Saturday, May 31, 2008

LIFE IS GOOD: Marking The Important Milestones!

There is an old expression that says, "Time flys when you are having FUN!" So, so true! I have been having lots of fun in my life, and it seems like this school year has gone by in a flash! The past few weeks have been full of amazing milestones... or moments worth stopping to ponder. These are markers in my life and the lives of those I love!

PERSONAL MILESTONES:

*I continue to do the Weight Watchers Program. It truly has become a lifestyle change for me. Several weeks ago I reached a goal that made me smile...I reached the 40 lb. weight loss milestone. At this point I have actually lost 41.2 lbs. Last August when I started Weight Watchers I could hardly imagine what a HUGE difference this would make in my life!! I will lose 10 more lbs during this summer and continue to eat right and exercise more. This isn't an easy change for me, but one that is worth the effort. As I say daily...

"There are NO shortcuts to any place worth going!"

A HUGE thank you and shout out to my Weight Watcher partner Amy (who looks amazing and inspires me to do this as she goes with me), Bert (who tells me daily how great I look), Jessi (who has sent me countless cards and messages of encouragement), my buddies at school who ooooh and ahhhhh over my new clothes and new figure, and my students in my Interpersonal Communication class (who inspire me with the goals they have set and achieved)!! I am truly blessed and proud of myself for making this change and sticking with it!

*I am finishing up my 42nd year of teaching with one of the most amazing quarters ever! I LOVE my students! As I grade paper after paper, see their projects and hard work, and see them in action I realize why I say every day..."This is the BEST job in the world!!!" This Thursday I have been invited by SCC students to be the Keynote Speaker at one of their award banquets! What an honor! God really blessed me when He put it in my heart to be a teacher!

*My consulting business has been BOOMING this year! Yikes! I have been blessed to have lots of great clients who have honored me with their business! Consulting is challenging, hard work, and rewarding! I have seven full time clients that I work with every week and there is never a dull moment!

FAMILY MILESTONES FOR GRANDCHILDREN

*Oh my gosh...as I see pictures of my BEAUTIFUL and TALENTED grandchildren I am blown away! They bring so much pure JOY into my life (and Bert's too)! It seems like I have only blinked and they have all grown in leaps and bounds. Here are a few of the highlights:

*Jacob just finished kindergarten yesterday and cleaned out his "cubby" at his Montessori school. That act of "moving on" to the next adventure, first grade, seems so symbolic to me. Jacob has had an amazing year, has learned SO much, and is "King of the Castle" at his school! The children there flock to him, adore him, and see him for the WONDERFUL and GIFTED little boy that he is!! He SHINES at school!
Jacob is SO smart as he reads stories, writes stories, and does all kinds of math!
Bert and I went to his swim lesson last night and were amazed at the progress he has made! He is growing up before our eyes!

*Emma looks like she is five years older and yet she will only be five in June! She has had an AMAZING year and will be in kindergarten next year! How is that possible??
She is a talented and confident little girl who is SO bright and athletic! It was so fun to go to her soccer games this spring! She took to soccer like she does EVERYTHING...with a "Go For It!...All Out" spirit!! She will SHINE in kindergarten this next year as she goes to Brentwood and is already like the school mascot there!
She has been taking swimming lessons too!

*Zac is growing in leaps and bounds, doing well in school and sports (football, baseball and basketball)and is maturing into a WONDERFUL and fun young man. He is now taller than I am and called me "Shorty" yesterday, with a big grin on his face! He has just finished up his first year of middle school!

*Kayla is a WHIZ at school, playing soccer and is still in love with horses! She is a dedicated student, will be one of the Captains of Patrol next year, and she is almost as tall as I am! She is a beautiful young lady and it has been fun to go to her soccer games and her "Poetry Slam" contest!

*Baby Jenna is beyond wonderful! We love EVERYTHING about her...her beautiful smile, outgoing personality, speed racing crawl, and the LOVE she gives everyone every day! She is about to turn ONE...where has that year gone!! Everyday is a milestone as she gets her teeth, pulls herself up, and explores life!! She is a miracle and a daily reminder that God answers prayers!

*Other grandchildren milestones include Emmett turning 18, graduating from high school and preparing to go to...COLLEGE! That's right...COLLEGE!!! Emily loving high school and being the lead in several plays where she sings and acts! And Rosie loving school and playing baseball!

