Saturday, August 29, 2015

Raw Courage...

        Courage doesn't always roar.
        sometimes courage is the quiet
        voice at the end of the day 
        saying,
                      "I will try
                        again tomorrow."
                                                
                                                                              - m. a hershey raddamaker

I am back home after ten wonderful days of helping
out with grandchildren while their Mom was away.

I loved all of it, yet my 68 year old body is just a little exhausted. At the end of each day I have fallen into bed and then the next morning started the journey again.

I wouldn't trade a minute of those ten days for anything.

However, this Saturday morning I awoke and smiled at the chance for my usual morning rituals. 

* Making coffee and remembering  Pastor Heim's sermon 
  "Let Jesus Be Your First Cup of Coffee."

* Opening Jesus Calling and letting His wisdom
   soak into my mind and heart.

* Getting out my prayer list and asking God's grace and love 
   for each of the special people in my life...my beloved husband 
  Bert, my daughters and sons and their precious families, my
  wonderful friends, my church family, my students past and
  present...the list goes on and on.       

And then, if there is time, I check the blogs of my 
"Dear Hearts"...those folks so close to my heart that
when they ache, I ache.

And there it was. Vicky Westra's post about 

"Fleeting Normal." If you have read my blog you know about Vicky and her battle with stage four breast cancer. 

She is in the midst of a fight for her life...for more days and weeks and months and years to be here and love her family and those around her.


More years to be Rick's wife. More years to be Nolan and Colton's Momma. More years to cherish ever memory of hockey and school and being a family.


More years to give love and joy to others and soak in their love and joy in the process.

Vicky doesn't want to waste a minute of this amazing life she has been given.

As Vicky shares her journey so authentically, and with such grace and gratitude, she is a constant reminder to me to not take a moment of my life for granted.


Vicky is one of the greatest teachers in my life. 

Period.

And when I read her words this morning, as she described the impact the latest round of chemo drugs has had on her life, my eyes filled with tears and I had to work on breathing.


It hit hard to see how much pain she is in.

How much suffering she is going through.

Yet even in this hard of hards...Vicky keeps writing. She keeps sharing. She keeps telling her story, a story that has been chronicled with authenticity

and a quiet courage that changes lives.

My life is changed for the better because I know and love Vicky Westra.


When the world seems a bit crazy and mad men go into TV stations and shoot people they have a grudge

with...I remember how Vicky is fighting to stay alive.

I remember her humanness, her willingness to be real.


When forest fires rage in my beloved Washington state and the smoke fills the skies and people are

told not to exercise outside...I remember Vicky and
how brave she is in the face of such adversity.

When one of my dearly beloveds does something and I choose to be irritated...I remember how much each day means to Vicky and how choosing irritation about something so small is a waste of my God-given hours.


When I think of courage, quiet, raw courage in the face of huge obstacles, I think of Vicky. 


And if you are reading this, dear Vicky, may you know how much God loves you. He holds you in the

palm of His almighty hand.

May you know how much I love you, precious soul-sis! 

May you know for certain that you are teaching your precious Nolan and Colton and Rick, and all of us who cherish you, about what it means to live with joy and courage and authenticity.


I am so, so blessed to have you  in my life and count you as one of my "dear hearts."


God Bless!

Love, Linda





  

Saturday, August 22, 2015

We Need A Miracle...

               Communities flee,
                   fallen mourned.
                     - Friday, August 21st headline, The Spokesman Review

I was born in Washington state, the "evergreen state" in most
travel manuals. Seattle, on the west side, was my birthplace
and home through college. It's so majestic with Mount Rainier, Lake Washington, and God's grandeur. 

I came to the east side of the state more than forty years ago, when Tim set up his medical practice here. Spokane is my home. The climate is different here. The landscape, just as beautiful. It's more dry here and we usually get more snow. Often... lots of it. But not so this last year. 

We are experiencing a drought of monumental proportions.


While I don't pretend to be an expert on climate issues and what we have done to God's earth in the name of progress, I

can see climate change with my own eyes. Weather patterns that have existed for generations are now disturbed. It makes me so sad as I wonder what the planet will be like for my precious grandchildren.

And now the eastern part of my beloved state is literally up in flames. Wildfires raging on every side. More than thirty of them.


Huge fires. Unstoppable fires. Firefighters taxed to the max. Smoke everywhere, so thick that some planes couldn't land yesterday at the Spokane airport. The air quality was so poor that people were asked to stay inside.


And three selfless, wonderful, young firefighters lost their lives

trying to protect the rest of us.

We are heartbroken.


Small towns like Riverside and Omak have evacuated completely.  The evening news here is full of stories of folks going back to devastation and only rubble where a house once stood. 


