The Whisper Within

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


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south haven

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 a 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, roughly 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 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?

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July 4th 2001. Not single yet… but definitely beach bound.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who make hard choices !
Because I loved my kids …the benefits of being raised by a single mom …
1) You learned if you didn’t get up for school a bucket of water would be dumped in you .
2) You learned that mouthing off would result in a “free pass” to walk to school in the middle of winter .
3) You learned that misbehaving at x-mas eve service would earn you the ” push-ups for presents ” prize.
4) You learned that NOT learning math was NOT an option- I was not afraid to be called a math nazi .
5) You learned if something stunk – it was time to crawl under the deck to see what creature was rotting – usually a raccoon .
6) You learned how to earn a wage at 8 & 9 yrs old – I think $5 is a fair wage for staining a deck .
7) You learned summer was not a vacation from homework … that worksheets before breakfast is part of life .
8) You learned that no matter what , WE were a team – poor but surviving .
9) You learned that I was always in your corner .I would pour every ounce into you – but you had to do the same – FOR YOU !
10) You learned that I love you – no matter what ! #mothersday #momlife #mom #singlemom
Congrats to all the moms who make it work!


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blinkGo ahead and blink.

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.

https://thewhisperwithin.live/2016/09/15/sleepless-to-serendipity/

 

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?”

“Engineering.”

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 .


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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?”

“Pete.”

“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

 


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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.

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All Grown up !


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Sleepless to Serendipity

life-book

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 …

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Cali!

Silly Lisa…learning to surrender.

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.