Sunday, June 29, 2014

Like Pieces of a Quilt...the not so silent struggle...

"None of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
                 - Mother Theresa

It is so ironic. As the school year starts to wind down, I am at once feeling like I am so exhausted I cannot last another minute and have to have a vacation and at the same time feeling anxious about how I will adapt to a more unstructured schedule.

The tension of opposites.

It's almost as if a fear about the slowdown exists because as life becomes more simple, more regular, less filled with have- tos and must- dos... I can hear God's voice more clearly. Things simply become more in focus and the pattern of my daily life more obvious to me. I can no longer hide behind the "I am too busy to think about this " mantra.

Now, with school off my plate, I am not too busy. And the thoughts I have held at bay float in, surge in, surround me and at times overwhelm me. It's a bit staggering to be honest. How they all come to the surface, pop up, if you will. 

"Look at me," one says. 
"It's time to think about this," whispers another.
"You can't ignore this one more minute," echoes a third.

Often at the end of a school year filled with too many endings to count, I cry at the drop of a hat. I am overwhelmed by love and joy and gratitude and just as overwhelmed by a sense of deep grief that leaves me feeling raw and frightened. That may sound dramatic to some folks, but truthfully that's how it feels to me.

I hate endings. Let me say that again... I hate endings. I hate transitions. I hate not knowing what God has in store. 

And during times like these, part of re-establishing my balance is talking to God ...all. the. time. Yes, all the time. While I am drinking a cup of coffee, or puttering in the garden, or looking out the window at 5am and seeing the first rays of sun poking through the rain-soaked leaves. I am an extrovert and I talk to God... a lot. Mind you not  formal language using thee or thine, but informal language I would use with a best friend where I can be completely authentic and transparent. Language that just flows. Language that is uncensored.

I talk my doubts. I talk my joys. I talk my fears. I talk it all.

That's why I love Ann Lamott, why I get how she is. When I read her books like Stitches- A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, I feel like I have come "home." Just the title of this latest book helps me to breathe more deeply. Words like meaning and hope and repair...well, they speak to how I want my life to be.

I get that, as this book suggests, we need to ask ourselves some profound questions like...
*What do we do when life lurches out of balance?
*How can we reconnect to one another and to God's sustaining grace when evil and catastrophe seem  inevitable?
*What do we do when a precious friend moves and takes pieces of my heart with her?

Ann says that we begin by "collecting the ripped shreds of our emotional and spiritual fabric and sewing them back together, one stitch at a time."

Like Ann, I know about ripped shreds of my emotional and spiritual fabric. I am a quilter and as such understand that often before patterns emerge, there is often chaos. There is often hurt before there is meaning. I also get that my own soul and spirit may from time-to-time feel like someone has come in and shredded them and I wonder how they will be put back together again. How can my life make sense when I am in the eye of a storm?

Just as I am a quilter, so is God. Thank goodness God knows the pieces of my life, no matter how torn they appear to me. Thank goodness He intimately knows the storms that surround me. He gets that I am fearful that this one, this storm, might take me down. Thank goodness He isn't put off by the pieces of my life that spell chaos, and hurt and doubt and fear any more than He is put off by all the pieces that make up joy and gratitude and wonder. Ahh... the puzzle pieces in my life.

I learned early on that God loves all of me, every single piece. The peace and the chaos. After all He created me and I am His beloved daughter. Even when I don't feel very lovable, He still Loves me... with a capital L. He holds me when I feel lost and alone and coming apart. He doesn't leave me or forsake me, even when I am confused and acutely more aware of how truly broken and imperfect I am. He knows that I may be using the comfort of being busy as a way to distance myself from Him, from His plan for my life.

You see, and I may only be talking about my own experience here, but I don't think so...one way to run away from ourselves is to stay busy. To have a calendar so full that we look and feel needed and important. 

One way to try to run away from our Ever-Loving, All-Knowing God is to have a plate so full that there is barely room for Jesus. He's the appetizer or dessert, not the main meal.

