Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Soak in the Wisdom of Women- Vicky Westra, Ann Voskamp and Others Who Inspire Me

I am AMAZED, truly amazed 
I am stunned and shocked and inspired 
I am soaking it ALL in, deep into my bones 
I am grateful overflowing 
I am brought to my knees as tears fall, absorbing the dust and residue of my old hurts 
I am refreshed and renewed
By His message filtered through their words 

I am feeling my heart, opened in new ways
Pried open by the LOVE of Jesus
Sifted through the wisdom of these sisters
These sisters of inspiration
These God reminders
These movers in the Faith
These doers, not just talkers, although they talk so well and move so many
These authentic Jesus followers who lay it all down
These courageous givers and writers and day-changers
These picture-takers whose photographs and words move my soul
These Mommas to their own and Mommas to the forgotten
You are living His story for your lives

I am changed because of you
Your generosity of spirit
Your own hurts out on a table like the last supper, an offering
To Him
To us
To me

Your courage makes my own heart beat stronger
Your fight for life makes me appreciate, even more, every minute I am gifted
Your authenticity and transparency to share and be real and be deeply honest to the core
It challenges me to be ALL He means me to be

You are writers, sweet sisters of wisdom
You are livers and givers
You move mountains and help to make Jesus real
The Jesus who loves
The Jesus who is there with every heart beat
Who never leaves us
Who sustains us in times of the deepest. heart. breaks

You, sisters, who set aside your own ego,  your own accomplishments
You point the way to God Almighty
The Ruler of the Universe
The Creator
The Sustainer
The Jesus I know and love and serve

You are preachers and lovers and doers and you give feet and heart-beat to His word 
You light the way to His sacrifice, by your very own.

You minister, just as he did.

You give yourself away so He can use you.

And I am grateful beyond words.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Teary Day, February 19th, Happy Birthday Mom!

I miss my Mom! 

I miss my Mom every day, but especially today since it is her birthday!
She would have been 96 years old today. I started to talk about her in one of the
college classes I teach, and I found myself very teary, even just saying that
it is her birthday.

Dolores Stanbury McColm was an amazing Mom who adored me every day of my life.
While I was a bit of a mystery to her, since I am an extrovert and she was an introvert,
she SHOWED up in my life, she was present physically and emotionally, she was on
my side, and she had my back! I have SO many great memories of her mothering and caring.
So many times when she "saved the day," showed up at my events, and took me to a million
activities. She was brilliant, beautiful, organized, thoughtful, unselfish and generous. She even sent anniversary cards to her friends who had lost their husbands, knowing that day would be tough for them.

It's amazing to me the HUGE hole that is left after her passing. She was ill for about three years, and the last two and a half years I went every other weekend to Seattle to coordinate her health care and help care for her. I felt honored to do that, to give back to a Momma who gave so much to me.

I feel so blessed to have had her as my Mom!
Happy Birthday, Mom! I miss you more than words can ever express!

God Bless!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why Going to Church Matters, Especially When You Really, REALLY Want to Stay Home!

Pure and simple, I can be stubborn. No, not just a little stubborn, really stubborn.
There are times I want my way. I don't want to have to adhere  to someone else's
schedule or wants or ideas. I want to make my own structure, set my own limits,
make my own timing.

Truth be told, I think my being stubborn has gotten in the way of some of my relationships. Okay, probably more than some. If needing to be right qualifies as being stubborn, then maybe quite a few

It has certainly gotten in the way of my relationship with God.

Let me explain.

My week is busy, more truthfully very busy, packed, full of deadlines and schedules over-brimming.
I do the scheduling.  I jam pack that baby almost every week. For years I have had two jobs.
College Professor and owner of a Communication Consulting Company. I love doing both.
I am passionate about both. I want to serve people and help them live their best life. Add to that time with my beloved husband, adult children and grandchildren, and the schedule almost looks undoable.
It's also a habit to do so much and arrive at Friday sort of gasping for air.

When Saturday morning comes, and there is no schedule, I am overjoyed!
I cannot contain my smiles,relief and exuberance for life. I am grateful for Everything. Every cup of coffee, walk outdoors, every moment when there is time to breathe. I putter around our home smiling and singing. Or I turn gospel music up loud and feel my spirit soar with each high note praising God Almighty. I tell my beloved husband, Bert, that Saturday is my favorite day. I don't just tell him once, I tell him almost every time he turns around. I look like a kid who just got their first puppy.

And then when I wake up on Sunday morning, I can feel the tension of resentment start to set in.
I feel conflicted. I want to feel like I did Saturday morning, but there is one major obstacle.

Church. Going to Church.

