Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Gratitude...

                 ..               Throw Kindness Around Like
                              Confetti!

What an amazing year 2015 has been. My word for the year has been "renew" and as Christmas approaches, and New Years is right behind, I find myself reflecting on what has really mattered in 2015.

Over and over again the kindness of others, and God's grace and kindness, has been our shining light. We are renewed and changed and refreshed by those dear people who truly care for us. The kindness that touches us the most is not some huge thing, but rather small, daily kindnesses that renew our faith that "All shall be well!"

A perfect example of a random act of kindness that renewed our faith and restored our souls happened just the other day. The doorbell rang and a package arrived. It was from Hamilton, Montana. 

I looked at the label and said aloud..."Oh my, sweet Peggy Sue did this!" What a treat it was to see some special items she had picked for me as she closed down her shop. In the midst of her super busy schedule, she remembered me, she remembered "us." Her sweet card included my beloved Bert. I just cried and cried as I read it. Thanks Peggy!

That's just one of so many cards and food items and books and hugs that special folks have brought over. 
Thank you to all of you!

You have thrown kindness to us...like confetti!
What a gift that has been to our souls!

Not only does kindness come from friends and family, Bert and I are also marinated in God's kindness to us! The best Christmas present ever?
His son Jesus! We are also so grateful to our church and the kindness they have shown us in 2015!

Finally, as the year comes to a close, Bert and I are having some "renewal time" together so I will be gone from this blog for a bit. Never fear, I'll be back soon!

May this Christmas be a time of renewal and hope for you! May you know God's love and grace, deep in your heart of hearts!

Sending you loves and hugs and prayers...to the moon and back!

Merry Christmas!
God Bless!
Love,
Linda

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

"Great God Almighty, He Changed me"...

              NOTHING HAPPENS
                         until the pain of
             REMAINING the SAME
      OUTWEIGHS the pain of  CHANGE.
                                   - Arthur Burt

I listen to the same two Christian songs on the way to work every single day. Yup, the same two. Over and over again. The songs "All the People Said, AMEN!" and "Waiting on the Transformation" are rock- your-heart-out songs that get me going in the right direction. 

They speak to me, just as if God himself was speaking to me. They challenge me, just as if God was in my car saying, "This is how I want you to live, Linda." They both talk about change, one of my favorite topics and least favorite topics simultaneously.

Pure and simple, God is calling me to open my heart in new ways and be transformed. Transformed even more than I have been in these 68 years of life I've been gifted.

The lyrics to the second song say something like this...

      He may have come to you when everything was
         fine or when your world was upside down and
         He hit you right between the eye, eye,eyes. 

Truthfully, my world was upside down when I gave my heart to God. As hard as the road has been at times since then, that decision to give Him my heart when I was in 9th grade at Malibu (a Young Life camp in Canada) has never, ever been one I have regretted.

Back then I had no idea how loving God would transform my life. It has been a "shake down to the core," as the song says so perfectly.

Letting God transform my life has not been easy, but it has been worth it.

Letting God is the key phrase here. I have to want that change and ask for that change. He won't break down my door making me change.

What I know for sure is that change and transformation are possible when God is part of the equation.

My life is a testimony to that truth!

I think we all long to be transformed, perhaps transformed like a butterfly. We carry around old ways of being that don't serve us and they certainly don't serve God!

They are familiar to us so they feel safe.

Yet I believe wholeheartedly that nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.

I also believe that I am called to change almost every single day. God wants to transform me and help me be His new creation. But He won't do it to me, I have to want to be transformed.

* I have to want to leave the old habits behind.
* I have to be willing to see how those old habits
   weigh me down and keep me from being who He
   wants me to be.

Bert has been a counselor for more than thirty years.
While he never talks about clients or identifies them in any way, Bert does from time to time share wisdom and life lessons he learns from working with his clients.

Recently Bert said, "To make real change, you have
 to be sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Amen to that!