And when it all slows down, what happens then? Well in all truth I can see the cracks in the plate. I can see some of the misuse of time. I can see how Jesus, really living for Jesus, was almost an after-thought.

Now don't get me wrong, even in the days of a calendar so full it would make a business tycoon squirm, I got up early, read my devotional and talked to the Lord. And I still went to church...well, most of the time I did. But truth be known, my hours had more to do with students and family and consulting and grading mounds and mounds of college papers than they had to do with being in communion with the God who made me. And now, in the quiet and less structured time, I am left to wonder if I have been doing His work or my work? Like pieces of a quilt, not yet stitched together, the pattern isn't exactly clear.

I know about quilts and pieces and trying to make sense of how patterns come together. "Back in the day" I made quilts for many of my grandchildren. I didn't use a ready-made pattern, but let my heart lead me about what would speak to their heart, their soul, who they really are. The last quilt I made was for my beloved granddaughter Sihin, adopted three years ago from Ethiopia.  I experimented with photographs on material and putting the pieces of the quilt together took time and space and love and prayer. There was a rejoicing when the struggle of how it would all "fit"  was finally resolved. I made a quilt for Emma, so soft and cuddly, and for Owen and Jacob and Emily and Kayla and Zac. Each time there was a time of confusion before a time of clarity. I remember roaming the aisles at Mary's Quilting Bee, one piece of fabric in hand...searching for its companion pieces that"felt" just right.

Once found, ahhhh the sense of satisfaction... the "so this is how it is meant to be" moment. The all will be well reassurance.

And today, just like those pieces of a quilt coming together one stitch at a time, I am trusting the God I know and love and serve to help put me together again. To give me new strength and direction and knowing His purpose for me. To help me understand that I may not be doing great things, but with His guidance I can do small things with great love.

And I remember, with a bit of a smile, that this is always how it is at the beginning of summer after a busy school year. There is always a sense of dis-ease followed by His clarity.

And I am reminded of the old church hymn....
      It is well, it is well..with my soul.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gratitude...deep gratitude...


Gratitude is the most passionate
transformative force in the cosmos.
When we offer thanks to God or to
another human being, gratitude
gifts us with renewal, reflection and
reconnection.
                                                                     -Sarah Ban Breathnach


The quarter is over. The school year is over. Tonight is graduation and I will watch hundreds and hundreds of students start a new chapter in their lives. They are college graduates.  

Teaching is sacred work and I am so grateful to be a teacher. 

Every week day, for 12 weeks, I am invited into the lives of my beloved and vulnerable students. All 120 of them each day. That's right. I didn't make that up. 120 of them each day. My classes start at 7:30 in the morning and go straight through until 11:30. Then my afternoon is filled with meetings and class work. Every morning I arrive at the college at 5:30 am to grade papers, to get each lesson plan organized, to turn on the music, and to bring food or coffee to my food table. Room 239, my classroom, ready to blast off for another day of fabulous learning! CHECK 

The halls are quiet when I get to school. My friends, the maintenance and custodian people, are quietly buzzing through each room, most are listening to music. Mary is the one who keeps my room going, and we always greet each other with a smile. And then she is quickly back to work. The custodians are never startled to see me with my roller briefcase open and crammed with apples, oranges and muffins, ready to feed starving bodies. My arms full of plastic grocery bags filled with sustenance for hungry college students.

There are many elementary schools that provide breakfast for their students. They know a secret. A brain cannot work well when a student is starving. And many of my college students, those souls God allows me to care for while they are in my classroom, are starving for food and spiritual and intellectual nourishment. My "food table" is right by the door and often students I don't even know will peer in, gaze at the food, and gently look at me for the OK.  I always say, "Please help yourself. I bring it just for you." They sometimes look like they will cry when their hands get a hold of an apple or orange. Some do cry and then I cry.

I am so grateful to be a teacher and be able to provide physical, emotional and intellectual nourishment for my students.

