Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday's Motto for Wholehearted Living...a visit to the doctor

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with
the intention of arriving safely in an attractive
and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in
sideways, chocolate in one hand, espresso in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming...
                "Whoo Hoo, what a ride!"

Every time I looked at my calendar and came upon the date, April 28th, I got a pit in my stomach. Sometime back I had a major trip to the ER regarding some heart issues, and yesterday I had a three hour "How are you really doing?"appointment with a cardiologist. I'm a tough cookie, but I was nervous playing out the what ifs. I thought often about my dear friend Vicky Westra who goes through these appointments on a regular basis. I love how she describes herself..."Healthy with a side of cancer!"While she sees gratitude at every turn, I'm sure she too, from time to time, gets a little queazy at the possibilities. 

So, I pretended I was Vicky (no, I am not making this up), trying to see gratitude that no, I hadn't had a heart attack and yes, there were options that in all probability would help things to get better.  I even sang the song from the musical, The King and I, that went...

Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
I'm afraid...

Hear the vintage version for yourself:)

The appointment, while not easy and full of opportunities for some radical life changes, went without a hitch. I came home, more emotionally exhausted than physically exhausted, and plunked myself in the sun on the bench in front of our home, next to my beloved Bert.

I put my head on his shoulder and the tears started to flow. I whispered that I was scared, and he held my hand. I talked about Vicky and told him I had pretended to be her, looking for the blessings. He didn't laugh at me, he merely smiled. 

I told him that I was afraid that my physical heart might not be up to speed for the journey of wholehearted living I wanted to engage in. 
What if...
what if I wasn't going to be able to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and espresso in the other. 
What if...
what if?

Bert rubbed my back, gave me a kiss, did some breathing with me and then said, 

"Oh, by the way...a card arrived for you today in the mail. It's from Minnesota."

I knew instantly who it was from. As I opened the card I was met with a card filled with JOY...a series of beautifully painted art pieces, made by precious grade school children.

Guess what they drew? HEARTS... a series of beautiful hearts!

I knew it was no accident. It was no accident that the card arrived on the 28th. It was no accident that it came from sweet Vicky. It was no accident that she picked a card filled with glorious hearts!

I instantly knew..."All shall be well!" Thank you, dear friend. I knew that whatever was on the horizon health-wise for me, that I wouldn't be alone. That God would be with me.
It would be okay. I finally could take a deep breath and I felt a peace come over me.

All shall be well, dear Vicky. Thanks for reminding me.
I love you to the moon and back!

and God Bless the rest of you too! :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday's Favorite Quote...

Do you still believe?

The work will wait until you show the child the rainbow,
but the rainbow won't wait until the work is done.
                                                                                  -Patricia Clifford

One of the things I love the most about my husband Bert is that he appreciates 
even the smallest daily miracle.

He will stop me in my tracks and almost whisper...
" Honey, stop, look. See how the light creates shadows on our back studio?"
" Honey, stop, look. Hear the children next door on the swings. 
   Isn't their laughter magical?"
" Honey, stop, look. Look at that sunset. Doesn't it just take your breath away?
" Honey, stop, look. Look how that tiny daffodil is peeking through the crack in the rock!"

Bert sees the smallest sight, smell, or sound as a gift for his senses. He takes them all in. Breathes them all in. He relishes the gifts that God gives him every day. He'll stop what he is doing in the yard when the cats come from next door and plop down next to him. He'll refill the water bowl he has for them in the garden and then sit and watch them lap up the water with great abandonment. He doesn't miss the small moments. They bring him joy. 

He doesn't miss the precious daily gifts because he slows life down to stop and look at them .

Even going to the grocery store can be a journey in fun and frolic. Bert can get lost in the organic food aisle appreciating the farmer who grew a crop. He'll comment on the rainbow of colors in the vegetables on display. He'll breathe in deeply the smell of the newly baked french bread, every whiff a delight. 

Bert is known to comment, after I fix a meal for him, that this is the best soup he has ever tasted. And he means it. He is so in that moment that he cannot imagine anything could taste better. He has never, in our thirty years of marriage, left a table without thanking me for cooking for him.

