Today I called my ninety-five year old widowed client. I reviewed her investments and cash flow needs and then the conversation turned personal.
“How are you Rosemarie?”
“Honestly Lisa, lonely. If anyone tells you that these are the golden years, punch them in the face for me.”
I giggled. We talked some more and then I responded, “Call me if you need anything even if it just to talk.”
Later in the day, I walked up town to pick up my work mail, and bought some stamps. And not just any stamps but Valentine’s Day stamps.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a sucker for love and not the puny Dum Dum suckers but more like the HUGE Charlie and The Chocolate Factory rainbow sucker type of love, and Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday.
I left the post office and mentally made a list of who I would send cards to. Rosemarie for sure. My widow clients.
A smirk covered my face WAIT! What if I made this a challenge?
So here it is. I am challenging all my Facebook Friends to send 14 cards in the next 14 days…AND SHARE THIS to their page.
If my 500 friends send 14 cards, that is over 7,000 cards sent. If they share the ‘What If’ challenge, the results could be endless.
So can you do your part? Send 14 cards & share this post?
Think of ninety-five year old Rosemarie, wouldn’t it be sweet to share love to someone who may be lonely.
Who knows? By giving love you may feel love.
Who’s in? LET’S DO IT !
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
His sermon spoke of being stuck in the burden of trying to make a living, TRYING to find happiness, peace, and JOY… and TRYING to accumulate prestige and prominence… and he said to LET ALL THAT GO and LEARN to sing at the TOP of your voice with JOY no matter of your circumstances.
His sermon gave me so much peace that I drifted off to sleep like a swaddled baby.
And for some silly reason, I sprung out of bed this morning with childish unexplainable joy, and my children’s kindergarten song, “Jesus’ love is bubbling over,” ran through my brain, but I couldn’t remember the tune.
I quickly texted my daughter Tarah and asked her to sing the song.
Here is the song. Click on arrow!
So, I know you are probably thinking, “Well, that’s good for you, Lisa. You are silly. You are ridiculous. You have no idea the problems I have. Life is rough for me. I am in a season of ugly.”
Well, I can tell you this, twenty years ago, one of the most brutal times of my life, when I went through a divorce, my ex became a paraplegic, and I was a broke single mom; I remember a guy whom I started dating told me you are one of the happiest people I know. Even though you have all this crap, how are you still happy?
It wasn’t my inner strength. It wasn’t me trying to have a pleasant disposition. It was ALL GOD! I knew my troubles were more than I could handle on my own. I asked God to fill me with unexplainable JOY! And He did! And he does now! But sometimes, I am a spoiled brat, like a kindergartener who wants her toy back, and I scream at God, “GIVE ME JOY!”
So, as I skip the streets of Santa Barbara this afternoon, heading to yoga, I am sending you all love and asking you to ask the one who sees you, loves you, and wants to help you; to ask Him to fill you with the JOY of JESUS.
Salt gives food flavor. You can BE JOY! Share JOY! You are the salt of the earth! Can you be salty?
“You are the salt of the Earth.” Matthew 5:13
“… I have learned the secret of being content in every situation… I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians4: 12-13
I am headed to Michigan this weekend to celebrate the wedding of one of my favorite nephews, Jacob.
This afternoon, after I finished packing my carry-on ,I zipped it up and thought, should I park my car at the airport or should I text a friend to drive me?… the airport is only 10 minutes away, I could ask my friend Heidi or I could just pay the 20/day fee?
I scratched my head and thought Ok God, you know I don’t want want to be a burden to anyone, what should I do…
Before I could finish my thought I received a text, Hey Lis, when are you going? Do you need a ride to and from the airport?
A smirk crossed my face as I looked up at my ceiling and thought YOU DO SEE ME!
I texted Heidi, YOU and God REALLY love me!
I called Heidi and gave her the details on my trip to Michigan.
After I hung up the phone, I dug through a box of old photographs and found this picture.
