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!

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Gratitude, Wonder. and the Power of Prayer...

 Jacob, Jenna, Amy, Sihin and Annora

Amy and Jenna

Sihin and Jenna


I love fresh starts and new beginnings. So the beginning of a new year is the perfect opportunity for me to at once reflect back on the year gone by and also look forward with anticipation to the days and months to come. 

When I look back at 2017, over and over a theme arises, a mantra if you will, a silent whisper in my heart. 

I am just so grateful. I am in wonder at life's blessings and how God works. I am amazed at the power of prayer.

Even in the hardest of times in the past twelve months, God's grace, love and a peace that passes all understanding have cushioned my happy heart and my hurting heart.

I've come to believe, in the seventy years I have been on the planet, that it is the tough times, the hard times, the grueling times that help me to truly cherish the good times, the easy times, and the joyous and calm times. 

When I know deep pain, it helps me to more fully embrace and appreciate deep joy. When I feel the most alone, that's when I remember that I am never alone. 

God is right there in the hardest hard.

And when I look at the pictures of Amy and her children, at the start of this blog post, I am overcome with emotion. Tears spill freely down my cheeks as I look at these loved ones.

This daughter that we adore and these grandchildren who have stolen our hearts. Bert is Boppa and I am Nana and when they call us by these endearing names, well we just melt.

These "grands," as my dear friend Jackie calls them, are joy-givers, that's for sure.

And when hard things happen to them, like Jacob's recent mountain bike accident (sees the bog post prior to this one for details)...well, it hurts more than words can express.

Yet the pain of this accident, when shared, gave us such HOPE and gratitude. When our dear friends and family members prayed...well, it sustained us in a way that changed
us. Knowing we could turn to others and they would faithfully pray, well, there are no words to say how grateful I am.

Some examples....

Immediately when we heard about Jacob being hurt, I contacted my dearest friends. All of them are powerful and
faithful prayer warriors...

Jackie, my dear forever friend, who reminded me over and over, with small messages on my blog and email, that she was praying.Thank you, dear friend. Your friendship means so much to me. Love you, sweet friend!

Vicky and Peggy, my soul sisters, thank you both for praying
for our beloved grandson Jacob. I love you both more than words can ever express.

Sharon, my dear friend, who now lives here in Spokane,
thank you for your special friendship and for your prayers for my family and Jacob. We have known each other forever it seems and I love and appreciate you so much.

My friends at SCC, including Mark and Larry on the facilities team, thank you all for praying for Jacob.

Our church family at Bethel AME, thank you for holding all of us up in prayer.

Others who read this blog, like Gramma Grits, thank you for your prayers. Other friends and family members...thank you for your prayers! 

And finally, my dear friend Chuck. You are a wonder and miracle to Bert and to me. I will never forget our encounter at Bank of America. I had just heard the severity of what had happened to Jacob and you are a nurse. As I came through the set of doors to go back outside, there you were. You took one look at my face, walked me back into the bank, and asked what was wrong. As I started to tell you, I was crying so hard the words would hardly come out. You pulled me aside to the sofa in the bank, sat me down, held my hand and  prayed out loud with me right there. Right there, loud enough for all to hear. You asked God to protect Jacob, to heal Jacob.

I know that He heard your prayers and your deep love and trust in God inspired me, more than you could ever know.

So while it is only January 7th, and 2018 is still quite new,
I am thanking God over and over again for His love. I am in wonder and so grateful for dear and faithful fiends who love us and pray with us. I am grateful for joy and grateful for the hard times that help me be closer to God.

May you know how much He loves you, too!
God Bless!
Love, Linda

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Please Pray for Jacob...

                                                 I can't fix this...
                              but God can!

Dear friends,
How grateful I am for you, for your love and care and support. How grateful I am that in this place, this blog, you encourage me to tell my story...without shame, just put it out there. 

I will learn in the telling and perhaps others will
learn in the reading.  

Today, my story includes a chapter about my precious Grandson, Jacob, and a life-changing accident he had last week. Perhaps one day Jacob will read this post. If you do, Jacob, I want you to know this: 

Dearest Jacob,
You, Jacob, with your big heart and funny sense  of humor. You, with your deep, deep love for Jesus and your unabashed loyalty to Him. You, my dear grandson who does so well in school, in being a wonderful grandson, son, brother and friend... 

You make my heart sing.

