Saturday, December 31, 2016

HOPE HEALS...my word for 2017...

                 Hope is being able to see
                    that there is light despite
                    all the darkness.
                                     -Reverend Desmond Tutu

We were so ready for a break, my beloved Bert and I.
I guess we needed time away, time to unwind. Time to reenergize. Time to contemplate and time to pray.

We needed reflection time to regroup.

Bert has always been great about reflection. My beloved husband has spent years and years being a counselor, and he can always find the benefit of slowing down, looking back and reflecting on one question:

What am I supposed to learn from this, God?

Me, not so much.

Somehow the words slow down and reflect don't really describe my style of going after life. 
Yet when just the two of us get away, really away,
I do slow down. I do reflect. I do listen to God in ways that get lost in the whirl of my life activity.

We just came back from a reflecting time. Eighteen
days in Hawaii. Eighteen days of warm weather, mostly in the low eighties. Eighteen days of eating every meal together. Eighteen days of walks on the beach holding hands. Eighteen days of prayer and restoration.

And for me, eighteen days of reading.

Not a little reading, mind you, all out reading as in... 

You will never find me without a book in my hand. Taking notes.
Laughing or crying. 

I may wake up really early, crawl out of bed, go make coffee, put a quilt around me and just read and read.

I pray about the books I will take with me. What would God have me learn? What direction would the good Lord point me toward? What life lessons does He have in store for me?

When I read and am quiet and pray... I can always,
always hear Him.

Loud and clear. Forceful and loving. 

Heart-opening, if you will.

This year was no exception. Truthfully I came into this "away time" pretty tattered and torn. Oh, you might not have recognized it unless you knew me really, really well. After all, my outer exterior can easily project that "I'm just fine, thank you."

But on the inside? A bit of a different story.

So many good things have happened and keep happening. God loves me and blesses me and  I don't take that for granted. I lean on Him and I trust Him.

Yet, while I only allude to very hard times and upheaval in this blog, and I only share the details of that with a very few people I trust completely to pray for our family, the truth is that the past few months have been as hard as I can remember in all of my 69 years of living. Hard for "my dearies" in ways that only God can really understand.

Being under siege is exhausting... physically, emotionally and spiritually. God is there holding us up, but it is hard. Really hard.

So it is not a surprise that the book that most touched my heart in this season of reflection is... 
Hope Heals, by Jay and Katherine Wolfe.

On so, so many levels this book is a life-changer for me. I'll write more later about the life-lessons. Yet
it is not an exaggeration to say that I couldn't put this book down. The message of the book was a message I desperately needed to absorb and learn.

And then, as only God could do, I just happen to turn on the tv in Maui and there is Joyce Meyer talking about...why hope, of course

I finally went out on the lanai, looked at the beautiful view, closed my eyes and said a short prayer...

"OK God, I get it! Thanks for the reminder!" 

I always pick a word of the year, a focus point for me for learning and life-changes, and I always ask God for a word that He wants me to have. This year the choice was crystal clear.

My word and focus is on ... HOPE.

While I am by no means a Bible scholar, I always want to see what God has to say about my word for the year. Guess what? The Bible is packed with lessons about HOPE.

"May the God of your HOPE so fill you with all joy and peace in believing(through the experience of your faith) that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with HOPE."
                                                                  -Romans 15:13

Joyce Meyer in her sermon on hope puts it this way...
   
  "Hope is a favorable and confident expectation,
    an expectant attitude, that something good will
    happen and things will work out."

Does being hopeful mean that tough and awful things will not happen? Not at all, they will.

Yet holding on to HOPE, because of my faith, 
will help me to anchor myself in God, instead of me trying to "fix" awful situations. 

Being filled with HOPE means that I am trusting that God will use every hardship and every tough situation for good.

There is so much more to say about my word for
2017 and what I learned through the book HOPE Heals. I'll share some of those lessons in upcoming blog posts.

Yet for now, what I know for sure is that I know that
the God who made heaven and earth loves me.
He is my HOPE and my strength, no matter what comes my way. I can cling to Him in those situations that are beyond what I know or can understand.

I can have a confident expectation that God is in the midst of it all and He will use the hardships for good.

Praise God! Hope can be the anchor for my soul.

There is an old Gospel hymn that I dearly love.
In the chorus it says..
                          "It is well...with my soul."

That hymn was written by a man crossing the Pacific
Ocean with his family. He wrote it after four of his daughters drowned. In the midst of the worst tragedy, he turned to God knowing that God was his HOPE and light in the worst darkness of his life.

