Sunday, July 27, 2014

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER...

                DO  SOMETHING

                   TODAY THAT

        YOUR FUTURE SELF WILL

                    THANK YOU

                            FOR

I have been rummaging through old pictures, some of them almost vintage quality. I find myself at once fascinated and nostalgic by the moments captured on black and white film or old colored, faded Kodak snapshots. Memories floating...taking me back to there and then.

Pictures of my Dad in the Army as he served for three years in Italy during World War II. Pictures of my Mom and Dad in Lorredo, Texas before he was sent overseas. Old photographs of me when I was just a little girl, perhaps six or seven, with an over-sized baby buggy that held my baby doll, Emily.

Yet of all the photographs I've unearthed in this walk down Memory Lane, I am honestly most intrigued by the photographs of my Mom, found in an antique suitcase with weathered straps and one missing buckle. The remaining buckles are old and tarnished, and I can almost imagine the invisible fingerprints of my Grandma and Grandpa who traveled with this "valise,"as they used to call it.  

There are pictures of  my Mom, Dolores, at the ages my girls are now... 37 and almost 35. They are mostly posed photos, with a bit of a formal feel to them, and Mom often has a reluctant smile. It looks like she's a bit shy in being the center of attention. 

And while huge smiles and loving being the center of attention are more like my daughters and myself,  the physical resemblance with my Mom, in some aspects, is absolutely uncanny. I am always amazed at how our genes pass along the littlest details from generation to generation...toes that are uniquely the same. A quirk in the littlest toe that is just as cute as can be. I adore seeing how my sweet daughters look, in some ways, just like my Mom.

And I have unearthed pictures of me as a young woman in my twenties, thirties, and early forties. It's a shock to see a photograph of me at 37 in a two-piece bathing suit and see a similar summer-time photo of my oldest daughter, now 37 years old herself. YIKES!


When I look at myself in those pictures I almost have to ask-Who is that young woman?  Where did that time go? What happened to the great physical shape she used to be in back then? Why does she now struggle with taking good physical care of herself?

Prior to a serious knee injury and several surgeries, I used to be a runner. Not a competitive athlete mind you, but I loved to go out and run a mile or two. That just isn't in the cards anymore, and while I walk every morning at the college, before classes start, I need to find some new low-impact ways to exercise.

What is increasingly clear to me, as I work on who I am at 67, is that taking care of myself physically has often been at the bottom of the priority list. Who am I kidding? It has hardly made the list at all. 
No wonder I landed in the Heart Trauma Center several months ago. 

It's very easy for me to put my family, my students, my friends all ahead of me. I'm the first one to remind Bert or Amy or Jessi about how they need to see a doctor. I keep track of Bert's medications meticulously. 

Yet somehow making time for me, to take care of me, seems a bit selfish. Or easy to put off. As silly as it sounds, I may think, foolishly, that it won't all catch up with me. Somehow, I'll be exempt from paying the consequences of neglect.  I'm truly not sure what I'm afraid of, but it's time to change how I am operating.

After all, those old photographs are also a reminder of the "legacy" of poor self-care that existed in my family-of-origin. My beloved Mom was a smoker for much of her adult life. She paid an enormous price as she got older for her unwillingness to change some of the poor habits she had developed. She refused to quit smoking. She died from emphysema, a smoker to the very end. My Dad died of heart disease, brought on by poor eating habits and being overweight.

I do not, repeat... DO NOT, want to neglect my body like they did and suffer the consequences of  poor choices I am making.

It's time to make choices that my body, down the road, will thank me for.

In a recent post I shared a new sense of optimism and energy I am feeling as I look forward to all life has in store for me. I also mentioned that I had some "clean up" work to do in preparation for beginning that new part of my life. After much prayer, and important conversations with my beloved Bert, I realize that first things first. It's time time to take better care of the gift God gave me, my body. That's my important first step in saying "YES!" to my life.

So... this next week I will be setting up a battery of appointments. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. I know that this precious body belongs to God and He believes I am worth taking time out to take better care of it. 

Could I ask a favor? Could you please keep me in your prayers this week that I will follow through on making these appointments? Your encouragement and prayers mean the world to me. 