"Honey... stop, look..."

I marvel at Bert's wonder at life, how he appreciates the taste of every lick of an ice cream cone.

When he's with our grandchildren, you may find him on the ground with them watching an ant crawl across the driveway. Or they'll see him pick up a worm that got stuck on the sidewalk and take it to safer ground. Or they'll see him take a bird who flew into a window and make a nest where it can recover.

"Honey, stop, look..."

Bert knows in his deepest heart of hearts that there are more days behind him than in front of him. He knows when he takes my hand and gently caresses it that there are fewer days to be hand holding. He knows when I am rushing down the hall, intent on doing something and he grabs me and twirls me and gives me a huge kiss, that there are fewer days to be kissing your beloved. He knows when he puts on gospel music on a Sunday before church and he grabs me 
for a last minute dance with him, that there are fewer days left for dancing.

He doesn't want to waste a moment, because he knows that every moment is precious.

It's a gift from the great Father. It's a gift to be appreciated. He will, until his last moment here, soak it all in. 

He's so wise because he knows that work will wait. He knows that the precious moment in front of him may be gone in a heartbeat.

"Honey, stop, look..."

How grateful I am to live with this man. 
To be kissed by this man. 
To dance with this man.
To watch him with our precious grand babies. 

God must smile when he sees how Bert loves His creation, even the tiniest worm.

"Honey, stop, look..."

Thanks for making me stop and look, my precious husband. Thank you for helping me to slow down and see the gifts right in front of me. I love you with all my heart!

God Bless!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Manners, Tact and Graciousness...Oh my...

We have enough people who 
tell it like it is-now we could use 
a few who tell it like it can be.
                    -Robert Orben

Update- July 6th: It's amazing how God works and prayers are answered. Thank you to all of you who prayed for me and for my student. After lots
of love and positive attention, All is Well!  

I came home today with a heavy heart. Truthfully, I just felt discouraged.
Teaching is a very hard job. It's wonderful and I love it and some days it can just
"Take the stuffing right out of you," as my Grandma used to say. She was an 
elementary teacher and believe me those folks are angels! Now please don't misunderstand me. I have so many amazing, bright, empathic, caring and energetic students. Most of them are. I love working with them and I leave those encounters feeling encouraged and energized.

And then there are a few others who literally are so hurt themselves that they 
inflict hurt on others. All the caring in the world hits against a defensive exterior 
that throws back insults and anger. One of those encounters left me scratching my 
head today. Words are powerful. They can do great good or they can hurt. Teacher's words can hurt students, but student's words to teachers can also hurt.

I have taught for a long, long time (48 years total and 38 years at this college) and not very much anymore throws me for a loop. However, the words of a student today left me speechless. Stunned. Shocked.  And what was saddest of all, was when I tried to explain that you just don't communicate to your teacher in such an insulting way, the student had no idea that their communication and use of language was inappropriate.

It left me wondering if the gap between where I am and how I was raised and where this student is coming from is SO great that there is no way to cross the divide into understanding. Could that possibly be?

I wasn't sure if I was over-reacting, so I mentioned the student's  comments, without telling their name, to several colleagues. They all looked at me in horror. 

We have recently had a rash of students making inappropriate comments, even threats to teachers, in some of our classes. All in the name of "I'm just telling it like it is!" 

One dear friend, who loves teaching and gets along well with a variety of students, looked at me stunned, almost breathless after I told him what happened and he said, "We've come to this? Common manners and graciousness and tact have left the building!"

I am so torn about how to reach this student. I have been praying about it all day long.
I am seeking God's guidance about what to do and what to say. The student is lost and hurting, but I also have to have boundaries about what is appropriate. I appreciate the desire to tell it like it is, but telling it like it is and doing so in a positive manner is what my classes are all about.

Could I ask you to please pray for me that I might know what to say and do to help this student? Could I ask you to pray for their hurting heart? I would so appreciate your prayers! 

Thanks for listening!
God Bless!
Love, Linda


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter! A Big Fall, Jelly Beans, Bunnies and Family Fun...

