Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday's Favorite Quote!

First it begins inside your heart.
Something moves.
Then opens.
Then frees itself.
And now you feel
 a rhythm
breaking its long silence.
This is going to be good.

Someone once said that optimism is like seeing the donut instead of the hole.
That makes perfect sense to me. It's a choice to look at gratitude and be optimistic.
There's great freedom and relief, both physical and emotional, when I move toward gratitude.
It almost feels like there is a shift in my heart and body. Something moves when I
look, with new eyes, at all I have to be grateful for. 

Back in the day, when we had records and vinyl, at times the needle would get stuck and not get into the proper groove of the record. The needle skipped over and on top of the grooves. It was not where it belonged.

You could hear the dissonance as the needle skipped again and again, and again...scratching, until someone walked over, picked up the arm of the record player and set the needle straight into the right groove of the record. 

Ah....that's better. 
The relief was almost immediate.

I feel like that's what God does for me when things are scratchy and in the wrong groove in my life.

He picks up the arm of the record player, and gently sets the needle where it needs to be on the recording.

Then something moves in my heart. 
Something frees itself.
I can feel a new rhythm that has been waiting to be born.
I can say with confidence...
This is going to be good!

God is doing a new work in me and it is beginning inside my heart.

Because of His grace, because of His love...
Today I am filled with gratitude.

May you have a blessed weekend!
And as almost everyone in Washington state says...

Go Seahawks!

God Bless!
Love,
Linda 


Monday, January 27, 2014

A PRAYER...

"May your prayer and your living be so closely connected
that you cannot separate your day plan from your Amen. 
May you not despise your weakness, your anxiety, or
your exhaustion, rather may you bring these into the
presence of Jesus. Your smallness is a gift and an offering.
May He be your kind companion today."

It has not been an easy weekend for me. That's just the honest truth.
I am trying to focus on gratitude and that my tears are a gift to Jesus.
My weaknesses are a gift to Jesus. My smallness is a gift to Jesus.

While it is hard to cry off all of your makeup in church, perhaps
that kind of gut-wrenching honesty is exactly what the Lord would want.
Bearing my true heart to Him. He knows it anyway.

I am a mix of great JOY and also sadness and pain. While I've
had several weeks of feeling so happy and relaxed and free, that's
only a small part of what real life offers. I want to be open to it
ALL, learn from it ALL, and give ALL of it to Him. I want my life
to reflect His love, His grace, His will for me.

I want to love Jesus and live for Jesus wholeheartedly!

I know I am growing, Sometimes it just isn't easy.
I would ask for your prayers that I may turn ALL of my life over to Jesus,
every single day! And to that I say...Amen! :)

God Bless!
Much love,
Linda   


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Memories, light the corners of my mind....

Memories...
light the corners of my mind.
Misty watercolor memories,
Of the way we were.
                                            - The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand

Nostalgia...

I am currently going through old, tattered, mostly black and white
photographs stored carefully in an old leather suitcase with well-loved straps and slightly tarnished buckles. Picture after picture brings a wash of memories. Just as the suitcase was buckled tightly so nothing would fall out, the memories and stories were safely secured in that valise so they wouldn't be forgotten.

It's a new year, yet the past is not far behind. When you gaze around our home almost everything in it carries a story. 
Yet these often grainy, thank heavens not HD quality photographs, capture a time when things seemed more simple. 

Nostalgia, it seems, is a part of our daily conversation these days. So often something jogs our story. It all starts with... 
"Remember when?..."

Stories of dear ones here and dear ones gone. Stories of those not- so-dear. Yet even with time the memories of the not-so-dear ones fade into how sad we are that they lost their way. How we wish they had been loved as a child and not neglected. How things might have been different if they had felt wanted.

Hurt often recreates itself when people don't feel seen, valued or wanted. You can see the pain etched in faces of those old school photos.

Yet most of the memories bring a smile, a warmth, a soft remembering. A hand held. A glance. Deep gratitude for all they meant to us.

Almost always, when we sit in "our" chairs in the family room
sipping on freshly brewed coffee, my beloved Bert starts the 
travelogue of life. One memory begets another.

Last night we had a precious granddaughter staying overnight and she had access to Face book. Sihin, her finger twirling and circling each message, was suddenly animated. She exclaimed with glee, "Look Nana, it's Owen!"

My oldest daughter, Jessi, had posted a video of Owen, her amazing 2 1/2 year old son. He was snow skiing down a gentle ski slope,  no poles and with perfect balance. You could see the shadows of his family cheering him on. We watched the clip again and again and exclaimed at how amazing and athletic O truly is. We could imagine the wind on his face and the crunch of the snow underneath him as he courageously sailed toward his Daddy, ready to swoop him up if necessary. That here-and-now moment had us all grinning with pure JOY.

And then the stories of skiing days-of-old began, and we reminisced about when Chris and Eric, at about that same age, flew by Bert on a ski hill near Seattle. Memories of Bert skiing in Switzerland.

