Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Special Christmas Moments and a New Year's Wish for 2011!

This Christmas vacation has been full of wonderful times of family fun, Christmas celebrations and remembering the birth of baby Jesus! Here are a few of those special "memory moments":



It was such a JOY this year to decorate our home inside and out! We made lots of Christmas memories by planting the bulbs for paper whites, making crock pot meals together and relishing those delicious, home-cooked smells that permeated the air. Once again, drawing and making my own Christmas cards was a treat. Lots of satisfaction in these simple Christmas moments!



We celebrated Christmas with the Farrell clan on Christmas eve at our home. We had a wonderful meal, talked lots, laughed often and opened presents. The best present was just being together! It is beyond wonderful to have time to connect with all of them. They all hold such special places in our hearts. 2011 will be a great year for their family as they bring their daughter Sehin home to Spokane from Eithiopia. We can hardly wait to meet her!



We loved sharing Christmas this year with the special Thompson family at Clinkerdagger's restaurant, a Christmas treasure all decorated with trees and sparkling lights! We all had a great time eating a delicious meal, opening presents, and creating new Christmas memories. We were overjoyed to learn on Christmas morning that their baby, due in May, is a BOY! What a special gift it is to await the birth of this miracle!

This Christmas break has also been a great time for Bert and for me to have some re-connection time after a super busy fall quarter of teaching and counseling. We've loved just hanging out, going to church, and having some leisurely time to look at all of the snow that blankets Spokane right now. Talks about our goals for 2011 have also been a priority.

We hope that you and your precious families have also had a chance to kick back and have quality time together, making some special Christmas moments! Also, as 2011 approaches, may you know God's abundant LOVE for you as He is the real "reason for the season!" May 2011 be filled with joy, peace, fun, and His love and grace!

God Bless and Happy New Year!
Love Linda

Saturday, December 18, 2010

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Since I was a little girl, I have always loved celebrations! Any celebration really. I love the first day of school and the last day of school. I love Valentines Day and Thanksgiving. I love birthdays, Veteran's Day, and the 4th of July. But most of all...I LOVE Christmas!

It isn't the rush to get consumers to buy, commercial-kind-of-moments that I love. It's the snuggle into a warm blanket and sip hot chocolate by the fire moments that I crave. It's the listening to Amy Grant's Christmas CD where she sings "Come Let Us Adore Him" with a new twist that leaves goose bumps-on-my-arm moments that stop me in my tracks. It's hearing the Bethel Choir belt out "God Rest Ye' Merry Gentlemen" with a gospel, praise-to-God intensity that is the real spirit of Christmas for me. It's going to the Tree of Sharing, getting the tags for a three year old girl and boy, and searching the stores for an African American baby doll that this sweet little girly can snuggle. It's finding a monster car and truck that will light up the eyes of that three year old little boy. I LOVE all these parts of Christmas.

Yet as much as hot chocolate, presents under the tree, Amy Grant singing, beautifully wrapped presents, snowy mornings, time with family, and dollies and trucks are a few of my favorite things... what I know for sure is that Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without my Jesus.

It's really, for me, all about the babe in the manager.

It's all about the gift of His child. It's all about a love SO great that it leaves me speechless.

Now please don't misunderstand...
It's not that I don't love searching for the perfect, jaw-dropping present for someone I love. I do love doing that.

And I find a huge satisfaction this year in turning our landscape into a winter wonderland of bright sparkling lights.

And I do love watching my precious grandchildren as they stare at the ornaments on the tree in such wonder.

And I do love bringing bird seed ornaments out into our trees so our little feathered friends can have a Christmas treat as well.

And I am adoring all of those moments where life-as-it-usually-is just
...stops.

But none of that is worth a hill of beans for me without Jesus.

I am particularly struck this morning by His gift of total forgiveness and amazing grace. When I don't feel forgiven elsewhere, when I feel so sad or perhaps even unloveable...He comes beside me with a gentle hand. His message is always the same. You are my daughter. I love you completely...no matter what. And He means the no matter what.

In life's twists and turns, ups and downs, He is always the same. He is the constant. He is there.

He is that baby in the manger, God's son, redeemer, forgiver, savior. And boy do I need saving.
His amazing grace saves me.

So as Christmas approaches, I will ooooh and aaaahhh over the delectable goodies at our feasts. I'll sprinkle nutmeg on my egg nog, knowing that egg nog will soon be off the shelves in the stores. I'll find just the right decoration for a package and get my fill of gorgeous Christmas music. I'll love this time of celebrating life, love, and a marvelous season of joy.

And I'll take peaceful moments to remember that the lasting "Joy To the World" is that "the Lord is Come".

I'll remember that it's really time to...

Let earth (and that includes me) receive her King. Let every heart (and my heart), prepare Him room. Let Heaven and nature sing. Let Heaven and nature sing. Let heaven and heaven and nature sing."

...and I am singing for my King!

God Bless and have a wonderful Christmas!
Love Linda


PS. The little seven year old girl, Rhema Marvanne, who sings Amazing Grace (my favorite song) in the clip at the start of this post, lost her Mommy to cancer in 2008, when she was just five. Both Rhema and her Mommy love Jesus!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Different Kind Of Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It's a time to gather my thoughts and focus on what I'm grateful for. Yet this year there was a sense of unease in my heart. The wants and needs of those at SCC loomed over the campus. So many of our students couldn't afford to serve a Thanksgiving dinner to their families. Not only that, so many people in Spokane were homeless and struggling to have a Thanksgiving meal. Most days I knew all of this at a logical level. Yet somehow my heart couldn't rest this Thanksgiving knowing how blessed I was and the contrast in my life and theirs.


One club at SCC decided to help our students and have a Thanksgiving Canned Food Drive. They chose to make it a campus contest. That started the ball rolling. I set up my own contest in my four classes. We brought in four huge yellow plastic bins, and I challenged my four classes to compete against each other to see who could bring in the most food.

There were several conditions in the contest:
1) The class that brought in the most cans would get a party, and
2) I would personally match the total number of cans that the four classes brought.

Now mind you, lots of schools have canned food drives. What was different here was that many of my students are scraping to get by and bringing any cans would be a personal sacrifice. Many of these amazing folks needed food themselves.

We talked every day about gratitude, about what being a servant leader is about. We talked about helping the poorest of the poor, the homeless here in Spokane. After all, half of what we gathered would go to the SCC Food Bank, and the other half would go to the House of Charity in downtown Spokane. This is one of the places where Spokane's homeless would spend Thanksgiving. We talked about what goes around comes around and that giving to others who are less fortunate fills up your own heart.

Have I said lately that I have the most amazing students? Have I told you that they are generous and giving beyond belief? I have tears streaming down my face as I write this because I could NEVER, EVER have imagined the depths to which they would go to help others.

Several students emptied their own cupboards. Several students did extra jobs at school to earn money to buy cans. The huge yellow bins filled again and again and again. Our final total was 876 cans for the food drive.

Yet that was only part of the fun!

We decided to participate in making Thanksgiving dinner at the House of Charity. We were going to cook turkeys, bring down those cans, and help other SCC students make, serve and eat Thanksgiving dinner with those who are homeless.

Our first House of Charity run began at 4:30 am last Tuesday, November 23rd. Yes, you read that correctly, that was the day of Spokane's first snow "blizzard". At 4:30 in the morning we were gathering at the House of Charity, carrying our cooked turkeys through the snow in the toughest part of town. Our job was to peel potatoes, make green bean casseroles, and other traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Our meals would be serving hundreds of Spokane's poorest of the poor.