At 5am each morning I arrive at my neighborhood Safeway to pick up
a fresh batch of this and a dozen of that. Paul, on the night shift, teases me endlessly about all the oranges I get. He wonders if I will have money left over for when I retire.  He carefully double bags everything so the heavy fruit doesn't break through and then go all over the hall or even the elevator I ride to the second floor of Old Main. Room 239. My classroom.

It's a ritual, you see. A morning pattern of  knowing how much God has given to me. My heart is overflowing and like so many, many teachers I can't stand to see my students hungry. Hungry for food. Hungry for affection. Hungry for someone to know who they are. What their dreams are. Hungry to be someone who matters. They know they matter to me.

And after a journey from the elevator down a long and almost ghost-like hall, I reach my classroom. I set everything down. I look at the door and put my right hand on it. I say a prayer out loud, asking God that today the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart would be acceptable in His sight. That He would guide me and help me know TODAY what each student needs. I ask Him to help me know when to be gentle and when to be tough. I ask him to give me the energy to minister to 120 of His children. And I tell Him I am grateful.
Grateful every day, for all these years, that He made me to do this work.  I was born to be a teacher!

I love being a teacher so much I would do it for free

This year is my 48th year of teaching. I did my year-long teaching internship when I was 19 and entered my own high school classroom for the first time
when I was only a smidge older than the students I was teaching. I still have contact with many of those students today. They all find a place in my heart.
And some have even found a place in our home when they had nowhere else to turn. Thousands and thousands of students. 

And every day I am so blessed to share an hour with them... sharing time and space and minds and hearts. Because of what I teach, Communication Studies, we journey through interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, gender communication, conflict management, leadership, business and professional communication and more. Life-giving and life-changing classes. It's truly a garden where I watch people of all ages blossom, find themselves, and become more of who they were meant to be. I am challenged to encourage them, inspire them, motivate them, and expect them to do college-level work. It's a delicate balance. Giving feedback to someone with potential, who wants to just skate by, is God's work. I am tough and loving and
caring and concerned. I bring it all every day. I am all in! All that I am. All that He wants me to be. I can only do what I do because God gives me the wisdom and strength to do it. And what do I do? I bring love into a classroom. I love what I teach and I love my students.

Recently I was teaching a 7:30 class and saw that my students kept looking at the door. So I turned slightly to see what had their attention. Low and behold, there was Myia Hackett . Myia was my student years and years ago. She even lived with our family before she left to get her teaching degree. We gave each other a huge hug and only had a minute to reconnect before I had to get back to my students. Teachers transform the lives of students, and students truly transform the lives of their teachers as well. I am so grateful for all the blessings my students have given me. I am so grateful that Myia was my student and that she is still a part of our lives.

So today as graduation nears, I am filled to overflowing with a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude for students passed and gratitude for my current students.
I have my graduation robe, hat and college adornments hanging in my home-office. Dusted off for another year of saying goodbye. And then I will pick up the fresh Hawaiian lei I wear at each graduation in honor of my parents who helped me to go to college and become a teacher. 

All day today as I wait in anticipation of  seeing my students, many for the last time, I will be filled with thanksgiving. I will be filled with gratitude and an overwhelming sense of renewal, reflection and reconnection. 

Tonight I will shout and cheer as their names are called. And I will thank God over and over again, that it was in His plan for me, His calling for me, that
I was their teacher.

God Bless!
Love, 
Linda 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Work of the Soul...Father's Day

"I have never seen anyone truly thrive who has not forgiven their parents, even for awful things. This is a call to very hard, but very vital, work of the soul."
                                                    -Dr. Henry Cloud

Last Thursday I was walking down the hall, preparing in my mind and heart for my Gender Communication Class. I knew full well that Father's Day was on the horizon, and I couldn't in all conscience ignore mentioning the important role fathers play in the lives of their children.

Yet as I made my way to class, and thought about Father's Day and specifically my father, I could feel the pit in my stomach. The same pit. The familiar pit. The pit that has never gone away. 

