nicholas Spark’s silly romantic novels. My straw hat was ready!
I was wrong. God had completely different plans for me – only two short years later. He moved me from the Windy City to the City of Angeles. How appropriate! He knows I have never been about a big house but more about people with a big heart. He knows my soul and surrounded me with the simple joys of smiles, sea glass, and sand.
This is where my soul meets my body.
“We can make our plans but the final outcome is in God’s hand.” Proverbs 16:9
I am glad I learned to let go and let God…and that I kept my straw hat handy.
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?
I consider myself a fierce competitor personally and professionally. I am athlete that would rather hobble to the finish line than quit.
In my triathlon days, my performance was eighty percent training and twenty percent affected by outside factors; rain, heat, wind, and sometimes potholes.
I have learned that outside factors are out of my control and can affect work, projects, and even love. This past week I faced resistance in several areas of my life. It was like I was competing in a triathlon. I finished the swim course with ease but as I jumped on my bike I encountered a pot hole and then a flat tire. In one situation, I was accused of using my “flowery disposition and “spirituality” to my advantage.
Wow, naïve of me to assume that kindness and a willingness to serve would be a disadvantage and attempt to kick me back to the start line.
I jumped off my bike, threw it over to the side and decided to run to the next course – the next event. Even though I am solid solo competitor, this was not an individual race but more a relay race requiring team participation. Yes, a group project and unfortunately I had an unwilling team member. The finish line kept being moved. It was time to stop at the water station and take a break.
Maybe it was time to quit asking. Quit knocking. Maybe God was allowing the resistance. Maybe God was telling me that I was taking on too many projects.
I have always said, “If the road you are on is filled with potholes, it is God’s way of saying the path under construction. Do not remove the orange cones and road blocks. God will direct you to a smoother path. You just have to be prepared to take his detour.”
Maybe the answer was no because God was clearing the potholes and leading me to a easier course.
Psalm 27:4 “I will wait on the Lord.”
In work, are you frustrated? Without purpose? Are you in the right job? Best work environment? Or does something else garnish your talents?
In projects, are you facing resistance? Is something not going smoothly?
In love, is the relationship not connecting? Is it too much work? Are values not aligned?
We live in an imperfect world but God’s timing is perfect.
God has changed me over time. I no longer run instead I walk or hike. I can’t bike since I am used to flat Chicago streets, not a hilly California course. Throw me in the pool – there I will swim like a dolphin.
In work, projects, but especially love, find your joy. Allow the easy. Know when to stop for water, change the course, or stop the race all together. Not every finish line needs to be crossed.
What is God telling you? Wait on the Lord and he will whisper to you.
The other day, Facebook had an event reminder, “Things that happened on this day.”
Mine read: December 3, 2012
“Always have to believe that God has the big plan and a reason for everything. Our house was broke in today. Just one more reason for God leading me out of Schaumburg to a better place. Blue skies are coming !!!”
I remember the day so clearly. Driving home from work I received a call from my son.
“Mom, you may want to come home.”
“Jake are you alright?”
“I’m fine but… um… the back door has been kicked in.”
“Yeah. We’ve been broke into.”
“I’m on my way. Get out of the house, right now. Wait on the driveway.”
On my short drive home, panic overtook. All I could think was Could this really be happening? Really God? Here we go again.
I arrived home to see my six-foot son standing like a military officer, commanding control, protecting, and guarding his post. I pulled in the garage and walked in the house. As I entered the crime scene, I felt a chill that was not related to the cold air penetrating my family room from the exposed backdoor.
I brought my hands up and covered my mouth,“Oh my God.” Shaking my head, my eyes drifted and saw Jake standing beside me, trying to be the brave “man of the house.”
“Wow, looks like they just kicked-in the door. This isn’t right.”
Jake leaned in, comforting me. “It’s okay, Mom.”
“Jake, I don’t know anymore.” In disgust, we both walked away from the door, the entry point of evil.
Five hours later all the formalities of finger prints, photographs, and investigations were completed. It was time for bed.
For some reason, I did not worry since I knew God promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I laid my head on my pillow and glanced around my chaotic room. I felt the hope, the peace, and the comfort that could only be explained as the whisper from within. I felt safe. Evil would not dampen my hope and win out. What the devil intended for destruction, God used as construction.
Did I know four years ago when I wrote that Facebook post that God had big plans for me and was moving me to the beach? Hell no, I barely knew a little over a year ago. But He did. He knew my heart and gave me the mountains and the beach.