These are just a FEW of the milestones in our family! More will be mentioned in the next post! They are all a reminder of the fact that LIFE IS GOOD and that marking the milestones in my life, and the lives of those I love, is a reminder of God's abundant grace and love!! I am truly blessed!

Hugs and loves to all who read this!
God Bless! Linda

Sunday, May 11, 2008

THE TWO GREATEST GIFTS GOD EVER GAVE ME!!!





Today is Mother's Day, and I feel so blessed to be a Mom. Two of the best gifts God has ever given me are Jessi and Amy! They are such amazing blessings in my life!

From day one they have both been very different people, yet totally unique in their own way.

Jessi:
Even as a baby, Jessi was active and wanting to discover and be into everything! She has always been shot out of a cannon, a go getter, fiercely independent, and very competive, especially with herself. When she was little, she used to climb to the top of door frames or scale our 12 foot tall lava fireplace. She always told me, "See what I do Mommy!"...with special emphasis on the I!! If you want to see what Jessi was like as a little girl, look at Emma. She's a carbon copy of her Mama...determined, driven, loves to be around lots of people, a perfectionist, and hard on herself when she makes a mistake! Jessi's coloring is much like her Momma's (me)....the McColm part of her heritage!

Jessi has a great laugh, and when she and Amy start to loose it...look out! She
loves to have fun, and pushes herself to excell in everything she does. She also has deep feelings about just about everything and can cry when her feelings are hurt or she sees a sad movie! She's a feeler...and she feels deeply! Jessi loves traditions and holidays...Christmas is a special favorite...and it's one of my favorites too! We love to go to the Nutcracker Ballet every year, and now we take Emma!

I have so many fun memories of the "programs" the girls put on for Bert and me and seeing Jessi play "teacher" at her preschool! Jessi always took Amy back into the closet in the middle of her performance to change this or that! :) We used to laugh ourselves silly! She always was a wonderful teacher and leader! Her students at Brentwood are so blessed to have her!

Jessi is an amazing athlete, teacher, wife and Mom. She loves Emma so completely...with her whole heart...just like I love her!...and she adores Rog! I now laugh and say to Jess (affectionately Jess Jess)...ahhhhhhhhh...may Emma do to you... everything you did to me! And I smile with a knowing smile! :)

I am amazed at all Jessi accomplishes in life...she is my role model for self discipline, getting healthy, learning new things, and getting exercise!

I love you Jess Jess! I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always and as long as I'm living my baby you'll be! God gave me a wonderful gift when He gave me YOU

AMY:
Amy, as a baby, was so sweet and easygoing. She looked into my eyes with a big knowing smile that melted my heart! She loved to snuggle, eat, sleep and be held! She had then, and has now, the most gorgeous Finnish skin (a Seppa family trait), beautiful natural blonde hair, and piercing blue eyes! Her smile and laugh stopped people everywhere and they'd say "Oh my gosh, what a gorgeous baby!" If you want to see what Amy was like as a baby ...look at precious Jenna!

In grade school Amy always had a heart for other children. She empathized with their pain and wanted to make things better for them. Her heart was then, and is now, as big as the grand canyon. She was so smart as a little girl. She could put puzzles together in an instant that I couldn't touch and get school concepts without even trying! Our family has lots of smart people in it, but I've always said that Amy is the smartest one amongst us. She's not just smart with a great IQ, but she has emotional intelligence as well. But what has always made Amy so special is what deep feelings and sensitivity she has. Amy when she was little was so much like sweet Jacob is now..really tuned into loving others!

What amazes me about Aim is that she forgives others...totally and completely! Once Amy found that God loved her, and she became a Christian...her whole life was even better! She has forgiven me completely and I am so grateful for that gift!

Amy has ALWAYS wanted to be a Mom... has always had a true Mommy's heart and glows as an amazing Mama...so, so patient and showering her children (all 4 of them) with unconditional life and yet accountability for good behavior! She told me when she was little " I will just love my little children with all of my heart". And she does! She adores her husband Ryan too!

One of the things I love most about Amy is that she is the "truth-teller" in the family! She is honest, doesn't beat around the bush, and you really know where you stand with her. She doesn't need lots of people in her world, but if you are in her inner circle she loves you passionately! She is the most unselfish person I have ever met and a role model for me about really loving others the way God wants me too!

She's an organizer (loves labels like Jessi does) and is soon to finish her Masters Degree in Organizational Communication,Leadership and Consultation at Gonzaga. How she does this is beyond me!

I love you Aim...to the moon and back! I always have and I always will! God gave me a wonderful gift when He gave me YOU!