When I arrived at 4:30, the 4:00 crew was hustling and bustling. The meal would be served at noon and there was LOTS of work to be done. There were so many familiar faces, students I have in class, smiling, drinking coffee, and peeling potatoes so others could have a Thanksgiving meal. I will never in my life forget that sight. I had a blast working in the kitchen where we took the meat off of 27 home-cooked turkeys, putting light meat and dark meat in pans to be served to our new homeless friends. You should have seen the faces of two men who slept in a car outside of the House of Charity (all the beds were taken) when a group of chattering college students walked at 4:30 am on their way to the House of Charity kitchen.

And as if that wasn't enough, on Thursday, November 25th, Thanksgiving day, we did it all over again. Round two. More turkeys, more potatoes, and more amazing students. One of my absolutely favorite SCC students was at both events and even cooked his first turkey. He had been homeless himself a few years back and wanted to "pay it forward!"

So as I sit by the fire this Saturday morning , sipping my coffee and watching the snow fall, I have been thinking back on the last few weeks that have been filled with cans, contests, turkeys, students, and giving from the heart.

Was it a traditional Thanksgiving? No.
Was it one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember? Yes, it was.
Am I more than ever aware of all of my blessings? You bet I am!

It was a different kind of Thanksgiving this year, and it is one I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life.

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SAVORING EVERY MOMENT!

One of my students asked me a thought provoking question this week. She said, "How do you fit it all in? You seem so busy and your life is so full. Why are you still smiling when there is so much on your plate to do?"

My answer was short and simple. "As I get older," I said with a twinkle in my eye, "There are many more days behind me than in front of me. I know each day is precious. I want to pack each day FULL of wonderful activities so when it's all said and done...I want to have no regrets. And I want to do those tasks in front of me with a smile on my face and joy in my heart"

Erma Bombeck, an old comic and writer, put it best when she said, "Lord, until the very last day, let me use up every gift and talent you gave me so that when you call me home I can smile at you and say 'I used 'em all up'"

One of my life lessons in the past 63 years is that there will ALWAYS be lots of "things to do".
Yet I can do each of those activities with gratitude and positive intentionality or they can just be something I'm trying to hurry through so I can get them done and check them off my list.

I ask myself quite regularly, if this was my last day to live would I slow down and just appreciate the chance to clean up my kitchen? Would I feel joy that I have a refrigerator when so many in the world don't? Would I be grateful for the dishwasher that cleans my dishes, feel each dish as I put it in, enjoy their beautiful patterns and colors? Would I taste the food on my plate, take joy in its preparation, and not just rush through another meal? 

Would I savor the moment?

As the holidays approach...I want to be fully present as I buy each gift, relishing the person I got it for. I want to wrap each package, fill each basket, and appreciate the moment. I want to be more grateful to God that these wonderful folks are in my life.

As I wrap up the quarter at school and spend hours reading journals, grading papers and evaluating final projects... I want to STOP and give thanks that I have had time with these amazing students.  I don't want to let the workload spoil my attitude.

I want to be intentional about experiencing the JOY in my life!

So this morning, as I sit by the fire and sip my coffee, I have a smile on my face. A new day is dawning. I am grateful to be alive so I can enjoy every second of it! I hope you enjoy your day too!


God Bless!
Love Linda

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I'M SO EXCITED, I JUST CAN'T HIDE IT!!!

Years ago, and I do mean Y.E.A.R.S ago, the Pointer Sisters sang the lyrics "I'm so excited, I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!" Now granted the object of their excitement was a man, but still these lyrics perfectly summarize how I feel today!

What am I sooooooo excited about you may be asking yourself? Here are just a few of the things that are putting a smile on my face right now....

Drum roll please.....

1) It's BABY time at the Thompson house!!!

Jessi, Roger and Emma are having a baby next May! Well, technically Jessi and Roger are having the baby, but if you know Emma you know that she is all geared up to be a BIG SISTER!
This baby is a miracle, a blessing, and a joy for them and our extended family. I have love, love, loved being in on this glorious moment, praying for this pea- in- the- pod and celebrating this new life and member of our family! More on this later...:) Please keep this family in your prayers during this pregnancy.

2) It's ADOPTION time at the Farrell house!!

That's right, you heard it here first! OK... maybe not first, but this is a miracle too. Was it on the radar screen for the Farrell family to adopt a wonderful girl from Ethiopia? Nope. Did God put it in Amy and Ryan's hearts! Yup! Is this a story that warms your heart and renews your faith ? It is! Where the heck is Ethiopia and what is that culture like? We are all finding that out and we can't stop smiling and praising! More on this later...:) Please keep this family in your prayers as they go through the extensive adoption process.

So, in short, (and you all know there is no "short" with me)... my heart is overflowing with God's grace and love for us. Two more grandbabies...how good does it get??

Add the upcoming holidays to this equation...and I am OVER THE MOON WITH EXCITEMENT AND JOY!!!... and I just can't hide it!

God Bless!
Love Linda




Friday, October 22, 2010

"Dear God. This is Linda. I need a miracle."

I remember this time last year as if it was yesterday. Halloween was approaching, and my heart was as sad as it had ever been. My life seemed in disrepair, tattered, disassembled and I was asking God:


"Why?"
"What do I do now?"
"How will we all get through this heartache and pain?"
I was so sad that I couldn't hear the answers.
Everywhere... relationships that mattered to me seemed to be in chaos.
My heart felt like it was shattered.
I tried to hold on to the old adage that things could only get better. Perhaps we would, with God's grace, get through this awful passage.
I wasn't sure we would. It was the dark night of the soul.

One vivid night, when I had cried more than I thought possible, I asked God for a miracle.
I told Him that I was powerless to change everything and that only He could bring us through this heartache on every front. I remembered the old quotation,

"Don't tell God how big the storm is, tell the storm how big God is.

On my knees and broken... 
I told the storm that the God I loved and had committed my life to at age 16, was bigger than anything it could throw at me or my loved ones.
I told the storm that I didn't know how God would make things right, but with all of the faith I could muster, I was going to trust that MY God could do miracles.

I remembered another quotation:

"There are only two ways to live your life- one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

I was going to believe that everything was a miracle and that what was happening would get turned around. I was going to believe, with every cell in my body, that God could make things right on every front....heal every heart, give every relationship a new beginning.

Was it possible that God could do exceedingly, abundantly above all things I could ever imagine?
Was it possible that God could turn this pain around and bring new hope and healing?

I chose to believe He could, even though I couldn't imagine how.
All of my cards were on the table. I was helpless. I gave it ALL to Him.

It is now one year later.

Another Halloween is upon me.
I am teary as I write this post. It is not my place to tell all of the stories, but it is my place this morning to praise God for answering the prayers of this grateful woman.

*I could NEVER, EVER, in a thousand lifetimes have imagined the great work God would do in the past twelve months.
*I could NEVER, EVER have imagined where we all are now.
*I could NEVER, EVER have imagined the healing and changes that are happening every day.
*I could NEVER, EVER have imagined that my heart would be lighter and my faith would be stronger.
*I could NEVER, EVER have imagined that God's grace would be the start of miracle after miracle...and they just keep coming.

So this morning, as I drink my coffee with tears streaming down my face, I remember when I whispered the prayer, "Dear God. This is Linda. I need a miracle."
And I am grateful beyond words because He answered that prayer!

God Bless! Love Linda









Friday, October 08, 2010

LIFE LESSON #626: When You Fall Down, Be Gracious, and Get Back Up Again!