“And we know in all Things God works for the good of those who love Him” Romans 8:28
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?”
“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.
Tuesday, was Election Day but to me it was so much more. If you believe in hope and Love read on… but if you don’t stop right here! You have been warned this post has more saccharin in it than could kill a mouse.
I woke up today and decided to get balloons and streamers to host my first “pity party” I grew up with a strong German father that such festivities were not allowed in the house, let alone near the driveway. Well, sorry to disappoint you dad but today I could not leave all the crap at the curb. I was dealt a bad hand and today I was asking God to reshuffle the deck.
What kind of hand was I dealt, you may ask? Well for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of playing euchre with me and are new to my table, I give you a quick recap of the previous tournaments and losing hands.
Fifteen years ago, the first hand the dealer dealt was divorce. I asked for extra cards and was dealt my ex becoming a paraplegic. Every time I sat to play, the crazy cards delivered something fun a quick recap for those keeping score at home; Divorce, ex become a paraplegic, financially broke, a lawsuit from my ex’s crazy second wife suing somehow my insurance from his snowmobile accident, burglary, and now Lyme disease.
So the past few weeks, even though I get IVs twice a week and are on two different antibiotics to kill the Lyme, have a recently added a third antibiotic to deal with another infection, had a back tooth pulled from Lyme too, I was great ! I was willing to sit down at the table and like my Grandma Laura from Ohio used to say while shuffling the deck I stoically said, “Let’s play cards!” That was until poison ivy !
So yes, poison ivy made me want to blow my party horn directly at God. I yelled, “Seriously, Do you see me God?”
Lacing up my Brooks, I decided to go for a quick run, Before I could even turn the corner, there was Huey my beautiful old gentleman neighbor with arms outstretched, “ Lisa! I have missed you.”
With a bear hug he continued, “Just seeing you makes me happy!”
As I release my stout friend, I allowed my tight- mouth smile to open and say, “Aww Huey. Thanks, I feel the same about you.”
As I walked away, I looked up at the sky as tears evacuated my eyes and with a smirk said, “You do see me!”
Later that day, I was dealt a few aces under the table. I received a call from a California friend who was on vacation in Hawaii. She called to say that she felt pushed to call me today. Was I alright?
Then to round out my playing hand, I received two Jacks (right and left bower) of the trump card later that afternoon. The highest cards!! (Sorry if you have never played Euchre!)
As I walked to my doctor’s office, I saw Jaci, my beautiful warm-hearted nurse standing with out-stretched arms. As she wrapped her arms around me I could not helped but feel loved.
Within seconds she presented me with a Cub’s World Series t-shirt. She said, “You gave me a Ferris Bueller’s list of what to do on my Chicago vacation, how could I not repay you?”
I don’t cry easy but today I could not contain my joy. Jaci is a gift to anyone who is lucky to come in contact with her lovely spirit. She epitomes the saying, “Beautiful inside and out.”
I responded by saying, “I feel loved.”
She said, “You get love because you give love.”
Yes! LOVE ALWAYS WINS!
Today I did not hang streamers or blow up balloons- there would be no pity party! As my stern but strong grandma Laura used to say hitting her hand swiftly on the table while playing euchre, “ Here, here now! Quit the table talk! Let’s play cards!”
“We are pressed on every side by troubles but we are not crushed. We are perplexed as why things happen but we don’t give up and quit.” 2 Corinthians 4: 8
“Stay away from complaining and arguing … in a crooked and depraved world so that you may shine like a beam of great light!” Philippians 2:14-15
Deal with the hand you’re dealt! LOVE ALWAYS WINS!
Romans 12:6 “We all have different gifts, according to the grace of God given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in portion to his faith.”
Ever have one of those days when everything seems so unclear? That everything seems to be a wreck? That there are no answers and you are lacking direction? Well, I seem to be having one of those days… or months. Honestly, I have been having a year like that. Today was no different. The last month or so between, the harassment, the burglary, the investigation, my neighbor Joe dying, life has been simply exhausting. Not to mention I am buried at work, since it’s tax time. But am I complaining? No. Well honestly, a little bit.
What makes matters worse is that it is typical Chicago winter. Cold, dark, dreary, lacking sunshine. Basically the weather is reflecting my spirit, simply depressing.
Every day, I get out bed and force myself to find the joy. Joy in the little things, like a hot shower, a morning run with Hunter, a good strong cup of coffee, yoga, and finally flannel PJs at the end of the day.