Now what you may know, or not know, is that we attend a small Church which is primarily African-American. In the African-American community, going to Church is a several hour process. The actual service can take 2 hours. Easily. My husband sings in the choir, so he goes early. I go to Sunday school before Church so I am there early as well.

So the whole process takes most of a morning and even into the early afternoon.

We often go with our adopted Granddaughter from Ethiopia, and she is pure JOY, so that helps get me going. And the congregation is FILLED with some of the most amazing, warm and supportive people I have ever met. They are genuine and a breath of fresh air to my soul.

Yet if I'm honest, the internal process, the grumblings and twistings of  "I'll go, I don't want to go", go on in my head and heart.

Now understand, I would easily give three hours to a coffee date with my husband or daughters. I would have no resentment, no looking at my watch, no wishing it was over and I didn't have to go.
I would be ecstatic at the chance to spend time with them and get to know them better. I would participate with an open mind and open heart.

How ironic that I would be so stubborn about giving God time to worship Him and know Him better.
It's also ironic that once at I'm at God's house, and soaking up the hugs of fellow believers and travelers in my journey with Jesus, when I hear I hear that first Gospel song, when I hear that first prayer, "Oh Lord, you woke us up this morning and You didn't have to. We thank you. Lord."...once I set aside my stubborn will... I am all in! I love being at church.

While I love to know more about the Lord through the writings of Pastors like Rick Warren, reading my Bible and my book Jesus Calling, and praying every morning over my first cup of coffee...
nothing, and I mean NOTHING, changes my heart like worshiping, praising and learning about God in the fellowship of believers. I think God must chuckle sometimes, and I do believe that God has a sense of humor, when He hears my inner grumblings , sees my stubborness, and then sees my eventual relief.

By worshiping God, and going to church, I am right where I belong.

My inner self can act like a stubborn toddler, fighting doing what is the right thing to do, yet when I finally give in and relinquish my own "I want to do what I want" self, I am at peace.

What I know for sure is that if the Jesus I Know and Love and Serve is the center of my life, which He is, then He deserves my undivided attention. Certainly at Church on Sunday. He deserves not having to compete with the Internet, phone calls, and interruptions, even the most pleasant ones.

If I treated my family and friends with the same disrespect I often treat God, the same reluctance to give them my full attention, I wouldn't have good relationships with any of my family or friends.

It's just that simple.

I have told myself, time and time again, that I can worship God anywhere. And that is true.
But what is missing in anywhere, is getting to know God at a deeper level. At Church that deeper level often comes from listening to a sermon that rocks my soul and asks me to look at myself in new ways that challenge me. It is finding a Bible verse that seems like it was written only for me and what I am going through in that exact moment.

Human relationships only grow if they are given significant time and attention.
My relationship with God only grows if I give Him significant time and attention.

The math equation is simple, really.

More quality time with my husband + getting to know more about him at a deeper level =
a deeper and more satisfying relationship with him.

More quality time with God + getting to know more about Him at a deeper level =
a deeper and more satisfying relationship with Him.

So at church this week, during one of the hymns that had tears streaming down my cheeks, I asked God to please forgive my stubborn ways, my reluctance to come closer and know more of Him, my being stubborn about coming to His house to worship.

The words to the hymn were ...

"I give myself away, I give myself away, so You can use me."

You can't give yourself away if you are being stubborn and have your heals dug in so deeply that you don't have to change.

And a prayer was answered. I could feel that stubborn spirit melting inside my heart.

And I am grateful beyond words!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Okay...So I Am Old-Fashioned and Proud of It!

Well the day finally came. The day my Grandma used to tell me about. The day when I would use words like..."Back in the day", "I know it's old-fashioned, but..."

The day I would wonder what in heaven's name is this world coming to?

In the college classroom where I teach, I declare proudly that I have old-fashioned values. While I do not generalize about college students, because so many of them are exceptional human beings and courageous people, I do find that how I conduct my classroom seems to, at times, bring a few chuckles and shakes-of-the-head.

I actually spend a whole class hour at the beginning of the quarter, in every class, talking about my "Expectations" for how things will run in my classroom. Students also have a chance to share their expectations for me, their expectations for their fellow classmates, and their expectations for themselves.
I want all of us to be on the same page. It seems like I've talked and talked about this for years and years. Actually, I guess I have.

Amazingly, this is my 47th year of being a teacher, 37 of those years have been my beloved Spokane Community College. Yes, the culture has changed during that expanse of time. Cell phones are in. Text messaging rules the day. Formal hand-written letters are almost extinct in this college culture, yet my heart skips a beat and I almost get teary when I receive one, especially from one of my students.

Yet while many things have changed in a college setting, and I may NEVER get used to a few students coming to class in pajama bottoms,  over the years my expectations have stayed quite the same.

