Monday, November 14, 2011

So Grateful...So Blessed!



While it is always hard to let go of summer with its relaxed way of life, I love the Fall.

After all, it's Bert's favorite season. This cozy time of crock-pot soup, mums of orange , red and yellow gracing our home, throws pressed around us as we read by the fire, putting up white lights in our outdoor trees, watching leaves twirl and dance...it is ALL such a blessing.

And winter is on the way. I can feel it in my bones. The frosty nights have brought crinkly leaves in my gorgeous outdoor planters. The old plants, who adorned lush containers, have wilted and are headed to our compost. They will help to nourish next year's crop.

The seasons they are a changing.

And I am changing too.

The truth of the matter is that I just feel happy and content right now. I am choosing JOY

in the midst of whatever is going on around me. I am choosing GRATITUDE no matter what.

I am putting my hand in the Lord's hand at every turn, knowing that I don't know the whole story...but He does. I love the old spiritual that says:

"Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters,

Put your hand in the hand of the Man who calmed the seas.
Take a look around and you will look at others differently,
by putting your hand in the hand of the Man from Gallilee."

Here are a few things I am grateful for right now:

1) Our beautiful new granddaughter, Glory Sihin, graces our family with her smile, warmth and humor. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the picture with her that heads up this post.

2) Seeing baby Owen's smile..it can light up a room! His giggle fills my life with joy!

3) Seeing Emma run a cross country race and being there to yell for her.

4) Having Jenna stay over night and "cooking" with her on our pretend stove.

5) Seeing Bert go outside and shake the tree limbs so Jenna could see the leaves "dance".

6) Having a job I continue to love after all of these years.

7) Going Christmas shopping with Jessi.

8) Seeing Amy teach a class with such fun and expertise.

9) Seeing Tim, after breaking his neck, finally get his halo removed and having his bone scan show some new bone growth. Praise God!

10) Working on some fun Christmas presents.

11) Looking everywhere for inspiration for drawing my Christmas card for 2011. I often find a book, painting, book cover, Christmas window etc that I can use as an" inspiration piece".

While I love drawing, and wish I had "original ideas", I am more of a "I bet I could draw that too!" kind of gal.

12) Making all kinds of yummy soups in our crock pot. We are not letting anything go to waste and it's fun to try new recipes or make them up. Our autumn squash soup is to die for.

13) Anticipating going to the Nutcracker ballet with Emma and Jessi. I LOVE holiday traditions!

14) Getting up early for my quiet time and prayer time. I love holding others up in prayer!

15) Having lost 14 lbs. since last summer and my knee injury. Dr. Staley is even proud of me as I do a monthly weigh-in.

16) Putting up candles all over our home to add a soft light to our living space.

The list goes on and on.

Most of all... I am grateful to be alive, to have a new day to live for Him, and to have so many people in my life that I love to the moon and back!


God Bless!
Love Linda

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reconnecting with Myself: Carpenter Ants and Other Lessons

It seems like F.O.R.E.V.E.R. since I have written on this blog. Part of me says, 
"Well no one may read it." 
Then I am reminded that I don't write this so others may read it. 

Writing this is a way to sort out who I am...now. 
Writing this is a way to look at where I am, where I am headed (off track again?) 
I write this to have a tangible reminder of thoughts, events and priorities.

It's a time out to get back in touch with myself.
It's RE-CONNECTING that re-directs and re-energizes me.

This morning, as I stepped outside, I felt fall in the air. It seems like only yesterday that there wasn't a leaf on a single tree, and I was hoping that there would be a spring. 

Now... the weeks are ticking off until school starts...again.

This summer has been different, and yet it has been profound. Babies born, a significant knee injury, a reconnection with myself and my sweet hubby, and finding serenity in getting the simplest of tasks completed. Who ever thought that exterminating carpenter ants could give such pleasure.

Yet they are symbolic.

Something is in your face, eating away at your home (or life), and will I ignore the obvious or take action? We took action.

This summer has been all about the little things. 

When a teacher friend asks, "How was your summer? What did you do?", in the hope of hearing something fun, exciting, earth-shaking, or glamorous, I can honestly say... 

