Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Best Weekend EVER...

When he worked, he really worked.
But when he played, he really PLAYED!
                                    -Dr. Seuss

I am all about making memories. Memories that paint pictures of an experience for my grandchildren. Memories that will last far beyond my years. Memories that start with the sentence..."You will NEVER believe what we did!"

When our Grandson Jacob was about to have his 13th birthday, my husband Bert and I set out to make a memory-filled time for the "young lad," as my Grandma used to say. We wanted to go all out, to fulfill a dream of his and in the process one of our own.

We didn't have to think long and hard. After all, Jacob is a die-hard Seattle Seahawks football fan. The kind that loved the Seahawks before they became famous. He knows all the players, all the statistics, who has been traded for whom. He knows it all and watches every game on tv with such zest and vigor and raucous yelling and jumping up and down that it makes us all laugh until we cry.

And since this Nana LOVES to put surprises together, we decided to get Jacob some Seahawks gear for his birthday. The bag was decorated with huge Seahawks balloons and there was a puzzle inside, incapsulated in different envelopes. Jacob loved the Seahawks hat and the book about the players. And then I directed him to a series of envelopes. I informed him he had a puzzle to solve. Since Jacob has always been quick to do puzzles, we knew the grand finale would be seen in short order and would be jaw-dropping.

Jacob opened the envelopes, read the clues, put the puzzle together and then in wide-eyed disbelief...looked at us. He read the puzzle again and his mouth fell open. He whispered, "I can't believe it." Jacob looked up and said in almost disbelief, "We are going to a Seahawks game, a real, in-person Seahawks game!!!"

And so we did.

We flew on an airplane to Seattle, where both Bert and I were born, stayed at an amazing hotel, went swimming, had room service, had a town car take us to the stadium, and had Seahawks rain gear ready to roll. Now please understand, this is not our usual way to travel. But since we are a tad older, and I was not about to drive to Century Link stadium with the 67,4000 other people attending the game, we opted to have someone take us.

It was such a thrill. the noise. the screaming. the touchdowns. the sad loss to Dallas. the trip to get our bags. the flight home. All of it... AMAZING.

But most of all, the talks and sharing, the glimpse into the life and heart of our dearly beloved grandson...that's what Bert and I will remember. We will never forget the look on his face when we finally got to our seats. Seats way, way, WAY up in that huge stadium. That joy-filled moment will stay with me forever.

And beyond the trip, Jacob's thank you note, delivered as we dropped him at his home Sunday night. That thank you letter that made us cry...lots and lots of tears. In it Jacob expressed with such love what we mean to him, that we had inspired him, that he dearly loves us and loved spending time with us.

It's the kind of letter that gets framed, that we'll read on days when we might be a little down. It's the kind of letter most parents and grandparents wait for their whole lives.

Yes, it was the best weekend EVER. A memory maker for sure.
We love Jacob with all our heart and were there at his birth 13 years ago. We were there when he took his first steps. We were there for his first day of school and every Christmas and birthday he has celebrated. And now, we are here as we watch him become such a fine young man. We could not be more proud of him for the excellent student, son, grandson, brother, friend, and young man of faith he is. Jacob has character and we see it in how he lives his life every day.

And  while we all work hard, this weekend we played hard too.
Boppa, Nana and Jacob. We had a blast. No papers to grade, no homework to do. Just fun and lots of it. Memories made to last a life time.

It just doesn't get any better than that!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Friday, October 10, 2014

Unexpected Gifts...

"Everything is a gift...
it's just that some things
don't look gift wrapped."

I love the fall. I love the change in rhythm from the chaotic, fun-filled-every-minute summer time, with
its go-GO-GO mentality, to a more introspective
savor-every-moment-of-sunshine kind of thinking. 

I love having a fire going, hearing it crackle, sitting in a comfy chair, wound up in a warm throw. I love sipping on hot apple cider as I read a new favorite book.

It's getting bone chillin', here in Spokane, as my Grandma used to say. Especially in the mornings.
Fewer and fewer folks at Starbucks are ordering iced drinks as the sound of a pumpkin-spiced latte' sounds much more to their liking. 

And the leaves, oh, the glorious leaves. Some trees are in the shedding process, almost as if they have gotten a haircut. Others have clinging leaves, just barely holding on to their mother lode.  Some, in an instant, a blink, let go of one or two or three leaves and they float away, dance through air and then gently land on the ground. Those red and yellow and green leaves, saying goodbye after their season.

It's beautiful and at once a little sad.

Fall... the time of football and reading and hugging and thinking and pondering and reflecting...a time of small bits of nostalgia. Time to look back and ponder. Where have I been? Where am I now?

Fall...on the cusp of the holidays...Halloween and then Thanksgiving.

