Tuesday, July 17, 2018

When You Feel Overwhelmed and Discouraged...Move, Keep Walkin'

    "I know your prayers ain't been answered yet,
                 but it's not over yet."                 
                               Song "Move (Keep Walkin')" by TobyMac

Sometimes the questions my grandchildren ask are so profound that
they take my breath away. They have a way of simplifying life that is soul-refreshing. When I am asked one of those questions that
comes straight from their heart, I stop for just a moment, pray and ask the Lord God Almighty how would He want me to answer this?

That happened on a recent vacation trip to Diamond Lake. It was
truly a family retreat with smores, fireworks on July 4th, making meals together, taking walks, and catching up with ourselves and each other. One of my grandchildren, or my "Grands" as my dear friend Jackie would say, started to ask me important questions, the kind that give you pause to think and ponder. I found, quite truthfully, that I kept thinking about what they asked and how I answered all week while we were up there.

And we, my grand and I, kept chatting about these hard questions,  and new thoughts about them.We talked over dinner, breakfast, and walks around the lake... an ongoing dialogue if you will.

What were some of those questions?
* Nana, why does God let bad things happen to good people?
* Nana, when something awful happens, and your heart is broken,
   how do you keep going?
*Nana, is it okay to be mad at God because my friend is dying?

Out of the mouths of babes, right? I told my dear Grand that when I
go to Heaven one day, I hope God will let me ask him those exact same questions.

Specifically, this grandchild had found me out on the dock, reading my Jesus Calling book, and weeping about my dear fried Vicky Westra. Not crying a few tears, but really allowing myself to feel the depths of her pain and the loss I will feel when she goes home to God. Tears for my beloved Bert who was so ill that we almost didn't come up to the lake at all. Two of the most wonderful people I know...both struggling, both believing in God's love and grace, and both putting their trust in Him.

So after taking a deep breath, and regaining a smidge of my composure, I took my Grand's hand and said a small prayer before I even tried to talk about these profound questions. In each case, I started by saying, "Honey, I don't really know how God works sometimes, or why hard things happen to me or people I love like Vicky and your Boppa. But what I do know for sure is that God loves me. He loves you. He loves Vicky and Boppa. He never leaves us, even when things are hard and awful."

Then, out of the corner of my memory, I remembered reading Julie Garmon's last blog post and the song she posted there. When we were back in the house I went over to a computer (someone was doing homework there :), and brought up TobyMac's song about "Movin' On, It Ain't Over Yet!" It talked all about broken hearts and wondering if God's promises apply to me and my life, to Vicky and Boppa's life, to all of our lives. Here's the link to that powerful song...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou-p_RDUbB4

While I don't know what challenges are on the horizon, this song is an upbeat reminder about trusting God and that no matter what, my job is to keep moving on and remembering that "It Ain't Over Yet!!" 

No matter what challenges you may be facing right now, may you remember that God loves you, even in the hardest of hard times. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is there!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Soul Work in the Deep Waters...

              Entrance into another's soul
                 is always a sacred honor.

It is a gorgeous day, here in Spokane, Washington. It's almost 8 am, the sun is shining through the trees and saying..."It's time to come out and play." Bert is still snoozing away and Daisy, our precious puppy, is snuggled into a blanket, one ear raised so she doesn't miss a thing.

It feels just right to sit down this morning and try to put into words what has been going on in my mind and in my heart the past month and a half.

                              It's not easy, but I'll try.

It would be fair to say that I have been busy and that's why I haven't taken the time or energy to post on this blog. That would be true, but not a sufficient answer. It has been the end of an amazing school year filled with graduation and saying good bye to hundreds and hundreds of students. 

It has also been a busy time filled just trying to catch up...on the
work here at home, my classroom at school, with communicating with my dear hearts. 

           Yes, again true, but not sufficient to explain my absence.

If I'm being perfectly honest, and I have always tried to be transparent here, I haven't written because I have been speechless on so many fronts. On one hand, amazed at God's goodness and love for me, for all of us. On the other hand, stunned by the hard times that bring my faith to its knees. I know, more than ever, that He is here and never leaves us, even in our darkest hours.

As I just texted my dear soul sis, Vicky Westra...