The memories seemed linked like the paper chains we made in grade school. One carefully-cut circle glued so as to fit inside the other. And before long, one circle fits within one circle and another and another. 

Then my own snow skiing memories gently blew in like snow falling from trees after a slight breeze. Skiing when I was seven. Lessons with the Buzz Fiorini Ski School. A left ski pole carefully designed so I could plant my pole with the best of them. Hot chocolate on the ski bus. The misty watercolor memories cascaded like a waterfall.

O's story brought Bert's story, brought my story. And Sihin watched in awe and listened intently as nostalgia lovingly hijacked our conversation. She loves the old pictures and stories since, having been adopted from Ethiopia only two years ago, this is all new and fresh to her. And truth be told, we love having a willing and eager audience as the stories wander across our minds.

The old stories bring comfort. They bring a sense of knowing and belonging. They are small patches in the quilt of our lives.
I hope to record some of them in this new year so they will live on.
One day Owen and Sihin might be sitting at a fireplace and reminisce about Nana and Boppa. It will all start again with...

"Remember when?..."

May God bless you and keep you and hold you in the palm of His Almighty hand.

Love you to the moon and back!
Linda

Monday, January 06, 2014

In 2014...Wholeheartedly Kicking Shame and Blame to the Curb!

"Treat everyone as if they have a broken heart
because they probably do."

I remember the exact moment when I knew I wasn't enough, a moment when I felt apologetic for my very being. It certainly wasn't a moment most folks would have picked out or understood. After all, I was just a seven year old girl in a grocery store, standing with my mommy next to our cart.  Suddenly, the urge to meet everyone in our line just overtook me. Now granted, I had been an extrovert from the time I took my first breath, and I knew instinctively that my talkative and "glad to know ya!" nature was just too much for my Mom. But at that moment, in that grocery store, I threw caution to the wind and my extroverted nature, won out over my fear of upsetting my Mom.

My dear Momma, God Bless her, was brilliant, detail and perfection oriented...and a serious introvert. She loathed being the center of attention or having the focus be on her. Although Dolores loved me completely, and was a great Mom in so many ways, my very nature made her skin crawl. That day in the grocery store I remember going from cart-to-cart and conversing with the adults about what they bought and why they bought it. "Oh," I'd say. "Your apples are so beautiful. Are you going to make a yummy pie with them?" "Wow!", I'd exclaim. "That chocolate chip ice cream is my very favorite!"

Slowly, but surely, after the last lively and animated conversation, I inched my way back to our cart and with a skip, a hop and an ear-splitting grin...I looked up at my Mom.

And then I knew...just as if someone took a pin and popped a gorgeous, red birthday balloon.

I had caused her displeasure. She was mad at me for being...me.

My personality and extroverted way of life had disappointed her. As much as she loved me, and believe me she loved me more than anyone in the world,
she couldn't appreciate who I really was, who God made me to be.

And politely she whispered, loud enough so everyone in the grocery line could hear, "Linda Marie, would you please modulate yourself!" And then she looked away. And I felt shame and blame in every part of my body.

When the people who are supposed to love us unconditionally, just as we are, turn their eyes and love away from us, that silent retreat of disapproval and contempt stays with us our whole lives. That shame and blame coats our souls.

Almost 60 years later, I can still feel the shame, criticism and contempt of that moment. 

That moment is life-changing. We know we have displeased them, that we don't measure up, that we are a disappointment. That condemning look, or silent look away, sends a strong message, "You are less than. You should know better. I would never, ever make the stupid mistakes you are making." Or the contempt and criticism leveled at us can take another back road around to our heart.

That same person can give us  "advice" or "feedback" that has such a sting to it that we feel like a failure. "Modulate yourself, Linda" All would be better if you just turned yourself down and were more quiet, and more like I am.

Oh, they were just sharing their "truth", but their "truth" can cut us to the bone.
Truthfully, even though it may have had a positive intention initially, the feedback is laced with blame and shame and is perceived as more of a vent of arrogance and frustration.

Words are powerful. Words can hurt. Words can be etched into our hearts forever.

I believe the shaming messages we get from our parents, other family members, 
and those nearest and dearest to us, go straight into our DNA. Later in our own lives some of us then turn around and become like the very perfectionist condemners and heart-breakers who hurt us so much. Sadly, I am not exempt from this. I have given my fair share of disapproving looks, pointed feedback that hurt and even if unspoken, felt condemnation in my heart toward someone else. I have wanted to take certain people and put them in a mold that was more comfortable for me. I'm not sure why I have been so arrogant as to assume that people should live their lives to my specification and then their lives would go better. Judgemental, critical, condemning...cuts to the quick and breaks the spirits and hearts of others, even when that's not our intention.