Life holds so many mysteries. Things happen to you, and when you reflect on them it's easy to stand in amazement at the miracles before you. Thursday was one of those days for me. Let me back up a step...

I love ALL holidays, especially when they offer a chance for our family to get together. I love the planning, the decorating, the purchasing of food, the buying of balloons, the cooking, even the cleaning...all of it that leads up to the arrival of family at our door. The anticipation of seeing my beloveds, and their eyes as they walk in to see the balloons and gifts, just brings me pure JOY! Their smiles, giggles and hugs are all the reward I need. It doesn't matter the holiday, it's a time to celebrate at our home!

This week's holiday is Easter! While Easter has deep spiritual meaning for me, it also has the fun secular meaning of bunnies, jelly beans, dying Easter eggs, and making special Easter baskets for each family member and our close friends and neighbors. I've been hustling and bustling for weeks now. :)

And then Thursday came and with it a totally unexpected accident. I was at the College where I teach and where they had recently "triple-waxed" the floors. Folks there had been slipping and sliding since the start of spring quarter. A bit of an ice rink, if you will. I too had had moments of losing my balance, but this time, right before a meeting, as I came around a corner to come into an office I slipped on the wax and flew up into the air like a rag doll. I hit the ground hard, and my left leg with a knee that had already sustained three surgeries went in a direction it was not supposed to go. I landed all wrong, and hit my head with a loud "SMACK!" on the door jam. I was hurt and could hardly get my breath. Lots of caring folks gathered around, and expressed horror as I crawled along the floor to get into a chair and asses the damage.

Yet all I could think about (said with a big grin several days later) in the world am I going to get our Easter celebration off the ground if I am hurt? How will I see my precious grandchildren gather their Easter eggs if I can't walk? How will all of the jelly beans go into the plastic eggs and the bunnies be put in secret places if I am immobile? True story. I know it seems irrational given the magnitude of the accident, but that was my first thought and prayer. Dear God, please let me be okay so I don't miss the family fun. There are lots of other family legends about the lengths to which I will go to not miss out...flashback to the broken ankle, adult children doing Ironman, I get a scooter incident. But that story is for another day.

As disheveled as I was right after the accident, I was reassuring everyone that I was fine, no sweat, no big deal. I decided to forgo the meeting, go home, ice my knee and ankle and leg and then head off to the doctor. I could hear in my head my Dad's favorite saying when he was alive:

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

Even though I love that saying, I wasn't feeling very tough on Thursday. But while not feeling that vigorous, I was also so, so grateful. No bones were broken. I had, by shear intuition, put on my knee brace that day, so while my knee was bruised and sore, I did not re-rip all the tendons in my knee. I was a bit of a mess, a bruised and hurting mess, but a mess with no serious damage. Thank you, God, for protecting me! That's what was on my lips all night Thursday night, all day Friday and all day Saturday as we readied the yard and got things ready for this morning, Easter morning. A morning of miracles of another kind.

Miracles are happening every day in my life. I just need to open my eyes and see them! Let me be grateful for every one of them!

Now it's Easter morning and I have been up stuffing the plastic eggs that hold jelly beans and a simple, small piece of paper. Surely a different message than the one my dad gave me about being tough, but one I hope my sweet grandchildren will also remember years from now. They may forget the jelly beans, the baskets and the decorations, but I hope their hearts will preserve the message on the paper...

God loves you... and so do we!

Happy Easter from our home to yours! Let the family fun begin!
God Bless!
Love, Linda 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fun and Faith...a few thoughts on Friday!

Your faith is a living, breathing organism.
It is ALIVE!
God meant for your faith to flow with the realness of your life.
Faith and fun can go hand-in-hand.
God smiles when He sees His precious children 
smiling, laughing 
and gleefully enjoying the amazing life He created for them.

                                                     - Father Arnold, Assumption Parish, Seattle Washington

I grew up in the Catholic Church. I was a Catholic because my Mom and Grandma were Catholics.
That's just what we did. However, since I didn't go to Catholic School and I didn't study Latin, much of the Catholic faith was a mystery to me. In those days, the Bible was in Latin, the songs were in Latin, and quotations were read in Latin. I remember looking at the children my age who did go to school at Assumption Parish and had studied Latin. They seemed to know a secret that was hidden to me.