I love thanksGIVING.
Even more, I love thanksLIVING.

I give thanks every morning in a daily ritual. I write in a gratitude journal, a tradition started long, long ago. High school really. And in the fall I inevitably
get out some old gratitude journals and page through
them. A walk down memory lane, if you will.

Some older entries show me giving thanks for my parents, my friends, for the fact that God loves me. Giving thanks for the opportunity to go to college. Thanks for the little things like my Mom making my favorite meal, or a special Young Life meeting I attended.

And after giving thanks, I wrote about my life lessons,  about what I was learning. Then I took a breath and wrote about the challenges, the heartaches, the losses. 

Little losses. Big losses. Heart-crushing losses.

And as I peruse the journals and re-read the entries,
I am at once stunned and amazed. Those losses that seemed sad and hard and even unbearable have been the catalyst for my greatest growth. They have almost always propelled me to have faith in God. They have almost always inspired me to do something different, to work on myself and have new goals. Those losses have catapulted me to trust God and to pray and pray.

And as I read and read...I see over and over and over again, that prayers have been answered. Not always in the way I had hoped or planned, but answered,
according to His plan. The bigger plan I could not see or imagine then. Clearly, He had a plan that I can see only in retrospect.

And I am amazed and humbled and grateful. Everything has been a gift. All of it. The great and the small. The easy and the hard. The moments of terror where I thought I will never get through this. It was a gift too.

Everything was a gift, it's just that some things didn't look gift wrapped, especially at the time they were happening. Unexpected gifts all around me. I just didn't know it then.

As I read those old pages, a pattern becomes very clear. He has made a way where there seemed to be no way...time and time again. He, the Lord God Almighty, was there, along side me, little 'ol me, and He was faithful.

He made a way when my heart was shattered during a divorce. He made a way in healing my heart and helping me love again. He made a way when my beloved Bert fought cancer. He made a way when my precious older daughter, Jessi, was riding her bike, training for a bike race, hit a deer and sustained a brain injury. He made a way when my beloved younger daughter was running and got hit by a car.
He made a way when my Mom and dad passed away.
He made a way. He made a way when there seemed to be no way.

And so this morning, as I write in this new leather-covered journal with inspirational quotations on the inside cover, I find I am encouraged, even deeply hopeful.

No matter what happens, no matter how hard things get, I am not alone. I was not alone back in 1969, or 1984, and I am not alone in 2014.

And for that, I am deeply grateful beyond what words could ever express.

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

May you know, in your deepest heart-of-hearts that
He will make a way for you!

Please Note: If your heart speaks to you and you want to donate to my friend Vicky's medical expense fund, please click here. We are so grateful for your support!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Dear God...this is!

Update: After praying and praying last night, and lots of tears, I woke up with an old song on my heart. I haven't thought of it is years. The title is "God will make a way, when there seems to be no way"... so perfect and an answer to prayer. 

Dear God,
You know my heart and how sad and scared I am right now. I am trying, more than ever, to trust in You.. to know that You hold us all in the palm of your Mighty Hand. I just have so many questions and the tears just keep cascading down my cheeks.

Anne Lamott talks about three prayers to pray... one of them is "help!" And that is the prayer that is pouring from my heart
to You, dear Lord. Please, "help!"

We got some hard news for my friend Vicky today. The MRI results show that the two tumors in her brain are more prominent. It sort of sounds like the usual medical options have been used up. But I know with you Lord, there are always options. There is always a road to grace. Oh please, dear God. Heal her. Calm her aching heart. Have her know Your presence. Help her heart to know how much You love her. Help sweet Vicky to know that You are there, holding her, that you will never leave her. Calm her mind and heart, dear Father. Please be with her husband, Rick, and her boys Nolan and Colton. Protect them all, Father. Please heal her.

And please, dear Lord, help my daughter Amy with the pain she is experiencing. It has been so hard to watch her need this medical procedure, after that awful car accident, and to have the paperwork hung up somewhere at Group Health. She is suffering.
Help her Lord. You can do anything. Help them to release an "okay" and a green light. She has so much living to do and it is so hard to do it with that kind of pain. You can do anything, Lord. We need Your help! Help her to know Your presence, Your love and Your comfort. Father, please heal her.

Father help me to trust You, to magnify your glory. Help me to know that You can bring good from every circumstance. Help 
me to support both Vicky and Amy. Please Lord, show me the way. Teach me how to turn this over to You, to believe with all my heart that You've Got This!

Thank you for loving me, just as I am! Your love changed my life.
Much love always...
Your daughter,

If your heart speaks to you, and you can contribute to help Vicky,
please check out:

God Bless!

Soul Work in the Deep Waters...

              Entrance into another's soul                   is always a sacred honor. It is a gorgeous day, here in Spokane, Washing...