I could talk more objectively about it now though, the hole in my heart about my father. I have learned a great deal over all these years. I have studied about father-daughter relationships. I know about stereotypes and that just as all mothers are not the same, all fathers are not the same either. 

What I knew for sure on  Thursday was that I did not want to leave those men in my class feeling like they might turn out just like some of their fathers. Not everything trickles down. Some patterns are changeable. Or at least that's what I believe.

Suddenly, when I was almost to my classroom, a song crept into my mind... an old, old song..."Daddy's Little Girl." How it popped up from the recesses in my 67 year old brain I'll never know. That happens more and more as I get older. Yet there it was, right before class started...not to be ignored. The lyrics were there. The tune was there. I felt nauseated. My goal was not not be sick in the hall.

In my home growing up we had lots of records, beautiful vinyl records, carefully tucked into paper and plastic covers, locked inside of treasured record jackets. You were never, ever, ever supposed to touch the record with your fingers, only balance the dime-thin-black-round-disk by its outer edges. Your job was to gently guide the hole in the record toward the tall spindle that would hold several records and drop them accordingly, when the last song had played. The delicate arm of the phonograph player had to be gently placed so the needle would fit perfectly into the record groove. An exacting art so that the record didn't get scratched. Whew! Just thinking about the pressure of records and grooves and scratches and record jackets sends a chill up my spine.

We had one large victrola in our living room in an ominous cabinet and a smaller more portable version in my bedroom so I could endlessly replay my favorite records. I listened to records for hours at a time. I knew all the lyrics by heart. I pretended I was singing into a microphone as I held my hairbrush upside down. I put on plays with old records and sang songs from the likes of South Pacific and Gigi. Records took me away to another place and time. They transported me into a new world. 

I played some records of ours until my Mom almost lost her mind. She'd say, "Linda Marie, you are going to wear that record out if you play it one more time." She always had a twinkle in her eye and a lilt in her speech when she said that. And then she'd wink at me, and I'd smile right back.  And then I'd put my favorite record back on...one more time.

I'm not sure how often I played and replayed my absolute favorite song "Daddy's Little Girl," by the Mills Brothers. I was born in 1947 and the record became famous in 1950.  Here are the original lyrics:

You're the end of the rainbow
My pot of gold
You're Daddy's Little Girl
To have and to hold.

A precious gem
Is what you are.
You're Mommy's bright
And shining star.

You're the spirit of Christmas
My star on the tree
You're the Easter bunny
To Mommy and me.

You're sugar, You're spice
You're everything nice
And you're Daddy's
Little girl.

I remember hearing Daddy's Little Girl" and thinking fondly of Dick Clark, my best friend's Daddy. The words applied to him and how he treated Linny. That's how Daddies were, I thought. If you had a Daddy... they loved you, adored you, cherished you and took great care of you, care like we took of precious records. 

However, I knew early on, in my deepest heart of hearts, that there were two types of men who had children. There were fathers, and then there were Daddies.

I also sadly knew that I had the former, rather than the latter. I loved my Father with all of my heart, and I know that despite some of what happened in my childhood, he loved me. I truly believe in my deepest heart of hearts that most of us do the best we can with what we have to work with. My father, Mark McColm, did that. He did the best he knew to do. He didn't set out to not be a Daddy to me.

He was a product of his own story. After all, at age eight he was put on a train, all by himself, to go live with a father who didn't want him. After a gruesome divorce, my Grandma Edith couldn't tolerate having three boys to raise, so she unloaded my father, the oldest son, onto his father. His father didn't want him, neglected him, screamed at him, ignored him and beat him. My father never had a birthday cake until he was an adult, and my Mom made one for him. I heard the horror stories of my father's childhood neglect and abandonment until they were sealed into my consciousness. Just like those records with repeated melodies, my father played his stories, recorded in his deepest heart, over and over, reliving the alcoholic, verbal, emotional and physical abuse he suffered.