We can hear ourselves complain and yet we feel stuck. We finally get to the place where we are sick and tired of making choices we shouldn't be making.

We are all really good at our bad habits, at least I sure am.

As Christmas comes and the new year approaches, I want to open up and let God transform me from the inside out. I want to be able to say with certainty, just as the song says...

        "Great God Almighty, He changed me...
         Great God Almighty He done change me."

I will take a leap of faith and trust and listen to His nudgings about where and how he wants to transform me! I am praying for His guidance as I embark on this journey of being transformed!

God Bless and may God hold all of us in the palm of His almighty hand!

Love,
Linda

                







        





Saturday, December 05, 2015

Do you hear what I hear?

                                 Light the Advent Candle of Hope!

           With Jesus whatever looks hopeless to you,
            your stump is never a stump! A shoot of
            HOPE can spring from impossible places.
                                                            - Ann Voskamp

There has always been something about Advent and
Christmas that tugs at my heart. That waiting in anticipation
for the birth of Jesus. That sense of expectation of looking for God's miracles then and now. That looking forward to the
birth of a Savior, my Savior.

And boy oh boy, do we all need a Savior!

At church last Sunday the children came upstairs from Sunday School to light the first candle of Advent, the candle of HOPE.
Oh how their sweet, small voices echoed through the church, resonating in each of our hearts. They told us, in no uncertain terms, that Jesus brings hope and that His birth changes everything for everyone.

Can I get an AMEN to that!

HOPE has been on my mind and in my heart all week long.
The teacher in me was reminded that HOPE is both a noun and a verb. Hope is something very tangible in my spirit and it is also an action that takes place. I hope, for me, means that I am full of belief and expectation. I am choosing HOPE as a way to know God's grace and love. When I am filled with love and hope, I am right where God wants me to be. At least, that is what God has put on my heart this last week.

So in my prayer time I have used the word HOPE while talking to my Heavenly Father. I have come to Him with a spirit of hope and anticipation and gratitude for the miracles He is doing in my life and yours.

Here are just a few of the hope-filled prayers I have been praying this week:

Dear God, I love you so. I am so grateful for every blessing you have brought to my life. I am so grateful for every challenge that has helped me come closer to You. Please hear my prayers of hope for those I love and care for...

* I have hope for my students at the end of the quarter. Please give them strength to finish strong.

* I have hope for health and rest and reassurance for my daughter who is pregnant. While this pregnancy has not been easy, I am filled with hope for the birth in April of Annora Grace, my granddaughter. Please keep Amy and Annora Grace safe and healthy.

* I have hope for Bert, Lord, and his full recovery after his stroke. Thank you, God, that Bert is still here. I have hope for his renewed memory and strength.

* I have hope for someone I love to be all you have meant for him to be. May he fill his life and heart with You and listen to your plan for him.

* I have hope for my family that as we celebrate the birth of your son, that we dedicate our lives to what You want us to be doing.

* I have hope for my friend Vicky Westra that you can do a miracle in her life and heal her cancer, Father. I believe with all my heart that you can make possible what seems to be impossible. Heal her Father, please heal her.

* I have hope for Sox, the dearest fur baby ever. You love that sweet puppy, Father, and you know the heart of Jackie's daughter. We believe in miracles, God. Please heal Sox.

* I have hope for Grandma Elaine, Lord. All these years she has been your servant and you have been her beloved Father.
Please be with her, God. As she goes through hospice, hold her close. Let her know your presence.

*And Lord, I have hope for my own heart in this Advent season, May I remember that even when things are impossible, hope can appear and spring forth from impossible places.
May I, like that little shepard boy, hear that ringing in the sky
and your voice as big as a sea... calling me to worship you.

May this Advent season be a time of anticipation for you.
May you know, in your deepest heart of hearts, that HOPE can spring from impossible places. With God all things are possible!

God Bless!
Love, Linda


         

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dancing In The Dark...