"I cleaned out my car", 
"I got rid of carpenter ants", 
"I held Owen", 
"I cried with Tim and held his hand after he broke his neck", 
"I got a new John Elway knee brace", 
"I helped at Amy's garage sale to help bring Sihin home",
"I sat in the sun and let the warmth permeate my face",
"I played poker at the lake with Ryan and Jacob", 
"I went school shopping with Jessi and Emma",
"I went to an antique fair with Bert",
"I sat at the ocean with Sharon",
"I prayed and prayed and prayed for God's peace and guidance"...

the list goes on and on.

Simple things. 
Slow down things. 
Gratefulness of heart things. 
Glad I am alive to do these things.

No one knows how many summers they have left. No one.
Some freak bike or car accident can end it all. 
Suddenly being able to walk or turn your head is something sacred to appreciate.

And for the first time, really the first time, I am looking at when I will retire from teaching. 
It won't be long. 
It is on the horizon and I can see it coming.

So this morning, with fall in the air, my cup of coffee in hand, and the fireplace on...
I give gratitude for ALL things big and small.
ALL prayers answered in ways I couldn't predict.

I turn over my worries, my doubts, my hurts over to a God who is so BIG, so STEADY, so RELIABLE, so GREAT, so EVER-PRESENT...

and I am content to know He can handle it all.

I am blessed to be alive to see a new day and THAT puts a smile on my face.

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, June 18, 2011

TOUGH QUESTIONS...Simple answers

          WITHOUT
                              
          THE RAIN

      THERE WOULD

            BE NO

          RAINBOW

What I know for sure is that I am not a wimp.
What I know for sure is that God does not give us more than we can handle.
What I know for sure is that I have always lived my life with courage and perseverance.
I am NOT a quitter.

Yet, what I also know is that there are seasons where the storms are abundant and the rain keeps falling. This is, literally and figuratively, one of those seasons.

At the end of a very challenging school year, and facing some daunting personal challenges, I have been asking myself lots of tough questions.

Here is a sample of one of my June journal entries...

"Recently, it hasn't been easy.
Recently, I have been in the business of having hard talks and setting hard boundaries.
Recently, I have had a heavy heart.

Recently, I asked Bert

"Why don't you think God asked someone else to do this
Ya know, like someone younger, or smarter, or  with more endurance
for really hard decisions? Why does it have to be so hard?
Why us?"

Bert's answer?

"God asked and we said YES."

I love it when it all boils down to one simple answer.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Deciding to say..."YES!!"



              
"She decided to free herself, dance into the wind,
 create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing "Yes" in the sky." 
     

He gives and takes away...

There is a song we sing at church where the chorus says:

He gives and takes away
He gives and takes away
But still I'm going to say
Lord blessed be your name!

It's this "gives and takes away" part that I'm struggling with right now. There are so many blessings going on and at the same time huge struggles. I have barely had time, or made time, to sort it all out.

Life feels a bit like a whirlwind, a roller coaster, and I am ready to get off and have a respite.

Simply put, I once again need to- 
"be still and know that I am God!" 

I'm not sure why I continue to forget that God really is in control...even in, or especially in, the vortex of the storm. It's all about really trusting Him!

It has not been easy to keep my equilibrium. I feel a bit tossed and torn.

The givings have been amazing: 

Jessi had her beautiful son Owen :) and I was there to be part of the miracle of his birth.

Jess, Rog, and Emma are now...
Jess, Rog, Emma and Owen
What a blessing to my heart.

Seeing a brand new baby brings hope and joy and the promise of new beginnings.
Holding him close brings back memories of the precious new babes I brought into the world.

The take aways?

There is a long list
The names and events, like losing Lilly, are etched in my heart.
The bottom line is simple:

Just when I think I know how life will turn out-
It all changes.

Yet I need to remember...

One Thing Does NOT Change...

God's stays the same.
He is the great I AM!
He is in control.
And He loves me deeply and forever. 
He is my rock in any whirlwind and my hope in any storm.

Nothing can change that...NOTHING!

So this morning I will rest in the hope and love of Jesus.
I will place my faith in Him!
I will remember that in Christ..."All things are possible"
And I will celebrate those possibilities!