Here are a few life-lessons, in my book, that never go out of style:

1) Be on time. Actually, whenever possible, be a little early: That goes for walking into a college classroom, church, a family dinner your Mother makes, a job interview, a coffee date, or a meeting with your college professor. Being on time shows that you respect the other person's time as much as your own. If you leave them waiting, and there wasn't an emergency or good reason to be late, you lose credibility about being a person who is trustworthy.

2) If you have to be late, try to call or email the person so they are not left wondering what happened to you. And if you come into a room late, apologize and acknowledge politely that you notice you have kept someone waiting. If you come into a college classroom late, quietly take your seat and quietly apologize for interrupting and distracting from what is going on. It never works well to be late, make a scene, throw down a book bag with a huge "THUMP!", give a sigh of resignation, and throw yourself into your desk. Or even worse, if there is a guest speaker, walk right in front of them to get to a desk across the room. Instead, take an available seat by the door so as to cause the least disturbance possible.

3) Never, and I repeat NEVER, yell at or raise your voice to your teacher, professor, boss, parent, or friend. Never walk out the door when they are trying to talk to you or solve a problem. Never point your finger at them or blame them when you have made a mistake. Never, ever
tell them everything you are thinking. Yes, they irritated you. Yes, you might like to say those things to them. However, there are consequences for telling someone off.  A college professor is like your boss. They are grading you. It does not serve you to be rude to them. You may disagree. Do it tactfully. They may be wrong. Share your disagreement tactfully. If you are called on bad behavior after doing this, OWN what you did and take responsibility for it. Listen to what  they have to say. You might actually learn something. Do not make excuses for what you did. There is no excuse for being rude.

As one person said, "We have too much of telling it like it is. Let's start telling it like the best it can be."

4) Whenever possible show gratitude and say please, thank you, and you're welcome. 
Don't take for granted the kindness of others. The smallest "thank you!" shows you acknowledge the kindness another person has shown. It makes them want to do more. I teach 120 students a day.
Every day I bring food to my class. There is a special chair by the door that has oranges, apples, and even cookies on it. Most college students are starving. Many of my students are parents and sometimes have to choose between their children eating breakfast or having breakfast themselves. They always put their children first, so they come to class starving. Every morning at about 5:30  I am on my way to SCC and I go to my neighborhood Safeway to get snacks for my students. I even get teased by the cashiers about keeping Safeway in business. I am delighted to do this. I've felt led to do this. Yet honestly I am a bit discouraged to see how many students eat these goodies and never, ever say "thanks! " A whole day may go by, and every snack gone, and no one may have voiced a single thanks. I am not doing it for a huge thanks or a brass band. However, those who do say "Thanks, Linda" almost bring me to tears. It tells me they are grateful. It keeps me buying those oranges. The same goes for when someone writes you a letter of recommendation. Send a thank you card to them for taking the time to do this for you.

You might wonder why I am listing these "Old-Fashioned Life Lessons." I LOVE, really LOVE being a teacher. God made me to do this. I have loved doing this every day for the last 47 years. Yet last week I felt so discouraged that I was brought to tears. A student I cared about was, from my perspective, very aggressive with me.  Someone complained that the oranges I brought were too small. Yes we have bad weather, yet many students came late and forgot to apologize. I was rudely told I was old-fashioned to expect a student to put their phone away while I was lecturing.

It wasn't everyone. Most of my students were their usual wonderful selves and no matter what, I wouldn't trade what I do for anything. Yet, I did have a moment of pause. I honestly felt a bit discouraged. I was stunned at being almost yelled at. I had to laugh at being called old-fashioned.
If there had been a "Retire Button" to press, I would have pressed it. I was praying and praying for patience. I was asking God to help me not take things personally. I was wondering if it was worth it to care so much about how my students treat each other and treat me. I pray for them every day. Every morning I put my hand on the outside of my classroom door and ask God to help me be His servant and help me to give each student love, care, attention and what He would have me give them.

Who knew some of what He would have me give them would be lessons in old-fashioned values. 

My Grandma was an elementary teacher who lovingly sent back my thank you notes if they had a spelling error on them. I made the corrections and sent them back with a smile. My parents were sticklers for being on time and expressing gratitude. My Mom and Dad role-modeled being punctual
and polite. My 6th grade teacher, Miss Palace, drilled us on manners as much as she drilled us on the capitals of each state.

Today I am so, so grateful for all of that old-fashioned training. I am grateful that
high expectations were set for me. I'm not perfect, no one is, yet when we practice some of these old-fashioned values, it seems that life just gets better for everyone.