    It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because
    God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors.
    Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work,
    forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world
    seems to be free-falling, and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most  present to us.
                                                                           ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

As the weather got worse and the lights flickered, the song "Dancing in the Dark" by Frank Sinatra just kept playing itself over and over again in my mind. It's an old song, one my Grandma used to sing out loud, especially when the lights were low or might even get turned off.  A week ago Tuesday, Frank's lyrics kept me company as the wind began to howl.

We were at home when the gigantic and ominous storm hit Spokane, Washington and we could hear the whirl of the wind gaining momentum. We had been told there would be high winds. The Mayor of Spokane, David Condon, even ordered all employees of non-emergency agencies to leave work at 3:00 pm.

Unheard of.

Those of us who live in the eastern part of Washington State are a hearty breed. After all,
we have all four seasons here. We do very hot and we do very cold. We love to tell stories
about the ice storm of 2002 that knocked out power for days. It was cold, cold, cold...but our pioneer spirit helped us to get though the challenge...together.

This windstorm would surely be a piece of cake.

Not so, not so, not so. 

Before long we could hear what sounded almost like a tornado, or what one sounds like in the movies. And then a huge cracking and crashing sound on all sides of our house. And then the lights flickered and the power went out. It was pitch black out and we couldn't see what was going on. The wind howled and howled. I walked to our front door and saw limbs of trees flying by.

I have a collection of flameless candles in unique lanterns so I went into the "get the house ready for an emergency" mode. Thankfully, we have two gas fireplaces and once those were on, their glow kept us from focusing on the ominous sights and sounds going on outdoors. 

Bert was even a bit giddy. It was like camping, he said, and it reminded him of his days as a Paratrooper in the Army. The TV and computer were off, and we reminisced about old stories. I broke out the sparkling cider and we set in for the evening and went to bed early. 

The next morning we heard reports that we had experienced hurricane-force winds of more than 75 miles per hour. Trees were down everywhere, power poles were snapped like tooth picks, huge 100 foot trees fell right through houses and over 200,000 people were without power.

We were two of those people.

Eight days later we were still without power and snow had started to fall in Spokane.
While almost every school in Spokane was closed, the college where I teach was open.
Yikes! I would need to venture out in this inclement weather and teach my classes. Many of my students would have their children at home so they were "in a pickle," as my Grandma used to say. They needed to be at school and they also needed to be at home. Besides this dilemma, we are almost at the end of the quarter and huge projects were due. Lots of choices to make and none of them seemed easy.

The question of the hour asked in classrooms, grocery stores and gas stations was ... "Do you have power?" People who never talked let down their guard with neighbors as those with fireplaces offered a warm room to sit in. Those who had generators offered a warm meal.

We all offered warm hearts. 

And to top it all off, Thanksgiving was around the corner. Our power company was completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the disaster (over 100 trees were down in our old neighborhood.) Many of those fell across roads and uprooted trees with a diameter of 14 feet wide. They called for help and a steady stream of power line workers came from Canada, Oregon and Idaho.

Neighbors surveyed the damage in walks together around the neighborhood. Everyone was quiet as we saw what our newspaper reported as a "war zone." It was unthinkable, unbelievable. It might be cause for depression and anger.

But it wasn't.

Instead something quite magical occurred.  A new and renewed sense of community sprang forth. Computers were off and families played card games by the fire. Sleeping bags got moved into the living room and everyone talked and hugged and told stories until everyone fell asleep. Students who barely spoke to those across the classroom began conversations that had depth and breadth. People at grocery stores started up conversations that had real meaning.

In the darkness, we saw God's light shining brightly. His goodness everywhere in the midst of the storm. His faithfulness in providing life when everything seems to be a disaster. We would weather this storm with prayer and hope and reaching out to those less fortunate. We would come through this war zone with new lessons about what really matters and God's faithfulness to us in every area of our lives.

While this was a real storm with visible damage, it was a reminder of other tough storms Bert and I have been through in our life time. Some of those felt like a tornado and left scars and hurts. They were as unexpected as this storm was. Other storms have left us clinging to each other and our faith in God Almighty!