I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to learn "Life Lessons" from my grandchildren. One of my most recent lessons came from my grandson, Jacob. Jacob loves to run and last year improved in each cross country race he was in. He ended up going to the All-City cross country meet. While Jacob wasn't the fastest runner last year, he went to all the practices, worked hard, and made steady improvement. Bert and I went to his races and were so proud of his efforts and sportsmanship.

This year, when cross country season started, once again Jacob went to all of the practices and worked hard. At his first meet of the season, he came in 12th. He did that with a terrible side-ache. Yet to get to All-City, you have to be in the top ten. So he was excited and nervous about his second meet.

At the second race, the Balboa runners got to be in the inside lane. I saw Jacob ahead of time, and he was smiling, relaxed, and encouraging his pal Caleb. As the race was about to begin, Bert and I were on the far side of the track. We heard the gun go off, the yelling and screaming followed, and we saw the runners come around to where we were. Caleb was in front. He is one gifted runner. Other runners went by, but no Jacob. The week before he had been toward the start of the pack. Finally we saw him, diligently running, but at that point way behind. We wondered what had happened. He finished the race, gave a great effort at the end, and knew he wouldn't be going to All City this year.

Later, after we got to his home, we heard that a boy had fallen down at the first turn and Jacob had tripped on him and fallen as well. He knew he could quit. He chose not to. He knew he probably wouldn't make All-City this year since he was way behind. But as he told me,

"Nana, sometimes you just have to run the best race you can, even though it doesn't turn out the way you wanted. I just did the best I could."

Jacob hadn't made excuses at the end of the race. He wasn't all angry and upset that he didn't make his goal. He wasn't furious at he boy who had tripped and fallen. He just did what he could, even though the circumstances were hard.

Ah...a "Life Lesson" out of the mouths of babes. When you fall down, just get back up again and do the best you can...and be gracious in the process. :)

I have had some not so easy "falling down moments" in the last several years. Sometimes I have been so disappointed in how
things have turned out, how I behaved or how other people have behaved, that my internal serenity and peace has been disrupted. I didn't feel one bit gracious in how I handled the disappointments.

More truthfully, I have allowed those circumstances to unhinge me. When I look back, I have wasted time, effort, and energy in the should-a could-as. I have, at times, held on to those hurts and regrets. I have, at times, been haunted by them. I have replayed and replayed what I said and did and what they said and did. I had a hard time letting go of what felt like a personal failure.

When I grow up...I want to be more like Jacob. I want to not beat myself up when I have done the best I could do. I want to
let God's peace and spirit fill me up so I can let go of old hurts. I want to be washed clean from irritations and resentments.
When I fall down, I want to be gracious as I get back up again. I want to be satisfied that I did the best I could...even if the outcome isn't what I wanted.

As Bert and I were ready to leave the track we turned and saw Jacob with his best buddy Caleb. Caleb had won the race. Jacob had his arm on Caleb's shoulder and grinned at his best friend. He was truly happy for how well Caleb had done and was able to put his own race behind him. He was disappointed, but happy for his friend who had done so well.

Thanks Jacob, for once again teaching your Nana some important "Life Lessons!" Love you buddy and I am SO, SO proud of the wonderful young man you are becoming!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Monday, September 27, 2010

Discovering A Treasure...My Parents' Love Letters





Children have a limited view of their parents' relationship with one another. After all, Mom and Dad are seen through a child's filter and perspective. My relationship with my Mom and Dad was no different. They were married for more than 50 years, both came from complicated childhoods, and at times seemed at once loving and also in desperate conflict with each other. They danced in the minefields of life... together. They navigated the depression and lived through an unthinkable separation during WWII.

Recently, in doing a deep clean of our basement and sifting through old, old boxes...I found an unexpected treasure. A new glimpse, if you will, of who Dolores and Mark were to one another. I found their old love letters and the cards they wrote to one another on birthdays and anniversaries.

I almost felt like I was intruding to read them..yet I had to know an age old question. Did they really love each other deeply?
Was that the foundation that held them together in spite of all the fighting and Dad's drinking. Did love keep them together as they tried to navigate life, even in times that seemed like all out war?

As an only child I watched them. I learned. I knew what set my Dad off, and I also knew that my Mom needed a protector. I was the one caught in the middle. But I also saw glimpses... Moments when there was so much kindness.

Who were they... really?

The letters are short and filled with such admiration and sincerity. I can almost hear their voices as I read the words through my tears. And then when I saw this clip on You Tube, I was once again reminded that all relationships from time to time are tested. It feels like a marriage may not make it. But years later, those battle wounds and scars make it stronger. I love in this clip how couples show their wedding pictures and then dance together...holding one another tenderly.

My Dad died first. My Mom never truly recovered from losing him. Neither did I. All the irritations and old issues subsided with his passing. The missing never ended. We forgave him.

And then she, too, was gone. My heart broke in a way that only God's grace could help put it back together. I miss her every day.

The letters tell the story. She did love him. She signed them.."Love always, your Dolores" He did love her..."You were the best thing that ever happened to me."

When I was little I used to see them dance together in our living room. Now I love to imagine them both, dancing together in Heaven.

Love and blessings!
Linda

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Forgot... Again!

The first week of school has come and gone. WOW! That's all I can say. 

I am thrilled to be back in the classroom. I am honored to be working with students who are dedicated to improving their lives. That part of the week warmed my heart and made me realize why I LOVE teaching. I loved seeing my friends and colleagues. And once again, it is inspiring to team-teach with Amy.

However, if I'm honest (and I am trying to be truly honest with myself and others), the outside-of-the-classroom climate at the college was CRAZY...and I do mean like the TV show "Saturday Night Live" crazy. One unthinkable event after another. These weren't small events mind you. Any one of the events was detrimental to SCC as I know it. We needed Betty White to show up, just like she did on Saturday Night Live, and give us some comic relief!

Yes, the week was stressful outside my classroom. The details of that stress really don't matter. What matters is that... 
I forgot, again, to take a breath and rely on God. 

Yikes! And the physical and emotional consequences of that "forgetting" were noticeable.

This morning I re-read an encouragement email Amy forwarded to me this last week. Granted, I did read it before but I was so sucked into the "vortex" of the week, and holding on to my sense of well being, that the message didn't sink in... until now.

The email described a Mom in a kitchen preparing a meal with a sleeping baby leaning into her. The Mom clattered and clanked as she whirled around to make dinner, with the baby nestling into her hip. The outer world of activity and whirlwind didn't phase the baby because she leaned into her Mommy.

And the message suggested that I need to lean into God just as that baby leaned into her Mom.

Ah....THERE'S the truth of itWhen I just rely on me, I take in all of the stressors I can't change. When I lean into God, I'll find peace and serenity in the midst of the whirlwind.

I have learned this lesson before, but why oh why is it so easy to forget it.
I guess I'm a slow learner when it comes to turning everything over to the Lord.
My "I can fix it if I just try harder" mentality kicks in and the vicious cycle begins.

It's almost a predictable mathematical equation:
Want stress to sink in...rely on just me.
Want peace and serenity in the midst of chaos...lean into God.

I am breathing easier as I take in this message. I remember that God is in control and can fix all things. 

This morning I am grateful for the reminder!
God Bless!
Love Linda

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CONTENTMENT, NESTING and Teaching an Old Dog "New Tricks"


Simply put, this summer changed me. I have, for years, longed for a more balanced life, but I felt helpless to make the core changes to facilitate that change. I just got used to rush, rush, rush...work, work, work.