Today though I have an unquenchable desire to know why? Why has the last couple of months been so difficult? Why I am forced to “suck-up” the crap and just “deal?” Has God left me alone to struggle and why do I feel like Jesus on the cross when he said, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?” Does He think I thrive on chaos? That “happy” Lisa can just take it?Does God even see me anymore?
It always seems like in the shower I do my clearest thinking and praying. I turn the shower on, waiting for it to get to the right temperature, boiling hot. As the scorching water runs down me, it resembles a baptism; baring my naked soul to God.
I have no shame in my aloneness. I expose my frustration out loud to God.
Screaming accusingly at God, “Where are you? Do you even see me anymore? Give me something? Show me something? … I am begging you, (and then louder for extra emphasis I yell) I AM BEGGING YOU, SEND ME HOPE…SOME SIGN that I am NOT alone!”
And just like Eve, I covered myself up in a towel, embarrassed that I was contemptuous toward God and gave in to a pity party. I brush off my silly request to God, head off to work, and go through the motions of getting by another day without the answers I deserve.
The day passes slowly and I decide that nothing would come of any good today. How could I effectively counsel and provide answers when I lacked answers in my own life? Today I was worthless.So I left work early, headed to the grocery store to pick up a couple items. Little did I know a typical grocery shopping trip would not be ordinary but extraordinarily bizarre. In the express check- out lane, I lug the forty five pounds of dog food onto the conveyor belt and then gently place the dozen of fresh baked chocolate chips cookie alongside. As I look forward, standing in front of me is a middle-aged, African-American woman, heavy set, with deep, dark eyes strikingly wearing an orange and red- designed turban. Some would describe as Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Buttersworth. She looks distinctly at me and quickly references my two items. In a strong, Nigerian or African dialect she comments and points to the dog food and cookies,
“You need to keep the dog happy and the kids happy.” Then adding in a creeping undertone, “You need to keep the dog fed so he can baaark at the burrggllars.”
I looked at her, dead straight into her eyes, and start nervously laughing, “Ha, well that didn’t work. I was robbed in December. The silly dog did not do anything.”
Without hesitation she reaches over and squeezed my right arm and while still gripping my arm she unnervingly slowly whispers, “That’s because he KNEW the burglars.”
I felt a spine-tingling sensation rush through my bones. Startled and shocked I questioned, “What? What did you say?”Not wavering in her strong conviction, “I SAID… that’s because He KNEW the burglars.”
“Ok… Now that’s crazy.” I declare.
She uncannily continued, “Do you believe in JEESSSUUS?
“I do. I have a strong faith in Him.”
Nodding her head up and down, “Gooood. Gooood. Now… what you need to do… is go get the BLOOD of Jesus and mark your doors… and get Satan out of your house…” Then gripping and squeezing my arm again with her right hand while waving emphatically her left arm, looking straight through me like she could see my soul, in a ghost-like mystic hiss adds, “ because that SATAN he’s a liiaarrrrrr, I tell you. HE’S A LIAR!”
Those words giving me chills and instantly I felt a shiver rushing through me, goose bumps suddenly forming. Feeling a little creeped-out, but at the same time intrigued by this mysterious woman? I carefully scrutinized her face, her demeanor, her body posture, any clue I could grasp to speculate and evaluate, who was this strange woman? As she walked away, I took one more calculated gaze in her direction hoping to get some kind of answer to what just occurred.
As the young, fresh–faced, check-out boy, started scanning my cookies, he looked at me, shaking his head, he blurts out, “What the hell was that?”
I laughed; shaking my head, “I have no idea…”
Before I could finish my sentence, the mysterious woman appears by my side, grabbing my arm one more time, and with a spine-chilling raspy voice murmurs her warning, “Don’t forget…the dog KNEW the burglars…You need to get the blood of Jesus to keep Satan away because…The devil he’s a LLIIAARR. He’s A LIIIAARR.”
Turning to walk away she looks back one final time at me almost jeering, “ Now…you have good day, you hear?”
If I wasn’t freaked out before, now I was. I felt like I was in the middle of some paranormal activity movie, but in the check-out lane at the grocery store. I finish checking out. Dazed, I kept hearing the hypnotic voice taunting me. What was the meaning of that alarming and unnerving encounter? Was she a psychic seeing my disrupted past? Or was she clairvoyant and predicting and sensing another unfortunate future incident?
Then I recall my morning plea… “Send me sign…do you even see me?”
Was this a sign from God? Was he showing me that he sees me? I don’t know exactly what or who that was but it definitely was some strange connection whispering to me….
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!
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.