So today I sing along and anticipate, with positive expectation, that it is also well with my soul.

God Bless and Happy New Year!
Love, 
Linda










Tuesday, December 06, 2016

TED Talk: Finding The Courage To Do The Thing You Think You Cannot Do...

                                            You must do the thing
                     you think you cannot do.
                                     -Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday was at once glorious and excruciating.
It was full of joy and celebration and a deep sense of loss.

I knew it was coming.
I could feel it in my heart and soul.

It's like having a doctor's appointment that

you have to go through, you know it's what is 
required, yet you wish it didn't have to happen.

You love your doctor, yet you feel sad and a bit

off balance as the time nears.

That's what the end of a quarter is like for me as I say goodbye to my amazing students.


It's a celebration...after all they have worked so hard all quarter. We have become a "family" of sorts. 


Students always sit in the same places, and we have the same routines. We "clap" for each day. There are snacks to eat. We say good morning to each other. We support each other all quarter. We do the hard work together.


Then, in what feels like a heart beat, their final projects are in and tests are taken. 


I grade myself into oblivion with marathon grading sessions,  and I am awe struck by how smart my students are and how hard they work.


Finally, they get their tests and projects back, we have a delicious potluck, and then it is time to say goodbye.


I always cry all the way home.

No, that's not completely accurate.
I sob all the way home.

I can't imagine them not being in their seat.

I can't imagine not hearing what is going on in their lives.

I truly love them, care about them , and have invested in every single one of them.


Every time.

Every quarter.
All these 50 years of teaching.

I thank God every day that I get to do what I do.

It truly is the best job in the world, at least for me.

And while the leaving is hard, every day with

them has been amazing. Miracles happen. Students transform. They have a new look of confidence in their eyes. They are proud of themselves and what they have accomplished.

I am so proud of them that my heart could burst.

They are a gift to me, just as I hope I am a gift to them.

Recently I got a chance to talk about teaching and what it means to me. I did a TED talk for Spokane 2016. 

It just came on the internet on YouTube.

While I give "talks" every day in a classroom, and often do speeches on communication at conferences and meetings, this was different.


I was talking about Passion in Motion and bringing love into the classroom.


This is a topic that is so personal and so close to my heart that I wasn't sure I could get the words out.


I prayed and prayed before I said, "Yes, I'll do this."

It's a vulnerable moment when you realize that something you care about so much will be out there, totally visible.

Yet I felt a strong pull that He wanted me to do this.

That somehow I might communicate that I was able to teach the way I teach because of His strength and His love.

I could never, ever, ever have done this, this 50 years of teaching, without God's strength and guidance every day.


Many days I knew that I couldn't do it, but He could.

The day we filmed the TED talk was one of those days. 

I became ill about thirty minutes before I was to be filmed.


Not a little ill, really ill.


I prayed and asked for His guidance. I told the Lord God Almighty that if He wanted this to happen, He would need to give me the strength to do it.


He did, and I did. All for His glory, not mine.


I was able to go out and do the thing I thought I

could not do because I trusted Him to help me
do it. 

I trusted that He loved me and would be there with me...

beside me, holding me up on that stage in front of that 
huge audience.

So here it is...







And as this Christmas season rolls around, may you  find the courage to do the thing you think you cannot do, and may you know, in your deepest heart of hearts, that with God all things are possible!

God bless and much love,

Linda

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Time To S.M.I.L.E. :) :)










          
                                     See
                                     Miracles
                                     In
                                     Life
                                     Everyday

                                     S.M.I.L.E.

This Thanksgiving break has been a balm to my soul
and a time to: 
          Breathe and celebrate life. 
          Gather together to share loves, and laughs and smiles. 
          Slow down and feel God's presence.
          Hold hands and listen to their stories.
          Just have fun!

I have been smiling non-stop for days and days.

How could you not smile as you look at these precious faces?
They light up my life, and I am so grateful to be included in theirs!
These are just a few of our "dearies," our dear loved ones

When I think about each of them, I smile.
When I have time with them, I smile.

I hope just seeing them puts a smile on your face too!
God Bless!
Love,
Linda

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Grace Came, Just When I Needed It...

                I do not understand
                 the mystery of grace-
                 only that it meets us
                 where we are, but does 
                 not leave us where it
                  found us.
                                     -Ann Lamott

Some days I so wish I could just turn off my heart
and go about life not feeling its twists and turns
at every corner of the roller coaster ride. I look at some folks who seem to just stroll through chaos and hurt with nary a scratch or bruise and I wonder, what would that be like...not to feel everything to the core?