However, every Saturday morning I went to our Parish Church School to be taught by nuns. I was not a willing participant in this Saturday sojourn to the Parish school. In fact, I hated going there. I was terrified of the nuns hidden in their black habits and mostly somber faces. I was equally terrified of the Priests who seemed to have broken open a code of faith secrets that were alien to me. Most of all, I despised going to confession.

As I knelt down in the Confessional and the screen opened up, just enough so I could see the side profile of the Priest who would hear me recount my sins in great detail, my heart would begin to pound and my skin would begin to sweat. I remember hearing, on many cold and rainy Seattle Saturdays, that there were three places our souls might go when we departed earth. We might go to Heaven. We might go to hell. Or we might go to purgatory. Purgatory, in my memory as a small child, was that in between place of nothingness. Nowhere. Awfulness. Sister Margaret suggested that if we omitted any sins in the Confessional, we might end up in purgatory. I spent many a sleepless Friday night writing down a detailed list of everything I had done wrong, every awful thought I had had, every sin that might keep me from Heaven. When I went into the Confessional, I took my list and dutifully read each item. I always started with...

Oh my Father I am heartfully sorry for having offended Thee
And I confess all my sins expecting Thy just punishment
It has been one week since my last confession.
Here are my sins...
And then with tears racing down my cheeks I fearfully read each item, concluding with
"and for any sins I've forgotten, I am so sorry for those too."

Afterwards the Priest would ask me to pray four "Our Fathers", three "Hail Mary's" and two "Acts of Contrition". Luckily, I was a good memorizer so I could pray them at mock speed so I could go home
to the safety of my bedroom. I thought that being a person of faith was a serious, serious matter. No
smiling, no laughter, no fun.

And then I met Father Arnold...

 Before I went into the Confessional on some rare Saturdays, Father Arnold would often walk by and wink at me. He had a sparkle in his eye that told me he was an alive, breathing, normal human being. He always looked like he could start to chuckle any moment. He had laugh lines on his face that looked like the deep valleys my family had visited on vacation trips. He liked us. He liked all of the children from Sister Margaret's class who were waiting in line to go into the Confessional. We liked him too. :)

And he took pity on us and might whisper in our ears something like, "Sister Margaret is a little batty. That's why she hit your hand with that ruler. Pay her no mind." Hearing him say this seemed almost like treason, so we never shared with anyone what Father Arnold had said. One time we heard him laughing so loud out in the hall that we all turned to see what was going on. His laughter sounded like the balm of heaven to our weary ears. He thought loving Jesus was a great thing, a fun thing...something that was joyful!

Until then I never imagined that faith and fun could go hand in hand.

Years later, when I saw the movie "Sister Act", the story line showed real nuns with real emotions,
singing, dancing and expressing real love for God. They reminded me of Father Arnold.
I thought back to Father Arnold and the quotation he had written to me. On a small card. Still kept in my Bible. He told me that Faith and Fun were meant to go together. He also suggested that certainly there were times when faith and sorrow and faith and seriousness were also constant companions, but faith and fun made God smile. I remember it made me smile to imagine God smiling.

Years later, when my faith took a different road from Assumption Parish, and I knew I wouldn't be going back there again to worship, I stopped to see Father Arnold. He was older, but that gleam in his eye was still there. He still winked at me and remembered my name. I told him I had become a Christian, but that some of the early learnings I had about real faith came from the love and kindness he showed me. I told him that he reminded me of what I hoped Jesus would be like, when I saw Him one day, face-to-face in Heaven. I told Him that I wasn't scared about purgatory any more and that I talked to God now, all on my own...all the time. I'd decided that I didn't need a Priest to do that for me. I also told him that if I ever did need a Priest to intercede with God on my behalf, I'd pick him to do it. I told him that his smile and laugh meant the world to me. He smiled, hugged me and whispered, "Linda Marie, God loves you and so do I." I gave him a huge hug and ran out of the church to the waiting car where my Mom sat nervously, wondering why I had to tell Father Arnold  I was leaving (she was an avoider of any possible conflict), and my Grandma was in the back seat, praying the Rosary for my soul.