       "When you go through deep waters, 
                    I will be be with you."      
                                                            Isaiah 43:2

That's a promise from God Almighty, the maker of Heaven and earth. He says He will never, ever leave us, even when 
it feels like we are drowning and can't imagine how we will get through this (whatever this is). I am resting on that promise. I believe it to be true. I know it is because God has been with me in good times and in the hardest, hard times.

                        This is one of those very hard times. 

Two people I love with all my heart are struggling so hard and going through deep waters.

It feels almost as if the water is rising, just as it does here every spring when the snow in the mountains starts to melt and the rivers are in a near-flooding stage for weeks on end.

First, let me start by talking about my beloved Vicky Westra. My dear "soul sis" is in deep waters. Vicky has stage four breast cancer and has battled this awful disease for seven years. She has been a beacon of strength and courage as she continues to find joy and gratitude, even in the midst of pain. Recently Vicky got some very difficult news, that things were even worse than she had imagined, and she is clinging to her word of the year..

                                        HOPE! 


I am clinging to hope right along with her. Here is a clip to watch so you can meet my sweet friend in person. Please watch this and if you can, pray for my dear friend Vicky...Pray for HOPE. Please pray for peace and pray for healing

www.wday.com/news/4452519-woman-fighting-cancer-seven-years-receives-big-surprise


Second, not only is my sweet Vicky in deep water, so is my beloved husband, Bert. Bert is just the best person I have ever known. His capacity to love and help others always amazes me. Like Vicky, he never complains and always is grateful. As some of you know, Bert suffered a TIA stroke about two and a half years ago. He has had memory problems ever since. In the past few months, those memory problems have become more significant and seeing him go through all of this has been hard and heart-breaking. Yet in the midst of these deep waters, my precious husband leans on Jesus and celebrates God's love. 

I think there are days that my struggle with all of this is even worse than his.  I just keep doing all I can to be a support to him, to love him with my whole heart, no matter what. To be there for him and reassure him that he will never be alone in this struggle. Some days I can only lean on Jesus. He gives me the strength to be fully loving and fully present.

Please pray for Bert and for me that we might go through all of this clinging to God and praising Him, no matter what. He is our strength and our foundation. He holds us up in the good times and hard times. God continues to amaze us at every turn. We listen to this song by Selah, a Christian music group, and it reminds us who God is.

We are all doing soul work,  and learning one day at a time to focus on God's love and strength. We are being stretched by deep waters, but we are not broken. We rely on God and that truly changes everything. Here's a song that gives us HOPE!
Perhaps listening to it will give you hope as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzfKhKf9Pig

I am so, so grateful to God that both Bert and Vicky are here!
They are here to love and care about! They are here to share life lessons about gratitude that we all desperately need. They are here to remind me, remind us all, to enjoy every day and to be grateful, no matter what we are going through. What a gift they are to me and to so many others!

And as you read this post...may God bless you! May you know, whatever challenges you are facing, that you are NOT alone. He is there with you! He holds you, just like he holds Vicky and Bert and me, in the palm of His almighty hand!

Much Love,
Linda 
                
  


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

                               If every person made it a rule that
                         wherever you are, whenever you
                         can, you will try to act a little kinder
                         than necessary- the world really
                         would be a better place. And if you
                         do this, if you act a little kinder
                         than necessary, someone else,
                         somewhere, someday, may
                         recognize in you, the face of God.
                                                    -RJ Palacio, Wonder

When I saw the trailer for the movie "Wonder" I just
couldn't stop crying. Here was the story of a young boy,  
with Treacher-Collins syndrome, who had been born with
what the world sees as a highly deformed face. His name was
Auggie. I read the book, Wonder, and went to the movie with my dear, dear granddaughter, Jenna. 

Jenna knew that I wanted to go. She had already seen the movie Wonder with her big sister, but she could see in my eyes and hear in my voice that this really mattered to me. So she stepped in with such kindness and went to the movie again- this time with her Nana.

While my story of being visibly different is not the same as Auggie's, Auggie's story brought back so many memories.
As I sat in that movie theater I could feel the cruel stares that Auggie experienced and I could remember, vividly, the stares
I had received as a little girl.

You see looking and asking with compassion is one thing.
Looking with judgements and condemnation is quite another.

Knowing me well, to comfort me Jenna held my left hand through the whole movie. Before the movie started, she even showed me more kindness by warning me that Auggie's doggy's name was Daisy. Daisy is the name of the darling doggy Jenna gave to Bert and to me. Jenna instinctively knew that I might be upset about what happened to Daisy in the movie. She told me she would hold my hand extra tight during those scenes.