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 →
A few years ago, I had a day as surreal as a Stanley Kubrick film. As I dug in my purse for change to pay for my Heath bar, a stranger behind me laid a dollar on the counter, purchased my candy bar, and told me to “Pay it forward”. I turned to him, dumbfound and quipped, “Thanks.” I walked away, savoring the sweet taste of chocolate, and shook my head in disbelief.
Later that afternoon, I drove down Schaumburg road, and made my way into the snow-covered parking lot of a laundry mat. I pulled my laundry baskets out of my trunk as the bitter wind punched my cheeks. Why did my water pipes break this week? Why did my life have to be this hard?
Within minutes the washing machines were jammed with my dirty clothes, but it was my emotions that were burst and soiled. In the next thirty minutes, I watched my clothes being tossed against the glass round window, flopping around without any clear direction, mirroring my haphazard day. Just then a wind gust blew the door open and a lady dressed in red flannel PJs bottoms and a black wool coat, walked in. Within seconds she was crying with despair,
“Thunder and Lightning ran out of gas and are stranded.”
“Who are Thunder and Lightning?”
Between broken sobs she continued,” They are my twin girls.”
“Really? Thunder and Lightning? Where do they go to school?”
“Schaumburg High School. They are Sophomores. They are track stars.”
Lines on my forehead formed like an EKG read-out,” Oh, are they? I have a sophomore girl at Schaumburg, too. Her name is Tarah.”
“You do? Maybe my girls know her. They are on the track team and are wicked fast… but they need help. Do you have any money for gas?” She pleaded, “I am a single mom. Please can you help me?’
Her eyes melted my soul like whip cream on hot chocolate. I reached in my wallet and took out a ten-dollar bill. “I am a single mom, too. This is for your girls.”
She hugged me like a momma who just found her lost child at Disney World,” Thank you. Thank you.”
I watched her walk out of the frosted glass door and disappear into the blizzard. I dialed Tarah on my cell.
“Tarah do you know any girls called Thunder and Lightning at your school?”
“Yeah, mom. They are track stars, why?
“Never mind… I’ll see you in a bit.”
Pressing the end button on my cell phone, I looked up at the ceiling and laughed as I thought of the gentleman who said, “pay it forward.” I felt an unnerving stillness come rush over me like a gentle brook streaming over a rock.
As I left the laundry mat, the snow continued to fall making the roads slick. I stopped at a stoplight right by Schaumburg High School just as a car skidded into me tapping my bumper. As I walked to rear of my Murano, I saw a nervous chubby cheeked face looking down at the dent and then his hazel eyes quickly darted to meet mine. With his corners of his mouth turned down he uttered, “I, I am so sorry,” As he tugged at grey knitted cap, he lowered his head and closed his lips like a trap. Looking up at the rosy cheeks I asked, “Are you hurt? Are you ok?”
In confusion, he replied, “Yes. I am fine.” Looking down at the silver dented bumper and then up at the boy, “Well, it’s only a dent. No one was hurt. Forget about it. Just be careful.”
His hand brushed to push his mocha colored bangs to the side and added,” Are you serious?”
I nodded. “Yep.”
“Thanks. I just got my license and my dad would kill me.’
I shuffled through the snow-covered street and made my way back into my SUV right before the light turned green. As I sat for a moment, I realized that I was given the gift to” pay it forward.” not once but twice. I released my right foot from the brake pedal and pressed the gas pedal down. As I drove into the intersection, I looked up at the sky and smirked knowing that angels were probably smirking too.
If the road you are on is filled with potholes, it is God’s way of saying the path is ” under construction”. Do not remove the orange cones & road blocks. God will direct you to a smoother path. You just have to be ready to take His detour.” – Lisa Schomer
Some say we all have that little nagging voice that tells us right from wrong. It is the gut feeling you have deep inside your soul that something just isn’t right. Some call it a sixth sense or is it a sick sense? It is your conscience? Do you believe we all are born with a good and righteous morality? Or ethics? Are you capable of listening to your heart? To your soul? Do you believe in dreams? Or in signs?
So what is the whisper within?
I believe it something different. Something extraordinary.
Something that cannot be simply explained through a Google search or Wikipedia entry but through a life being led.
At this stage of my life, after journaling a decade of “strange coincidences”, I feel compelled to open the tattered, beat-up, spilled on, read and reread pages of my journals and share the recollections of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I Believe GOD powers strange coincidences and the journey called life. This will be a weekly blog of stories that inspire hope, love, forgiveness, and anticipation of the joy that lies ahead.