Yes, it's Mother's Day 2008 and while I miss my own Mom terribly, I am focusing on how blessed I am to have two precious, wonderful daughters who are God's gift to my heart and soul!

May God bless each of YOU today!
Love Linda

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

WHAT A MIRACULOUS DAY!!...The Spring Communication Conference at SCC..."Building Bridges Through Communication!"

Oh my gosh! As I sit here, leisurely I might add, at 4:08 am on Wednesday morning...I am awestruck at what took place yesterday at the Spring Communication Conference at SCC!!! What a HUGE undertaking and what miraculous results!

Here are a few of the highlights and details:
1) The "conference crew" (25 AMAZING STUDENTS and their teacher :)) have been preparing for months and we stayed late at SCC the evening of May 5th, the night before the conference! We had to decorate a giant foyer in the Lair, several large teaching rooms, the Lair auditorium, the foyers into the building, set up and decorate 25 large tables. We had huge signs, mum plants, large trees, spring butterflys, spring banners hung from the ceiling (100 sewn spring banners). We waited until 5:30 am on Tuesday to blow up the over 1500 helium balloons!

2) At 5:30 am on Tuesday morning we were back at it! There were HUGE butterfly ballons set in gigantic ballon bouquets that were over 10 feet high! There was a"balloon parade" leading into the Lair at every entrance! The reader boards shouted out the message, and the over 1000 posters were going to bring out over 1000 people to this event.

3) The food tables were brimming over with thousands of muffins (baked by students and their families), coffee, cookies, and fruit trays. Not a small job to feed over 1000 folks!

4) The music was playing and the students were dressed in suits (and ties), dresses and "goin' someplace special attire"..had on amazing nametags...and the crowds started to appear!!

5) Over 1000 people attended and 950 went to more than one workshop!

6) The DVD I made to start the conference...with scenes from movies of bridges blowing up and bridges being built (plus pictures of people communicating) with Sheryl Crow singing her song "Peace Be Upon Us All" was a huge hit and the technology worked! Hurrah!

7) I was the MC, introduced distinguished guests, and then Scott Finnie, an amazing African American teacher and our keynote speaker! Before Scott's talk he and I had prayer time together and dedicated the conference to the Lord! We asked that we would both be a vehicle for God's love and grace to flow to all who came! What a difference that made in my heart!

8) There are no words...Scott's talk on Servant Leadership was beyond fabulous as he talked about discrimination and servant leadership! We were all spell bound!

9) After Scott's talk ...we had three workshops. I stayed in the auditorium, which was full, and did a workshop on "Don't Blow Up That Bridge: 10 Conflict Management Tips to Save Your Personal and Professional Life! It went great and the DVD clip from the movie "Must Love Dogs" was hilarious! I was amazed at how many of my former students, now out in the work world, came back and were there! What a HUGE blessing to my heart to see their faces!

10) At the 10:30 hour Scott and I did a workshop called "Building A Bridge To Racial Reconciliation: A Conversation Between An African American Brother and a Caucasian Sister". Talk about gutsy! It brought many of us to tears! It was one of the most rewarding moments in my academic life! The auditorium was packed...a sea of many colored faces! We each told about our "racial footprint"..our racial story ... got to ask each other racial questions that we had not prepared for (I was asked about my take as a caucasian with the OJ Simpson trial and the celebration in the black community and upheaval in the white community when he got off ...and had really committed the crime) ...now there's an impromptu question for you:)! Scott and I both shared that our heart for others and our bridge building journey came from our faith and love of God!

How often does that happen publically at school! Praise God!

11) Bert cancelled work and came to the entire conference! At the third session there were many members from my church, Bethel AME, primarily an African American congregation.

12) After the conference, we went to Orlandos, a restaurant on campus that is student run, for a celebration luncheon for Scott! Ah yes, another planned and decorated event!

13) This was all done on NO BUDGET and donations (and a little help from the teacher!:)

As Scott and I walked back to our cars we prayed together and thanked God for all He did at the conference! What a miraculous day!

Thanks to all of you who have been so supportive about this major event! Your phone messages and love have meant so much to me!

What a miraculous day of bridge building!
Love and hugs to all!
Linda

PS. I had a consulting meeting and dinner at my home last night (5-8pm) for three consulting clients and after they left at 8pm I fell into bed!!! Yikes! What a glorious and hard working day!

Living Life With An Open Heart...

            "Living "light and polite"  is not really living.               Living "light and polite"   can be a...