Boppa and I were there at your birth sixteen years ago, and this week we have been back at that same hospital where you have been a patient.

I want you to know this, Jacob...
Knowing you and loving you is one of the great joys in my life
and in Boppa's life, too.

You, as tall as an arrow. You, who when you were little, called both Bert and me "Nana-Boppa" because you could not imagine us without each other. You, who are smart and caring and generous. You, who love mountain biking, exploring and being outdoors. You, who are devoted to your family.

Getting the thank you letter you wrote after we took you and Mason to the Seahawks game, well that letter made my day, my week, my year! Thank you for letting me know that you love me.

Sweetie, I want you to know how deeply sorry I am that you had a serious bike accident last week. I know you and Mason were having fun and being careful, because you know to be that way. When you told me what had happened...that you hit a rock, flew over the handles bars and hit so hard that you broke your femur up by your hip...I could hardly believe it. Thank God you had your cell phone and could reach your Mama. Thank God she found you and called the fire department to get you down off that trail. And thank God for the six fire trucks, and all of the fire fighters and EMTs who took you down from the mountain and into the ambulance.

I am also thanking God for all of the doctors and nurses who have been ministering to you during this difficult time. How hard it has been for you, and your family who love you so much, to hear, after a CT scan, that you have a laceration on your liver and you are going to lose one of your kidneys. Hard news to hear. Very hard news to hear, especially after being in the hospital all of this week.

I know the healing process will be long and it will be months and months of physical therapy, medications, being on crutches, and other changes we can't even comprehend yet. Just typing those words, I can feel your discouragement. 

Please know that Boppa and I will be with you every step of the way as you work toward being well again.

Also, please know that while as much as I wish I could, I can't fix this. I wish I could, but I can't. Yet what I know for sure is that while I cannot fix this, God can!!!!

Please know that an army of folks are praying for you, beseeching God on your behalf. We, and they, are asking God for a miracle.
We are asking Him to heal you...completely. We are also asking Him to use this hard time to help you be a witness for Him. We are asking the Lord God Almighty to give you peace about all of this.
May you remember that you are NEVER, EVER alone in this process. 

Every minute God is with you, there in the midst of this very hard time.

Boppa and I love you more than words could ever express.
We will always be here for you, no matter what!
God Bless you, sweetie!
Love, Nana

If you believe in the power of prayer, could you please join with us in praying for Jacob. Thanks!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Living Life With An Open Heart...

            "Living "light and polite" is not really living.

             Living "light and polite" can be a way o

              keeping everyone in the dark about what's
              in your heart."
                                                - Ann Voskamp
Oh my goodness. It has been a long while since I sat down at these keys to write on this blog. So much has gone on in the last month or so, and it's not an exaggeration to say that my faith is what has kept my head above water. 

I am reminded daily that God is good, all the time. Not just some of the time. Not just when things go well. Not just when I feel calm and all is right with the world.

What I know for sure, and what sustains me, is that in the peace and in the storms God does not leave me. That's His sacred promise to me and His sacred promise to you.

Letting that sink into my heart gives me a sense of peace in a world that seems to be in chaos. 

As I read His word, and as I digest pearls of wisdom from
folks like Ann Voskamp, I am redirected toward my "True North"  when some days it feels like I am Moana (in the Disney movie) searching the stars to find her way.

I bring up Moana because I have seen it countless times with Annora Grace, my precious, precious Granddaughter. I can even sing the songs with her as I have the Moana CD in my car and we play it when we are out and about.

And like Moana, I have felt a bit lost and scared the last month or so. That happens when I take my eyes off of Jesus.

When I focus on Him, my blood pressure goes down and a sense of peace takes over my heart.

It has been easy, in all of the negativity and chaos, to want to close off my heart. I have felt under attack from someone at work and it has been hurtful and hard. What a challenge it is to keep my heart open with this person and to try to love them as God loves them.

So when I came up for air this weekend, I happened upon a
blog post by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp.
I read and re-read her post as almost every word resonated
for me. It was as if God was using her to remind me of how He wants me to live.

"Let your heart live unguarded - and let love capture you."

"Living 'light and polite' is not really living."

"Live with walls to block out pain- and you will block out

all of the love that's trying to get in."