I recently heard someone I dearly love, who has been shamed and shamed again, say, "I know I have always been a disappointment." She looked defeated as she shared what shame had done to her spirit. I left that conversation asking myself an important question, 

"Who have I shamed that might feel I disapprove of them so greatly that I have hurt their spirit?"

As my dear friend, Sharon, a retired teacher says, "Keep your eyes on your own paper." In other words, we all need to work on ourselves and what we need to change about ourselves, instead of focusing on the work others need to do in their lives.

What I know for sure... is that the good Lord made each of us absolutely UNIQUE! Some of us were designed to do it "just so" with great perfection and precision. Others of us are creative rebels who make mistakes and live life on the edge. Yet ALL of us, and I do mean ALL of us, need God's grace and the grace and unconditional love of those closest to us.

While it took some time, and lots of soul-searching and soul-work, with God's help I came back to being that extroverted, "glad to know ya!" gal.  I completely forgave my Mom, and I am trying to learn from the mistake she made. I make those same mistakes too.

In 2014, I am prayerfully asking God to remove all condemnation, criticism,
shame and blame from my own heart  so I can wholeheartedly love others, just as they are. I want to follow the lead of Dr. Seus in celebrating everyone's individuality.

Dr. Seus says:

Today you are you!
that is truer than true!
There is no one alive
who is youer than you!

May all of us celebrate who God made us to be and even when it's a challenge, love the differences in others wholeheartedly! Let's kick shame and blame to the curb!

May God bless you and keep you in the palm of His mighty hand!
Love always! 
Linda







Wednesday, January 01, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR! My "Word" for 2014

Happy New Year, dear ones!

We have just returned from an AMAZING time of fun and retreat in Maui.
The smell of plumeria, the sand beneath my toes, inhaling spears of sumptuous, sweet
pineapple, drawing, reading, sharing, holding, warm weather (usually at least 80) , and time to breathe and reflect.  Walks along the beach, fingers intertwined with my beloved husband Bert, and time all alone. It.was.perfect. Just what I needed. My soul has been restored.

A perfect launching pad for 2014... with conversations about who I really am in every aspect of my life.
A percolating of what my "word" for 2014 will be.

In case you have never heard of "having a word for the year", it's an opportunity to tune out the world and listen to God's quiet voice whispering His path for your life. When I select a word for the year, it's a benchmark for my goals and longings at the deepest level. It's a chance to work at replacing the things the world would have me pursue and embark on the vision God has planned for me.

It's a chance to do less and be more.

I had a word in 2013 and have every year for the past five years. Last year my word was perfect for all 2013 had to offer. That word sustained me through an amazing 2013, filled with life-giving blessings and changes that challenged my soul.

Last year, He gave me EMBRACE.

Embrace it all, Linda. Put your arms around whatever comes, Linda. And in the best moments of 2013 I remembered to "embrace" and in the gut-wrenching moments, He reminded me to "embrace" Him, to embrace my faith, to embrace the people He has put in my life. Remembering to embrace sustained me and reminded me that I am His. I belong. All is well.

And on the beaches in Maui in late December, when tears and prayers were flowing, I thanked Jesus for reminding me to embrace and then asked Him to gift me a new word for 2014.

As I walked, prayed, breathed and took in His glory through a brilliant sun and waves crashing to shore, He gave me...

Wholehearted

Wholehearted is being "all in"
Wholehearted is not holding back
Wholehearted is feeling the fear and doing it anyway
Wholehearted is living with no "I wish I had"
Wholehearted is letting go of the world's vision for me and discovering anew
 who God wants me to be.

I want to live each moment with all of my heart...no regrets, just be ALL He means for me to be. 

Love... wholeheartedly 
Teach... wholeheartedly 
Give my heart and time to my family... wholeheartedly 
Reach out... wholeheartedly
Worship God...wholeheartedly
Be a friend...wholeheartedly
Celebrate all of life...wholeheartedly
Serve others...wholeheartedly

One of my favorite go-to books for 2013 was Brene' Brown's 
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way
We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.  

Brene' introduces the concept of living life authentically, being "all in". She even has Ten Guideposts for Wholehearted Living. When I first read these in Maui I was awe struck, and it felt like her words were penned just for me. I could hear God's whisper..."Listen up, Linda. This is for you, Linda." I'm going to do some fun artwork with these Guideposts and put them in my Bible, planning notebook, and in my classroom. I want to seal these in my heart. Here they are:

Ten Guideposts for Wholehearted Living:

1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think

2. Cultivating Self-Comparison: Letting Go of Perfectionism

3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison

7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and
  Productivity as Self-Worth

8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of  Anxiety as a Lifestyle

9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and Supposed To

10. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and Always    
  in Control

And so as I embark on 2014, I am renewed and encouraged  to love and lead and live with authenticity, courage and vulnerability. I anticipate Wholehearted living and will embrace it with great JOY!

May 2014 be a year that blesses you richly. I look forward to sharing it with you!

God Bless!
Love always, to the moon and back!
Linda
















"Just Plain Hard"...

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