Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Hint of Autumn...

                           "Autumn shows us how
                   to let things go."

Last night I was sitting out on the old swing in our back yard, bundled up in the quilt that resides there, with Daisy our sweet doggy snuggled down in the fabric with me. It was twilight, still a bit warm, and I could feel a peace start to encompass my spirit. I said out loud... 
                     "Thy will, not my will, Lord."
Daisy startled a bit, hearing a real human voice, and looked at me with those inquiring eyes as if to say, "Can't we stay here and swing back and forth just a bit longer?" I replied with tears starting to stream down my face, "Ok girl, just a bit longer."

I surveyed the garden, still rich with plants flowering, yet the edges of weariness starting to creep up their stems.

This garden and this swing and this precious puppy dog have been my haven this summer, my safe place to go. Tears here have a place that don't invite hard questions or wonderings that I simply don't have answers to.

What I know for sure is that while I have the questions, God has the answers. He is here in this garden, this safe place that I can let down the care-taking and just take a deep breath.

Then, while holding Daisy close and stroking her fur in a rhythmic motion she always loves, I happen to look over to one
of my favorite trees in our back yard and an "Oh, no" escaped my lips.

When I looked closely, even in this dusking twilight, I could see it there, the tiny stripes of red and yellow on the once green leaves.

I knew, so I said it out loud, "Ah, there's that hint of autumn."

I also knew I wasn't ready to let go...

Not ready to let go of summer, not ready to let go of more relaxed family time, and most of all... not ready to let go of my
beloved Bert.

Just that thought moved me to tears and soon Daisy was licking the tears on my face and snuggling in close. 

Mostly she does that with Bert these days as she knows something is very wrong and he is very ill.  She snuggles in close to him, puts her chin on his hand or leg, and comforts him any way she can.

Now, she has started to do that same ritual to me. She knows that my heart is breaking and that letting go of Bert, when it's his time to go home to God, will be the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

Bert loves autumn. It's his favorite season with all its colors and he has a birthday coming up on September 12th. We are so grateful for every day Bert is here. We are so grateful for all the blessings God has bestowed on us. One of the blessings is that we have a host of dear folks praying for us. My dear friend Jackie has been on her knees praying for Bert and praying for me.  I am so, so grateful for every prayer and for every day I have with Bert. 

There's a little bit of summer time left and the full glow of wondrous autumn is still on the horizon. But it will come. It is right around the corner.

Just as the leaves are transitioning, so is my beloved.

For every time there is a season and what we know for sure is that God is good all the time! He is here with us and will not forsake us. He will carry us in every season.

"They will, not my will, Lord!"

God bless!
Love, Linda

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Put your hand in the hand...

                         "Put your hand in the hand of the Man 
                        who stilled the waters,
                 Put your hand in the hand of the Man
                         who calmed the sea."

This morning, when I clicked on a post by Bonnie Gray, my heart almost stopped. I read her first sentence and the tears started to flow. It said what I haven't been able to say out loud....

                    Sometimes you run out of words.

Most folks could not imagine that sentence could apply to me.
*After all, I am a heavy extrovert.
*After all, I am a teacher who teaches communication classes.
*After all, I love verbal exchanges that are real and authentic.

                      Run out of words, you might be thinking. 
                                          Not Linda?

Yet every time I have tried to turn to this blog and put down what I have been feeling and experiencing, I have felt so overwhelmed that I just couldn't do it. After all, it would make it all seem very real if I found the words to tell the whole story, or even a small part of it.

I've asked God, time and time again, for the words to put down, hoping if I did I might find some peace in the process.

Yet what has come up, during this very painful time. is a simple verse from the Bible that used to make me smile...

                  "Be still and know that I am God!"

This time I actually listened. I have worked on being still and sitting and praying, constantly turning my overwhelm over to Him.
His shoulders are strong, and I have put my hand in His hand. 
Just as He promised, He has carried me.

The gist of what is going on, as simply put as I can make it is this...
                  
                 The loss of dear ones, ones so close to my heart, 
                                   has broken my heart.