I glanced at the photo and thought, my babies.
I studied the photo and recalled that months before this beach snapshot, my ex had become a paraplegic. With no child support, a quick weekend away to Southaven Michigan was all I could afford. Every year the trips to Michigan became symbolic, as if the sun setting over the pier was God saying to me, I got you Lisa.
And he did then… and twenty years later,he still does. He knows my thoughts and answers my requests. Even the silly ones.
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” James 4:3
Yesterday, I was in planting my fall mums when my cell phone rang and with one syllable I felt transported from my backyard, to my house in Westmont, the house of my youth.
“Well hello Amy. How is my girlfriend today?”
Within moments, it was as if no time had passed; as if we were sharing stories, freshman year in the cafeteria line or on the bleachers of a Hornet football game.
“Who did you go to prom with?”
“Who was your big crush?”
“Do you remember that toga party at Knez’s?”
It was like I was fourteen years old again and could still feel my braces getting caught on my gums as I giggled.
We shared memories from our youth but also some of the lows of today; aging parents, work, jobs, life, etc.
I hung up the phone, looked over at my mums and instead of resuming planting, I put down my shovel and went inside.
I thought more about Amy. That girl always could make me laugh.
I dug through my old photo album and found a picture of us. I can still hear “Surprise!!!” echoing the hallway of my childhood home.
I thumbed through the photo album labeled SWEET SIXTEEN PARTY and saw friends of my youth.
As I recalled names of the faces who gathered in my streamer-filled basement, a quiet smile covered my face as I remember how happy I was that night but then another thought entered my mind.
Wait! That was also the same day of my high school conference gymnastics meet.
That meet still ranks as my most embarrassing moment EVER! Let’s just say, “my monthly friend” decided to pay me a visit in the middle of my floor routine. SURPRISE! And this SURPRISE visit was not something that was easily disguised. I remember Amy sitting outside the shower as I cried with utter distress.
I thumbed through some more pictures and thought how could I be SO FREAKED OUT and SO HAPPY all in the same day. And then I heard the whisper, ” With me anything is possible.”
So you may ask, why do I share such raw and personal stories? For likes? For Comments? Self-promotion?
No. None of above.
The reason is simple; to show that no matter what you are going through, or how your day, your week, your month, or yes- even your painstaking year is going- that we have a real and personal Jesus who sees us, loves us, and listens to us.
He wants to help us, if only we will ask.
So if you are stuck in a season of slow bleeding… ( Sorry, I am giggling! God wrote that! I didn’t.)
Don’t be stuck! You have a friend who wants to be with you; whether you are crying in the shower or celebrating a birthday. God is good and will meet you right where you are!
“Many are asking,’ Who can show us any good? Lift up the light of your face upon us Lord.” Psalm 4:6
Yesterday, my daughter who is now twenty-five (How is that possible?) asked me to find a picture of her on the first day of Freshman year of high school. With all the back-to-school posts on Facebook, is it possible she is getting sentimental?
As I dug through boxes, I found this little girl.
I examined my 2nd grade “picture day” photo and remembered how I worried about being ugly; recalling being teased and given the nickname “The Bucktooth Beaver.” (Kids can be so mean!) As I looked closer at the photo I also remembered what my Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Succop called me too, Jesus Little Lamb. I grabbed my phone and texted her the picture and wrote.
My beautiful teacher~ I look at thislittle girl and remember being so worried about the mean girls making fun of me … I worried I never would fit in. But because of your love, showering me with the love of Jesus, I stopped worrying and started wondering, wondering about our Savior, and start wondering more about Himthan myself.
The next day she responded telling me it was a privilege to love me and a gift to see really young ones who the world did not know or value.
Her response got me thinking, when did we replace wonder with worry?
What do you worry about?
Will I get the right job? Will my kids get the right job?
Will my kids go to college?
Will my family stay healthy?
What do you wonder about?
