Sunday, December 28, 2008

Aloha! We're feeling really blessed and sending you loves and hugs!

God Bless, Linda

Friday, December 19, 2008


It is December 19th and we have more snow on our deck than my Spokane memory can ever recall. Winter is here in full force, God has created a winter wonderland, and there WILL be a white Christmas in Spokane this year! All cause for celebration! With several "snow days" in a row, and school cancelled, vacation has started for so much of my family.

I LOVE Christmas... I love everything about it. But we won't be in Spokane for Christmas this year, and I have mixed feelings about that since I will miss traditions created over years and years. I'm not complaining, however, since Bert and I are headed to Maui, Hawaii!

Why now? Why go? Why miss out on four feet of snow?

As much as a part of my heart wants to be here, we planned this trip a year ago for a number of important reasons. Here are just a few:

* Bert and I are coming up on our 25th wedding anniversary! It's hard to believe, but 25 years!
Those years have been amazing, and I am grateful for every one of them! We have shared raising two daughters, our careers, our spiritual lives, our friends and a HUGE emphasis on family. On occasion, Bert and I have taken "couples only" trips together (several fabulous and relationship-growing cruises years ago) and those renewed and regenerated our marriage. Truth be told however, for much of those 25 years Bert has taken a back seat to what I think the kids need, what the grandkids need, and what I need. He has done so with a willing heart and because he knows how much I love my girls, my grandchildren, my jobs and my friends. But what I know for sure is that it is HIS turn to have my undivided attention. If we are in Spokane, that won't happen at Christmas. So we are going to the land of sun and FUN for some well-earned and precious couple's time!

* My parents bought a condo in Maui and lived there about 7 months of the year during their retirement. Some of my fondest family memories at Christmas time are going with Jessi and Amy to visit Nana and Grandpa Mark in Maui. Whenever we would arrive at the condo, number 414 at the Royal Mauian Resort, my Dad's white shoes would be by the door. My parents worked very hard all of their lives, but they were frugal at heart having lived through the depresion. My dad took impeccable care of those shoes. He put white show polish on them about every week. They symbolized, to me, who my Dad was and many of his values. Seeing those sparkling, white shoes outside the door of #414 was my official welcome to Maui!

Those shoes are now on a shoe shelf in my upstairs closet, and I see them every day.

My Dad died in Maui in 1991, and while I came back to Maui, one of my all-time favorite spots in the world, to have time with my Mom...I never had closure with my Dad's death over there. So...I am going back to Maui to give my heart peace and to have put Hawaiian leis in the ocean for both my Mom and Dad. I miss them every day.

* Some time back, Amy and Ryan started to talk about going to Hawaii and asked if we might like to go along. They planned to go after Christmas. Their kind invitation got us thinking that we could have time alone if we went early and then time with part of our beloved family. Their desire to include us was an invitation we couldn't resist! So that invitation was really the starting point for planning this trip.

As we leave tomorrow we will miss our Christmas morning time with Rog, Jessi, and Emma. We always cherish having Christmas breakfast with them each year and bringing Nana's special breakfast treat to the celebration. We will miss family time with Amy and family on Christmas day. We will miss seeing our friends and extended family at Christmas events and celebrations. And we will miss being at our very special church to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

But the white shoes call me to Maui...and we'll be thinking and loving all of you...and sending a..Melei Kalliki Maka..or Merry Christmas (Hawaiian style) your way.

Thank you for all of your love and support. You mean the world to us!

May God Bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. And may you know in your deepest heart-of-hearts how much He loves you!

I do too! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


I have been here before. In fact I have been here before... many times over. It's the end of the quarter, and 91 dearly-loved students are moving on. Granted, some will be back next quarter, yet the unique and magical combination of students that makes up a class has disbanded. As always... I am almost rendered speechless.

This week I have been up at 1am almost every morning just grading and grading and grading. Their final projects have been superb showing both critical thinking and deep feeling. Their learnings bring tears to my eyes! Their take home finals, now completed, are a testimony to the profound changes that have taken place. I'm the facilitator and cheerleader...they do this courageous, college-level work.

Many students started the quarter not believing that they were capable. Most are leaving knowing that with showing up and doing the hard work that they can achieve their most treasured dreams!
They all have gifts, they just have to find them and then use them.

I am so honored to be a teacher, to be THEIR teacher! They will always be my students.
I am thrilled that this marathon, this Ironwoman-type event that we call "the end of the quarter" is almost over. The grades are in. Now I have to clean my room and get ready for next quarter.

In the midst of all of this chaos I started my every two year tenured-professor performance review with my new dean. I told her that I was born to do this. She agreed with me. God made me with a teacher's heart beating in me. I knew when I was in first grade that I wanted to be a teacher. Not for one moment in all these years have I doubted that this was the honored job I was created to do. I wasn't meant to just give students material to learn, I was there to also love them and believe in them. I'm their academic "advocate"!

Not only was this week about students leaving and meeting with my dean...something else happened that has left me stunned and amazed! A magic moment took place for me.

On Monday, right before my 8:30 class was about to start, I looked up to see Gary Johns, head of the Criminal Justice Program, standing at my door. Gary, being a police officer and teacher, looked solemn. However, he always looks solemn. So I went out in the hall to say "Hi!"...wondering what he had in mind and why he was there. This year, as always, I've had lots of law enforcement students, so I imagined he wanted to talk about one of them.