While it may sound over-dramatic to some...the truth is that my heart feels broken. In the midst of many good things and blessings,
in the midst of great joys and gratitude, the loss of dear ones has me flabbergasted, almost speechless.

When Vicky Westra died and went home to God last October 13th,
I knew that her death was on the horizon. While I didn't know exactly when she would be gone from earth, she knew and I knew
it would be soon. We called each other "soul sisters," Vicky and I. 

We were so real with each other and did so with a sense of comfort and safety. During the last weeks of her life we texted back and forth every day. I was a sort of a "surrogate Mom" for her, she used to say.

When I saw Rick's post In God's Hands...I knew she was gone.
Yet I had no idea, absolutely no idea how big the hole would be with her absence. Like many others, I miss her every day.

At night when I'm out on the swing in our back yard, and the tears start to flow about Vicky, I practice putting my hand in the hand of Jesus...knowing He understands great loss.

Then, Ann Price, my dear friend and neighbor was diagnosed, out of the blue, with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Her memorial service was this last Saturday.

Joe Feryn, a dear friend of my daughters and in his 40s, passed away from leukemia, and his service is next Saturday. 

Our dear neighbor, Julia, who is 12 is fighting a wilm's tumor and isn't expected to live a long life.

My dear friend Eileen Thompson has ALS and is in assisted living with her husband Rog Sr.

Jackie, my forever friend, found out that her dear Daddy has leukemia.

Sharon's precious Scoutie has cancer.

The list goes on and on....

With each loss, and trying to support those who are left behind,
I have had some very tough conversations with God. I know that He does not give people cancer, or other illnesses, yet I am so sad and mad to lose these wonderful, wonderful folks. Everyone who knew them and loved them is grieving.

And on my own home front, my beloved Bert has been very ill and
has nursing care coming to our home. I know God holds my beloved in the palm of His hand....

            Yes, sometimes you just run out of words.

What I know for sure is that God didn't promise me that I wouldn't lose loved ones. Yet what He did promise me is that He would be
with me in the hard losses. He will never leave me or forsake me.
He knows that my heart is broken and He gently holds my broken heart in the palm of His almighty hand. He understands loss. When I put my hand in His, I have a sense in the midst of the hurt, that...

              "All is well...no matter what, all is well."

He also reminds me to be grateful that these wonderful people have been in my life. What a blessing it is, and has been, to share my life with them. I loved them with my whole heart, just like they loved me that way too.

So, for today, I am focusing on gratitude. I am grateful that God led me to Bonnnie's post. Her sentence "sometimes you run out of words" was truly a gift from God. It helped to dislodge my overwhelm. It helped me to remember that God is with me in every loss, and I can put my hand in His hand and all is well!

And for that blessing... I am so, so grateful!

Sending you loves, hugs and prayers!
God Bless!
Love, Linda












         

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Promise...

                               I hope you remember....
                      that I can't make this life easier,
                   but I promise to walk with you always!
                                                      -Edie Wentworth


I was up early that morning for some much needed meditation and prayer time. I had felt restless and off-base
the day before and I had barely slept that night. I've never been a great sleeper, one of those folks who drifts off in a heart-beat and then slumbers without a whimper. My beloved Bert is like that. When he is out, he is OUT. Almost nothing wakes him up until his internal alarm clock says that it is time to get going.

I, on the other hand, am usually up at 3:00 am. I'm ready to go and make it a great day. Yet on this particular morning
I had tossed and turned all night long. So my "Get up prayer" instead of "Thanks!" was "Help!"

So I finally just got up, put on my warm and fuzzy robe and well-worn comfy sandals, got a fresh cup of coffee and quietly headed out the back door. There were still splotches of snow. Yet more of the ground was visible, though it was all very soggy. Remnants from a long winter that just didn't want to quit. 

Our old swing was out there, a place Bert and I gravitate to when we wanted to look at the sky or talk about something important.

I noticed as I sat on the swing and started to pray that the rain was gently coming down, almost as if you wouldn't notice its presence. A drop here and a drop there, not even  drizzle. Every drop seemed like a reminder of God's presence.