Think back to your childhood…
What did you want to want to be?
What did you wonder?
Was it, would I get picked for the recess kickball game?
I admit I was boy crazy since first grade. I wondered if I would get to sit on the bus next to Eric Berg for the field trip.
Close your eyes and think back to maybe the summer of 1981? or 1985? What songs were playing on the radio? What color was your bike that you rode around the neighborhood with your best friends until dark? Did you wonder what high school would be like? Or who you would go to Prom with?
With a new school year starting and none of my children in school, I do think time is passing so quickly.
I am older and my dad is eighty-nine, so I do think about or wonder when he will die. I don’t worry since I know he will go to heaven and enjoy a new life of wonder.
As I am writing this, I am looking at my 2nd grade picture, buckteeth and all, and remembering and thanking God for my sweet teacher, who made a difference in my life, and helped me wonder. ( Yes, you teachers DO make a difference!)
God does not want us to worry but to wonder. I would love to hear what you remember about your childhood. What did you wonder?
So I gotta admit this week the pain crept into my “happy space” and it was unexpected and unwelcomed like the flu in the middle of August. I cried, and it was not a pretty cry with tears flowing softly down my cheeks, wiped away with one little Kleenex. No, it was the downright, face contorting, ugly cry.
My soul was in need of reinforcement so I pressed the button on my cell phone in hopes of reaching my college roommate, Kristin. When she answered my call, I was hyperventilating, choking out my words, or should I say inaudible sounds and syllables sounding like a first-time mom giving birth.
“Lis… Are you alright?”
I finally gathered some composure and said, “No, I hurt. It’s been twenty years this week that I have been divorced.”
She listened but she knows me, I am stubborn and even though I love parties, I am not a willing participant in any sort of PITY PARTY. I deflated any balloons that would be used for that kind of party and dished back a big slice of “GOD’S GOT ME” cake.
She responded, “Yes, I know, Lisa. You know God has you but it is ok to tell God you are sad, that you thought by now you would be married.”
So I did! That night, I made some tea and went to my sacred space and told God, “I’m sad. I hurt. Fill me with JOY!”
The very next day, for reasons I can’t explain, I was back skipping the streets of Santa Barbara. I was like sixteen year old me, before a Turnabout high school dance. I may have been dateless but it didn’t matter because I knew I had lots of friends who allow me to be silly Lisa and dance without a date in sight.
So today, I have to admit I woke up and took a selfie before I went to church.
No filter was needed. I am joyful. I am happy.
Praying for a husband isn’t REALLY my focus anymore. I pray more to be filled with joy and if my SOON-to-be husband wants to join me in this wonderful journey called life; that would be wonderful TOO… but if not, I know, I am LISA, a BEAUTIFUL CHILD Of GOD!
And just like the ending of the movie Sixteen Candles, when Jake Ryan waited outside the church for Samantha; I believe my happy ending will be unexpected and welcomed and as easy as my mom inviting the “new church family from Omaha” over for dinner. When “Farmer Ted” walked in the door, I was “ALL- in.”
So today, I know God will continue to surprise me, fill me with joy, all because I am willing to give him, my ugly cry.
“And the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:3
Today. As the light filtered in through my sheers curtains I stretched out my body like a rubber band and thought, Yes! A full nights sleep!
I reached over, grabbed my phone and quickly texted and thanked my friend Jen for her prayers. She responded, Lucky! I slept well until 1:30, then was up the rest of the night.
I responded, UGH! That’s my prayer for YOU tonight! LET’s do this God!… Oh I just heard God say- you are prayer penpals!
She texted back, How do you hear him?
I responded a long winded text of something to the effect of I’m always asking, questioning, and listening for Him, basically spending time with him, talking to Him like a best friend.
Moments later, I started “the scroll”, yes the five minute Facebook scroll of who is doing what. Today’s feed was filled with cute back-to-school pictures.