We certainly sang"Dancing in the Dark" with a bit of a smile on our faces, knowing full well none of our children or grandchildren hardly know who Frank Sinatra is. Even more often we sang one of my favorite hymns "It Is Well With My Soul." 

And it was...well with our soul.

I could hear Ann Voskamp's wise words in one of my all time favorite books One Thousand Gifts... God is passing by. In the midst of feeling abandoned and alone, God is there. In those stormy, stormy moments, Christ is right there. In the blackest times, God is closest!

This Wednesday night, eight days after the storm, Bert and I were in our chairs looking out
at our back yard. I had just fixed soup, cooking it on the ledge of our gas fireplace. We were holding hands and steeped in nostalgia when...suddenly...THE LIGHTS WENT  BACK ON!

I started to sing another one of the song I had sung for a week..."And All the People Said Amen!" We both threw our arms up thanking God that we had made it through this bump in the journey that renewed some of our most important life lessons. 

What was the the greatest blessing of all, as I look back at this event? Bert is still here, following his stroke, to go through the storms with!

Once again we were reminded that even in the darkest times, where the trees crash and there seems to be no end to the destruction, we are not alone. Not for a minute! God Almighty holds us close and is always with us...no matter what. We are grateful, so very, very grateful, that we are still here...together. Holding hands, no matter what! My beloved and I.

And we are grateful...Blessed beyond measure by that knowing!

And all the people said Amen!

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
















Sunday, November 15, 2015

One More...

            You'll never truly understand how
             beautiful everything is until you
              are near the end of your journey.
                                     -Archie Grabor, Bert's friend

I wish that God had a bartering system where you could
come to His throne and say, "Could I give you this and then You give them that?" Sort of a green stamps system, if you will. I could purchase things for others with the stamps left in my own envelope.

It doesn't work that way, but I sure wish it did.

I wish that all of us who have been so blessed and lived long and healthy lives could come to God and say, "Okay Lord, how about you shorten my life by two years so I can give these two amazing people an extra year on their lives."

Just one more year, each. 

It doesn't work that way, but I sure wish it did.

I am sixty eight years old and while I have had a few ups and downs with my health, like so many do, I have never had a major illness like some of my dear ones have struggled with.
I have had challenges, certainly. Super challenges, no.

Now you might dispute that statement by saying, "Linda, you were born with one hand that is normal size and one small hand, your "luck fin," as the grandchildren affectionately call it."

"Isn't that enough challenge?" you might add.

Certainly some of my greatest life-lessons have come from being visibly different. Certainly I have had to tie my shoes in my own special way, learn how to water ski and snow ski in my own special way, and learn to play the chord organ in my own special way. I have even had to navigate some awkward moments with others when they first see my hand.

"Yes," I would tell you with a smile on my face, "there were some inconveniences in all of that. Yet inconveniences are very different from life-bending health challenges that turn your life upside down and shorten your years."

I have been blessed beyond measure.

You might, out of pure kindness, bring up the challenge I faced going through a divorce. "Isn't that enough?" you might ask.

And I would answer, "Yes, many years ago I went through a divorce that broke my heart and changed everything in my life.
Yet I still loved God and my daughters, and thanks to the Lord and His grace, was able to make a new life. Also, I never would have been married to Bert all these wonderful years if I hadn't gone through that."

I have been blessed beyond measure in each of these challenges partly because I still had my health. I am grateful to God, oh so grateful to God for that health, yet it leaves me wondering.

Why me?Why have I been so healthy and others struggled so hard? I know God doesn't give people illnesses, and I know He holds them close when they are sick. I know that He can cure people. Why, when so many are praying, hasn't that happened?
At least not yet. 

That's a question I'll ask the Lord when it is my time to go to my heavenly "home."I'll also let Him know that while I don't know His bigger plan for their lives, I am just a little passed off about my dear ones still being so sick.