I felt like His spirit was right there with me on that old backyard swing. Somehow I knew that I didn't need to explain to Him what was on my heart.

I knew...
He sees my heart.
He sees your heart.
He knows what we need even before we do.
He knows my heart hurts.

What did manage to escape my lips was something like...
"This isn't fair. It just isn't." 
"Help! Please do something to ease her pain." 

I was asking Him to draw close to so many dear ones who are hurting right now. Just the day before, when I was working in the front-yard garden and trying to break through a few patches of dirt that were still frozen, a wonderful neighbor stopped by. She lives across the street and almost always comes over to chat when she sees me putzing in the garden. Immediately I noticed that she didn't look quite like herself, but I hadn't seen her for some time. 

After all, with this winter of freezing weather and four feet of snow everywhere, we have hardly seen any neighbors more than just to wave. Since everyone was so bundled up, there have been times I wasn't entirely sure I knew who I had just waved at.

So this neighbor's visit was a welcome sign of spring.

Then when our dear friend started the conversation by saying, "I didn't want to you hear this from someone else, but this winter I have been battling cancer," my heart just sank.

Not any cancer, mind you, but one of the big ones where the recovery rate is minuscule. 

Her words took my breath away and other faces popped up in my mind and heart. Suddenly Eileen's face came to mind. She is dying from ALS. Julia, twelve years old and living across the street, is fighting a Wilm's tumor that may take her life. And my beloved Bert's face popped up since he has been so sick lately.

What escaped my lips, on that backyard swing so early in the morning, was "enough!" And then the tears started to flow. I just felt so sad seeing so many good people in pain. Sad and helpless. 

No wonder I couldn't sleep. 

I couldn't do much, but I could pray.
I couldn't do much, but I could ask others to pray for them.
I couldn't do much, but I could walk with them
through this hurt and pain. I could love them unconditionally
and be a support person they could lean on!

If you believe in the power of prayer, would you please keep Ann, Eileen, Julia and Bert in your prayers? While I can't fix this for them, I can hold their hand and walk through this with them.

Have a blessed day. Sending loves, hugs and prayers your way!
Linda

   
                          

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Loving Life...the best present ever!


                                       She loved life...
                       and Life Loved Her 
                       Right Back!

Have you ever looked at a piece of clothing and knew it was meant for you, yet you talked yourself right out of it because...
     After all, you already have lots of t-shirts.
     You could save that money for a rainy day.
     You tell yourself you are being extravagant.

So you didn't spoil yourself and later regretted the choice

you made?

I can still see the t-shirt in my mind's eye. I was at Nordstrom, which is not a place I usually shop. Yet my Granddaughter who was adopted from Ethiopia and was in high school, was on Nordies High School Board and had seen a gift she fell in love with. I had asked what she wanted for her birthday. This oh so unselfish young lady, who grew up in such poverty and lived in an orphanage until my daughter adopted her, actually said in a small voice...


      "Nana, you asked what I'd like for my birthday. I saw the 

       most beautiful bracelet with tiny sparkling stones that
       look like the stars in the sky. It reminds me of the stars 
       in Ethiopia. But I feel so selfish asking for that so please
       don't worry about getting it for me."

While some teens might use that as manipulation, my sweet granddaughter was just feeling guilty about asking for something for herself.


As soon as I hung up from talking with her, I headed to Nordstrom as I knew where the cherished bracelet might be located. In the Brass Plum, the then teen area of the store.


All the way there my heart was pounding. 


Earlier stories about Sihin raced through my mind. 


*When they came to bring her home to Spokane, and they had new clothes for her to wear, Sihin gave all her new clothes away to needy children in the orphanage. 

*When they were in Ethiopia meeting her for the first time in person, and got her an ice cream cone, she saw a young man staring longingly at it and she walked over and gave him her ice cream.

Yes, the word unselfish describes my precious granddaughter, my Glory Sihin.