Just recently, I accidentally came across a You Tube offering that showed a Priest, Father Ray Kelly, singing to a couple he was about to marry. It took my breath away. While Father Arnold has since "Gone Home," this Priest on You Tube is the spitting image of him. He has that same twinkle. He brings faith and fun together. Watching this made me laugh, and it made me cry. If Father Arnold was here to see this, it would put a big old grin on His face.


God Bless!
Love, Linda

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Profound Mathematical Equation As Easter Approaches...

For me, this equation says it all:

               3 Nails
         +    1 Cross

                   =    4 Given

And I am so, so grateful! Everything in my life changed once I learned that God loved me and Jesus died for me.
Everything. Changed. As a 9th grade girl at a Young Life Camp,
I heard this astounding message for the very first time. I could hardly believe my ears. I wept then in gratitude. And now, all these years later, I am still brought to tears...knowing of a love so deep and wide that He paid the greatest price. For me. For you. For all of us. The God that created the universe loves me, just as I am.
I am enough for Him. I will never stop being grateful. Just knowing this still changes my life every day!

So in the midst of fun family gatherings this weekend and egg hunts and brunches and church services, all of which bring such JOY to me, may I NEVER forget...

He paid a price with three nail and a cross and I am forgiven.

And all I can say is thank you Lord!  
Happy Easter, dear ones!
God Bless!
Love, Linda

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Taking My Fear to God...the "What If?" Moments...

Note: Think Ella Fitzgerald or Willie Nelson singing this song...feel free to tap your
foot or move your head or sway back and forth with your eyes closed...

Blue Skies 
smiling at me....
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see.

Blue Birds
singing a song
Nothing but blue birds
All day long.
                       - Lyrics to the song "Blue Skies" written by Irving Berlin, 1926

I love old classic anythings. Classic music, classic clothing, classic furniture, classic literature, classic books you can hold in your hand. I grew up in the age of vinyl records and enduring musicals. As a child I used to put on programs and sing songs like: 

where the winds come sweeping down the plains
and the waving wheat can sure smell sweet 
when the winds come right behind the rain.

every night my honey lamb and I
sit alone and talk
and watch a hawk
making lazy circles in the sky."

Note:  This may scare you a bit, but I am remembering these lyrics without having
to look them up! :)

And then...drum roll...from the musical South Pacific (Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza played the leads)

"I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair
I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair
I'm going to was that man right out of my hair
And send him on his way."

Music helps to set my mood. I play it at home, I play it at school.
It can change my attitude in a heart-beat. 

Lately I've been working on, praying about, and intentionally seeking, with God's help, to uplift my attitude.

I know that when I worry, or live in fear, my positive attitude and trust in God takes a back seat.
Fear is in the driver seat and my attitude is just a passenger in the vehicle.

I know that "worry isn't prayer,"as my youngest daughter reminds me of that regularly.

I know in my heart-of-hearts that "God's got this!" and I trust that He does. 

I know that this is Lent and giving up things and concentrating on what the Lord has done for me often leaves me a bit sad or contemplative.

Yet while I know these things, at times I get stuck in worry.
 Even though I know God is in control my mind often races and plants itself into the

"What if ?" moments....

Those "what if?" moments are laced in fear
They often come from wanting to control outcomes
(can I hear an "Amen" on the control issue?)
They often diminish my life and sap my energy.

If my Mom was alive, she'd tell you we come from a long line of "worriers."
It almost sounds like it's genetic. My DNA has fear as a part of its makeup.
That's a nice way of saying that while we talk about trusting God, and come
to Him in prayer, I often take back whatever I've just given Him and say...

"OK, God..I know you are Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. I know You hold us all in the
palm of Your hand...but I don't think you are big enough or strong enough or wise enough
to handle __________________. (fill in the blank with any problem I worry about and am fearful about)" so I have to take that back and worry and stew about it.