Her message echoes one of my favorite passages in "Jesus
Calling," my daily devotional. I read it this summer and have it marked for times when life is challenging. For July 18th it says...
" I am nearer than you think. You are connected to Me by
   Love-bonds that nothing can sever. Ask me to open your
   eyes, so you can find Me everywhere. The more aware you
   are of My presence, the safer you feel."  

 That's His promise to me as I seek to live my life with an open heart. That's His reminder that as scary as it is to keep my heart open, that He is there to keep me safe.

When I trust Him, all is truly well.

That assurance, that blessed assurance, changes everything.

That assurance helps me to move from fear to gratitude.

That assurance helps to remind me that God is in control,   especially in times when things seem out of control.

That assurance helps to remind me that when I put up  shields to protect my heart, those shields end up being a  prison for my heart.

So here's to trusting God, the Maker of Heaven and earth!!

*Here's to knowing that living for Him with an open heart
  is what has always brought me JOY! beyond measure.
*Here's to praying for someone who needs Him desperately.
*Here's to knowing that He never leaves me and He never
  leaves you.

*Here's to not telling God how big the storm is, but rather
  telling the storm how big my God is!"

May God bless you and keep you. May you know that He loves you and holds you in the palm go His almighty hand.

Loves, hugs and prayers, 


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Being in the Present and Not the Past...

                        If you must
                                       look back,
                              Do so forgivingly.
                              If you must
                                        look forward,
                              Do so prayerfully.

                       However, the wisest thing
                                        you can do
                                        is be present
                                        in the present
                                         -Maya Angelou

The leaves are turning. Everywhere the dark and chartreuse and subtle green leaves are taking on a vibrant life of their own. New hues of flaming red and orange and yellow.

Like it or not, fall is here and nature's wardrobe is changing and turning with the cooling weather.

While I love autumn, and the changing colors and crisp temperatures, truthfully a part of my heart still longs for summer. Just a few more weeks, please? I almost wish I could shove autumn back so I could cherish more fully the warmth of summer days and nights.

And for sure, I long for summer's more relaxed schedule. 

I wish that I could turn back the clock to the blessings of the 
"there and then" of summer instead of embarking on the present... "here and now" of autumn.

And I can, if I'm completely honest, confess that I am looking ahead to the future with a bit of nervousness. Oh my gosh, how will we survive the freezing winter days here in Spokane? Will we have another ice storm? I know those cold, cold snowy days aren't even here yet, but I can feel them on the horizon.

It's hard to stay in the here and now and just be grateful for the present, at least for me it is.

The same is true at work. The new year started off with such optimism, and then, out of nowhere, a rough spot came back
up again. I wasn't prepared for it at all. I thought after last spring, we were off to a fresh start.

The "rough spot" came in the form of an unexpected email
and I felt so sad and shocked. Almost as if someone had slapped me across the face.

It was hard to stay in the present when this happened.
I found myself drifting back to the good old days, the days when a co-worker would never have thought to send an email that hurtful. I also wanted to quickly look to the future when things might be better. It was so, so uncomfortable to embrace the present when it felt full of pain.

In any situation, when my mind and heart are melancholy about the past and skipping to the future, I  know a deeper truth.
          I will never know true joy and true peace and 
          true contentment until I embrace the present 
          with a grateful heart.  

Yet how do I get from here to there? From glancing back to the past or skipping ahead to the future? How can I stay in the present when it may have situations that are full of discomfort and pain?             

What I know for sure is that, on my own, I can't always feel grateful about the present. 

In this struggle to stay in the here and now, God's grace is what can make all the difference. When I focus on His love for me, my heart can move from fear and anxiety to love and gratitude. 

His soft whisper, "It's not about you, Linda" brings me back to empathy and thanksgiving. His presence and His word help me to focus on caring and on taking the high road.

Truthfully, I can get stuck in the past and on who did what to whom. I can replay and replay moments that were hard to bare. I can focus so hard on the there-and-then that I miss the lessons of the here-and-now.

This pattern seems to echo itself as I look at the once vibrant green leaves in our backyard. I may not feel ready for fall, the leaves turning and falling. Yet I know with complete certainty that to everything there is a season, and if I can trust God's plan, I can find gratitude in this moment. 

That's when I can truly say... "It is well with my soul."

Today I want to take Maya Angelou's words to heart...

I  want to see the past through forgiving eyes.
I want to anticipate the future with a prayerful attitude.
And I want to gratefully embrace the present as the best gift ever.

God Bless!

Hope with Feathers...

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