I LIKED a few and then decided one friend needed a personal touch. I texted, Good morning! Saw your beautiful girls are off to school. How are you?
Within seconds my cell rang and I answered, “Well, what a happy surprise, Kyla”
We spent the next hour REALLY connecting, REALLY sharing the REAL. It was not Facebook pretty. We did not wait to scroll through our photo app to get the right picture, instead we showed the ugly, the just out of bed, no-make-up and hair mangled look.
Even though, we live hundreds of miles apart, I felt like she was on my front porch sharing a cup of coffee. After an hour we hung up and got on with our day but my mind was still drawn back to that conversation. As I poured another cup of coffee I thought, We all want to connect hence the allure of social media and Facebook but are we really connecting or servicing up LIKES and comments like an appetizers, a quick fix, when we long for the main course?
I am guilty of this. How many likes? Who commented? What did they say?
As I walked into my office, I thought of what Jen asked me, “How do I hear God?”
Even though I enjoy Facebook, or the quick text from a friend, those are just stars stickers on the top of a homework assignment, where as my deep friendships are those who sit with me in the boring History lectures without a sticker in sight.
The same is true with God. He wants not the quick prayer, the quick request. He wants us to talk to Him like a best friend. He wants OUR TIME. Our Truth. I’m Happy. I’m Sad. I hurt. He doesn’t want our Facebook pretty.
So the question I have for you, who do you do life with? Hundreds of friends or those who you share deep personal connections with? Do you give your friends or God the time they deserve or are you just serving up a LIKE or a prayer, not lingering and enjoying a slow cup of tea or fine wine at the end of a day?
It has been over a year and half since I traveled by plane. I am sure many of us feel the time lost. I close my eyes and rest my head on the headrest and a soft smile covers my face. I can’t wait to see my children. My family. My dad. I’m going home.
My mouth twitches Is Chicago home?
My lips seal like an envelope. Home?
Quickly images of my Fourth of July backyard party fill my head. I recall giving a toast to my friends, all gathered around my table. In the toast, I reference the movie Under the Tuscan Sun starring Diane Lane as Francis.In the movie, she gets divorced, buys a run-down house in Tuscany, and in moment of weakness, confesses to the realtor that she is sad but wants a wedding and family at this new house; that she was tired of being alone.
I quietly smile recalling telling my friends how at the end of movie, the realtor tells Francis, “I think you got wish.” She smiles, “ You’re right. I got my wish.”
My heart is full as I recalled telling my friends that having my table filled on the Fourth of July brought me so much joy that I feel like Francis from the movie. I got my wish! I continued to say that I had been praying for twenty years for a husband but if I met my husband in Chicago I would not be here and through all the trials and tribulations, God orchestrated a life better than I could possibly imagine and that it was only possible through him.
The evening went on, we prayed.We ate. We danced with sparklers like little kids, and yes, we watched fireworks. The night was magical.
Near the end of the night, my friend’s husband, John, gave me some parting advice, “ When you go back to Chicago, keep your eyes down. We don’t want you finding your husband in Chicago, unless he is willing to move to Santa Barbara.” I remember smirking.
I hear over the intercom, “Please prepare the cabin for takeoff.” I look out the small oval window and see palm trees kissing the blue sky and think Thank you God for unanswered prayers. You knew me better than I knew myself.
Are you willing to wait on God and trust him to provide for you ?
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
This week I was in the attic and found a box full of random pictures of the last twenty or thirty years.
As I scattered the pictures across my kitchen table I recognize most of the people in the pictures and thought, How lucky am I that I’m still am friends with a lot of the people in the pictures?
I grabbed my iPhone took a few pictures and sent it to those in the photos with a text saying something to the effect of, “Those were happy days. Good memories of you.”
The responses varied from sweet to silly. Some reciprocated by sending photos back to me. One in particular warmed my heart as she responded, “Thanks for the walk down memory lane.”
She then reciprocated and send a picture of her own to me.I was stunned It was like opening a time capsule.