I'll keep you updated on how all of this goes!
God Bless!
Love,
Linda






Thursday, July 24, 2014

Advice from a Lake...


            Advice from a Lake

                    be. clear
   
       Make. positive. ripples

      TAKE. TIME. TO. REFLECT

            Shore. Up. Friendships

       Look beneath. the. surface

                 Stay.calm.

      BE. FULL. OF. LIFE.

We just spent twelve wonderful days at Diamond Lake with the people we love most in all the world.
Since I am an early, yes very early riser, I loved starting each day with a fresh cup of coffee, my journal, and a quiet, bare-foot visit to the dock. That inviting jet-out of old-worn wood projecting over the reflecting water. Colors of reds and yellows and oranges on each ripple as the sun came up to greet me.

That now so still and quiet lake water as all the singing, yelling, joy-shouting young uns were still sound asleep.

My companions? A mama duck and her perfect row of sweet ducklings, trailing behind their mama ...still fuzzy as their feathers were just coming in. Mama and babies silently gliding across the sun-spotted water, barely making a ripple.

And the lake in all its glory. I took it all in as I said my first prayer. My first Alleluia. My first gasp at all God's glory. 

I knew, I just knew, that He wanted me there. As 
my re-direction, turn around began...as I settled into asking questions and exploring the simplest of pleasures...I just gazed at the water. Still calm and peaceful before the energy-breaking, life-giving, smile-making, joy-busting activity of my precious
grandchildren came to life. Those balls of unbridles energy that threw themselves full force off the dock.
That's how they all do life, you know. From the smallest to the biggest, they love life full-force. 

Those trusting, fun-loving babies of our family and their teenage cousins, teaching their Nana to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN.

*STOP RUNNING
*STOP PLANNING
*STOP TRYING SO HARD
*STOP WORRYING

*START SMILING
*START BREATHING
*START TRUSTING...ALL SHALL BE WELL!

Just be, Nana. Just soak in the advice from the lake, Nana. Just keep it simple, Nana. And remember to live the life-truths found here. Here at the lake.

And I did stop. And I am still smiling. Oh those sweet, dear young uns, so close to my heart.

And a special note to my grandchildren, in case you are reading this:
Thank you, sweet grandbabies of all ages, for reminding me. You are my teachers. I was your student.

I will love you forever, my precious, precious grandchildren, and you are GRAND...
I love you every day...to the moon and back!

And, as I always remind you...
God loves you, yes you, and so do we!
Your grateful Nana






Monday, July 21, 2014

Saying "YES!" to Life!...

You're off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So... get on your way!
                                      -Dr. Seuss
In the past few days I've felt an inner restlessness. An almost...Christmas is 
right around the corner and you are a small child waiting ... a giddy kind of 
child-like, pure JOY. That grinning from ear-to ear, fun-filled sense of 
well being that always comes before times of growth and learning.

                                                          That... 
Brewing and stewing and 
praying and saying....
that time of puzzle pieces flying around,
clearly visible although not yet in place. 
That time of wondering and asking and 
knowing something great is at hand. 
That deep awareness and positive anticipation 
that only  comes when 
I am rested and feeling filled with God's abiding love. 
     I am waiting for all life has in store. 
I was walking in Nordstroms, sometime back, looking for a present for my 
amazing 17 year old Granddaughter Glory Sihin, adopted three years ago from 
Ethiopia. Suddenly the message on a t-shirt in the Brass Plum spoke to me. Not 
literally spoke to me like, "Hey, Linda! Read this message!" It spoke to me like 
"Wow! This is for you girl!" It said:
                               She loved life! 
                    And it loved her right back!
What a poignant reminder that LOVE is an action word and loving life is accepting the invitation to begin a new adventure. So, when I get inspired, I do what I always do. I put on some great music and then take out one of my notebooks and special writing pens and let the ideas and lists and dreams flow out. 
                                        Just.let.them.roll. 
Roll off my heart and mind and spirit. I say a quick prayer before starting and it goes something like this...