And she did.

I could hardly breathe as the story unfolded. While I know that everyone faces suffering and pain, this story paralled mine with so much vivid reality that I felt a little exposed.
There, on that screen, was part of my story.

Yet, while I will always remember seeing that movie, reading that book, and learning new lesson's from Auggie and the people in his life, what I will remember most is Jenna's kindness.

Her kindness comforted me, held me up, and made me feel not so all alone. 

I've been the recipient of her kindness before. After Bert's TIA stroke, and Annora's birth, Jenna gave up her beloved doggy Daisy so that her Boppa could have company at home.
She loved Daisy enough, and her grandpa enough, to be selfless.

What I know for sure is that the world needs more kindness
right now,  the kind of unselfish kindness I see in Jenna's heart. 

What I know for sure is that Amy's darling daughter is on the right track.

What I know for sure is that Jenna's kindness has reminded me to "act a little kinder than necessary." The world really
is a better place when we extend kindness to others. 

I truly see God's face in my precious granddaughter's eyes!

May we all #choosekindness

God Bless and Happy Mother's day!
Love, Linda




Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

                                                     Live Every Day...
                               Like It's Saturday!

Oh my goodness. What a luxury it is to sleep past 3am, the usual time I get up each week day when I am teaching. Now please don't imagine that I am complaining here. I am not. I am so used to this schedule that it is second nature to get up at that hour. However, there is something so delicious about a Friday night when I can whisper seven magic words to myself ...
                         
                       "Tomorrow...Get up when you want to."

Saturday is purely magical. I always make coffee the night before and just pushing that button with no sense of rush or have to...well it is just so good for my soul. After doctoring up my brew with a magical concoction, I settle down with the fireplace on, my cup of coffee, Daisy, our sweet doggy by my side, and reach for Jesus Calling. I almost sigh at how luxurious it is to read it and then read it again, slowly and out loud this time.


I wonder this morning if it would be so special if I lived like this every day. Would I appreciate the slower pace of life?

Would I take the time to smell the coffee? Would I pet sweet Daisy with no thought to "I had better get a move on?"

Being a teacher brings me such total JOY that I would do it for free. Yet anyone who has been a teacher knows that the work load is tremendous, not just in the planning, but also in the paper grading. On Saturday there is still a big pile of papers to be graded, and they will be done by Monday morning, but I don't have to do them right.this.minute.


Just that extra few hours of sleep makes the world seem bright and gay, even though it is super cold and rainy here in Spokane. We are all wondering when in the heck Spring is really go
ing to get here. (It was snowing as I came up the south hill this week. While it didn't stick, it was SNOWING.)

Oh dear sweet baby Jesus, we desperately need some warm weather. The poor trees and flowers are so confused. You can almost hear them saying...

                  "Should I really unfold completely? It's a bit
                    too chilly for that."

Yet a day by the fire, reading and sipping coffee, seems like such a blessing. I might do this or I might do that.

Or in Pooh's words...
                    
                 "Let's begin by taking a smallish nap...
                   or two."    
                                                                 -POOH

I'm with Pooh on that one. "Sleep, Glorious Sleep"...
how precious you are.

May you have a fun, relaxing and restful weekend!
God Bless!
Love, Linda


                                                    

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Happy 35th Wedding Anniversary Bert!






It's a rainy day here in Spokane, a drizzle really. A perfect day to curl up by our fire and reminisce about the last 35 years.

Yes, today is our 35th wedding anniversary and "Praise God!" my beloved Bert is here so we can celebrate it together. We have been sipping coffee, listening to some of our favorite music and telling stories...lots and lots of stories. We are holed up in our comfy family room with Daisy the doggy rotating between our laps,
on the wall the huge hand painted sign I got Bert for our 25th anniversary. It says...

                              YOU HAVE
                              MY WHOLE
                              HEART
                              FOR MY
                              WHOLE LIFE

Our story has so many twists and turns, meeting in grad school. Me... with a shattered heart, never going to trust again. Bert with a heart of gold, knowing I needed to heal, that I was completely broken. He... being a much needed friend and helper...someone who prayed for me, for my girls, constantly. And he listened...he listened and listened, without judgement. I cried with him, buckets and buckets of tears.