So, back to the story of the bracelet and t-shirt. Once out of my car, I walked briskly to the Brass Plum. That's when the t-shirt caught my eye. It was on a mannequin and you couldn't miss it. It was a beautiful pink, almost like the tint of pink in a sunset. The letters were in a beautiful script and it said...

                                 
                                "She loved life
                                  and life loved her right back."

I imagined wearing that t-shirt and just the thought of that

made me smile. But I realized I was on a mission so I found the sparkly bracelet and purchased it for my sweet granddaughter.
The sales girl knew our Sihin and said over and over again how wonderful and unselfish she was. I couldn't stop smiling as I knew those words were true.

Yet, uncharacteristically for me,  I couldn't stop thinking about the t-shirt. Once home, I phoned the teen department. The young lady who answered was so apologetic. Yes, it had been sold. Yes, there was only one and it was discontinued. I felt disappointed
but I also knew that I had seen that shirt for a reason. 

The message was a reminder that life is so precious. It's easy to take it for granted. 


Perhaps later I'll follow my dream. 

Perhaps later I'll tell those folks I love them. 

When you love life you live it  full speed ahead. You know in your deepest heart of hearts that life is a gift. It should be treasured! 


When you really love life, you see all of life as a gift, even the things that don't seem gift wrapped.


While I didn't have the shirt, the message would always stay in my heart. 


When I got together with my darling granddaughter the next week I couldn't wait to see her eyes when she saw the bracelet. I knew she would be thrilled. I met her downtown at the Nordstrom Cafe' after her work time at Nordies as a board member was over. 


When lunch was finished I pulled the small box from my purse, a grin on my face from ear- to- ear. Tears started flowing as I told her how much her Boppa (Bert) and I loved her, how our family had become complete when she joined us. How we knew she also missed Ethiopia, her home country. Maybe when she wore this bracelet, it would remind her of those stars she loved.


Tears streamed down her face and mine. She couldn't stop hugging me.


And then she got a grin on her face, reached in her purse and brought out a wrapped present. I said "What is this sweetie? You shouldn't have." Then it was her turn to tell me what Boppa and I meant to her. How she loved us so, so much and knew we loved her and believed in her. She said, "When I saw this Nana, I thought of you. You, Nana, love life so much and you spread that love to all of your grandkids. We cherish life more because you have taught us to do that."


As I opened the present, there was the t-shirt. My mouth fell open. "How did you?"...was all I could get out. She told me the sales girl, one of her friends on the board, had seen how I looked at the message on the shirt, put my hand on my heart because the message touched me so, and since there was only one left, she took it off the mannequin, just in case Sihin wanted to get it for me.


And that is the end of the story...except it isn't. The best present ever wasn't the t-shirt, it was the love my granddaughter showed me by getting it for me. Every time I wear it, I have tears as it reminds me of how wonderful and unselfish she is. It was her birthday we were celebrating, but she was more excited about getting me a gift than receiving one herself.


What a blessing she is. She is the best gift ever and I am so, so grateful she is here. God really blessed us by making her a part of our family. Yes, our family is now complete!


God Bless!

Love, Linda
   
   


Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Hint of Spring...

         
                                                        And HOPE,
                          if it had a scent,
                         would smell like
                                     SPRING,
                                      like rain,
                            like something
                      NEW and ALIVE.
                                          -Jennifer Rush

It is not an exaggeration to say that it has been a long winter
here in Spokane. Just when the talk about town was that we
were going to escape having the horrible weather the rest of the country was enduring, bam! February hit with a record
amount of snow. 

When we had our hearts set on Spring...
the snow hit and just kept coming.

How much snow you ask? More than 4 feet of snow in our back yard. School was cancelled and that never, ever happens in Spokane. After all, we are rustic survivors here, hearty folks who can handle tough weather, unlike our neighbors on the west side of the state who almost faint at the sign of the first snowflake... or that's the tale we tell.

Well, we may be survivors, but even the most hearty wanted a break from the white "stuff."

Everyone talked about the weather...would we every see sun again? Was more snow on the way? Had anyone seen the first hints of spring?