"Ok God. I'm all ears. I'm all yours. I'm all in...when it comes to my life! I'm listening. What's next?? Where do you want me to put my new and refreshed energy?"

And so this new journey begins. However, Step #1 is to do some "clean up" and closure. To send the emails and pay the bills and clear off the work space. Get ready for what is ahead and have closure and clean up in grateful anticipation
for what is in store.
I'm reminded of what Dan Zadra said:

                             This is your life,
                       your one and only life.
                               Don't miss it.
Would you like to follow this journey with me? I invite you to be a part of it, to experience it, and to share your journey with me. What do you do when the winds bring in a fresh breath of energy into your life and you start that blessed time of new joy and new growth?

Stay tuned. I am saying "Yes!" to life and "Yes!" to God's not so gentle tugging on my heart. This is going to be great! God has fun and grace and learnings and challenges in store and I anticipate with unbridled JOY all He wants me to learn.

I can't wait!

God Bless!
Love, 
Linda




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Making Memories...Coming Back from Vacation!

We didn't realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun!
                                         -Dan Zadra

Plain and simple... it was just time to take an old-fashioned break, a vacation, a time away. Have a new adventure. Spread out. Live as if there was no tomorrow. Leave behind every encumbrance. 

No "work," no distractions, no pressure... just family time with swim suits, and laughter and squirt guns, and floaty devices, and frisbees, and great food, and sunscreen and aloe vera slathered on hot shoulders... 

and loved ones...most importantly, loved ones. 

Turn off the tv, get away from every screen except for an occasional all-family movie like Jaws (since we were on the water and my grandson couldn't stop humming the theme song with a chuckle in his eyes). A get away, A restoration. Rest. Only the hum of  fans on hot, hot summer days while reading captivating books that tweaked our hearts and imaginations. Making meals together. Heading off to bed knowing the next day would be filled with jumping off docks and spraying your cousin with the water guns. Ahhhh....rest and restoration for my weary soul.

Sometimes you don't know how truly tired you are until you stop running and start breathing.

 And now after twelve days of being gone, I am back. Restored. The beach towels are getting washed...sand remnants sneaking on to the kitchen floor. And memories of this time away keep popping up, like those rubber toys thrown into the lake, as I have my first cup of  home-brewed coffee this morning,

Our vacation memories keep me company as I contemplate how to keep living simply in my heart and schedule.

Here are just a few remembrances of our family time together :

* Owen, sweet Owen, now three and so, so fun, coming up to me and saying in his precious three-year-old lingo..."Love you, Nana." Getting hugs and kisses from the baby of the family. Finding "blue blank" for him...his go-to security blanket, now somewhat shredded. He spent hours and hours and hours in the water.

* Jenna, our precious seven-year-old dancing and singing and putting on her new mermaid tail (which she saved her own money for.) Knowing my own daughters would never have left the water if they had one of those magic extensions that made them feel like Ariel in "The Little Mermaid".

* My two amazing daughters, Jessi and Amy, hugging in the kitchen as they helped prepare meals. Laughter and giggling like when they were young girls. So many memories floated back.

Watching my babies mother their babies. And mother them so, so well.

* Time with Jacob and Sihin and Emma...seeing cousins bond and blend and frolic in the water together. They are growing up so quickly. Every moment with them, rubbing backs, throwing frisbees, listening to the music of their hearts...it is all so precious.

*Time to talk to Rog and Bert and share old stories.
Time to listen... really listen, to new grief and a friend's loss of his Mom. I love to listen to their remembrances of days gone by.

There was time to sit, and  share and ponder and pray and laugh and revel in the moment. Each precious moment. Old-fashioned time with lemonade when everything slowed down.

I loved every minute of this time of restoration.
I feel more alive and cared for and centered and rested and connected because of it. 

And it feels good to be back! And a special thank you to my dear, dear friends Vicky and Peggy for checking in to see if I was okay. Yes, sweet friends, I am better than ever! Thank you for your love, attention and noticing I was gone.

God Bless!
Love Linda





Thursday, July 03, 2014

I Give Myself Away....So You Can Use Me...

I give myself away
I give myself away 
So You can use me.