He was a perfect gift from God, I believe that with all of my heart.

And then one day I realized that he was truly my best friend. My
friend Gail nudged me by saying, "Linda, if ten years from now you tell me there are no good men out there, I'll personally kill you.
There is one standing right in front of you,"

And he was, my Bert, standing there then. And he is standing here now, thirty five years later.

I am amazed to this day that he really likes me, just as I am. He really loves me, no matter what. He thinks I'm pretty. He tells me that every day. I still leave him love notes, every day. Thirty five years later.

We have been through some tough times, some very tough times, but we give those times to God. He holds us and we get through them.

Don't misunderstand, there are times Bert drives me crazy. At times, he has a tough time finishing what he starts. I'm a big finisher. But in the end we both know how little that really is.

We know what BIG is. After all, two years ago he had a TIA stroke and I almost lost him. And God brought him back to me.

I cherish every day I have with him.

One of my favorite sayings on a framed picture of the two of us is...
          
                              You don't have to promise me
                                  the moon and the stars,
                               Just promise you'll stand
                                  underneath them with me. 

And so my paratrooper, businessman, wind surfer- namer, best friend, Daddy, Papa, counselor, helper, listener, holder, hard worker, server of others, care-taker, lover of God, best person I know, love of my life...

                              Happy 35th Anniversay, my beloved!

You have my whole heart, for my whole life. And my darling, I have yours!

God bless sweetheart!
Love always!
Your Linda


                                




Saturday, March 24, 2018

What I Know For Sure...

             "God has YOU in the palm
                of His Almighty Hand!"

Some days I am left speechless. Speechless as I contemplate God's
love.  Speechless as I contemplate God's glory. Speechless as I experience God's grace.

Speechless as I see so much hurt right in front of me.

Lord, what am I to do?
What would You have me do?
What would You have me say?

I was waiting for the phone call. When it didn't come, I went to my
planner to check the date again. Yes, this was the day. Wednesday,
March 21st. I had written it in red ink in my planner. 

This was the day my dear friend was to get her test results.
The doctor had lovingly issued a warning of sorts.
"You need to have your family here," he said.

We had talked on the phone about the test.
She knew something was very wrong.
After all, she had spend a good part of the last
twenty years in battle. An unseen enemy that had taken a terrific toll. Yet she was still here. Full of faith. Full of belief in Him.

Eileen's faith is like a rock. It is unbending. It is sure. It has held her up through some mighty storms over the last twenty some years that I have known her. It has nourished her in the good times and reassured her in some awful times. I can't tell you how many times she has told me, very simply with such knowing...
                       "Linda, He is with me. I trust Him."

Eileen's faith reminds me of the old song....
          "Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus. Vast unmeasured boundless 
            free. Rolling as a mighty ocean, in it's stillness, over me."
       
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vUhwyjdk8A

When I first got to know Eileen, she was battling breast cancer.
Her son was going to marry my daughter and she wanted to be here for that wedding. She was having chemo and losing her hair and probably feeling a bit vulnerable as the wedding approached. Yet
the deep, deep love of Jesus carried her through, it held her up.
It gave her an unstoppable courage. She was there at that wedding.
She was there for the birthdays and children born. And when cancer came back again. She fought and she fought. Jesus held her up. God gave her strength. She trusted Him.

She trusted Him then and she trusts Him now.

Yet she knew something had changed over the past several years as she lost more and more ability to move her arm. Her body just didn't work like it used to. And then the other arm started to go.
The doctor gave her test after test and threw around some options of what it might be... 

Could the cancer be back? Was it ALS? What was going on?

They did a battery of tests and the results would come in last Wednesday, March 21st. We had talked on the phone and I had been on my knees praying, asking God to spare her. 

"She has been through so much already, Lord. Please, please heal her. Please have this be something fixable."

Yet the words that came next were only a whisper. "No matter what this is God, please be with her."

What came next, with her family surrounding her, was a diagnosis
of ALS. It's hard to know what to say after hearing those ominous three letters. After all, our whole Spokane community embraces 
our very own Steve Gleason who has and is battling ALS. We have seen how this illness has impacted him, has impacted his young family.

We have seen the white flags with Steve's name on them at races like the Coeur de Alene marathon. They say, "No surrender!"