And then, despite all of his best efforts and intentions, my father perpetuated some of that same abuse on my mother and on me. 

No one I knew growing up had any idea what went on in our home. It was a horrible, well-kept secret. And until I went to Linny's home, and believe me I spent lots of time there, I had NO idea how husbands and Daddies were supposed to treat their wives and children. I secretly wished I could be adopted into Linny's family.

It didn't help that my father, already abandoned as a small child, was in World War II. It didn't help that he had no role models for fathering. It didn't help that I was born with a small hand, a birth defect. It didn't help that when he first saw me, he left the hospital and didn't come back for three days. He went on a drunken binge instead of holding and consoling my Mom.

Daddy's Little Girl...not so much!

I've worked hard during much of my young adult life, adult life and older adult life to empathize with my father, to see life as he experienced it, and eventually, with some help from some counseling angels, to forgive him. To let go of the old hurts, the wish I hadas, the shoulda-couldas. 

I know that I am not alone when it comes to feeling somewhat mystified and confused when it comes to my own father or how when Father's Day approaches, I have such mixed feelings. If our fathers weren't fathered by healthy fathers themselves, then many of us grew up without a Daddy. It's not about blame or shame... it's about understanding.

For any of you reading this who have struggled with your relationship with your father, there are resources out there to help. Here are a few:

1) Read the book Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie Leland Fields.
    This book is a life-saver for many of us. It gives us new understanding of how
 to break free from the anger and bitterness we might have regarding our dads.

2) I have saved photographs I've found where my Dad is happy or smiling. I often laminate some of them and use them as bookmarks. As I open the book, I can see a smiling Mark McColm. These photo-bookmarks frame my Dad in a new light. He is no longer alive, but in one picture of my Mom kissing him, I can see my dad's hurting heart. I see the little boy in him, before he was so deeply abandoned himself. 

3) My Dad passed away years ago, but every Father's Day I write him a letter. I say the things I needed to say then and what I need to say now. I tell him that I am so sorry for all the hurts he went through. Doing this helps me to keep my own heart open.

4) We have a beloved counselor that has worked with our family on and off over the years.
From time to time, if I get stuck, I just make an appointment to work on my dad.
Forgiving my father is an on-going process.

5) I am grateful for what my father was able to give me, do for me, and the life-lessons he taught me. My father worked so, so hard to make a living. He gave his time and energy and love to put a roof over our head, food on the table and save for a college education for me. My father taught me about having a great work ethic and that you can be anything you want, if you are willing to work for it. Later, after the shock of my hand wore off a bit, my dad was my greatest advocate in learning how to do almost everything- play golf, snow ski, horseback riding and more. I focus on gratitude and I am grateful for the many blessings he gave me.

6) Most importantly, when I became a Christian I learned that I had a Heavenly Father, a Heavenly Daddy, if you will, who loved me just the way I needed to be loved. He loved me just the way I am, and He loved me unconditionally. I was "Daddy's Little Girl" to my Heavenly Father, even though that didn't happen with my earthly father. Once I knew God loved me, I could feel deep compassion for my own dad. I could forgive him and feel sad for him. Hurt people... often hurt people. But I also knew that legacy of hurting would stop with me.

Finally, I have several candid photographs where my father is holding me. His guard is down and you can see love in his eyes. He looks like a Daddy in all of those shots. 

As I work on my own soul, I am also continually working on having compassion, love and forgiveness for my Dad. And because of that work, I can celebrate all of the healthy Dads out there. Men like my beloved husband, Bert. Men who adore their daughters and sons.
Men who are a real Daddy, in every sense of the word. And seeing how they love their children, well it restores my own heart and soul. It makes me smile. It gives me buckets and buckets of HOPE!

and to my own Dad... 

I love you Dad. I've forgiven you and I know you did the best you could.
I miss you and on this Father's Day I wish I could give you a hug. 