True, I was (and still am) incredibly productive. At almost 64 years of age, I joked that I could work circles around many of my younger colleagues. I came from a family background where hard work was in our bone marrow, and I was following that coveted tradition.

The thought of being a "slacker" was repulsive to me. Still is.

Yet, where was contentment?

It somehow got lost in all of the hard work.

What is contentment to me? It's loving being where I am at any moment and finding the joy, serenity, and peace in the little things in life. It's creating moments where the whirlwind stops so I can be centered , creative, and faithful to the God I love and the people I cherish.

It's taking time to relish making and drinking a cup of coffee. It's appreciating the joy of cleaning my counters instead of being irritated that they aren't clean. It's finding old black and white photos of my loved ones and starting to frame them and create a family wall. It is personalizing a home we have been in for a long time and creating a living environment that reflects my heart and soul.

It's "nesting", not decorating.

What's the difference? For me, decorating is an exterior process of quickly getting a room in shape with a new look and update. It may mean a new coat of paint, new slip covers, or a trip to a store that refreshes and revives a tired, old living space. Don't get me wrong. I love decorating.

But "nesting" is just a little different. It's not just an external process. It's an internal change of heart. It is reflecting who I am into where I live. It is finding cherished items that reflect precious memories and surrounding ourselves with them. It is "authentic living" that enhances our spirits and our souls. It is a deeply felt reminder that I am not all that I have, but I am God's child. It is the beginning of the process of internal examination into who God means me to be.

It is the next step of going deeper as I get older.

For me, authentic living is peeling back the superficial layers in every area of my life. It is relishing the time I have left on this earth and REALLY making the best of it.

And it all started with the basement...with getting rid of "stuff" and changing a space I couldn't stand into a peaceful and esthetic place I love to be in. That basement is a "work in progress" and so am I.

So as fall starts to change the leaves in the trees and splashes new colors of orange, green, amber, red and yellow in our garden, I am puttering in our home...to my heart's content.

I am getting more rest for my body and rest for my soul. I am finding my old art supplies and beginning, in my mind, to imagine drawing this year's Christmas card. I am going through boxes of old photos and revisiting those memories. I am smiling more and worrying less. I am placing my hand in God's more often and letting Him guide my day. I am crying more at the suffering I am seeing and feeling because my heart isn't wound quite so tight.

Yesterday I was back at school hugging old students who had returned and appreciating colleagues who have done this sacred work for years and years. I felt honored to meet new students and wanted to give them a safe home at school where they could let down their overwhelm and stress. And then I came home, left school behind and took a nap. That's right a nap.

I woke up, felt rested and happy, and made a delicious salmon dinner for my hubby.

I felt "content", happy through and through. I felt alive!

I guess you CAN teach an "old dog new tricks"!

Sending love, contentment, and blessings your way!

God Bless!
Linda







Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"AND TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON"...


I am in awe of God's handiwork. In His perfect timing the air starts to cool, mornings are crisp, colors start to change, and fall is once again in the air. As a new season approaches, and the best summer ever draws to a close, I find that I am at once grateful beyond words, mixed with a teaspoon of sadness, at the end of this SPECTACULAR summer.


Lately I have heard myself say that "This was the best summer of my life!"
Strong words, even for me.

What made this summer so memorable? It wasn't fancy trips to exotic locations. It wasn't buying something or DOING something. It was relaxing into my life so that I could have precious time with those I dearly love.

I know, most people don't associate ME with the word RELAXING :) Truth be told, I didn't either..until this summer.

What did relaxing look like this summer? Here are a few examples:


* I relished my first cup of coffee in the morning and had long and drawn out conversations with my beloved hubby as we sat on the sofa sipping and sharing. No gulping and running... just being.


* I slept in, often until 6 or 7 am. To the average person this might not seem like a big deal. However, I am normally up at 3am every morning during the school year. This summer I worked on changing that life-long habit. I got rest. I was intentional. When I woke up at 3, I told myself (the way you would a small child) that all of the birds are still sleeping and it's not time to get up yet! :)


* I laughed and chuckled until it hurt. I giggled and took delight in playing in a sprinkler in my work clothes (with Emma) or just looking with loving and playful eyes at Jenna's "crazy hair" when she woke up. My time at Cannon Beach with my dear friend Sharon was hilarious. We laughed until it hurt!:)


* I puttered and cleaned my home. I nested and completed some projects that might seem small to most people, but they were HUGE to me!


* I wrote in times on my calendar for "self-care"...that's right, self-care, not work. And what's more I committed that time to caring for me with as much diligence as I would an important consulting appointment.


*I had wonderful and important "Nana Time" talks with my darling grandchildren. Not the kind of talks about just activities, but the "Updated Postcard" kind of talks about what is going on in their hearts. I adore my grand babies, all of them, and I am passionate about knowing what makes them "tick"!


* I took time to breathe, take naps, read great books ("Fly Away Home" was my absolute favorite) and have my quiet time with God. Like the old spiritual says, "It is well with my soul."
I focused on "soul-time" and time with the Lord this summer.


* I kept up my "Gratitude Journal"... a reminder of my multitude of blessings. I focused on what I could control and asked God to help release me from worrying about what I can't control.


* I got tickets to take Bert to the musical "South Pacific", Nutcracker Ballet tickets for Jessi, Emma, and me for our annual Christmas tradition, and await the Women of Faith Conference and Beth Moore Christian Conference with Amy. I love, LOVE, LOVE having events on my calendar to look forward to.


* The list of summer delights goes on and on....life-changing moments as my pace of life shifted from "turbo speed" to a "slow down and enjoy it all" speed.


I am grateful for this relaxed time and as school is about to start I want to take these life-changing lessons with me. To everything there is a season...and I am "blessed beyond measure"
by this one!

God Bless!
Love Linda























Wednesday, August 25, 2010

LIVING FAITH as if Jesus was a "Drive-Through" God


Relationships fascinate me. They always have, and they always will. I stand back and realize how easy it is to take relationships for granted, misuse them (if only unintentionally), and think everything is "fine", when in fact it is not.


Relationships are a joy, the fabric of my life, and what makes me get up every morning and think, "Well, today will be interesting and never boring." :)



I am a student of relationships, my own and others. I look at relationships at home and at work trying to understand how I need to make relationships better. I am always on the look out for what it takes to make a relationship healthy, growing, and meaningful. What kind of open heart and communication is called for? What kind of time commitment makes a difference? While I may miss the mark, I am always trying to improve the relationships that matter to me.



One question that has surfaced a lot this summer is...

Does this person I truly care about REALLY know that their relationship with me is a high priority in my life? Does Bert know? Does Amy know? Does Jessi know? Do my grandchildren know? Do other family members know? Do my friends know?



How about my relationship with God? Does God know?



In a recent sermon at our church our Pastor challenged us to look at our relationship with God, with Jesus, and see how our behavior met the qualities of a healthy relationship here on earth.

He asked:



Do you regularly talk to God and thank Him for all of the blessings He has given you?

...Or do you only come to God when you want something and you want it "soon please".

Or maybe we often even leave off the please.



Do you talk to God every day or only in a crisis?

..."Please God, (even though I haven't talked to you for five years or even really had a relationship with you)..."please save my child (my job, my marriage, my life)."



Our pastor asked us to consider what would happen to our earthly relationships if we treated them like we often treat God. Yikes!



Pastor Lonnie then gave, what was for me, the ultimate analogy.



"Do you see Jesus as a drive-through God?"



You drive up, give your order of what you want, and expect Jesus to be at the window fulfilling what you want, when you want it, and how your want it. Your "prayers" consist of telling God HOW to do His job and WHEN to do it.