I am sick and tired of doing this.
Let me say that again, with more resolve...

I am sick and tired of doing this!

I've felt led, little-by-little, to take those fear-filled, worry-laced moments to God, give them to Him, and to turn on my prayer life and turn on music that is uplifting and inspiring instead of worrying myself sick. 

Music, fun music, gospel music... often seems to lift my life from worry to confidence...
just like that!

I remember when I first sang the song "How Great Thou Art" at Malibu, a Young Life camp. I couldn't stop crying. Tears cascaded down my face. I was in 9th grade, gave my heart to Jesus, and knew He would take me and love me, just as I am. Even when I was a hot mess of fear, He would be there. He IS big enough and great enough to take it all and handle it all. The song goes like this...

Oh Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder 
Consider all
The worlds Thy hands have made.

I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout
the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul
My Savior God to me
How Great Thou Art,
how Great Thou art....

(and thank the Lord, I remember those lyrics as well! They are deep in my heart)

PS- My dear friend Peggy Sue sent this rendition of How Great Thou Art to me. Thanks, Peggy Sue!
Get some kleenex before you watch it. What a blessing!

Easter is next week. It is almost resurrection time. God died for my sins and Jesus rose from the dead
and I don't have to worry or be fearful... God does have this!...

so there, fear and worry... TAKE THAT!

I am praying that God will resurrect  my attitude and take it from worry to trust in Him. As the sun shines more and more in Spokane, the clouds roll away, and the blue skies are smiling on me in all their glory...I'll seek to remember where those "Blue Skies" truly come from.

Do you ever worry? Does fear sometimes rule your life? Do you have any tips for how to stop worrying? Please feel free to share them. I'd love any suggestions you use to keep fear and worry in the back seat of the car and having trust in God doing the driving!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday's Favorite Quote...

Do your little bit of good where you are;
it's those little bits of good put together
that overwhelm the world.

                                                                - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

I have been smiling all day. Having the sun out seems
to change my attitude about everything. We have been in
the garden digging, raking and seeing our plantings poke
through in the most glorious way. Spring is so encouraging 
after such a long winter.

And then to top off all that joy, when I went to get my
espresso this morning before heading to my class, I made a
choice to pass on the joy and kindness that my heart had been marinating in. I was grateful for all of the kindness shown to me this week... so I wanted to pass on a little of it.

It was simple. It wasn't expensive. Suddenly I wondered if a simple gesture could help people have a great day. If it could put a smile on the faces of those who came along, surprised by a small gift.
Not a big deal. Not a life-changer. Just something to bring a bit of JOY their way.

I paid for the espresso for the person following me. That's all. They smiled and waved as I started to turn the corner. I smiled and waved back.

And then the most wonderous thing happened. When I stopped by later today at the espresso stand, just to see what the end result was, Shannon, the college student-barrista, could hardly contain her joy.

"Linda, she said with a huge grin, you won't believe it. There were 43 people who bought espressos for the next person. Can you believe it? 43...and everyone was smiling, and grinning. One older guy (and I hesitated to ask what she thought older was) started singing about the sun will come out tomorrow."

Must be us older folks, but I knew instantaneously that the song
was "Tomorrow", from the musical Annie. So I started to sing the song to Shannon as well. Perhaps you know it?

"The sun will come out tomorrow.
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, they'll be sun.
Just thinkin' about tomorrow,
clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow,
till there's none."

I was belting the song out by this time, almost as if I was at a Broadway audition. :)

Bless Shannon's heart. She asked if everyone my age knew that song. She grinned when I said, "Probably, sweetie, people my age do know that song."

So, what's the life lesson on  this gorgeous sunny Friday after a great first week back with students?  What came to mind was one of my favorite quotations by one of my favorite people on the planet. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was right. Kindness has a snowball effect. 

When we do our little bit of good where we are, it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.

Well folks, we are smiling and overwhelmed with Joy here in Spokane, Washington.

May God bless your heart with smiles and JOY as well.