God Bless!
Love Linda


Saturday, April 09, 2011

Wow...Does that really describe me?

Yesterday was one of those days that takes your breath away! First of all, it was Friday. Not just any Friday, the Friday at the end of the first week of this quarter. All teachers know what I mean. The first week is the week of "explanations" and "here's the drill we all need to follow."It's the week of establishing a "climate" in a classroom. It's the week when teachers roll their eyes at each other in the hall, and we all know what that means. "Dear God", I pray, "please get me to Friday!"

Not only was it the first Friday of the quarter, it was sunny out. We are not talking summer sunny as in it's 70 degrees. It's freezing, in the 40s, but it's glorious. There is a sun, and it's shining in Spokane!

Yet this Friday was a little different. As I was getting ready to leave my classroom, a student was still in class. This is someone I've had for several quarters, like, and feel has great potential.  As the student was gathering their things and preparing to also leave, they commented, "please give me feedback about (fill in the blank). You give brutal honesty and are known for that."

Now understand that this is a paraphrase and perhaps not their exact wording. However what is exact are the words brutal honesty.

Frankly, I was stunned.
More than that, I was speechless.

Now please understand that I am not writing this post to in any way disparage the student.
They were just putting their own truth out there.
This was their experience of me.

Do I imagine that their interpretation of these two words "brutal honesty" fits mine exactly?
Probably not.

After all, I have taught communication skills for more than 40 years.
Word choice is personal and words often do not mean the same thing from one person to the next. I was too stunned at the time to simply say, "I wonder what you mean by that?"

I may, in fact, ask that question on Monday. Yet in that classroom moment on Friday I was left with a hollow feeling that I may have a "blind spot" about how my honesty impacts others.

It left me to thinking.

Truthfully, the word honesty doesn't surprise me. Over the years I have found myself
being more truthful, even when it isn't popular. But what others may not know, and often goes unseen, is that before I utter a word I have often spent hours thinking about how I would say something to someone that was at once telling the truth and yet is kind in it's approach.

In the last few years I have had numerous "crucial conversations" that were long overdue. When I finally had those long-overdue talks, I had my back against the wall. There was no way to get out of saying what had to be said. I had postponed saying what needed to be said for as long as possible. I was honest about some hard-to-hear "stuff." I own that. I was honest.

Honest I get.

But brutal?
WOW. Does that really describe me? 

Brutal sounds vicious.
Brutal sounds deliberate.
Brutal sounds mean...at least to me.

When I was in Grad School at Whitworth, getting my second Master's Degree, a faculty member by the name of Ron Short gave me an important life-lesson that addressed the issue of overbearing honesty. He said, "What we are about in this program is "straight-talk." We are not about subtle manipulation, or guessing games, or I should know how you feel, what you need and what you want if you don't tell me." "Yet", he went onto say , "straight talk won't make you popular. For those who are about being right, it may make them defensive. Others may feel that you are mean, when in fact you are taking care of yourself by telling your truth."

Can I get an "Amen!" for that wisdom?

Another communication specialist once said, " An effective communicator tells the truth, but tells it with kindness."

I guess that last statement summarizes my goal. As a college teacher and human being I am called to give feedback. Sometimes that isn't easy. It may, at times, even hurt the feelings of my students, friends, or family. Yet I want to be clear about my goal in every interaction. 

My goal is to help, not hurt. My goal is to motivate my students to move to the next level of excellence, to challenge themselves to "up the bar" of expectations they might have about their classroom performance. My goal with other people, outside the classroom, is to be congruent and authentic with tact, love and respect.

Yet can my words, even though well thought out words, "sting."? Yes, they can. 
Do I need to be careful about the intensity of my communication, my non-verbal gestures and the "tone" of what I say? Most definitely. 
Is it useful for me to re-examine the truth I tell and how I tell it? Absolutely! 
Am I grateful for the opportunity to re-think this issue.
Yes, I am.

What's my conclusion after all of this?

My re-affirmed goal is to do effective and kind straight talk, not brutal honesty. I want to tell the truth but do so with tact, politeness, and kindness! I am an ever-growing person and communicator. Like others around me, I still have lots to learn.