"I'll have ketchup and mustard, but no onions please, Jesus."

"I'd like a better job, better marriage, and all my ducks in a row...and could I please have that NOW. Oh, and by the way, thanks for the great day and all my blessings. Sorry I haven't been to church, worshiped you, or read your Word in the Bible."



Our Pastor then asked, "Are you living your faith as if Jesus was a drive-through?"



I could barely breathe at this point in the sermon.



Oops! I hesitated to look around to see if Lonnie Mitchell was talking to everyone or just me.

Am I really that arrogant with God? If I asked God for the highs and lows in our relationship what would He say? Would He feel like a real priority in my life or just a side dish ordered at Taco Bell?



I felt my knees go weak.



How does He feel when I tell Him what to do, how to do it, and when it needs to be done?



More importantly...Am I really talking to the creator of the universe, the Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega, the Giver of all life and blessings as if He was an employee at a drive-through restaurant?



I felt like I was going to throw up.



This summer, following this sermon, I have been re-reminded that my prayer life needs some revision, my time in the Bible needs some revision, my attitude about going to church and fellowship with other Christians needs some revision, and my overall relationship with God needs some time, love, energy, communication and revision.



I do NOT want to live my faith as if Jesus was a "Drive Through."



Your thoughts?

God Bless!

Love, Linda




























Monday, August 02, 2010

The Double Standard of the "HONEY-DO" List

I love teaching. One of the MANY reasons I love teaching adult students is how much I learn from them. One of those "AHA!" moments came in my Gender Communication class this last quarter.

We were having a "fishbowl" exercise where a group of women became part of an inner circle for discussion. As part of that group, we sat on the floor in the center of the room while other students sat around us listening and taking notes. The goal of the women's discussion was to offer "tips" to the men in the class about communication, attitude, and behaviors that might improve their relationships with important women in their lives. 

We also had a "fishbowl" where the men got to talk and the women listened and took notes. The men's fishbowl went first. To be fair, the men displayed much better manners as listeners in the fishbowl exercises. They not only listened respectfully, they asked amazing and thought-provoking questions.

In the women's fishbowl one gal talked about how everything is better when men really help at home. She inferred, and we might have an "Amen, Sister!" from any women reading this blog, that men don't really do their fair share at home. Women work at outside jobs, just like their husbands, but they are then expected to do the majority of kid care and household care. All the women in the group agreed that men helping more with the household chores and children would make women in general a much happier group of people.

After the fishbowl was over, and the men could ask questions, one well-respected and older male student asked if he might participate in the conversation. This was someone who dearly loves his wife and had been sharing all of his class information on improving gender communication with her. Everyone in the room really liked him.

Quite simply, and sincerely, John asked,"I've always wondered about the double standard of the "honey-do" list. Could you ladies help me with my confusion?" He went on to explain that he always helped his wife around the house. He felt that was part of being a good husband. Yet he also had his own list of things to accomplish. While his list might not be written down, he had one. 

What puzzled him, he said respectfully, was why women always seemed to feel that they could give a guy another list of their priorities to do, the ever famous "Honey-Do List!" and expected men to re-prioritize and get the new list done ASAP. What, he asked, would happen if men started to give women those kinds of lists? 

He went on to ask how many of us gave our husbands a "Honey-Do List!" We all raised our hands. He then asked how many of our husbands gave us regular "Honey-Do Lists"? No hands went up. "Is that a double standard?", he asked.

Our mouths dropped open.
We were speechless.

It had never occurred to me that the famous "Honey-Do list" was one-sided and a double standard. The "Honey-Do List" was a cultural phenomenon, passed from generation of women to the next generation of women. It was a cry for help from busy women, desperate to have their spouses help them out at home. But was it a double standard? Would I be shocked to have Bert write a "Honey-Do List" for me? Food for thought!

Yup, I love teaching!
I love learning new things!
Thanks John!

What do YOU think about the famous "Honey Do Lists"??? Is it a double standard?

God Bless!
Love Linda
 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

She Is One Tough Cookie and A Warrior Against Cancer!

In this culture the word "hero" gets tossed around rather loosely at times. Or at least that's my opinion. A celebrity is designated to be a "hero" because they donate to a cause. An athlete is a "hero" because they do something extraordinary. Now please don't think I am diminishing those accomplishments. I'm not. 

But to me a true hero is someone whose selflessness and courage are such a bright shining star for others that you are almost blinded by their faith, perseverance and tenacity... and they do this day-after-day, week-after-week, month-after-month, and year-after-year...against
great odds. Their attitude, in the face of extreme adversity, makes you sit up and say, "So that's what real character looks like!" When faced with all the tough things life can throw at you, they hold on to God with both hands and show you what faith really looks like. 

Eileen Thompson is this kind of hero to me.

I've known Eileen for many years, and I have seen her battle cancer twice. Once, fourteen years ago...and now, unexpectedly, fourteen years later.  What is so amazing and heroic about Eileen is how she handles all of the tough things in life. She turns to Jesus and holds on to Him. She handles the most difficult adversity with grace, or as she says,... "I am still here by the grace of God. I can do this by God's grace." And I believe her! 

*Bring on the chemo-she handles it with grace. 
*Lose your hair- she handles it with grace. 
*Legs swell up so your ankles don't bend- she handles it with grace. 
*Because of the cancer drugs you no longer have feeling in your hand-she handles it with grace. 
*Have an open wound after cancer surgery-she handles it with grace.
*Raise your granddaughter in the midst of it all- she handles it with love and grace.

I'm not always sure how God works, or what makes Him smile, but I can't help but imagine that when Jesus sees how Eileen perseveres and follows Him, He must smile.

Eileen would never call herself a hero. She might even be embarrassed that I wrote this about her. That humbleness is partly what makes her accomplishments so extraordinary to me. 

She is one tough cookie, and I am proud to call this cancer warrior my friend and soul sister!
God Bless!
Love Linda

PS. Check the song in the previous post... "Let The Waters Rise!" It reminds me of Eileen!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts As I Head To Cannon Beach!

OK...this is even hard for me to believe! I changed the template on my blog all by myself. :)
A good sign as I head off for a week of respite, fun, nourishment, and time with a dear friend.

This week has been beyond chaotic, and I have been challenged to again and again turn EVERYTHING over to God! And while there have been challenges, my heart is FULL of gratitude for all of the blessings that are overflowing. It's all about how you frame it! Here are a few of this week's events in no particular order.

Yesterday was a magical marker kind of day. Thirty three years ago, on June 24th, Jessi was born. Talk about nostalgia...it seems like yesterday. So many memories flooded in yesterday about her birth and the deep sense of wonder about carrying a life and seeing her born. What a gift it is, an honor, to be part of helping to grow someone. Jessi from day one has always been a "go-getter", a take-it-on kind of gal. Back then she rode her big wheel in the dirt with her party dress on. Today she is a triathlete and still ridin' in style. As I've watched her become a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, athlete...and more...I have been amazed at God's gift to me and to those around her. I love you Jess Jess! I always have and I always will! Happy 33rd birthday sweetie! I can't wait to celebrate with you when I am back! 

Not only was this week marked by Jessi's birthday, the unexpected event of Jacob's emergency appendix removal left us all shaken. One minute Jacob is running around and having a great day, and the next day he is in lots of pain and having trouble walking. That evening we are all gathered at Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart in the waiting room... waiting for a surgeon to let us know Jacob is OK. My heart was in my throat. Between tears I just keep praying..."Please God, let him be good as new".  And God kept that promise. While Jacob is still in the hospital recovering, he WILL make a full recovery. What a great relief! I love you Jacob and I am so, so glad that you are getting better!