It was safe to say we were a little desperate. We needed a reminder that even in the darkest, snowiest days, God is in charge. Even in the midst of more snow and more snow, He holds us in the palm of His Almighty hand.

All will be well, as my dear friend Vicky Westra used to remind me.

All is well...I just need to remind myself of that truth.

This has been a hard winter in other ways as well. It's hard for me to find the words to talk about it because my tears keep flooding and rolling down my face even when I let the 
thoughts cross my mind.

Bert has been ill since January. Not a little ill, really ill.
In the last three weeks, we spent one whole weekend visiting Urgent Care facilities and the next weekend we spent all of
Saturday at the Sacred Heart Hospital ER. 

Then that next Wednesday, March 6th we had an appointment with Bert's doctor and old friend. 

Dan knows Bert well as they worked together at the Adolescent Chemical Dependency Unit at Deaconess Hospital, years ago. Dan was the doctor, Bert one of the counselors who worked with the teenagers. They made a great team.

We trust "Dr. Dan" because we know he not only cares for us physically, he loves us. Especially Bert. Dan is quite a bit younger and almost looks at Bert as being a Dad figure...
the kind of Dad every kid would have loved to have.

I could see Dan's eyes when Bert came into the exam room.
Dan looked like he was going to cry, but held it together to greet both of us with his usual bravado.

He looked at Bert's records, lab reports and most importantly weight. I saw the flash of fear cross his eyes, even though Bert didn't pick up on it. He asked about the urgent care visits and the last trip to the ER.

Then he stopped in his tracks, put down Bert's chart, and started talking about snow and spring. How spring was a time of renewal and growth and HOPE.

Spring reminded us that God gave the world seasons, just like he gave us seasons in our lives. None of us, he said softly, knew when we would go home to God. And then he picked up Bert's hand and told him he loved him.

He told him how much love Bert had spread everywhere he went. He talked about the kids in the chemical dependency unit and how they flocked to Bert, knowing that he truly saw something in them that was good and holy, even though they didn't see that in themselves.

He told Bert that he was adored by his family and that every time we had an appointment Dan could see how Bert and I adored each other. We had reminded him that people could
be married "forever" and yet still look like they were on their honeymoon. 

And then he stopped, paused and said almost quietly...
"No more urgent care visits, my friend, or ER visits where
you have to wait three hours to be seen, let's bring some nursing care right to where you are at home." 

While tears had been streaming down my face during the whole visit, I felt a huge calm come over me, almost like Jesus was holding my hand just as Dan was holding Bert's.

I could feel like spring, while it might be Bert's last, was right around the corner and that God would be with us, no matter what happened next. The snow would melt, the sun would come out and help was coming with all of the medical issues we were facing.

God suddenly gave us peace about what comes next. While we don't know what that will look like, He does.

How perfect that God gave me the word Serenity for 2019! 

And just like that...the snow in Spokane started to melt, the sun came out and the temperatures started to come up...just a bit. 

There is a hint of spring and that's enough for now.

While we don't know what comes next, or what health challenges may come our way, Bert and I know that God
is here and all is well! We feel better then we have for awhile, just having nursing help when we need it. We can call and they will come. We are at peace.

April 7th we will have been married for 35 years, almost half my life. We are both so grateful that God brought us together, and we wouldn't trade a day of those 35 years. We have adored each other, and Bert is my beloved. Sharing my life with him has been such a joy and an honor. He is my very best friend and the love of my life. No human person has loved me like Bert has loved me and to share our love for God together...well, that has made ALL the difference.

We are grateful to God for every day we have had together and every day we will have together...no matter how many days that turns out to be.

Could we ask for your prayers? Please pray for peace, no matter what comes our way. May we know in our deepest heart-of-hearts that God is here and will be with us...whatever comes next.

And may you also know how much God loves you...
He is there in the darkest night and the hardest day.
He will never leave you or forsake you.
He will hold you close when you are afraid.

And if it feels like winter in your heart,
Just give your heart to Him and you, too, will feel a ...
hint of Spring!

Sending you loves, hugs and prayers-
God Bless!
Linda







Saturday, March 09, 2019

Miracles....