You might wonder if that isn't just a little too bold for me to be questioning the Lord God Almighty, let alone tell Him I am pissed off.

I would reassure you that bold is how He made me and that the Lord can surely stand to hear my upsets, tears and pissed offness.

But back to the bartering system that I'd like to suggest to the Lord Almighty.

I would like to give up two years on this wonderful earth He created if He could please take those years and give them to Vicky Westra and Joey. Both of them have stage four cancer.

They so desperately need just "one more" day and week and year to be with those they love and adore.

One more day and week and year to raise their children and
love their husbands.

Just one more.

And since I have already had these gifts, and lived such a full and amazing life, I'd like for them to have what I have had.

More time.

And to my dear friend and soul sister Vicky, I so wish I could take your weekly, awful taxol appointment for you so you could rest up and start to feel better.

It doesn't work like that, but I sure wish it did.

Yet while God doesn't have a bartering system, He has told me that what I can do is pray. I can also love and support my dear ones in small ways that ease their burdens and help to heal their hearts. I can let them know they matter. They matter so much.

So I am praying without ceasing. Praying God will do what I can't and I am loving them in their hard times. And here is my prayer, "Please God, heal them and give them one more day and week and year."

Would you pray that prayer along with me?

And may God bless you and keep you and hold all of us in the palm of His Almighty hand!

God Bless!
Love, Linda






Thursday, November 12, 2015

Food For Thought...

                  Forget about yourself,
                     serve others!
                                     -Julie Garmon, blogger

I absolutely love the insights that women share with each other. Not to exclude men from this discussion of brilliance, however some of my greatest life lessons come from my soul-sisters.

These are women who are reaching out to learn more about life and faith. These dear souls are  blossoming into who God meant them to be.

Some of these women have been life-long buddies and friends. We have been through so much together and know each other backwards and forwards.

Other women are part of my family and extended family. They have been some of my greatest teachers.

Some of the women are former students (Hi Myia and Lynnae) or current students.

Other women I have never met personally, yet we are connected as if we had grown up together. We share an authenticity and vulnerability about our lives. We can talk about anything...parenting, careers, children, illnesses or God. Or all of the above in some cases. We often pray for each other.

When I hear from these women, or read their blogs,  it is like a warm, bright light comes into the darkness. They are truly angels whose genuine care and concern and love and prayers seem to keep me afloat, even when I am bailing from the life raft.

During this time of change for me, following Bert's stroke, they have stepped up over and over again to offer care, love and support.

And most of all, and what means the most to me, is that they are praying for my beloved Bert and for me.

What an honor it is to know that they come to the Lord God Almighty and whisper my name and Bert's name. They are faithful and trustworthy in doing this. What a gift to my spirit!

And they are on the four corners of the globe, these women...Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Georgia...all over.

Their life-lessons are life-changing for me!

These women share their "tidbits" of wisdom, food for thought as I have come to call it.

What's so fun and meaningful right now is that as the holidays approach, many of my buddies are sharing their memories of holiday traditions and meals.

Yesterday, Julie Garmon, a wonderful writer and faith sharer from Georgia, talked in her blog about Thanksgiving...all the fun, expectations and at times push for perfection.

I know Julie through a mutual blogging friend, Vicky Westra,, and when I have a moment to spare I love to soak in Julie's authenticity and wisdom. God's love shines through her words.

In talking about Thanksgiving Julie reminded me  that many of us have the perfect meal in mind, what the table should look like and how everyone should get along just perfectly. Some of us (I say, smiling) tend to put ourselves and others into a high stress mode in the quest for the perfect holiday meal.

Julie shared the story of  her young granddaughter having a tea party for her toys. The focus was all about simplicity and just being together.

And then Julie shared this line that blew my socks off. A "keeper" as we call them in my family. A "take-away" lesson that is simple and profound.

She said, in a Thanksgiving that captures gratitude and love, we should...

                   Forget about yourself, serve others!