Monday, April 07, 2014

A Love Letter to My Bert...

In our family room there is a hand-crafted sign that says,






and every time that message catches my eye, my heart swells and I am near tears. When I saw that sign, I knew it was meant to be where I could see it every day. It's how I feel about my husband.

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary  :)to my beloved Bert. There just aren't words to say how much I love him, adore him and cherish him...after all these years. His kindness and love restored my broken heart, all those years ago.  And every day, and I honestly mean every day, he has loved me just as I am and showed me a kindness I just didn't know existed.

Today is my first day back at teaching after Spring Break, and in the middle of my Conflict Management class Bert walked in with the most beautiful bouquet of gorgeous spring flowers for our anniversary. Every woman in my classroom  simultaneously said, 

"Ahhhhhhh...." and smiled. For some in the room, his act of kindness restored their faith in men.

And when I saw Bert's grin, and the love in his eyes, and his arms wide open holding all those flowers...I knew then, as I know every day, that I am so, so blessed to get to live my life with this wonderful man.

Honey, as I read you this blog post, there are no words I could ever write that would begin to tell you how amazing and kind and smart and handsome and funny and giving and caring you are to me and to everyone in your life. Your generous spirit makes the world such a better place.

When you fell in love with me and my little daughters, we felt like God reached down and touched us and healed us and cared for us. And we feel that same love from you today...even as they are all grown up and have their own sweet children.
And even as we are much older and wiser. :)

You ARE the love of my life, my best friend, my soul mate, my partner in crime...:) You are the one I tell everything to, the one who listens and cares and shares. You are the one I trust, the one who has kept all our wedding vows.

You, dear Bert, have my whole heart for my whole life.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart!
Love always, 
Your Linda

Friday, April 04, 2014

Friday's Life Lesson: Getting God's Message...Loud and Clear!

Jesus Calling- April 3, 2014

" IN ME YOU HAVE EVERYTHINGIn Me you are complete. Your capacity to experience Me is increasing, through

My removal of debris and clutter from your heart."

Every morning I have a comforting routine. I fix my first cup of coffee, and I sit down and read from my devotional, Jesus Calling. There's a daily message, compiled from scripture, that is the focus for my day. It's almost as if God whispers to me... "Here's what I want you to concentrate on... Please, PAY ATTENTION."

Now I say "Please" because the God I know and love and serve has good manners. Yet PAY ATTENTION is in capital letters because capitals in an email mean that someone is shouting. I have no doubt that the Lord God Almighty might feel He needs to shout at me from time-to-time. He might even wonder, if God wonders, what will it take to help her "get" this message. "I am talking to YOU, Linda Marie! Yes, YOU!"

He was surely talking  just to me in the April 3rd message from Jesus Calling. After all, on March 27th I had written a post called What Spring Cleaning and Lent Have in Common. In that post I asked God to de-clutter my heart. And since March 27th I have asked over and over again...

"Dear Lord,
What needs to be removed from my heart? What needs to be de-cluttered? Love, Linda"

And yesterday my answer came through loud and clear....

"Oh my child, I'm glad you asked. You already know the answer to this question, but I'll say it again. You need to remove all anger and bitterness from your heart. All of it."
Love, God

And I started to cry. 

I knew it was true. Some deep hurts have surfaced lately. Some tough memories have replayed in my brain. Some unexpected opportunities have come my way to work on show forgiveness, not just talk about it.

One of my greatest life-lesson about forgiveness, or refusing to forgive, came yesterday in a quotation I found on a blog. I may be the only one this speaks to, but its message pierced my heart. It said...

"When you don't forgive someone, you let them park
in your life forever."

So today I am focusing on gratitude and cleaning out the parking lot of my life. I'm de-cluttering the cars, and there are lots of old cars there. I've let them park there and they are taking up time and space and peace. It feels like the Lord is the valet service attendant, "Yes, what car may I get for you?" 

And I'll choose to drive each one of them out of the parking lot of my heart! I will choose to know, in my deepest heart-of-hearts that I am complete in Him. In Him, I have EVERYTHING.
I am not in this alone.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

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