My life is not my own
to You I belong
I give myself
I give myself to You.

There are certain songs that, when we sing them in church,
turn me into a racked-with-sobs puddle. I can't even get through the first line without tears streaming down my face, a clutching at my heart, and a deep knowing that in these words, these notes, God has a here-and-now message for me.

As I struggle to sing because I am crying so hard, I am almost instantly brought back to being a ninth grade girl at Malibu, a Young Life, Christian Camp in Canada, where I heard for the very  first time that God loved me and Jesus died for me. 

That knowing changed everything. And I do mean everything. And it changed everything for forever.

And now, this many years later, I am in Bethel AME, a primarily African American Church, one that is small and struggling financially, one that has wrapped its arms around me and my husband, singing words that remind me of what scares me most. "I give myself away...so You can use me." I truly understood and lived that message as a ninth grader. I heard it loud and clear then. And now those words scare me to death at age 67. 

What God is asking of me, every day, is to live for Him. Not myself. For Him. He wants me to open my heart, even when I don't feel like doing it, 
and give myself away. Love everyone. Be used by Him. Be His daughter.


Here I am
Here I stand
Lord my life is in your hands

Lord I'm longing to see
Your desires revealed in me.

Well, it may have felt simple in ninth grade, but it doesn't feel simple now.
It feels confusing. It feels like there is an argument going on in my very own soul. The call to security, to live safely, to hang on to what I have and have earned is a strong pull. To really chase after God, to do His calling, to give myself and all that I am and all that I have to Him,  to TRUST HIM COMPLETELY...now that is a different story. A very different story.

I ask God almost daily, what would you have me do today?
And sometimes, in the stillness of my heart and when I am really listening,
the answer scares me to death. Let me say that again...Scares me to death!

The battle of words and thoughts, my conversation with God, goes something like this...

Linda: OK, Lord. I am yours. What would you want me to do today to do Your will? What is your desire for me today?

God (whispers in my heart): I want you to go to the family next door and apologize for your part in the tension between you. I want you to own it all and ask for forgiveness and tell them you will try to do better.

Linda: (After a long, tense silence where my teeth are grinding) You want what? Those neighbors? The ones who have been shunning me? Those who turn their back when they see me coming? Those neighbors? Really? Are you kidding?

God whispers in my heart: No, actually I'm not kidding. Those exact neighbors. I want you to love them no matter what they have done to you.

Linda: ( now in a debating mode with God): But you must have missed how they have treated us. Didn't you see what they did? Why should I have to be the one to say I'm sorry? I don't feel sorry. They should be sorry. They should apologize first.

God whispers in my heart: This isn't about them. This is about YOU.
You asked what I would have you do today and now you know.

Linda: Do you get how scary this is for me?

God whispers in my heart: Yup, I do. (a small aside here, for me God says things like Yup and nope). But you are forgetting something. I will be right there with you while you do it. You can do it! Just rely on My strength and not your own.

And after weeks and weeks and weeks of soul-searching and debating....
I did do it and immediately knew it was exactly the right thing to do.
It was one of the hardest, hardest things I have ever, ever done...but God (again) was right. It was what I needed to do.

I wish I could say that the first time I heard God's whisper in my heart, I just smiled and with wholehearted JOY jumped at the chance to humble myself and do exactly what I knew He was asking me to do. 

Clear and simple...I am NOT there yet. 

Not about the really, really hard stuff. The this is so gut-wrenching you think you will throw up stuff. I am more in the "What? Really? Are you kidding me, Lord?" phase. At least for awhile I am.

Yet more and more... 
as I give myself away so He can use me
my trust in Him increases. My faith blossoms.

I am trusting in His whisper. 
I am trusting that if I heed His call...

All Will Be Well.

Take my heart 
Take my life
As a living sacrifice

I am not "there" yet, that place of immediate trust and obedience.
Yet each time I trust God, He is true to His word. He is there, just as he whispered He would be, holding my hand through the fear.

And  I am more certain than ever before that this is exactly how I was meant to live my life.

God Bless!
Love, Linda





"Just Plain Hard"...

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