We need a miracle.


I was with my grandchildren yesterday and had to talk about an evacuation plan. A horrible what if. My eight year old granddaughter has her puppy's dog food in her backpack. 


Just in case.


I know God is in the middle of this tragedy. We are all praying and I'd ask for your prayers as well. For rain. For the wind to die down. For relief for the firefighters.  For healing in the midst of devastation.

God Bless!

Love Linda



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When prayers get answered...

And you will meet people who take your breath away. Those angels who walk with God. Those angels whose souls shine so brightly that His love is mirrored in their smile. Remember, when you come across one of these human angels with an open heart, that it is like being in God's presence!

I remember when I first saw her in person, my beautiful granddaughter from Ethiopia. She came off the airplane with Amy and I could barely breathe just looking at her. For almost two years my daughter had sought her adoption. Against great odds. And when Ethiopia canceled adoptions, my Amy went there and sat so they could see her, knowing it was harder to turn down someone in person. Sihin was prayed for and there she was.

At long last. A thousand prayers later.

She is living proof of prayers being answered.

For those two years we had a map of Africa on our refrigerator. Bert cut out a red heart and put it on Ethiopia. Every day we kissed that heart and said a prayer. Willing her home to her forever family.

This girl. 

This beautiful girl with a soul that just sings.


This girl that grew up in an orphanage. If not adopted soon, since she was 14, she would have to leave and be homeless.


This girl that is grateful for running water after

having to walk miles and miles to carry safe water
in her homeland.

This girl that has God in her heart and love in her eyes.


This brave, brave girl who left all she knew to come to a land and family where she could have a chance at a new life.

This girl who gives to others so freely and works without complaint.

This girl, our Glory Sihin, gave herself the English name of Glory. To give Him Glory!

This girl, my granddaughter takes your breath away. God shines through her.

This girl has taught us gratitude and a love for learning and a willingness to never quit. English is her third language and here she is now, four years later, a member of the National Honor Society with AP classes and a 3.9 GPA. How is that even possible? Yet she studies and studies and never gives up.

I especially love the sparkle in her eye when she sees my husband Bert, affectionately called Boppa
by all of his grandchildren. Bert lights up when she comes in the room and she lights up when she sees Bert.

This week...this girl, who has already given her heart to God, is at a Young Life Camp in Canada. 
Malibu. In case you haven't heard, Young Life is a non-denominational Christian organization that works in high schools sharing the gospel.  I went to Malibu in 9th grade, met Jesus, gave Him my heart and have never been the same.

And now Glory Sihin is up there, in Canada, soaking in all God has in store for her.

She has been in my prayers all week and as I think of her I remember back to the first photograph I saw of her, that girl in the orphanage, the girl who had prayed and prayed for a forever family to love her.


I remember back to that map of Africa on our refrigerator, a heart on Ethiopia and kissing that heart. And praying unceasingly for His will to be done.


Yes truly, Glory is a reminder that God answers

prayers!

May God Bless you and keep you and hold you in the palm of His Almighty hand!


Love, Linda


Friday, August 07, 2015

What about that word of the year?

               Create in me a clean heart,
                         oh God,
         and  RENEW a right spirit
                        within me.

At the beginning of the year I pick a "word" that will
guide me for those 365 days. Sometimes the word comes easily. Sometimes I know what the word is, yet I am less than eager to tackle it.

My word for 2015, Renew, was the latter. I absolutely felt like God was calling me to this word, yet I went kicking and screaming into doing it.


I am like that sometimes. 


Just.plain.stubborn.


Oh, the doctor says, "Linda, you need to lose ten pounds." My immediate response, sadly, is not "yipee skippy. You're right, doc. That is what would be best for me to do."


I struggle with my own will. 


May I have an "Amen!" to that somebody?


In 2014, I loved my word. It was "wholehearted."

No problem with that puppy. It fit like a glove. No struggle only smiles.

Not so with "renew."


You see "renew" is part of a phrase from the Bible.

In context it reads:

          Create in my a clean heart, Oh God. And renew

           a right spirit within me.

It's that create in me a clean heart piece that I have been struggling with all year. 


I continue to ask God almost daily, okay almost hourly, to clean out my heart from ALL resentments and lack of forgiveness. To clean out my stubbornness about having my own way.

To clean out...

All selfishness. All my will not Thy will.


It's slow going.


We have a wall in our family room filled with our favorite pictures. There is Bert windsurfing at the beginning of the sport. There are our beloved grandchildren.


There is the word for 2014...wholehearted. Up there 

on a black chalkboard sign. Clear as day.

And where is the sign for renew, you ask? Did you make one, Linda.


Yes.


Is it up there?