God Bless and Happy Father's Day
Love, Linda








Saturday, June 07, 2014

Worry Worry Go Away...Don't Come Again Another day

Worry does not empty tomorrow
of its sorrow. It empties today of
its strength.
                          - Corrie Ten Boom

Sometimes, at every corner, a message repeats itself...
again... 
and again...
and again...
and again. 

God works that way sometimes, or so it seems to me. "You aren't getting this," He whispers. Then, and just a little louder, He says, "Here, let me send it to you another way."
"Oh, you have your fingers in your ears so you don't have to listen? Let's try a way you can't ignore." "Okay, you still refuse to pay attention, let me deluge you from six different people and everywhere you look you'll see it."

At times I am slow to get His message. Okay, very slow to get the message. Okay, truthfully, refuse to get His message. It's not the message I want. It hits too close to home. Or my absolute favorite...This isn't a good time for this message because I am so busy. 

And even when I do get God's message, I may be reluctant or even stubborn to act on it. I'm not saying I am proud of those "dig your heels in and cover your ears moments." I'm sure God must almost laugh when He sees me, His creation, so ready to ditch what He has in store for me. 

The message I needed to receive from God this week first came after an unusually intense time of worrying about my students. It's almost the end of the school year and some of them are overwhelmed and struggling not to quit. Yet that was only a symptom of a deeper issue. Like my students, I felt surrounded, almost engulfed, by problems and things to do. Everywhere. I was so worried about forgetting something on the double-whammy, stuffed to the core, unbelievably busy (and no time to breathe) schedule that my sleep was being impacted.

Then my youngest daughter Amy sent me a devotional...and guess what the topic was?
It was about worry and turning everything over to God. This Encouragement for Today article was by Traci Miles and was entitled. "When Worry is part of Your Personality." In it Traci reminds me that in Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus told His followers not to worry about food or clothes or for that matter anything, because God promised He would provide for our needs, just as he does for the birds of the air. That's a promise I want to believe! Amy knows me so well and somehow knew I needed this message.
She often reminds me about worrying by saying, "Mom, worry isn't prayer." 

Okay, message number one received. CHECK.

The second message I needed to receive came when I read a student paper and she had read a book called The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her father and other family members, hid many Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. Eventually the family was discovered and sent to a German prison camp. Corrie and her sister Betsy could have given up hope. Instead they relied on their faith. Corrie's famous quote, in my student's paper, was about worry and was my second reminder this week about God's message for me. In great, red typed letters on her paper, almost so I would know this was for me, the student wrote Corrie's quote...

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. 
It empties today of its strength.

Yikes, is there a theme here? Message number two received. CHECK.

And then this morning as I went to read my devotional for June 7th...today...
in  Sarah Young's Jesus Calling, there was another message. I bet you can guess what the third message was. Right?
Here it is....

"I am all around you, like a cocoon of light. My presence with you is a 
promise, independent of your awareness of Me. Many things can block this awareness, but the major culprit is worry.

(May I insert here an "Are You kidding me?" response. THIS topic again.
Hear His whisper, "Yes, Linda. Again. You don't seem to be listening.")

My children tend to accept worry as an inescapable fact of life.
However, worry is a form of unbelief; it is anathema to me.

(May I respectfully insert here a HUGE gulp...God sees wory as unbelief ...yikes, and I need a moment to look up the word"anathema" to be sure I understand it?) 

Okay, I'm back. Anathema is defined as a vehement denunciation. Meaning that God detests worry. Worry is abhorrent to Him. Now Jesus Calling continues to say...)

Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry.

(Okay, Lord, You have my total, undivided attention now...)

But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive.
When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me. Back off a bit, redirecting your focus to Me. 

(And here comes the promise...I can just feel it :) ...)

I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it.
In this world you will have problems, but you need not lose sight of Me.

(Whew, He is really in control. There is hope for me about worrying).

Message number three received. CHECK!

So where does that leave me with all of the busy schedule ahead and all the things that are pressing and need to be done? The answer, plain and clear: Turn my focus away from worry and toward Him. Relax in His reassurance that either He will solve these dilemmas or will show me how to handle them. I need to keep my sights on Him and All is Well. The Lord God Almighty loves me, and He has got this! 