Oddly, Gary just kept looking at me...a bit awkward I might add. He then said, "I would like to shake your hand!" Ok, I'm thinking.. I have to start class and you pick this moment to shake my hand? However, Gary is my buddy and I love his students... so with a grin on my face I extended my hand into his. At that moment I felt a round-shaped object go into my hand. As I pulled my hand back I saw a gold medallion. Gary said, "This is what we give our top student in Criminal Justice. On the outside of the medallion it lists qualities we want our students to have...courage, commitment, integrity and honor."

He went on to say,"The Criminal Justice students and faculty voted who should get this medallion for 2008 and we voted for you to get it. You, Linda, embody all of these qualities and show them every day to our students." I was stunned then and now. Tears flowed. This "Gold Medallion Moment" that took place as I was about to say goodbye to my students...felt like it was God's way of saying to me..."Keep doing this! It matters!"

While I am bone-weary and beyond exhausted, I wouldn't trade my job as a teacher for anything, not anything!

So as fall quarter 2008 comes to a close, I am relieved and at the same time my heart is broken as I miss my students already. The gold medallion sits on the table by my coffee cup as a reminder of an amazing time in my life! I will treasure it forever!

Thanks for listening!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Some weeks life's learnings cascade down on me as if I was sitting under a waterfall, almost drowning. Since it is the end of the quarter there is little time to stop, pause, and take it all in. No doubt I'll sort them out one-by-one during Christmas vacation. Yet for now it is enough to know that they are coming for a teach me to be a better person, a more compassionate human being.

Not long ago Scott Finnie visited my Intercultural Communication class. We were talking about the impact of our ethnicity, the color of our skin, on how others perceive us and judge us. Scott blessed us by telling his "story." As always I was brought to tears. How is it, I wondered out loud, that this amazingly kind person, this valedictorian, student body president, and gifted athlete had to endure such hatred, simply because his skin is black and his hair curls differently than mine.? And how, after so much unwarranted hatred was flung his way, is he now the most compassionate person I know?

Scott talked about "DIGNA", the Latin root of the word dignity. He defined dignity as the God-given right that each human has to be treated with kindness and respect. They are, after all...ALL of them, God's children and therefore worthy. He said these words with such conviction that I saw tears in the eyes of my basketball players. I saw tears in the eyes of my hippie student, a young man with green hair who often wears a skirt to class. WE are all in the same room and we all co-exist and give each other "digna".

I can't seem to stop crying this morning because as I look at my own life these past few months I feel as if God is tugging on my heart to step out and show more "digna", more respect, more compassion EVERYONE! And I do mean everyone! Those that I do not know who hold signs on the street asking for help, those that I pass in the halls at SCC everyday, those in my family who feel distant and separated from me, those in my life where there are unresolved hurts and issues, often from long ago...and i don't know how to "fix" any of the hurts. There is a small "i" in that sentence because "i" feel about that small in the midst of all the hurt and sorrow in the world, and some of it is at my very doorstep.

One of my favorite quotes from Mother Teresa says:

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved, uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.

As Anne Lamott says, "Help God! Open my heart!"

I am reading the book.. Life is a Verb-37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally.
I cry every time I read a story in this book that is changing my life. This morning I read the story "Squeeze In Next To Someone, Arm-To- Arm".

In a nutshell, it's the story of author Marion Woodman, who asks the question..."How are we changing the people around us by how we respond to them, or don't?" How do we hold "presence" for others? How do we hold love for others, with no agenda? Who, as we were growing up, really saw us and heard us, without asking us to perform up to their standards? Who loved us and asked nothing in return?

During a stay in India, many years ago, Marion saw these questions acted out in real life. She was very, very ill with dysentery and captive in her hotel room for several weeks. She could feel her life-blood draining with this illness. Finally, desperate to escape her room, she gingerly made her way to the lobby of the hotel and sat on a sofa, where she tried to write her husband a letter.

Although there were other seats available, a very large brown woman came and sat down right next to Marion, with their arms touching. She invaded Marion's space. Marion moved over, so did the woman. The pattern happened again and again. Marion was too ill to move to another sofa so she finally gave up and let the woman be right next to her, arm-to-arm.

This same pattern happened, much to Marion's amazement, day after day. Finally Marion relaxed, stopped moving away, and realized what a nice, warm big arm the woman had. They had no common language so they sat in silence. Marion said that her soul was touched, not just her body, by this woman's kind presence. Marion's health began to improve.

This couch dance continued for a week until one day a man appeared as the two women finished their silent, warm-armed vigil. He said to Marion, "You are all right now. My wife won't come back tomorrow." Marion asked him, "Why is she here in the first place?"

Marion was unprepared for his quiet, simple answer. "I saw you were dying and sent her to sit with you. I knew the warmth of her body would bring you back to life."

It took a moment for the magnitude of his message and the enormity of what these two strangers had done for her to sink in.

Suddenly Marion knew that the woman HAD saved her life by taking the time just to be with her. And just as important, Marion had been willing to receive her kindness.

That is what it means to hold presence for others. That is what "digna" is all about.

So I ask myself, through all of my tears, who today does God want me to "hold presence for"? How do I share this profound lesson with my beloved students? How much more kindness would there be in the world if we could just do this for one person each day...just be there for them and hold them in a loving, arm-to-arm presence?

Albert Schweitzer said:
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flames by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."

Thank you Scott Finnie for teaching me about "digna" and thank you Marion Woodman for sharing your story about the gift to your life when a beautiful large brown woman squeezed in next to you and arm-to-arm brought you back to life!

God Bless!
Love Linda

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