Nope.


I made the sign and it has followed me around the house, here and there. Yet it hasn't gone on the wall...yet.


Yes folks, it is August and the sign isn't up there.


We had communion at church last week, a perfect time to get a clean heart. I cried and cried through the service, especially when I heard the words...              

         
Take, eat this, the body of Christ broken for you.
Take, drink this, the blood of Christ shed for you.

And the good news is this... I am forgiven. Through my tears and tears I asked God to help me have a clean heart. I told Him I was so, so sorry for being so stubborn. I told Him I was scared to death about really accepting His will in some of what is going on in my life. I asked Him to change me, as only He can.


I'd be lying to say that I feel completely renewed and that I will no longer struggle with that word and all it means. 


What is the truth is that I am turning that struggle over to Him. I can't do it on my own. I am asking for His wisdom and His help in letting Him into every corner of my heart. I can't have a clean heart, a truly renewed heart without Him.


And I am trusting in His love and knowing He'll be with me in the struggle.


And for that I am so, so grateful.


Sending you loves and hugs and prayers!



God Bless!

Love, Linda



Sunday, August 02, 2015

Fight Like A Girl...



                        We don't know 
                      how STRONG we
                        are until being
                      strong is the only
                      CHOICE we have.


He didn't mean to offend me. He was probably in his early to mid seventies, maybe even eighty, and walked with a cane. I knew his comment came from ignorance. Or perhaps he was just trying to be funny...and it wasn't. Not funny at all. I hate to think he just said this to be mean.

He saw her at the grocery store wearing a sweatshirt that had a breast cancer symbol and on the front of the sweatshirt  the words...

We don't know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have. 

She was probably in her late twenties. She might have been wearing it for her own battle with cancer or her mother's or sister's or best friend's battle.

On the back of the sweatshirt it said.."Fight Like A Girl!" 


He stopped her, chuckled and said...

"What is it with you women that you have to make such a big deal about everything. You don't see men going around with sweatshirts that say they have prostate cancer and need everyone to support them."

She was stunned and looked at him, staying right where she was, almost afraid to move. 


I was stunned. I was in complete disbelief.


I reminded myself that he was a child of God and that I should treat him as such. Really...truly...I wanted to pick up boxes of cereal with the pictures of the women who won the World Title in soccer and throw them at him. I know. Not a kind, first internal response.


The words "fight like a girl" take me way, way back. Back to the days when women wouldn't have considered being a doctor or dentist or surgeon or lawyer or President, or boxer or professional soccer player.  Back to the days when there were no sports teams for the women at my high school. Not a single one. Nada. Nothing.


Back to the days when women didn't work out or go to a gym 
or run a race. When women were called "the weaker sex" and never said a word when that was said with a slur.


Back to the days when women were afraid to be too smart or too bold or too strong. It wasn't "feminine" you know.


The words "You fight like a girl" were almost a slur. They were a putdown. Underneath those dangerous words was the notion that as a girl I wasn't strong or tough or brave.


That was then and this is now.


Maybe the gentleman at Safeway just hadn't caught up with the times. The teacher in me wanted to educate him.


So I said, as gently as I could muster...


"Sir, if you don't mind my asking, how old are you?

He replied that he was 83 years old. I explained
that now a days many women wore sweatshirts with those words to support themselves and others as they fought cancer. I suggested that many of us women found strength in community. I mentioned that the words "fight like a girl!" were now a battle cry, a reminder of how strong we are. 

Now we, as women, go into battle and lose our lives for our country, just like men do. Now we, as women, are proud of fighting like a girl. It was no longer something to be ashamed of. I mentioned that  I was 68 and remembered very well how that phrase got used, then. And even gets used, now. 


I reminded him, ever so gently, that we made a "big deal" about cancer so we could get funding as well as support each other. I suggested that he had probably meant no harm, but that the young lady wearing the sweatshirt might have hurt feelings because of what he said.


And then I just looked at him, praying all the while. 

Brandon, that was his name, turn to her and said, "I'm so sorry, that wasn't nice of me to say." She nodded at him and then walked around the corner.

Two older women down the aisle looked at me and silently clapped and smiled. Brandon thanked me for teaching him "how things are today" and moved on.


And to all of the important women in my life, and those of you I don't know, may all of us feel our full strength and not be limited by the expectations of others. May we not buy into old labels and putdowns, but instead use all the strength God gave us to do His work!


And to all of my breast cancer fighting sisters...

How proud I am to say that you...
                         Fight like a girl!

Don't miss seeing this amazing video about this very topic:


www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhB3l1gCz2E


God Bless!
Love Linda

A Reminder of What Matters...

                   "We are all just walking                       each other home."                                             ...