Saturday, August 27, 2016

Extreme Kindness...

                             No matter how long the night,
                          the sun always rises.
                                                  - Sarah Sandifer

Yesterday we were in the car getting ready to do our
annual "school shopping extravaganza." I use the word "extravaganza" because between the list of items from the
school that are "must haves," and the clothes needed because all of my grandchildren have grown at least 6 inches over the summer, it is quite a day!

I look forward to it all year long! :)

Both of my daughters are such amazing Mamas and hard workers, and if I can even take a bit of that stress off by helping with back to school shopping, then I am delighted to do it. 

Besides, selfishly, having time with my grandchildren is
always a true delight!

So back to being in the car...

My granddaughter and I had a conversation about Joe Feryn, a family friend who has leukemia. While this sweet
granddaughter is only in 4th grade, she has insights far beyond her nine years of age.

Our conversation about Joe having leukemia centered around how people were trying to love, support and help Joe, Angie, and the boys. There have been many efforts to offer support as an amazing community of givers surround the Feryns. There is a Go Fund Me page, church volunteers doing meals, cutting grass, helping with the boys. 

And there was a 5K Fundraiser race that my daughter Jessi, her husband Rog, and many others set up for the Spokane community.

Of course, there were messages on Facebook that were sent all over. Sometimes social media can distribute information in a way that person-to-person communication could never pull off.
They expected that perhaps 400 people might show up as 400
had indicated on Facebook that they would be there.

We are all in awe of how God works and how prayers get answered. We are all so grateful when "Community" gathers to help those we love. 

1,000 people came to the 5K Fundraiser for Joe, Angie and the boys.

That's right...1,000 people from all over came because they love the Feryns and wanted to help.

While Joe is a cross country coach and a runner, many of the folks who turned out came to walk as far as they could just to show support and contribute to the medical costs of fighting leukemia.

1,000 helpers and supporters!! What a hope-booster and love-giver to everyone there.

So back to our conversation in the car on our way to do back-to-school shopping.

We talked about the 1,000 people who came and my granddaughter asked me why so many people showed up. She reminded me that "1000 people is a lot of people, Nana."

I agreed and tried to put what was in my heart into words.

"You know, honey, when people like Joe and his family give out love and care and support to others, then when they need help, all of those people want to show up to love and support them right back."

Then, after a pause and some thought, my sweet granddaughter said with such wisdom, "Joe and his family must have given out a lot of love to everyone."

Exactly right! Joe spreads God's love wherever he goes.

Then we talked about how God is with Joe and his family
and that we are all praying for his recovery.

Later, when I processed the day with my beloved Bert, we
talked about how in the midst of such fear and illness, God's light shines through. If we can open our eyes and see with gratitude, God's grace and love meets us in the middle of the hardest times.

In the darkest hours, God is there. 
In the fear, God is there. 
When you have leukemia, God is there.
When we are so scared, God is always there.

When we turn our eyes and hearts to God, His grace carries us
through the darkness into the light. 

He is there, no matter what. He is there for Joe, Angie and the boys and He is there for me. 

He is there for you, too. 

God shows up when things are going great, and God shows up in the mess and chaos and the hardest hards. 

When Joe is desperate and needs a bone marrow match, God is there. 

And there is, at last, some good news for the Feryn family. 
We have all been praying that Joe would find a bone marrow match and Praise God, Joe's sister, Ann, is a perfect match!!

So today, Saturday, I am reminded how "extreme kindness,"
as Angie Feryn described it in her Caring Bridges post,  
can lift us up in moments of despair. Just knowing that others love us and are praying for us...well, it gives us so much hope.

Extreme kindness, God's kindness and the kindness of others, carries us when we can no longer carry ourselves.

How grateful I am for all of our dear family and friends who have loved my family and prayed for us. Your extreme kindness 
reminds me that God is here, with us, no matter what.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This Week's Sticky Note for the Soul...

                When you are giving everything you have
                    And you can take only so much-
                               Christ kneels close
                   With arms stretched open wide:
                      "Let Me take the rest."
                                                  -Ann Voskamp

On several blog posts I've mentioned Joe Feryn, an amazing young man who is a teacher, counselor, high school cross country coach, husband, dad, friend, and lover of Jesus. 

Joe lives his faith. He exudes the love of God wherever he goes. Joe lights 
up a room and the lives of everyone who know him. 

People, especially young people, come to know God because of Joe Feryn and how he lives his life in service to others.

Joe is struggling with leukemia right now and after six weeks of being in the hospital, and massive doses of chemotherapy, the results are heartbreaking. 

The leukemia is still there so Joe is headed to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer 
Center in Seattle for more treatment.