God Bless!
Love Linda

 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"When I'm 64!..."

I am settling into being 64...the sound of saying it, the rhythm of knowing it, the sense of being it.

64 is not like being 60, it is being in your mid-60s. It is a chance for more wisdom, an opportunity for more growth. It feels like I am looking at life through new eyes.

As the song says, and the Bible reflects:
To everything
Turn, Turn, Turn
There is a season
Turn, Turn, Turn
And a time for every purpose under Heaven

Pure and simple, I am in a new season in my life.

There are inklings of a past season long ago. For some reason I am hearing from lots of former students, even as far back as 1971. Each of their messages warm my heart and remind me of the investment of time and love I have put into teaching. 

It is still like that. 

Teaching calls something from my soul. I am, perhaps, my most authentic self while in a classroom. I have felt "called" by God to be there. Those are sacred moments.

And there are moments in this new season of disbelief. Disbelief in how short this life really is.

I can hear, in my mind's eye, my Mom talking about the "losing season". That's the season when the reality of how short life is sets in. I am acutely aware at every turn that we are all "terminal" and that we need to "get our lives in order." While I am truthfully overwhelmed at the number of memorial services Bert and I are attending these days, and how many mournful calls we have had when someone's most precious life-partner dies,  it is also a season of deep connectedness. As we hold each other up in times of loss, we open our hearts fully to who someone is to us.

And it is a season of prioritizing what matters.

For much of my life I have lived in fear of letting someone down.
I have anguished if someone was unhappy with me and how I chose to spend my time.
No more.
If there are people who are keeping lists of how I should have done more, or I should have made different choices...
Well, I just feel sorry for them.
My choices about how, where, and with whom I spend my time are just that, my choices.
I am resolved and at last at peace with the fact that...

I can't be everything to everybody. And I no longer want to feel pulled to do things in the fear that I will disappoint someone. 

I want to be true to my God-directed choices.
And I know they will not all be popular.

This season is also a season of deep contentment and new beginnings.
Children to be born. Children to come from Africa.
It is a season of  slow cooking and experimenting with new seasonings and
discovering and savoring the smells and sensations of healthy home cooking.

It is a season for crafting and sewing memories...designing quilts, making burp cloths
Anticipating the season of birth and new miracles to love.

This season of 64 is full of possibilities.

Most of all, I want each moment to reflect my love of my Lord.

I want to rest on Him in every trial.
I want to wait in anticipation of His precious hand on my life.
I want to see how He answers the prayers I whisper as I go to sleep.
I want to let Him rescue me from fear, heartache, and despair.

I remember when the Beatles first sang the song..."When I'm 64!"
I had no idea then how blessed my life would be now !

And may God hold you in the palm of His hand...
and give you peace!

God Bless!
Love, Linda



 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Put A Smile On Your Face.. Love-Sing It! Shout It!



I just cannot stop smiling when I listen to this song. I send its message to all of you, near and far, who are so dear to my heart. May you know how much I love you, how much you matter to me. May you know that YOUR love has made me whole.

To my dear family, my beloved Bert, my precious daughters, my darling grandchildren, my wonderful students, my dear friends...how you have ALL enriched my life.

I AM SO GRATEFUL!

May you spread LOVE wherever you go. It is in such short supply these days.
May there be love in the "good mornings" you share with those you walk by.

May there be love in the way you hold the hand of those you hold most dear.

May you know how short life is. Don't waste a moment of it in unforgiveness.

Tell those you love them that you love them

Let them hear it, see it, feel it in their bones.

May your smile radiate all the love you have in your heart for them.

Don't wait for a Valentine's Day to send a card or flowers
Don't wait for a birthday to send a note or poem.

Sing it, dance it, smile it, say it.

I AM SO GRATEFUL...for all of you and I love you to the moon and back!