Besides Jessi's birthday and Jacob's surgery, a major event this week was SCC's graduation on Monday and getting my grades in. I also came back on Tuesday and Wednesday to start to get ready for next year. What a great year of teaching at SCC and how amazing and blessed I feel to get to teach with Amy! Her presence at SCC has been a gift to her students and also a gift to me! I love watching her teach! Thanks for a great year Aim! I can't wait to do it all again next year! It has also been a gift to my heart to see the kind of Mama she is as she has ministered to Jacob during this time.

And not to be left out, two of the unsung heroes of this week have been Ryan and Bert. Ryan, I have loved watching you minister to your family as you have given and given and put them first.
Not only did you finish a clean up at your old house so the new buyers could move in early, and you did it at 3:30 in the morning after Jacob's surgery, you have shown love and leadership at every turn. I am so grateful that you were there to remind us that God was taking care of it all! Love you!

And to my dear Boppa...who also helped to hold down the fort...I am so grateful for you every day! Your deep love for us shines through all the time, but especially in moments when things seem scary. You are my rock! Love you so much!

What a week! And now it's time to move my clothes for the trip from the washer to the dryer.
It's time to breathe and get revitalized. It's time to hear the ocean, read books, laugh myself silly...and just have fun!

Life is good, and I am grateful! Loves and hugs as I head off.
God Bless!
Love Linda

Friday, June 11, 2010

Time For A Change!

I can feel it in the air. I can feel it in my bones. I can feel it in my emerging smile. I am wistfully waiting for school to end. Closing the book on another year of teaching. What an intense year it has been...but that is for another post.

What I'm struck by this morning is my desire to extend my cuppa, cuppa coffee time, plant some new and less drenched plants in my planters, get the house super clean and organized , do all the laundry, clean my car and get on with the simple pleasures in my life that take care of me.

I need to catch up with some special folks and have quality time, time that is measured in luxurious hours, not clock-watching minutes.

But most of all... I need to catch up with me!

I.need.some.order.
I.need.a.change.in.focus. 

I am grateful for an extended break where I am able to re-find myself...and not the one who grades papers, chairs committees, and does marketing for my department at SCC. That super-productive, always-in-top-gear girl needs to be put on the back burner until late next September.

Where oh where did the whimsical, artistic, book reading part of me fly off to? I'm not sure, but I know I'll find her!

The sun may come out
Or it may choose not to
It doesn't matter.

Rain or shine, I feel a smile coming on!
It's time for a change.

God Bless!
Love Linda


Thursday, June 03, 2010

GOD IS GOOD!...even when life isn't..the story of Zac Smith

Please view this:


The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

It's a simple equation, almost a mathematical certainty. Life has ups and downs. There are times when life putts along and all seems fine. And there are times when, in a moment's notice, life turns on a dime.

And.everything.changes.

I'm not sure if I am more aware of this phenomenon as I age, or if it has always been this way and I just didn't notice.

But I am noticing now.

More and more I see how precious life is. More and more I see how precious my marriage is. More and more I see how precious my grandchildren are, my adult children are, their spouses are, my students are, my friends are, my co-workers are. The list goes on and on.

There's a song in church that has a chorus:
"You give and take away
You give and take away
And still my heart will say
Lord, blessed be your name."

On most days, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God loves me, has my back, and is in charge. I know, deep in my soul, that having a daily walk with God, praising His glory, and not just "talking" about God when it is convenient...is at the core of all that I am.

I truly believe that for many of us (me included) when crisis hits, a child is diagnosed with cancer or a marriage falls apart, the prayers flow. "Oh God", we find ourselves praying,"please don't let this happen." Until that moment we (I) have had God on the back burner. Now, we need something, so we turn to God.

I have to wonder how that must feel to God. He's a God of convenience for so many of us.

Every day I turn to God, talk to God, walk with God...but is God at the heart of all that I am and do...not so, sadly.

This has been a season in my life that is marked by enormous changes. Lost friends. Surgeries for loved ones. My own unexpected eye surgery this week. Changes in relationships. Disappointments. Victories. Confusion.

And then I stumble on to the story of Zac Smith. Stumble is the wrong word. It wasn't an accident or coincidence. God led me there. It's not an easy video for me to see. But it's a reminder. An important reminder. God is good, even when life isn't. Even when it doesn't turn out the way I want it to, or my prayers seem unanswered, God's plan is greater than my own.

Zac Smith died last Sunday. But I am so grateful that his faith touched me this morning and reminded me that no matter what...God is good!

God Bless! Love Linda

Sunday, May 09, 2010

THE LEGACY OF AN AMAZING MOTHER!

Today is Mother's Day and like so many Mother's Days in the past few years, I woke up really teary. At once I feel so blessed that I can hardly breathe, and at the same time I feel so sad that my tears don't seem to stop flowing. The phrase, "You don't know what you had until it's gone"
resonates through my mind. It's Mother's Day, and my Mom isn't here to celebrate it with her.

Let me talk about "feeling blessed" first. Dolores McColm was an AMAZING Mom to me. Everything I know about being a good Mom I learned from her. I have endless stories...truly endless stories...of how she was constantly there for me. In a collage of my life, she is the glue that held everything together. I never once felt that she didn't love me. Not once.  

That "so sad my tears don't stop flowing" part has to do with her death and the gut-wretching, profound loss that it has been in my life. I miss everything about her, even the things that used to irritate me. I miss her phone calls, her advice, her wise counsel, her news clippings she sent me. I miss someone having my back as only my Mom did. I miss talking to her about the girls.
I miss her cooking and how pretty she looked when she was dressed up. I miss the chance to tell her that I love her.

The last few years of my Mom's life she was really ill. She was dying from smoking and on oxygen 100% of the time. She wouldn't move to Spokane, so every other weekend for two and a half years I went to Seattle to have time with her and coordinate her health care. The roles were reversed. Finally, I had a chance to give back. Some people talked about how that must have been such a huge sacrifice on my part. All I could say was that I could NEVER, EVER repay her for all she had done for me. NEVER. EVER.

My Mom wasn't perfect. No Mom is. It's easy to see Moms as too bossy or too involved. Why is she always so pushy or trying to tell you what to do? It's easy to see what's wrong about your Mom and forget the sacrifices she made to get you where you are. It's easy to forget all the driving she did to get you to activities and all the thousands of meals she made that you ate without thinking. It's easy to see her imperfections and forget the nights she was up checking your temperature when you were ill or held you while you cried because some boy broke your heart. 

You can only begin to get her sacrifices and deep and abiding love...once you become a Mom yourself. And then we are often so busy we aren't really all that grateful for the legacy our Moms left us.

But if you were or are blessed to have a "good enough Mom", there's one thing I know for sure.
You will get what she did, and who she really is to you, once she is gone. You will miss her with every cell in your body and like me this morning, you would give anything to call her and wish her a "Happy Mother's Day!"

So here's to you Mom! I will love you forever, I will like you for always and as long as I'm living your baby I'll be! (from the book "I'll love you forever")

God Bless!
Love Linda 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life Takes An Unexpected Twist and Turn...telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth!!


Yesterday I was at the funeral of a very dear friend of ours, John Brennan. John has been a dear friend of Bert's for over twenty years. They were in a men's running group together, had lunch together and shared their lives at a deep level on a regular basis.


Simply put, we are all astounded that John is gone. How can that be? He had a backache and side ache, felt like he had the flu, ended up in a coma, had an operation and they found him full of cancer, and poof...one month later he is gone.