God Bless!
Love Linda

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Celebrating My Birthday with a little bit of MOXIE :)

It's a street-smart spirit that's as old as 
recorded history and as new as the rising sun.
David had it; Goliath didn't. It's that intangible
tangible. You don't learn it in school and
you can't get it from a book. It can jump
oceans and move mountains. It says,
"Make your life what it can be. Take your
life wherever it can go."
                                                                      -Kobe Yamada

Years ago I remember my Nana exclaiming about a friend of hers who had
"MOXIE." I was little at the time and while I wasn't sure exactly what "moxie"
meant, I could tell by the way my Grandma said the word that it was full of "vim and vigor," also her words. 

It was her friend's birthday and Nana had paid her a supreme compliment by telling her 
she had MOXIE. What was "MOXIE"?

Spirit! Perseverance! An over-the-top  love of life! 
Energy! Full of fun! Optimistic!  Courage! An"I Won't give up!"attitude! Being an Overcomer!

Her friend, I remember, had just turned sixty seven. I couldn't possibly
imagine how old that must be, yet if my Grandma's friend could have MOXIE at that age...
I felt there there was hope for all of us.

Tomorrow, February 5th, amazingly, I turn 67 and today, in a de-ja-vu moment, one of my dear friends at the college where I teach laughingly told me I had "MOXIE!" Colleen looked just like my Nana when she said the word; ear-splitting grin, fun spilling out of her with joyous laughter. She then shared with me a Kobe Yamada saying that "reminded her of me":

"At times it is necessary to go 
over the top
How else can we get to the
other side."
                      -Kobe Yamada

She thanked me for "spilling over in spirit", not being afraid to be over the top, and sharing that spirit with her.

How could I not?

I have always loved life. That's how God made me. I was blessed to be loved and cherished and it is a blessing for me to give back to those who matter so much to me. I feel like every day I have been given is such a gift and every hard-fought lesson a chance to grow. I feel like we are all God's one-of-a kind creation and He made us to shine.

One of my very, very favorite songs growing up was "I'm Going To Let My Little Light Shine!" What a perfect song to set the tone for my 67th year!

This little light of mine, 
I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel basket. No!
I'm gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel basket, No!
I'm gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel basket? No!
I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine!

So today, I find I am so grateful as I reach 67...

I am so, so grateful for my "role models" for having "Moxie." Just a few of these include: Dolores McColm, my Mom, Amy Farrell and Jessi Thompson, my daughters, my husband, Bert, my friends Linny Clark, Sharon Hartnett, Vicky Westra, Peggy Sue, Eileen Thompson, Roberta Greene, and Sarah. My grand daughters Sihin, Emma and Jenna, my grandsons Jacob and Owen. Each of these angels has been an overcomer, a light-shiner, a gratitude-seeker, a courage-maker, an optimism-seeker and they have let their "little light shine" into my life. They have battled everything from the suicide of a parent, very difficult childhoods full of trauma, prejudice, horrible car accidents, people who are alcoholics, and stage four breast cancer to stuttering, having a hard time finding words, having friends betray them, leaving Ethiopia and coming to Spokane, and brain injury. When I see them, I am overcome with their courage, stamina, and perseverance against great odds.

And I am so, so grateful to God that He made me with "moxie" too. I am so grateful to be 
surrounded by those who love me. I am so grateful for my beloved husband and my precious children and grandchildren. I cannot imagine my life without them. They bring absolute JOY into every day! I am so grateful for dear friends who love me, just as I am. I am so grateful for every mistake I have made and every hard season that has challenged my soul. They have taught be to be courageous, lean on Jesus, and not to give up. I am so grateful that I was born with one large hand and one small hand. I have learned empathy for those who are different. I am so grateful for all of my wonderful and courageous students and consulting clients. Working with them nourishes my soul. I am so grateful for my Church and all who worship there. I am so grateful for every song we sing on Sundays that reminds me that Jesus is my Savior. I am so grateful that I cry easily and that people know my true heart. I am so grateful that I have a spirit that loves to celebrate EVERYTHING...holidays and people's victories, even the smallest ones. I am so grateful that I had parents who taught me that if I worked hard and never gave up, I could achieve my dreams. I am so grateful for every day I have spent in a classroom doing the thing God gave me a gift to do, be a teacher. I believe it is a sacred profession, and I have loved everyday of the last 47 years of going to work. I am so grateful that I love bright colors, flowers, and balloons and have the nickname of being "the balloon queen."  
I am so grateful to be 67 and to know I am God's child and that I am dearly loved and adored!

I am so grateful for this blog and having the opportunity to record my life-lessons.
Perhaps one day one of my children or grandchildren, or even the folks who read this from time-to time, will find something here that enriches their lives or know they mattered to me. I am so grateful for every comment that is left here as it feels like a connection to another human being. 67...I will let my little light shine!

May God bless you and keep you and hold you in the palm of His Almighty hand!
Love, Linda

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

                                If every person made it a rule that                          wherever you are, whenever you              ...