God Bless!
Linda

PS. This was posted years ago, but I wanted to share it again. Doesn't this song put a smile on your face? I feel just the same gratitude today.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Last Gifts- "Holding Watch" for a Dying Friend

Note 2/12: Dennis Keen died peacefully on Monday, February 7th, surrounded by loved ones. His memorial service was held on Thursday, February 10th, where hundreds of friends, family, colleagues, and students remembered this man of faith and integrity. I will miss him forever.


My heart is broken. I am losing my dear friend Dennis Keen to cancer. I have been his friend for 23 years.

Every morning I saw him at school as he was one of the "early birds". I have watched him battle this horrible disease with courage, stamina, resilience and GUTS! I am, beyond, what any words could ever describe, proud of him. He has been a warrior against this disease. He did chemo every week for close to 2 1/2 years.

And I am learning some powerful life lessons.

I am choosing, as my dear Mom called it, to "hold watch" for my friend.

I am not ignoring this part of his life because it is SO hard to watch him deteriorate.
I am holding his hand and kissing his bald head and telling him how much he matters to me (and to so many others).
I am making meals, baskets, cards and being "present" in this part of his journey.

And it isn't easy.

I am NOT pretending that this will have a pretty outcome here on earth. It won't.

Most of all I am so cognizant of what it means to have such a dear friend leave your life.
I am "holding watch" with other friends of his...crying, hugging, whispering his name to God as he inch-by-inch goes Home.

I have loved having the chance to reminisce with Dennis, laugh, and share stories.

One of the fun moments in this part of the journey with Dennis came after I had visited him at the hospital and realized he was in too much pain to sit up. I wanted him to remember, as he looked to the ceiling of his bedroom at home, how dearly loved he was.

So I decided to create a "quilt-like" ceiling card (to go on the ceiling over his bed). His friends at school could take a square of colored card stock and write him a message of hope and love. I used my scrap booking supplies to make repeat cards, cards that would have a theme and tie the quilt together. I used powerful tape to hold all of the squares together on the back side.

The card started on a table in the faculty lounge in Old Main. I left extra squares and a pen so others could share their love for Dennis and his wife Virginia, who also works at SCC.

The card grew and grew.

AND GREW!

As expected, some of the messages came from his inner circle of friends at SCC.

Other unexpected messages came from maintenance people who had heard that Dennis Keen, who always spoke to them and showed gratitude to them, was terminally ill.

When I delivered the card it was five feet tall and 14 feet long!


Message after message celebrated the large and small kindnesses that Dennis did every day!

Today I am headed to see Dennis and deliver a meal. I don't know how many visits I'll have left with him
Each one is a reminder that life is fragile and such a GIFT!
Each visit reminds me to live every day as if it was my last.
Each visit is a reminder to tell those I love that I love them.

Yes, I am "Holding Watch" for my dear friend and while it is hard, it is a great honor to be there.

God Bless!
Love Linda

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A NEW YEAR and NEW HEALTH!

Carrots on my blog? Healthy vegetables in the background?

What in the world is going on with me?

The lessons pour in, cascade in, and stare me in the face. One of the greatest gifts God can give us is a healthy body. The question is simple:

DO I TAKE CARE OF THAT BODY?

Anyone who knows me knows that I have, for my whole life, struggled with taking time for me, taking the time for healthy nutrition, and getting in enough exercise (although I still do a brisk walk for the first 20 minutes I am at SCC every morning).

NOT ANY MORE!! Sloppy nutrition and sloppy health habits stop here and stop NOW!

Last quarter I battled a bug for weeks and weeks, I had three round of antibiotics, and my doctor, husband, family members, students, and friend Sharon all gave me some tough love....it's time to say "No" to some things and "YES!" to my own health.

These are smart people. They love me.

I would be a F.O.O.L not to pay attention!

As I watch dear friends battle for their lives with cancer, and saw Dennis in the hospital this past week, I am reminded that the Lord also has some tough love for me on this issue. This is a precious body, His gift to me, and I have not been doing a good
job taking care of it. I may have some A grades in some other areas of my life, but I have a D- in this area. Shame on me!

SO...things have been a changin' at the Salisbury home!

**During December and January we have been keeping our crock pot out on the counter, it's aroma filling our home. We are experimenting with lots of healthy soup receipes! Our latest is a lemon-chicken soup with oregano and tarrigon.