John's memorial yesterday was truly unique. The Unitarian Church was packed, a sea of people from my "old life" with Tim and my early life with Bert...Jim and Sue Shaw, Kent Hoffman, Deanna and Don Roberts, Gail and John Goeller...the list goes on and on.



There were so many stories told about John and the most amazing service filled with bands, slideshows, a potluck, so many friends gathered. John would have loved this party. But he wouldn't have expected so many people to come.


I learned alot about our friend John yesterday. As Jim Laudermilk and Kent Hoffman said, John had asked them to tell the truth about his life, celebrate all he was and wasn't, to share his struggles. One of those struggles hit everyone hard.



While John loved other people deeply, he wasn't really so sure that people really loved him back. Maybe we are all a little like this.



As we told stories about John, and many of us did in front of that packed crowd, one story stood out that Steve Heeps told. He had stopped to see John at the hospital and told him that his friends missed him. John rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah sure, all two of them." While John was often sarcastic, Steve said he knew at that moment that John didn't "get" how much he mattered.



That's been a theme of life lately. How is it, I have to ask myself, that we are all so HUNGRY to matter to someone and so often feel that person's absolute indifference. We long to love and be loved in return, but we are rebuffed and turned away. In my opinion, it's usually not because of who we are, but because of the hole in that person's heart. But it hurts deeply, at the core of our being, to love someone who doesn't love us back.



As I have gotten older, I am no longer afraid to tell people who I am or to tell them that they matter to me. I told many folks at that service yesterday that I loved them.



Likewise, I have much better boundaries with those who don't truly care about me or those who can barely tolerate me. Life is much too short to waste more time trying to get someone to care. I value my life and time. I am blessed to be alive and loving the life God gave me. And that's a bit of the story I told in front of that crowd yesterday.



I walked up to that podium knowing that the story I was about to tell might shock some of the people in that room. One of the "family secrets", so to speak. But God knows it all anyway, my family knows the story, my students know the story, and I wanted Rachael, Michael, and Sarah, John's kids, to hear my story.



I started by saying that there had been so many warm and funny stories about John that were being told at the podium, and while I had many of those as well, I wanted to share about a difficult conversation John and I had, years ago. I told Rachael, Michael and Sarah that this story was for them and I looked only at them as I told the story



I told them that I was one of the people whose life was saved by their dad.



I talked about the time in my life when I was first married to Bert, yet where I was in so much pain and anger from my divorce from Tim that I began to drink heavily. My Dad was an alcoholic, but I had never been much of a drinker before that so I didn't imagine I could be.

One day, in one of those amazing twist and turns that life brings you, I heard a knock on my door and it was John Brennan. I assumed he was there to see Bert, who wasn't there. John shared that in fact he had come to see me.



He had watched my decline, hurt, and choices to dull the pain. John knew that I was a mess, and he told me so. While I had heard the same message from Bert, suddenly I listened with new ears. John said there was help out there for me if I would stop drinking and take it.



He then asked me a question that changed my life. He asked me what Jessi and Amy would think of me ten years from now if I kept this up?



My whole life changed in that moment. I am now 22 years clean and sober because a friend told me the hard truth about who I really was, not who I pretended to be. And as I looked at Rachael, Michael and Sarah, as I told this story yesterday in that huge service in front of all those people, my whole life changed again.



I told them that Bert thanked their Dad for saving my life, Jessi and Amy thanked their Dad for giving them a sober Mom, even my ex-husband Tim thanked their Dad, my twelve grandchildren thanked their Dad, and the thousands upon thousands of students I have had at SCC thanked their Dad for having a teacher who was sober and could really love them.



As I stepped down from that podium, in front of that packed crowd, I had told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I didn't cover things up, or keep the secret to make me look good. The pretenses were dropped. I had prayed before I spoke and felt God's "Go for it kid! It's time!"



Someone once said,,"The truth will set you free!" John's telling me the truth saved my life. My telling my truth yesterday, with no shame and only feeling grateful, set me free.



God Bless!

Love Linda



Thursday, April 01, 2010

Gratitude and Blessings!



Ahhhhhhh! I LOVE spring break! Truth be told, I love any break from teaching. I work so, so hard, put in countless hours, literally burn the midnight oil, grade what feels like (and might actually be) a thousand papers, get my grades in, prepare for the next quarter...and then I get to "pause and regroup."
It's one of the many things I LOVE about being a teacher.

That "pause and regroup" comes with a huge sense of relief. Suddenly, I can take a moment to have an extra cup of coffee, kiss my darling hubby longer and hold him tighter, smile more often, and make time for the little things it is easy to take for granted.

This spring break started with an amazing trip to Seattle to see my dear friend Sharon. We laughed like silly school girls, buzzed around in her cute red convertible and just had a blast. This trip we had a late celebration for my February birthday, and Sharon treated me with such kindness and generosity that my heart overflowed with gratitude. Besides great girlfriend time, I could see sunny Seattle in all her glory with daffodils and cherry trees in full bloom. I couldn't stop smiling. I felt grateful for my friend Sharon and grateful to God for every flower and ray of sunshine.

I came back to Spokane and found some of those nearest and dearest to me with major health issues: one of Bert's best friends in a comma with heart failure, Nancy with an emergency appendix operation, Eileen with cancer back, an operation, and chemotherapy, Rog Sr. with a serious operation...the list goes on and on. I kept praying and visiting the hospital and got to know the second and fifth floors of Sacred Heart all too well.

As my dear Mom used to say, "Getting older isn't for sissies!"


Yet in all of it, I saw God's grace and love at work. I saw anew how much all of these people have blessed my life. I felt grateful to be able to sit next to them at the hospital, hold their hand, and just watch March Madness on television. One lesson played out over and over again...It's just plain easy to take people for granted. This time of visiting the hospital was a much needed reminder that we can all be gone in an instant, and we need to let others know how much they mean to us.

I need to remember that lesson on a daily basis.





So as Easter approaches, and I am aware of God's great gift in the death and resurrection of Jesus, I am again filled with so much gratitude. I am reminded again that I am loved, just as I am, that I am forgiven, and that I have a new life because of God's gift to me. What a blessing to know this kind of love.





Today, I am just so grateful...for it all!


God Bless!


Have a blessed Easter!


Love Linda





Friday, February 19, 2010

If I'd Only Known...

I was headed back this morning from my usual trip to Safeway at 5:20 am. I went to the Starbucks there to get an espresso- a vente, iced mocha, single shot, skinny milk, and light on the chocolate.

After sipping on my morning pick-me-up, I got back in my car and drove on 27th, the street behind Safeway, right past Staneks Florists.  I looked up and saw a sign, the kind where you put the letters up on a long stick. The sign read "Get your Valentine flowers here."

I always check those messages on the reader boards. The teacher in me looks for spelling and grammatical errors. As I saw the sign at Staneks I thought to myself...  Well, they need to change that sign. It's past Valentines Day.  Maybe, I thought to myself,  they should have it read..."when was the last time you sent flowers to your mother?" 

The thought was floating through my mind, when all of a sudden it hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks, almost as if someone had sucker punched me in the stomach....It's February 19th,  my Mom's birthday. It hit me so hard that I had to pull the car over to the side of the road, and I just couldn't stop crying. I wished I could send my Mom flowers. How many years had it been since she passed away?

I finally pulled myself together and started the ride to school. All the way there I composed a letter in my head to my Mom. It went something like this...

Mom,
I miss you! Happy Birthday! I didn't forget.