His family is so stressed financially and emotionally, yet trusting that God is with them and God is for them. So many are praying that God would do a mighty work and heal Joe completely.

There is a Go Fund Me for Joe Feryn and even if you could donate just one dollar, it would mean the world to Joe, Angie and their boys.

And if you believe in the power of prayer, please include Joe in your prayers! Please pray for a perfect bone marrow match for Joe.

I know that the Feryn family is giving all they have and can take only so much. I feel like Christ is kneeling close to them with His arms stretched open wide, telling  them that He will take the rest of their hurt and pain.

Here's an amazing song "I Will Trust in You" that really speaks to the struggle the Feryns are having. Please- don't miss this song. It has given me so much comfort and it might comfort you as well.

Thank you for your support for the Joe, Angie and the kids.

God Bless! 

Love, Linda

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Confession...

                            Nothing you confess
                could make me love you less.
                                                 - Jesus

I was so nervous, really. I felt like I was sitting outside the elementary school's principal's office, waiting to see the big cheese. The one who might give me a look of disappointment. I never had to do that as a child, visit the principal's office, but just the thought held me in fear and dread. 

Yesterday, as I sat in an office filled with lots of nervous people, some of those same feelings of fear and dread came up for me. Lots of "what ifs" circled my mind.

What if I hadn't made enough progress?
What if he was disappointed in me?
What if I was kicked out, just like he had gently threatened?
What if I wasn't enough?

In most of my adult life, those questions don't haunt me.
I know that God loves me, even though I am so far from perfect.

I know that my family loves me and cares about me.
I know I am God's precious daughter and that He is with me always, no matter what.

Yet I also know that the unconditional love I receive from God and my loved ones, the kind that I feel in my heart and soul, does not come from everyone. There are some tough folks out there and some of them are even mean.

Let me go back a bit and tell you a little about the backstory.

I'm not really sure when the heart arrhythmias started, my heart racing so fast I thought it would jump right out of my chest. My best guess was that I was in high school. I saw it as no big deal, after all I came from a family where it was a grave sin to complain. 

"No Complaining" was a family "motto." Even if you were born with one hand and a partial second hand, there were always traumas that were so much worse. Not a word of feeling sorry for yourself was allowed. 

Stoic had worked for my Mom and my Dad. They were old-school tough, and I always admired their hard work ethic and
lack of complaint.

Somehow as a family we never thought that there was a difference between sharing your hurt and pain and being a "whiner."

Yet I digress.

Back to the heart arrhythmia. As a young person I somehow developed a few techniques to make my racing heart go back to its normal rhythm. 

I'm quite sure that I didn't even mention this anomaly to my doctor at physical exams.

Yet as I got into college and later got married, I noticed that stress and caffeine exacerbated the problem. It just got a little bit worse over time.

Then, several years ago, my heart was racing and I tried the usual "tricks" to make it stop. It went on for several hours and nothing worked. I started to feel scared. Finally, my beloved Bert said, with unusual severity, "Linda, please get in the truck. We are going to the hospital." Of course I tried to talk him out of that, but he was insistent.

Long story short, I ended up in the Heart Trauma Center at Sacred Heart Hospital. I had four doctors and nurses working on me and I was hooked up to all kinds of heart-monitoring equipment.

The amazing cardiologist on call, smiled and talked the whole time he was working. The questions seemed innocent enough.
"What do you do for a living?" he said.
"I'm a teacher," I replied.
"Of course," he said.
"What does 'Of course' mean?" I said with a small amount of defensiveness in my voice.
"Teachers are great at taking care of others, but struggle to really take care of themselves," he said gently, feverishly working on me without looking up.
"Oh," was all I could muster.

He got me. No two ways about it. Truth told. Not good at self-care, great at caring for others. The room was silent.

I got to go home with a ration of medication and he referred me to a cardiologist. I asked if that was really necessary? He looked at me as if I must be hard of hearing.

"Yes, it is necessary!" he said with what seemed like undo

And that's how I got to know Dr. Timothy Lessmeier, not just a cardiologist, my cardiologist. I don't mention him often, okay almost never.

Compared to what so many people go through I just can't
bare to say, "You know, I have a bit of a heart problem."

Dr. Lessmeier said yesterday, "Do you ever tell them that your Dad died from heart failure?" "Nope, I leave that detail out," I said with a somewhat somber tone.

You see I now look at Dr. Lessmeier as my buddy, my heart mentor. My dear friend Vicky Westra has Dr. P, as we affectionately call him, and I have a Dr. L.