Message number four received. I get it, Lord. Thanks for Your patience and Love. CHECK!!

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


Sunday, June 01, 2014

So Blessed and So Sad...Missing Two Amazing Women in My Life!

Kind Heart
Fierce Mind
Brave Spirit

Clear  and simple...I have a choice. I can be saturated in sadness and loss,
or I can be grateful for the time I knew them and had with them. I can concentrate on the fact that in all probability there will never be someone 
like  them again in my life, or I can know in my heart-of-hearts that while these
soul sisters are one of a kind women, and changed my mind and heart, that
God will bring others into my life that will also bring  joy and growth and learning and stretching and changing, changing at the deepest level.

It is hard to lose people who mean the world to me.
It is hard to adjust to the space in my heart that they have occupied.
Living, breathing occupied.
They will always be in my heart...but truth be told, not in quite the same way.
They have each left a lasting legacy of caring and wisdom in my mind and heart. 

While I knew them in two entirely different contexts, they were an answer to prayer.

These women warriors
These truth tellers
These authentic soul-bearers

These kind-hearted, fierce-minded, brave-spirited women...

who touched my life at the deepest level.
These kindred spirits sharing our journeys while here.
Because of both of you I breathe differently, see life differently and I am
more kind-hearted, fierce-minded, and brave-spirited myself.

One is a neighbor, the other a national treasure.
One will still be on the planet, but is moving to another location.
The other has, after 86 years, gone home to be with God.

How grateful I am that they both touched my life.
I am not the same because I knew them.

Maya Angelou  has the word angel in her name
She was an angel who graced our culture and changed my heart.

I fell in love with Maya Angelou many, many years ago when I saw her face and read her poetry. Maya talking from the heart, touched my heart.
Her indominable spirit, her overcoming of personal tragedy
Every line on her gorgeous face a record of her sojourn on God's earth.

She mothered me in a way I needed mothering.
Her poems... so poignantly describing the African American experience,
also spoke to my soul, a privileged white girl from the north.

Maya helped to grow my own spirit of social justice.
I see her in the walk and the talk of my black sisters and brothers at my church.

Her clear enunciation of language brought it to life.
Her word choices painted pictures in my heart.
Universal words she sang as they rolled off her mighty lips.

As she said...Love Liberates. Hear her powerful words and see her gorgeous face...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7dxnQQEpXs

Maya Angelou died and our nation mourns and celebrates all she gave us...
books like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, poems like And Still I Rise.
I read and reread her works, all of them. Heart-changers they are.

And then there is Sarah, my dear friend Sarah Chauhan...
It is so hard to lose Maya Angelou, my friend from afar, but to lose my sweet
neighbor-friend, my stop-across-the-way friend, my I-get-your-heart friend...
well, it's almost too much for my heart to bare.

Sarah, and Raj, and Lance, and Ryker, and Lauren, and Ronin...are all
moving to San Diego. The house is sold. The things are packed. The job
that might keep them here, didn't come through. And so they are moving.

Chosen family... they are.
Know you at a trusting, put out the truth level...they are.
Irreplaceable...they are.

And my tears, rolling down my face, at expected and unexpected moments
Are a testament to what Sarah has meant to me...still means to me.

A year and a half was just not long enough.
I feel sadness in my bones that they are leaving.
I will be grateful my whole life that I knew them.

That I knew Sarah, really knew Sarah at a heart level.
Sarah, just like Maya, has a kind heart, fierce mind and brave spirit.

Such a brave spirit my sweet friend has.
I will miss her.
I will see her again.
But I will miss her ...across the way, only a few steps from here...miss her.
And I am not the same because I knew her.

Maya and Sarah.
I am so blessed and I so sad.

I will love you both always and I will miss you both forever.
God Bless!
Love Linda





"Just Plain Hard"...

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