**I am on a RIGOROUS, daily vitamin regiment. No excuses! Take those horse pills (all 8 of them), no complaining allowed. Thanks Boppa for helping me with this!

**Get more sleep. Yesterday I went back to bed and got another 2 hours of shut eye!

**Let go of old hurts. I know that what I hold on to impacts my health. It's time for a fresh start with some folks.

**Have more seafood in our diet. Last night I fixed a poached salmon and lemon dish that was out of this world! Today we'll also add some fresh cracked crab to that menu.

**Focus on having a healthy breakfast! I am eating oatmeal and a 1/2 banana every morning during the school week. Yesterday morning, for Bert and for me, I made a veggie fritata with organic eggs and vegetables.

**Try new receipes and have FUN with cooking! I do have fun cooking during the summer, but truth be told I have tried to skate by most of the rest of the year!

**I am reading books about nutrition, watching the food network, watching Dr. Oz, and making it a priority to...

change my thinking about nutrition!

For some folks, this may seem small and not a big deal. But let me tell you...

IT IS A BIG DEAL TO ME!

I would appreciate your prayers and any encouragement you can give me! Sharon, thanks for the care package you sent, all about self-care! It was right on target!

Yup, it's time to move toward a more healthy life style. After all...
next month I'll be 64! I want to make it to 74... and beyond!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Way To Celebrate The New Year! Start With Two Pages of Paper...

Many people ring in the New Year with a fun party and a list of New Year's Resolutions. That list encompasses their goals for the year to come. While I love to set goals in every area of my life, and I always appreciate the "new beginning" a new year ushers in, every New Year's Day I do something just a little bit different. I thought I'd share this idea this morning, one I learned from a speaker on the Power of Prayer at the Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center. Here's a new way to usher out your "old year" and bring in the "new". This is also especially great to try with your children as it really helps them to focus on the power of prayer and being grateful for God's blessings.

So here's the exercise:

On the first day of every new year I get out two pieces of paper, some colored pencils and markers, and some stickers.

On one page I write the words:

"Thank You!" Page

On the second page I write the words:

Prayer Requests for the New Year

On the first page I thank God for all of the blessings He has given me during the last year. I even go back to my prayer requests from the previous year and look at what He has done and thank Him for all of the blessings.

When I look at my prayer requests as 2010 started I am AMAZED at how God came through, how the yearnings of my heart were answered, how He knew what I needed, even when I didn't. I've always thought that prayer was powerful. I pray every morning and keep a list of people to pray for and the specific needs that they have.
I also include my own specific requests. For example, one of my specific prayer requests every morning in 2010 was that Amy would get relief from the horrible pain she suffered as a result of a car accident. I asked God to bring a specific doctor, Dr. Weigle, to help Amy. I wrote this down on January 1, 2010. And low and behold, God is answering that prayer.

At the start of 2010, I asked God for healing in specific relationships (the details are personal) where all seemed lost and hopeless. God's healing in these realtionships has been nothing short of a miracle.

So, this morning on my "Thank You!" Page I have been writing down all the things I want to thank God for...all of the blessings bestowed on me, His daughter. I am thanking Him for my job, for my friendships, for help with struggles and relief from worry, for changes at work, for a new attitude, for optimism about an illness, for a new and closer relationship with HIm.

On the second page, I write down my new Prayer Requests for 2011. God promises me in Psalms that He is an "ever present help in trouble". He also promises me that He will know the cry of my heart and what I really yearn for.

Once again I am writing down prayer requests for myself and others...anticipating that in God's perfect timing I will once again see how He answers these prayers too.

I keep these pages from year to year so I can go back and look and see how God is moving in my life and the lives of those I love, care about, and am praying for! When I look at the list from 2009, I am amazed at His grace. As I write the list for 2011, I anticipate how He will answer these prayers too. I hold to the quote that if I have faith, even as small as a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible.

And that, for me, is a GREAT way to usher in 2011!!
Want to give this a try? It's a meaningful way to grow your faith and see the power of prayer!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

"Just Plain Hard"...

                  Stand up straight and                   realize who you are,                   that you tower over your               ...