Oh my dear Jesus, how I needed to hear those words.  It hit me that when I do this, serve others, it won't matter if the table is perfect or the gravy has lumps.

           True perfection comes from loving God and     
                                  serving others!

Julie said, so perfectly, that she learned from her grand daughter that what was truly simple (Thanksgiving dinner), she had made complicated.


Me too, Julie. Me too.

Thanks for this marvelous life-lesson!
Read Julie's message for yourself on her wonderful
blog:

           http://juliegarmon.com

And to that I say... Amen and Amen!!
God bless!
Love, Linda

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Making Time for What Matters...

            Picture you upon my knee
            Just tea for two
            And two for tea.
            Just me for you
            And you for me...
            Alone, dear...
                
                                       -Irving Caesar from the 1925 Musical, No No Nanette

Fridays are our date night. They always have been and always will be. 

Friday, a week ago, Bert and I spent our "Date Night" at Urgent Care. At one point, between tests for his infection, I turned to him, held his hand and with a chuckle said, "Well, happy date night, honey!" He burst into a smile and some welcomed laughter and said, holding my hand, "Wherever I am with you on a Friday is a date night for me!"

We are like that, you know, a little mushy topped with lots of kisses and "love you sweethearts."

While we have been together more than thirty four years, and married thirty one, we do not take this marriage for granted.

Not now, not ever.

He is my beloved, and I am his beloved.

This Friday night, after finishing up a regiment of the largest antibiotic pills I have ever seen, we opted for a more charming  and exotic date night ritual.

Baskin and Robbins ice cream and a drive to see the fall leaves.

It just doesn't get any better than that!


And Saturday was full of living our moments to the fullest as well. Lunch at Lindaman's, with a table by the window, decorating for Halloween with lights and pumpkins and our Halloween "sound machine" that makes scary noises, but not so scary as to make the little ones cry.


Moments full of walking by and giving a "love you sweetheart!" kiss. Moments of seeing my beloved instead of just going past him.


Precious moments, fun moments, moments of

deep conversation and laughter.

Fantastic moments of putting on our Halloween head gear. I'm a bear and Bert's an alligator, and seeing the facial expressions of the trick-or treaters as they came to our door gave us pure delight!  


One little man said, "Hey Mister, do you know you have an alligator on your head?" and then all of the children broke out in giggles. 

As we closed the door I gave my alligator hubby a huge hug. We are more aware than ever that he might not have been here for this Halloween. 


We are determined more than ever to not let his stroke steal our joy!


We are more committed than ever to make time for what really matters.


Earlier in our marriage we used to go grocery shopping and play basketball getting the items into the cart. And if there was music by the meat department we were known to just start dancing, usually a swing step, right there. In front of whoever

happened to be there. Some folks starred, some laughed, some clapped to the beat. Almost everyone
was joyful because we were joyful!

So this enjoying every moment to the fullest isn't entirely new to us. Yet, it is sweeter than ever.


No matter what lies ahead, no matter how easy or hard it gets, I am holding on to my date's hand, and he is holding on to mine.


And what we know for sure is that because of that, and God's love and grace.....

                         All Shall Be Well!

God Bless!

Love, Linda












Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Doing the Impossible...


       For nothing is impossible with God.
                                            Luke 1:37


Let me start off by saying that I am in no way a Biblical scholar. However, I am someone who is constantly stunned, and I mean stunned, by how I can read something in the Bible and it reminds me of God's power, God's greatest truths. His word
can come into my family room early in the morning, when things seem the darkest, and shed a ray of light so bright that I am left smiling and crying simultaneously.

I am reminded of life-giving and life-saving truths. Knock your socks off truths. Bring me to my knees truths.

Reading Luke 1:37 this morning brought me to my knees.
It reminded me of God's power and His love. And I am so grateful to remember this. Especially in this moment.

I vowed when I started this blog to share my truth, my story.
To quote Brene Brown, "sharing your story is the most courageous thing you will ever do." I agree with her, but that doesn't mean it is easy.