And then I stop and remember...this is how God made me. My creator does not make mistakes and He created me with a heart that feels great JOY and feels great PAIN...and everything in between.

My poor Mom didn't know what to do with that part of me. It was just such a mystery to her. She saw me being exuberantly happy and joy-filled and she saw me crying a river of tears with my best friend whose puppy was run over by a car. And she was flumixed by it all.

From time to time she would sit me down and we would have "the talk."

"I'm worried about you," she would say, starting a conversation we had had many times.

"You just feel everything so deeply, honey. I'm afraid that one day your heart will break and you just won't be able to put all of the pieces back together again."

And I would reply, as if almost on cue, "Sort of like Humpty Dumpty?"

"Yes, honey. Exactly like Humpty Dumpty."

I recalled the nursery rhyme always wondering
why Humpty Dumpty sat on that wall. Did he lose his balance? Did he jump? Had he just had enough of mean and ignoring people?

I knew the nursery rhyme well, but I had always wanted to have a chat with Humpty. It would go something like this...

"Ok, Humpty. I get it, I do. Your heart is already broken. You had a 'great fall' and then all the king's horses and all of the king's men couldn't put you back together again. Right?"

And of course Humpty would say, "Right."

I would continue the conversation and remind Humpty of some "new news," some "great news,"some "life-changing news."

"Well,"I would say, "I had a broken heart, too. And only my Creator could put it back together again."

I remember well feeling so broken that my "feeling heart" seemed shattered. Completely shattered. And I just didn't have the words to try to explain to those around me that when you feel things deeply, and God made you with a "feeling heart," that you can't imagine every feeling happy again.

Yet that's where God's healing grace comes into the picture.

He can heal a heart that is shattered.
I know that for sure because He healed mine, 
years and years ago.

He picked up the pieces and in a solemn promise
 let me know that He had made me to feel everything and that I was enough...just the way I am.

He also promised me that the day would come 
when someone would come along and help heal my heart by loving me completely. That person would love that I feel and love deeply.

And that healing person was my beloved Bert.
Almost thirty four years ago Bert came into my life and helped to minister to me and love me, broken heart  and all.

What a gift to be seen.
What a gift to be cherished.

What a gift to know God's grace will meet me where I am, but it does not leave me where it found me.

That is where my hope is stored.

The gift of God's grace came along, just when I needed it so desperately. That present is more exciting, life-giving and life-changing than any gift beautifully wrapped, waiting to be opened on Christmas morning.

And today my "feeling heart" is filled with gratitude!

God bless you and may you know in your deepest
heart of hearts that God's grace can meet you exactly where you are.

Love, Linda


Thursday, November 24, 2016

I am so, so grateful...

                  Thanksgiving
                           creates
                        abundance.
                                   -Ann Voskamp


Today is Thanksgiving day, and I have been up
early, fireplace on, hot coffee in hand, and my
prayer list and journal on my lap. Daisy, our sweet
"visiting pooch," has snuggled up next to me for
extra warmth. Winter is hitting Spokane. No snow
yet, but cold temps chill you to the bone. 

Since my "word" for 2016 is "light," turning that gas fireplace on feels like a sacred ritual of sorts. It's a choice to see the light and feel the warmth that is right there, waiting for me. 

All.the.time.

Thoughts swirl through my head as I look at the blessed names on my prayer list. These people are my "lovies" and my "dearies," precious folks I love with all my heart.

Bert, my beloved husband, is always at the top of my list. Since I can look back in my prayer journal and see prayers that were  prayed, and prayers that were answered, I feel a deep wave of gratitude to God for His goodness and His mercy.

I feel Gratitude for the grace He gives me every day. And my gratitude spills over when I realize that God  has answered my prayer. Bert is still here, with me, sharing life together. He is still my love and best friend.

"Thank you, Lord, for helping to heal Bert's heart.
Thank you that Bert is still here, loving life and sharing his love with others."

I am so, so grateful!

Other names and faces jump out at me from my prayer list. Family, adult children, all of my dearie grands. Oh how they bring so much JOY into our lives. I focus on each one, the prayers flowing aloud from my lips... 

"Please God, help heal her heart." 
"Please Lord, help her to be less stressed." 
"Please God, help him to know You." 

Their faces flash before me as I say their names aloud. Tears flow as I can feel the deep and abiding love I have for each of them. They are my heart, these dear ones. What a gift they each are to me.