I quickly texted back, “Love, love, love this photo. It was John Guido’s wedding. I sat with my ex at that wedding even though we were already three months divorced.”
I looked closer at the photo remembering that I was recently divorced and I asked myself Why did I look so happy? I think I was at peace and I was hopeful for the future. I believed God had good things for me.
I remembered that wedding and celebrating the wonderful couple that now been married eighteen and half years. It was a joyous occasion. I was glad that I could sit next to my ex and feel fine.
I looked closer at the photo and thought Wow! I was only 35 and now I’m 54. Never thought I’d be single almost 20 years!
Within moments a small smile covered my face. Thank God I did not remarry back then. What I wanted in my 30s is definitely not what I need in my 50s. Back then I may have had a faith in God but I wasn’t looking for a strong Christian man, let alone a warm body to sit next to me on the pew.
God was in the delay. He has been working on my heart and my desires; to be with a man who not only adores me but adores God. So today, as I got ready for church, I looked in the mirror and felt hopeful again. God knows what he’s doing.
I stepped outside and snapped a selfie and thought,I am happy. I am healthy. I am hopeful.
So today, for those of you who are single and wondering what’s taking God so long? Don’t give up hope! Believe that God has good things in store for you ! Maybe just maybe, like me, he is changing you for good. I believe the wait will be worth it !
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, in his word I put my hope.”Psalm 130:5
Today I called one of my clients to review her accounts. “Hello, Bea! How are you?” After we exchange a few pleasantries, and reviewed the business at hand, Bea and I discussed how COVID was affecting each of us.
Bea explained, “I don’t like being quarantined but I have had opportunities to help others in this independent and assisted living facility.”
She explained that there was a sixty-nine year old lady who is legally blind and the staff is having difficulty administering her eyedrops . They asked Bea whether she would be willing to help out because they have heard that she is a kind soul. Bea further explained,”Do you know for the last nine years the lady has lived here without leaving her room and that she has had no friends? But all that has changed, she’s not only let me administer the eyedrops but now we walk almost everyday together. I guess that’s why at eighty-seven years old, why I’m still here. I still have a purpose. My purpose and the bottom line is to show love and care for others. And that’s what you do, Lisa. You care for me.”
I hung up the phone and later on in the afternoon￼, went for a walk uptown and thought about the earlier conversation. It occurred to me that last night I wrote in my journal, What is my purpose? What is your will God, for me?
As I passed a church, I saw a sign that read this :
YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD
AND ITS NOT TOO LATE
I took a picture and then smiled at the sky. Yes, that’s the purpose! To love and serve others. Bea has it right !
It IS all about love! How are you loving and helping others ?
“It is God himself who has made us… and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.”￼
This past Friday, a friend and I connected through text. Because of the Chicago rains,her house had flood damage. Ugh! The May rains! Not fun!
We texted back and forth for the next several minutes and then she said something that struck me, “…you are a joy giver but don’t forget to let others bring you joy.”
Am I joy giver? Do I not allow others to bring me joy ?
The next day I received an expected card in the mail with the simple words Thinking of you . ￼A soft smile came across my face .
Monday, I received a text from my dear college friend, Wendy, who I haven’t heard from in over a year. Just seeing her name across my screen, warmed my heart. I felt loved.
Today, I received a voicemail from a￼ widowed client, saying she was enjoying reading a bible verse booklet I gave her years ago and wanted to let me know she was grateful to have it in the lockdown. Hearing her voice, I closed my eyes and was filled with gratitude and thought God is with me.
Kipper and I went for a walk and thought about joy .Three times in the last few days I was showered with JOY ! I am a lucky girl !
Can you despite this season of rain bring joy to others ?
Can you bring the joy to maybe one person this week? Or maybe two ?
Please share your ideas on how you bring the joy to others.
“The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
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.