                           I believe that today is a gift and that everyday
                     miracles are scattered about if only we
                               have eyes to see them.

This past week I was working with a student who, in
her words, "feels broken." She described some things
that had happened to her, and as I listened my heart
was in my throat. This beautiful, amazing, young woman,
God's own precious daughter, has been through so much.
She was hurt and the hurt oozed out of her words and
you could see the hurt in her eyes.

She asked me if I had ever been hurt and had ever felt
shattered and broken.

I paused for a minute and looked at her as a big tear
rolled down my cheek. It was hard to find the word,
even one word. The one word was more of a whisper
that came from my broken heart...

"yes"...was all that came out.

And with that "yes" I started to pray silently that the Lord
would give me just the right words to say to this wonderful
young lady. How could I honor her pain, but also tell her
that there is hope for healing. I took a deep breath before going on.

She just kept looking at me and I said...
            "God rescued me. At the hour of feeling shattered,
              He held me. He loved me. He told me the day
               would come that I would once again be okay."

Rescue me.
Yes, God rescued me.

Awhile back, my precious daughter Amy introduced me
to a song called "Rescue" by Lauren Daigle, a Christian artist. The powerful words of that song were on my heart. 

Amy got me the CD for my birthday, and I play it every day. Tears flow every time.


You see on so many, many occasions, God has given me the gift of healing, the gift of hope, the gift that when my heart is
breaking, He will be there. He will not forsake me or forget me. He will come after me and remind me that He loves me,
even in the darkest night and the hardest night.

He will help heal me so I can once again believe that...
              today is a gift and that everyday miracles
              are scattered about if only I have eyes to see them.

The God that made the heavens and the earth will not forget me. I am His daughter and He will hold me and help me.
He will hear the SOS in my heart.

"Help." 
"Help me Lord."
"I can't do this alone."

And just as the Lord helped me pick up the pieces of my life back then, He holds me now as my beloved Bert struggles with health issues that break my heart.

So I told this young lady, this daughter of the Almighty,
that God would rescue her. Call His name. Give your heart to Him. He will not fail you. His love will give you courage
and strength.

What I know for sure, is that God's promise holds true.

When our heart is breaking, He is there.
When life is wonderful, He is there.
When we feel hopeless, He is there.
We are not forgotten. 

He will send an army after us in the middle of our darkest night.

That promise reminds me to look for His miracles every day.
They are gifts from Him, if only I have eyes to see them.

God Bless!
Love,
Linda




Friday, February 15, 2019

My WORD for 2019- SERENITY

                                                  God, grant me the serenity to
                        accept the things I cannot change,
                     the courage to change the things I can,
                      and the wisdom to know the difference.   
                                                   
It's a huge relief to have someone know you inside and out. Their knowing can give you the courage and hope to look in the mirror and see who you are and where you are in your life's journey. 

My daughter, Amy, is one of those people for me. Not only does she know me, she loves me...just as I am. She is a truth teller in my life, but a gentle truth teller whose deep caring and empathy is soul-healing. I have talked to her about the  struggle going on inside of me. Her listening ear to Gmy truths has given me the strength to try and put words to what has been going on and where I am now. Thanks, Aim!


Another friend, Gramma Grits, who has faithfully read this blog, asked me, in the comment section, if I was okay. She said she had been stopping in and was concerned about the fact that I had not been writing. Her concern and compassion brought a flood of tears, almost uncontrollable. Thank you, Grandma Grits!


And my forever friend, Jackie, always keeps me in her prayers. She knows how much I love God, and she knows how much I love Vicky. She loves Vicky, too. Jackie's prayers have helped my hurting heart. Thanks, Jackie!


So while I have been held up, loved and listened to, and I am so grateful for that love and support, I have still struggled. Lately I have wondered if I really let the things out that are in my deepest heart if I would ever stop crying.


A bit of backstory about me for any readers who do not know me well.  Usually, I am one to be on "the bright side," thanking God for all of the blessings and challenges as they bring me closer to Him. 
I still feel that way, but I have also always been someone who has such deep feelings about people I love that when I lose them my heart is broken.