I am so, so grateful!

Also on my prayer list are all of my dear friends, knowing and sharing for years and years, and newer friends in person and blog friends too. How close they all are to my heart! How they encourage me along the way with their love and their prayers. How they lift me up when I am so weary and how they remind me of God's love and grace. I say each name and ask God to bless them and heal them.

"Please God, stay close to her so she can feel your presence."
"Thank you, God, that she is here to celebrate another Thanksgiving."
"Thank you, Lord, that she prays for me and for my family." 
"Thank you, God, for her constant emails and comments of encouragement."
"Thank you, Lord, for his humor and all the laughing we do together."

I am so, so grateful!

On my list I see the names of my students, my church family, folks I intersect with as I get my coffee or get my groceries. Dear neighbors who care and look out for us. As I see each name I pray for them and thank God that these folks are in my life. What JOY they bring!

"Thank you God for bringing Your love and light with the gift of these amazing friends."

I am so, so grateful!

Also on my prayer lists are the hurts and challenges
that have helped me to dig deep and rely on God.
They have all taught me invaluable lessons.
Strange gifts, but gifts never the less.

"Thank you, God, for every hard challenge that has taught me to rely on You!"

Even though the words stick in my throat, I am so, so grateful for what each hurt has taught me.

What I know for sure, on this Thanksgiving Day, 
is what Ann Voskamp says:

   "Gratitude is not only a response to God
   in good times, it is ultimately the very will 
   of God in hard times. Gratitude is not only
   a celebration when good things happen,
   it's a declaration that God is good, no matter
   what happens."

Amen and Amen!

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


Friday, November 18, 2016

Singing a "Broken Hallelujah"...

                       
     "I have seen that after every devastating loss,
     there comes at last, because of God's grace and 
     what I have learned, a stunning "win" of some
     kind. And when that win arrives, it is more than  
     wrapped in ribbons and bows. It is accompanied
     by shooting stars. And then I do not shout,
     "Thank you, God,"  I whisper it. My gratitude
     reverberates softy through my entire being."

I have been through some hard seasons in these sixty nine years. Some very hard seasons. Yet one of my dear students said yesterday, "Linda, it seems like you have it all together, you rely on God and you have learned all the lessons. It seems like everything is easy."

Rely on God, yes.
Everything is easy? Not so much.

Plain and simple this has been a hard, hard season.
One of the hardest in my life. As I said to one of my dear, life-long friends, "I wish I could fix this. I wish I could have had this happen to me so I could shoulder the unimaginable grief one of my "dearies" is feeling."

Side note: My Nana referred to those she loved as her "dearies" or her "lovies." Those folks who had her heart. Those folks she would have done anything for. Like my Nana, I use that same term to describe the precious, precious people in my life.

And while I cannot go into all the details, some of my dearies are in such pain and anguish. And it has been ongoing. Bert and I pray every day for healing and God's strength and wisdom to walk this uncharted road with them. 

We are clinging to God and  His truth for our lives.

What we know for sure is:

He will see us through.
He is there in the midst of the hard and very hard.
He weeps with us over this hurt.
He holds us up when we can barely put one foot in front of the other.
He is our rock and our fortress and our strength to do this comes from Him.

So back to what my dear student said...

I have never felt I have it "all together" and right now I especially can't even imagine what that would be like. Nor have I learned all the lessons. Not even close.

Yet what I am so, so grateful for in this season
is that I don't have to know how to navigate all of this. God knows, but I don't. He will guide me as I seek counsel in His word and when I hold my breath and utter three words, 

"Please help Lord!"

And as Thanksgiving approaches? How can I feel gratitude in the midst of such pain?

As I focus on God and His love, His light pierces the darkness. His love is overwhelming. His peace is sustaining. No matter how hard things are, I will sing a Broken Hallelujah. I will turn to Him for my strength and honor every amazing blessing He has brought into my life. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo3DudOzV4k

No matter what, the best Thanksgiving gift of all is God's love.

That's a rock I can stand on.
That's the "win" after the storm.

That's the knowing that I am not alone in all of this.

The very God that created Heaven and Earth is by my side and the side of my "dearies."

Just knowing that changes everything and allows me to say, "Thank you God, even for this hurt, as it is teaching me to rely on You."

At this time of Thanksgiving, may you know that God loves you and that He will sustain you and be with you, no matter what!

Love and hugs and prayers!
Linda

A Reminder of What Matters...

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