If I'd only known how much I would miss you, I would have been even more appreciative of every moment I had with you.

If I'd only known how much I'd miss the sound of your voice on the phone, I  would have called you more often.

If I'd only known how much your  advice and wise counsel would mean today, I would have listened more to what you had to say then.

If I'd only known how much I would love to have you here to spend a day with,  I would have taken even more time with you to have lunch or just talk.

If I'd only known what it was like when you were gone, I would never let any small irritation about you get to me. At times I felt irritated at you, for the most stupid things. 

If I'd only known what it was like to miss you, I'd have told you over and over and over and over again how much you mean to me.

If I'd only known how it hurts every day to have you gone, I would have taken more care so that you never felt I took you for granted.

If I'd only known that there are no perfect Moms, I certainly am not one, I would have seen that you were about as perfect as any Mom could ever be. You loved me deeply then, and I can still feel that love in my heart now.

If I'd only known that many of the things I was so "busy" with really weren't life-shattering events, I would have seen how much my paying more attention to you would have meant the world to you.  

If I'd only known...

I miss you Mom. I miss you every day. I will miss you until I take my last breath on this planet. 
I am largely who I am because you were there for me in the most important years of my life. You came to everything I did when I was little. You had my back. You loved me just as I was. You carpooled me everywhere. You knew my teacher's names. You believed in me, so I began to believe in myself. You listened to the tiny details that no one else really wanted to hear. You were a gift from God to me.

I love you Mom!
Happy Birthday!
Love Punk...your very own daughter!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Some Lessons From My Precious Grandchildren!

I remember well when my Dad got a license plate holder that had a saying on it. He had a Cadillac and was a no frills guy, so some car decor was a surprise.

The license plate holder simply said, "I am a proud Grandpa!"

Jessi and Amy literally melted his heart. He adored them. He turned into mush when they were around. They had him wrapped around their little fingers. This big, huge mountain-of-a-man was literally smitten with those two darling daughters of mine. He used to say, "I am learning about life all over again through their eyes."

Well Dad, first of all, I miss you every day. Second of all, now I get exactly what you meant. Me too! I am smitten. MY grandbabies have melted my heart. I am learning some of life's most precious "lessons" through their eyes!

Side Note: So no one feels left out, this post will only cover several of my precious grandbabies and I'll cover some of the others in future posts. :)

Let's start with...a drum roll please:

EMMA SEPPA THOMPSON-


Ah, Emma! Last night Bert and I were downtown for dinner and a movie. We chose to eat at the Nordstrom Cafe. As we entered Nordstoms I began to chuckle. Bert asked me what was so funny. I recounted a recent shopping trip Emma and I took downtown and our walk through Nordstoms where she wore the most amazing fedora-like hat with a black sequined band. She had on a neck scarf, skinny jeans, and a grin from here to Alaska. THAT GIRL HAS HER OWN UNIQUE STYLE! She could have been right out of a fashion magazine!

I can't tell you how many Nordstrom salespeople stopped Emma and said, with some reverence, "Wow, niiiiiccceee Hat! I LOVE it! You look great!" Emma would just grin, say "thanks" (as she has impeccable manners), and she literally swaggered through the store with such fun and self-confidence that she left a trail of grins in her path. I giggle every time I re-live that memory!

Emma and I did a MAJOR shopping trip together at Christmas time where she picked out presents for her parents and Boppa. Every present she picked out had her own unique sense of taste, fashion sense, and color. Emma likes to refer to me as "My best shopping girl!" and I stand in amazement at her sense of style. After all, though it's hard to remember, SHE IS SIX AND A HALF YEARS OLD. YIKES!

Yet Emma is more than just someone with style. She lives life "all out" and pushes the envelope in everything she does. As I watch her swim or run, go to some of her kids triathlons, and hear about her snow skiing adventures, I am in awe of her guts, determination and love for life! Thanks for the great reminders, Emma, about really loving life and living it to the fullest! You are MY best shopping girl too! I love you to the moon and back!

LESSONS LEARNED FROM EMMA:
Be a "go-getter" in everything you do! Give it all (shopping, swimming, running...) 110% effort! And while you are at it, for heavens sake, have your OWN style, a style that makes you happy to look in the mirror, makes you whistle while you walk, gives a little bounce to your step! Live life and be all you can be!

Drum roll please...

JACOB PAUL HONEYCUTT-


Ah, Jacob! It is so hard to believe that you are eight years old. Where has the time gone? You hold such a special place in my heart, and in your Boppa's too. I remember so well having you at the dinner table, years ago, and we were talking about God and someone who didn't believe in Him. Very dramatically you fell to the floor, legs up, and declared dramatically, "WHO couldn't believe in GOD!!??"..rolled your eyes, and pretended to be dead!

From the time you were little you have reminded me that God loves me. You have reminded me to pray at meals. You have reminded me that kindness to others trumps every other human act. Just recently, when you were over at our house, you knew that Jenna would like to play the harmonica. You looked all over, found the harmonica, and without blowing it once yourself (with the kindest look on your face) you gave the harmonica directly to her. But what all of us who watched this act of kindness knew was...YOU love to play that harmonica. But you set that aside to be selfless with your sister! Your Mama also told us the story of when you were at one of Papa's basketball games, and he was sweating and asked for a towel, and you took the t-shirt off your back and gave it to Papa to use since no towel was around. All I can say is "WOW!"

Your heart-of-gold and feelings on your sleeve approach to life, your loyalty to those you love and sense of protection for your Mama...well, you inspire me! Thanks for the important reminders sweetie! I love you to the moon and back!

LESSONS LEARNED FROM JACOB:
Remember to be grateful to God for everything! Remember that He created you. Live your life with the Lord in the center.
Cherish those you love that you call your family! See the best in them as they might be gone tomorrow. Forgive them, stick up for them! And be kind and unselfish. Don't be afraid to be humble. Give away the things you love most and you will be truly blessed.


Drum roll please...

JENNA MARIE FARRELL-

Ah, Jenna! Just thinking of you makes me grin from ear to ear. You are such a hoot! Your crazy hair, love for life, super grin, love for "My skool!"...it all just cracks me up! You are the miracle baby, the baby God gave to your Mama and Papa. You are the sweet daughter your Mama had longed for. Yup, you are an answer to a thousand prayers.

Yet little did I know that God also sent you to our family to help heal my heart! Time with you has been a balm and healer to my soul. Your hugs and unconditional love have brought back my smile. Every time you put a hand on your hip and announced, "You stay, I go!" I broke into giggles. Seeing you drag around your Dora "back pack" filled with your treasures, watching Dora with you, seeing you color pictures, hearing you clap and yell for Emma as you watched her at a race...it all makes me smile. You are so loyal and possessive of those you love... your love for YOUR family, YOUR Momma, YOUR Daddy, YOUR Pooky, YOUR Boppy, YOUR Sissy, YOUR Zacky Poo...you claim us all with such zigor and assurance!

Thanks sweetie for reminding me that I am dearly loved and claimed by you as YOUR Nana! I love you to the moon and back!

LESSONS LEARNED FROM JENNA:
Just be yourself! Have fun! Remember to laugh! Give great hugs and snuggles to those who are sad. Be dramatic, it won't kill you or those around you. Make them laugh by being silly. And most of all...claim those you love! They are YOUR sweeties, YOUR loved ones. Let them know it too!

In short, I am so blessed to have these precious grandbabies in my life! My Dad was soooo right! I am learning about life all over again through their eyes!

God Bless!
Love Linda

A Reminder of What Matters...

                   "We are all just walking                       each other home."                                             ...