Not just broken, shattered.


Recently, rather than write out what is going on inside, I have been asking God to guide me with books to read that might soothe my weary soul. As expected, He answered that prayer and then some. 
So I read and I cry and I read some more. It's almost as if God has come near to me through prayer and the words of others.


What brought me to this place, you might ask?


What brought me here is a loss so profound that I don't have words to describe it. 


What brought me here is a grief so profound, that it turns to anger and then turns back to grief again.


Let me explain. I probably knew in my deepest heart-of- hearts that my beloved friend, Vicky Westra, might die from cancer. After all, when her initial diagnosis was stage four, the battle became how to keep her alive for as long as possible. While I had known Vicky prior to her diagnosis, I walked with her through the last 7 years of her life. I saw her bravery, courage, resilience, compassion, empathy and pain, lots and lots of pain. 


I prayed and pererayed in those seven years for God to do a healing miracle in Vicky's life. While I knew Vicky might die from cancer, I also knew then, and believe now, that God can do miracles! Never the less, on October 13th, 2018, 
Vicky went home to God and a deep and painful loss set in for me.


Pain that was physical. Pain that was emotional. Pain that

was spiritual.

Vicky and I fit like a glove. I am just about the age where she could have been my daughter, and since her own Mama's death, perhaps  I became a bonus Mama for her as well.


We called ourselves "soul sisters."  Yet somehow even that endearment didn't catch it all.


For the last months and weeks of Vicky's life, we texted almost every day. I will save all those text messages forever, especially the one that said, "If two days go by, sweet friend, and I don't text you, you will know I am on my way back to God."


Every text after that brought such relief. She was still here.

And then the text messages stopped coming. It was time for her to go Home. 

I am so grateful to have been a small part of her support system. Yet, while I knew things would be different after her death, I had no idea how different.


Simultaneously, my dear friend Eileen Thompson was dying from ALS, and still is, and our precious 12 year old neighbor, Julia, was fighting for her life. She, too, has cancer. 


In all of these hard times, I have just kept praying and praying. I have been asking God to guide my path and give me the strength to come along side Eileen and Julia, just as I had tried to come along side my precious soul sis, Vicky.


Then Bert and I took a much needed vacation and I spent much of that time "away" reading, loving, hoping and healing. It was also close to 2019, a new year and time to pick my word for the year.


Truth be told, I didn't just pick the word.  I asked God to help me see the word He wanted for me. And then, out of the blue, came the word... 


                                                                                          Serenity

Serenity: A chance to breathe and reflect.

Serenity: A prayer I have prayed many, many times
     as I tried to "Let Go and Let God."
Serenity: Peace of mind, heart and spirit.
Serenity: An inner calm that God has "got this,"
      no matter what "this" is.

Then, after we returned from vacation and I was going through Christmas cards, I saw a letter that changed my life. It changed everything. It brought light to the darkness and hope to my heart.

It replaced fear and grief with hope and serenity.

The Christmas card and letter were from Rick Westra, Vicky's beloved husband. The card had a picture of their sons' Colton and Nolan and their pooch, Crosby. Inside the Christmas card was a

letter. I opened it, hardly able to breathe.

Rick's  carefully chosen words helped my heart to heal even more. He thanked me for being an angel on earth for Vicky and their family. I can't write this without tears flowing and flowing. And as I read his kind words, a peace beyond understanding started to heal my heart. Serenity started to replace fear and anger with hope, healing and gratitude.


And a new life-lesson was born: Look how Vicky had touched us, all of us, especially Rick and the boys. All of us would always miss her, but she would want us to grieve and then get back to living. 


I wouldn't do a thing differently. Knowing what I know, and how much it hurts to have her gone, I would still choose

to love her with my whole heart.

And I would know then, as I know now, that "All is well."

Vicky is home with God, safe and secure in His loving arms.
And I now know, as I have always known, that serenity and peace are here for the asking. Just as Vicky is safe and secure in God's loving arms, so am I in those same arms.

God Bless!

Much love always,
Linda









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