I am writing this blog as a way to process my own life learnings and to help those nearest and dearest to me know who I am and who I was, when it is all said and done and God calls me home.

Yet telling the "truth," the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is a bit daunting. That's where God comes into the picture, at least for me.

God already knows my truth, He lives my truth with me.
He holds me in times of the hardest and darkest truths.
You see, at least in my life, my faith becomes more real and more vital when the rubber hits the road in my life.

And my faith is vital now, right this very minute as I navigate each twist and turn and moment of optimism and moment of deep grief.

Let me step back and explain.

I don't know why, but I just didn't imagine that where we are today is where we would be. One minute we were navigating life and were grateful every minute, wanting to serve God and love others, and the next minute Bert had a stroke.

A life-changing moment to be sure. And then just as we began to make progress, and he was starting to feel a bit like himself, last Friday he got a very serious infection.

Bert had been out gardening, picked up some dead branches and got a thorn stuck in his thumb. He took out the thorn, put Neosporin on it and a band aid, and went about his day. He had been getting more exercise and feeling stronger. No big deal, right? Wrong.

Friday morning his thumb was swollen to twice its size and redness, from infection, was headed up his arm. Given his recent health situation, this was cause for huge concern.

So off to the Urgent Care we went, he got a shot of antibiotics,
prescribed some HUGE antibiotic pills, thumb baths, and other new meds. The doctor on call said Bert was one inch away from going into the hospital. Yikes. Very, very scary.

By the time last week was over, I was a bit of a mess. Okay, a little more than a little of a mess. I have had my heart in my
throat for weeks since Bert's stroke, watching every bite of food he has eaten and constantly being on high alert. I was and am exhausted, weary to the core. I am having a hard time sleeping. I am a light sleeper anyway and any time Bert groans or moves or his breathing changes...I am wide awake.

I have been praying non-stop for his health and trying to do it all. Normally, when things get this tough and I am this scared, I talk to Bert. He is the love of my life and my best friend. Plus, he is a counselor and a wisdom sharer.

Yet I know I can't talk to Bert about all of this. He would feel so horrible to know the stress it is placing on me. He would worry that I am getting sick.

So I have talked to God and my family and my friends.

I talk to God all the time anyway, yet I have talked to Him even more during these tough times. Tough times because I don't know how this story will end. Tough times because all I can do
is be the best helper and care taker I can be.

And I have shared everything, every feeling and fear with the Lord God Almighty. And some of those feelings aren't very pretty. I have shared feeling mad. I have shared feeling sad. I have shared feeling so scared I can't breathe. I have shared my irritation that certain people I had expected to come and help have seemed to disappear, probably in fear of how hard this is.
I have asked God to help me forgive them and support them, even if they can't be here in this.

I have shared my great delight at those unexpected people who have shown up and helped to ease this journey for Bert and for me. I have shared my deep gratitude for those caring and loyal family and friends who will be here for it all, no matter what, no matter how hard this gets. That's who they are. I can count on them. We can count on them. They are the light in the darkness, just as God's love is a light in the darkest moments.

I have shared it all, knowing God can handle every emotion I have and every feeling I feel.

After all, He made me this way. He gave me a huge heart and wide range of emotions that I am not afraid to share, even though it is not always easy for others to hear my feelings (she says with a smile :))

And I rest in this...what I know for sure is that God can do the impossible and that with Him all things are possible. 

Miracles are possible. Yet I also know that tough things happen to great people and sometimes things don't go the way we want them to, the way we desperately need them to.

Yet He is there. Through it all. He gives us hope in the storms.
When all hope seems lost, He is a hope-giver. No matter how this chapter in our lives ends up, He is there in the midst of the great and the midst of the hard.

And even though I don't know how He will do it, He will equip me for this part of the journey. This unexpected chapter of Bert being ill, the Lord God Almighty is there in it all. I am trusting God to do the impossible because with Him it is all possible.
He can give me the strength I don't have on my own. He can
help me to rest in Him and get the sleep I need.