Yet when Eileen heard those letters, I think God just held her in the palm of His almighty hand. She is praying for a miracle, in whatever form God has that take. 

And her faith? Oh, the faith of my dear friend. As the song says...
         
         "Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus. Vast unmeasured, boundless 
           free. Rolling as a mighty ocean, in its fullness over me."

No matter what comes next, and down the road, we are praying for a miracle. A miracle in whatever form God chooses to send it.

What I know for sure is that God will be with her every step of the way. And when she may no longer be able to make those steps, He will carry her. Carry her as He has always done.

Would you please hold up my dear friend Eileen Thompson in your prayers? Thank you.

God Bless!
Love, Linda








Saturday, March 10, 2018

Hope with Feathers...

                           "Spring is nature's way of saying 
                            'Let's party!'

Those of us who live where there are"four seasons," know what it is like to feel as if winter will never end. Granted, at the first snowfall, we are amazed and excited. Yet after months and months of that fluffy, white stuff, snow shoveling and icy streets and sidewalks, well, ladies and gentlemen, we are ready for a change in seasons.

Or at least I am. 


It is not an exaggeration to say that I am desperate for spring.

There is still some snow on the ground and the dirt is almost totally frozen, yet I am in search for the first green leaf.

It's possible, no probable, that I am like this every year. I am ready to be outdoors, walking and gardening and feeling the sun's healing powers on my face and heart.


Yet I also know that this waiting for spring coincides with Lent and 
new beginnings and old and new awakenings.  

I truly believe that with each season the good Lord sends my way, the learnings never cease. Just as my word for 2018 is "transform," so does God use each season to help me transform my life and my relationship with Him.


If I am attentive and hear His whisper

If I am willing to follow His lead
If I stop the hurry and scurry and am present in my own life.
Miracles abound in every season.

Just as the ground is rock hard, the snow seemingly endless, and spring a million plus miles away, right around the corner, slowly and ever so slowly, 
God starts the miracle of spring.

And after a winter in Spokane or Moorehead, Minnesota, just knowing 
and trusting that there will, again, be a spring...well, it just gives me HOPE.

As my pastor says, "Can I get an 'AMEN' to that?


Each season has its own beauty, yet at this point in the winter any hint of spring brings a "Hallelujah" to my heart and soul.


After all, sweet Annora Grace's new word is "hallelujah."

She walks and runs everywhere, beaming and singing that word.

How could Spring in all its glory not be close behind?


And then yesterday happened.

Bert and I couldn't believe our eyes.

The temperature had risen to a balmy 45 degrees, the snow was starting to melt 
and we happened to look out our back window as we had a conversation about our gardening plans for this year. 

Suddenly we stopped chatting, looked at each other and said, Do you see what I see?"

Everywhere in our frozen tundra garden were robins. Lots and lots of them.


One was even so brave as to get in our bird bath and just wash off every feather, frolic in the water and chirp and chirp to her heart's content.

They were in the hawthorne bush with all of the berries. Chowing down and singing. We counted ten in just that one bush. 


And those gorgeous robins weren't quiet about their delight. It was if someone had sent out a message saying...

                          
"Heh! Let's party! Fun time at the Salisbury's. Fly on over. Berries for everyone. All welcome! Hot tub, aka bird bath, will  transform your attitude!"

As I watched all of this take place from inside our cozy home, with my dear hubby beside me, I felt my own heart start to thaw. My own breath become lower and deeper. I reached for my beloved Bert's hand.


Bert whispered, "God never disappoints, honey. Even in the hard times,  the 
frozen-over times, He is always there. He sends us HOPE with feathers."

And then I started to cry. I've been doing a lot of that lately. I guess 
when you are 71 you get to cry whenever you are sad or glad or amazed at God's wonder. After all...
                                  
                                 "The beautiful spring came;
                                    and when nature resumes
                                    her loveliness, the human
                                    soul is apt to revive also."
                                                              -Harriet Ann Jacobs

Can I get an "Amen!"?


Here's to seeing God's love at every turn!

Here's to transformation and revival of our hearts!
Here's to a thawing of the frozen ground and the frozen 
places in ourselves!

Here's to spring and hope with feathers!


God Bless!

Love, Linda



                                                                 

                              



When You Feel Overwhelmed and Discouraged...Move, Keep Walkin'

    "I know your prayers ain't been answered yet,                  but it's not over yet."                              ...