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."    

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
                              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."

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



Saturday, February 24, 2018

Tears and more tears...

                                          "For me and my true love
                                  will never meet again
                                  O' the bonnie, bonnie banks 
                                  of Loch Lomond."

It had been building up for weeks, that sense that I was in for
a very big cry. Not the usual cry, mind you, but the kind that shakes your body and your soul. The kind of cry that is just waiting for something or someone to be the release valve.

It started when we learned that Bert's very dear, long-ago friend John Jankovsky, had died. John had gone to Mexico, partly because his post-polio symptoms were worsening. He needed warm weather. While he may have changed locations, he was still in Bert's heart with stories about adventures and fishing that always included John. We were shocked to know that John was gone, and there was no chance to say goodbye.

That same week, my very dear friend, Dr. Mark Paxton, died unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. For two days he had not felt great so they took him to Sacred Heart to check him out. The next morning he was slated to come home. However, he died that morning of a massive heart attack. Bert and I were again in disbelief. How could this vigorous, 63 year old athlete, oral surgeon be gone? In an instant. Again, no chance to say goodbye.

I could feel the hurt building, my heart aching, but I just kept doing what I always do. After all, I learned at an early age that "when the going gets tough, the tough get going."

I needed to be tough, be there for those grieving. I felt more and more tired physically, yet muscled through getting up at the usual three am. One morning I actually got up at 2:00, I was at SCC by 4am, and grading papers by 4:15am.

Larry, the maintenance man, poked his head in my classroom. He shook his head and muttered, "Are you nuts, girl?" "Don't you know that it's 4 am. I looked at him, laughed and dismissed his concern.

And I just muscled my way through the week.

Then this Saturday morning, up as usual at 3am, I went to check my phone. There were three messages I hadn't seen before.
All three were from my son Erik, a police officer in Seattle.
The message was short and concise, and said, "Here's Rosie's concert." My granddaughter Rosie, who's a college soccer player, 
was standing on a stage all by herself. I clicked the arrow and she began to sing.

It was an old song, a song I knew well. After all, I am part-Scottish on my Dad's side and every Scot has heard "Loch Lomond" over and over." I had heard it growing up and could sing the chorus along with Rosie.

Yet, I wasn't one minute into the song before I started to cry uncontrollably. All of the feelings that had been pushed aside about John and Mark Paxton and the horrible, horrible massacre in Florida of unsuspecting high school students...
well it all over-flowed.

I prayed as I sang and sobbed. "Oh dear God, please be with
all of the hurting people."After all, this song whose chorus
was easy to hum along with, was really about a captured Scottish soldier and a letter to his true love that he would never be coming home again. I also couldn't imagine, as I listened to the lyrics, how I would feel if my true love, my beloved Bert, wasn't here to be with any more. Just that thought left me understanding how John's family and Mark's wife, Diane, must be feeling.

Here's that plaintive melody...

When things get tough, and they do for all of us from time-to-time,
I ask myself, and I ask God, what am I supposed to learn from all of this grieving and sadness. What is my "take-away life lesson?" I like to call it. 

What came back, and what God put on my heart, was simple and true. "Tell them you love them, and tell them now!"

So today, after listening to my precious granddaughter Rosie sing Loch Lomond, and seeing the snow fall gently hour-after- hour here in Spokane, I am taking the time to tell those I love that I love them. They matter to me. I want them to know this now.

For those of you I know and love who are reading this blog, 
please know that I love you dearly and hold you close to my heart. You are a gift from Him to my life. I am so, so grateful for God's love and oh so grateful for your love too.

God Bless!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

My word for 2018...

                                "If  you want something new,
                you have to stop doing something old."
                                                    - Peter Drucker

The fireplace is blazing, and this morning the temperatures outside are below freezing. What a perfect morning to get a warm cup of coffee, snuggle up with a fuzzy throw, pet our sweet pooch Daisy, and just take a long-awaited deep and inhaling breath. 

Ah...a moment of peace.

My eyes glance up to the wall across from my comfy spot,
the place where I read, grade papers, and write blog posts.
The wall, dotted with photographs and sayings and words is 
a black and white, and beige and sepia-toned wall. 

There a large quote stands out, framed in rough wood. It was an anniversary present for my beloved Bert...
           You have my whole heart for my whole life.

                               And he does, too. 

Other momentoes, reminders of days gone by...
Old photographs of Bert, years ago, as he was windsurfing at the start of the sport he named. Precious pictures of Bert and his Mama, the girls, the grandkids, their faces beaming at me.

And words and sayings sprinkled in with an old clock whose ticking is a backdrop for remembering how fast time passes.

Yet the highlight of the wall, the thing that draws the most questions and comments from dear friends passing by, are the words there. Each one drawn on a unique chalk frame, calligraphied by my very own hand and pen.

In 2014 I started to pick a "word for the year." Sometimes the word would hit me in the face and almost say aloud,
"Concentrate on me, keep me in your mind and heart."
Other words would feel like God whispered their existence and they came up again and again until I picked them. 

Amazingly, every time, God's word-of-the-year was exactly, perfectly what I needed to focus on. A visual and audio affirmation of where my mind and heart needed to be.

2014: Wholehearted
2015: Renew
2016: Light
2017: Hope

Each word, in its own time, acted almost like a lighthouse to a sailor lost at sea. They have been a reminder of what really matters. They have been a reminder of God's intentions for my life.

Usually the word comes to me by the first of the year, but not this year. And I decided to relax and let the word percolate and come in its own sweet time, trusting that if God wanted me to have a word, He would make that word known.

And He did.

Suddenly the word Transform was everywhere. And it was clear that the kind of transformation God had in store for me wasn't an exterior makeover. 

He was guiding me and inspiring me to change my life not just on the exterior, but more importantly on the interior. Not only did the word show up, suddenly butterflies kept coming up in pictures and in dreams. So I felt led to spend some time reading about the real transformation that butterflies go through before they are ready to fly.

My oh my, I had no idea how this echoed my own life.
Butterflies are not born, they develop. They even have a shedding of the old process, a "molting" if you will, before they can be all they are meant to be.

It seems that God is calling me to that kind of transformation.

And I truly believe that His Holy Spirit, His love, His presence can transform my heart and my life so I can have an even deeper relationship with Him.

"Not my will, His will," as my dear friend Vicky Westra says.

That's what is in store for me in 2018, and I am at once delighted, scared, and exhilarated. I can't wait to see what God's plan looks like.

As I quickly approach another birthday, 71 on February 5th,
it seems so perfect as I see a birthday as a symbol of being transformed. No matter how old I am, I am never "done."
God continues His ongoing work in me.

I love the Bible verse (Ezekiel 36:26) where God says..
            "And I will give you a new heart, and a new
               spirit I will put within you."

What a great 71st birthday present!

Sending you loves, hugs and prayers!
God bless!

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

                                If every person made it a rule that                          wherever you are, whenever you              ...