So today I am leaning in to His strength, His hope and His love.

I am holding His hand as my beloved and I navigate this latest
part of the story. No infection is too big for God. No illness is too big for God. No circumstance, no matter how hard, is impossible for Him.

And He is there for you, no matter where you are today!

And knowing that gives me a blessed peace beyond all understanding.
Amen and Amen!

God Bless!
Love, Linda


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Autumn Leaves...

"The trees are leaking leaves."
                                -Bert Salisbury, October 2015


I have to laugh each time I walk outdoors. Our beautiful neighborhood is lined with two sets of gorgeous, truly gigantic maple trees. During the spring and summer the tops of the trees form a canopy as they almost touch each other across the street. Those trees identify our neighborhood and visitors come from all over to ooh and ahh at their grandeur.

Today, those ancient reminders of God's glory are shedding by the minute and a cushion of orange and red and yellow and green leaves covers our sidewalks and lawns and flower beds. It's truly a  sight to behold.

When you live where there are four distinct seasons, you get to see God's glory shining in Mother Nature's antics.

After a stark winter and snow, I wait each year with baited anticipation for the very first green leaf to present itself. It's like waiting for Christmas morning... seeing first one then ten then twenty leaves appear again. The barren trees, one more time and for one more season, give birth to a fresh newness.  

I always give a sigh of relief when I see those first leaves peak out after a tough winter. Ahhh...I think to myself. All is right with the world again. If there is spring then surely there will be a summer! 

To everything...turn, turn, turn...
There is a season...turn, turn, turn...
And a time for every purpose unto Heaven. 

Truthfully, since Bert and I are gardeners, fall is a bit nostalgic as we tuck our gardening tools away for another time. We compost old leaves and ready the plants for the colder temperatures. 

It's a bit like nesting before a baby is born.
It's getting ready for the unseen. A sense of wonder in all that God has created and restored.

Life is like that right now. Seasons are changing in our lives. It's a time of nostalgia and a time of anticipation.

We are choosing JOY and GRATITUDE at every turn. Even when that isn't easy to do.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that my beloved Bert suffered a TIA stroke not long ago.
While the stroke was a mild one compared to what it might have been, it has been a life changer and re-arranger.

There is a new normal going on at our house. In a blink of an eye, life changed. It does that sometimes you know. And those life changes give us a chance to move toward fear and anger and resentment or move closer to God, to rely on Him.

To choose to see His grace in our lives. To choose to
open up instead of shutting down. To choose to talk about the blessings and the fears.

To choose to be fully present and alive in this moment, no matter how hard this moment is. 

While some days I am a complete emotional mess, and cry all the way to work as I listen to my Christian 
CD, I find that instead of being depleted, I am more real and more open and more vulnerable.

And on other days I am marinated in happiness just by the fact that Bert is still here. That I can kiss his sweet face and hear him tell me he loves me.

That is  enough, and all is right with my world.

This isn't easy, yet what I told our adult children is that we didn't sign up for easy. Bert and I signed up for living each day to the fullest, no matter what.

We signed up for loving the life God gave us, even when that life is turned upside down.

We signed up for "better or worse" and those sacred words really do mean something important. They are a promise. Given to each other, sacred before God.

And we are so grateful, because this could have been way worse. Yet it still is a life-changer. It isn't easy.

The life lessons come down each day, almost like those leaves leaking from the trees, and we are focusing on being grateful for each one.

We are so grateful for every prayer and kindness shown to us. For cards and calls and meals. It's humbling to accept them, yet we know that they sustain us much more than the giver could imagine.

They remind us that we matter.

And so do you... matter. You matter to me. You matter to God. No matter how hard your own journey is right now, you matter. The Lord God Almighty loves me and He loves you. He is here in every minute, every breath. And how good it is to know that He will never, ever, ever leave or forsake us!

God Bless, 
Love, Linda


"Just Plain Hard"...

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