I got to admit, I haven’t blogged in a while. Work. Kids. Family. Life. These have taken the wheel and blogging ,well, it is not even in the back seat but has been riding cargo,stuck in the trunk.
But tonight, I made room to reflect and allow for my thoughts to move up to “ shot-gun.” Yep, riding next me as an active passenger in my congested life.
Here’s what this week brought.
I walked into a church. A new bible study. A women’s group. I took a workbook and took a seat .
“ Hi! I’m Cindy. I really need this group because I am a widow and been raising my kids since they were seven and eight.This group kept me grounded.”
My mouth twitched.
“You’re a widow?”
“No, but definitely a single mom.”
My shoulder was touched and a tear formed in my eye.
It was like the seat had a reserved sign that read,“ Sit here. Welcome to Santa Barbara.”
I drove home and thought about random seats.
Indianapolis.A month ago. And an empty airplane terminal seat.
“Is this seat taken?”
A fresh freckled-face smile coaxed me over.
“No, you can sit here.”
Her nervous chatter was like her jaw,chomping gum.
“I’m 18. I’m headed to Australia for the summer. My mom doesn’t want me to go but I need to pursue my dream .She thinks I should do something practical but I love music…”
I listened. I nodded . I smiled.
“God gave you gifts and he expects you to use them. You will be great. You need to be happy.Your mom will understand.”
Tarah chimed in,”Yes,my mom always says to dream the big dream.”
Her lids lowered and a soft smile appeared.
“Thank you. Honestly kinda nervous about the trip. Sorry for talking your ear off. It’s just that my dad is a cop and he was injured on the job and is on disability. This trip is a lot of money for my mom.”
I glanced at the ceiling. Seriously, God, a cop who is disabled ? Same as my kids’ dad. Did you plan this?
“Oh, honey. I understand but your mom wants you happy.”
We hugged and departed.
A seat. Yep, a seat brought strangers together.
Who knows maybe our hope down the road depends on our seat choice?
Sit next to a stranger. Listen. Really hear them. You may help someone take the next corner with ease versus bouncing around in cargo.
“Is there anything as Christians cheering each other up?”
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.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my favorite day of the year.
I remember as a kid decorating a shoebox and excited for it be filled with paper hearts. Yep, I am the biggest hopeless romantic. Just ask me how many Rom-Com DVDs I have in my collection, I dare you.
On Valentine’s Day, I am confident of this one certainty: true love does exist. It is extremely rare but oh, so, spectacular. I received my first lesson in love from the 1974 movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Robert Redford, need I say more. My heart was swayed at the mere age of seven.
“He knew when he kissed this girl… his mind would never romp again…” Gatsby has ruined me.
But honestly, I wasn’t feeling it this year. Don’t know why…
My shoebox was empty and so was my heart.
But then…I came across a lone red envelope sticking out of my mailbox… And it hit me. The memories of past crushes, past loves, cutting out paper hearts, and a subtle secret kiss that no one saw. And suddenly my shoebox was filled to the top.
I walked to my mailbox and took out my cards. One struck in me in particular. “Here’s to the girls who takes on the world and fights for what they love.”
What do I love? Who would I fight for?
Here is a smattering of pink frosting…
A boy with a smirk and girl with a smile who once were glued to my hip, but now are miles apart.
A stranger who joins me picking up sea glass on the beach.
Friends who gave me a bike with a basket.
A kind smile across a room of yoga mats.
A text from a girl who shared the nickname “Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.”
A girl who screams, “Riehm!” as I pick up the phone.
A girl who chased me with snakes but calls me Baby doll.
And the one who knows my heart and whispers to me…
I am loved and so are you. There is someone today who is wanting to get your scribbled name on the bottom of a Peanut’s Valentine.
To get love; you must give love. So, get busy!
“If I do not give love, I am nothing.” I Corinthians 13:2
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
Would love to hear about your most memorable Valentine’s Day memory…. Please comment below.
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!
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 …
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.