At our first meeting he did an exam, gave me an echocardiogram, weighed me, looked at my medical records, asked for a thorough family history, and listened with his heart wide open.

Before I left his office after our first visit he said, "Here's the deal, Linda. I'm all in if you're all in. We will set some goals about weight loss, exercise, self-care and nutrition. If you choose not to work on them, then you need to get a different doctor."

Wow! Well that was straight-talk at its finest!

His goals/my goals became a weight loss of ten pounds a year, walking regularly, some self-care, and eating a more heart-healthy diet. These sound great on paper, but are not always easy to pull off in real life. This past year has had a few bumps in the road, including my beloved Bert's TIA stroke, so self-care hasn't been a top priority.

So yesterday, at my yearly appointment, it was time to check in. Did I keep my promises? That's why, as I sat in his waiting room I felt like I was outside the principal's office. I felt like I was going to throw up.

Bless his heart! Bless my heart! After an exam, echocardiogram, being weighed and being lovingly cross- examined, I made all my goals. Okay, I actually lost 13 pounds, three more than necessary.

Dr. Lessmeier looked at me, smiled and said, "You're easy.
You did it! I knew you would!"

"How did you know I would," I asked, with a small grin on my face.

"You're a teacher, kiddo!"

I confessed to him that I had been nervous and hoped I wouldn't let myself down or let him down. I confessed that most of all I didn't want to let God down. After all, he gifted me with this body.
I confessed that I never told most folks that my Dad died from heart disease probably because I was afraid that I might die from that
too. The tears started to flow, his and mine.

Dr. Lessmeir shook his head and said with emphasis,
"You're a keeper, Linda. You're one of a kind. You have a big heart. We will work together to keep it healthy. You have so many reasons to be alive. God's not done with you yet! I'll see you next year and you'll have made even more progress!"

I'm a keeper. He'll see me next year. I'll make even more progress. God's not done with me yet. That's good news to my ears!

He gave me a big hug on his way out and turned and smiled,
"Have a great day, kiddo!" "You too," I said grinning as I got up to leave his office.

As I left Dr. Lessmeier, I couldn't help but remember something my Mom told me years and years ago. "Honey," she said, "confession is good for the soul." You were right Mom, once again you were oh so right!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer vs. Fall: An On-Going Debate...

                              Some of the best memories
                     are made in flip flops!
                                   - Kellie Elmore

Just yesterday Bert and I were in the car debating the 
merits of Summer vs. Fall. Which season really captivates our hearts? Which season is our all-time favorite? 

Bert has always been a "fall-season guy." I've long suspected he loves fall because once again football is back, and he loves
football. He played football very successfully in high school, and those memories quicken when he watches his beloved Seahawks. Bert still loves to debate with me whether this or that was truly pass interference. He's truly proud that as a "girl" I know as much about his beloved sport as he does. :)

I grew up with a Dad that taught me all about the ins and outs of how you really play the game. My grandson finds it hard to believe that I know all the player's names and positions and have as much zeal for Russell Wilson as he does. Jacob is also amazed that I know that Russell just got married and the details of his nuptials. :)

Yet football isn't the only thing that makes fall Bert's favorite season. Bert LOVES nature and trees. As the trees start to turn colors here in Spokane, he is as giddy as a kid at Christmas. He tracks each tree (and there are LOTS of them) and almost always gives a "Daily Report" of the subtle changes in color.

My beloved even has a list of favorite quotations about fall that slip into his conversations. I love it when all of a sudden Bert says, as if I have never heard it before....
              "Fall has always been my favorite season.
              The time when every thing bursts with 
              its last beauty, as if nature had been saving
               up all year for the grand finale!"

Side note: How amazing is my hubby? He not only is a "man's man" (football, paratrooper, windsurfer), he can quote poetry!!

I just smile and chuckle softly when Bert is so sure that his
poetry will bring me over to the "We Love Fall Best!" contingency.

The debate of Fall vs. Summer has gone for all of the thirty two plus years of our marriage. 

This Fall vs. Summer conversation is ongoing as I speak since fall is coming early to Spokane this year. The leaves on the huge maple trees that make an arbor over our street are already starting to change colors. 

While I don't rule out some of the finer qualities of fall, and I love a good debate, I am definitely a summer gal. 

Always have been, always will be.

We have a true summer in Spokane. Hot weather, lots of sunshine, 80 plus degree days, and hundreds of lakes to dip your toes in within a mile of our city.

Summer is more laid-back. I LOVE flip flops and just gliding your feet into them at a moment's notice. 

Most of all I love having family schedules be more relaxed. There is nothing like a spontaneous summer get together to make my heart sing!!

As I get a bit older, I love, love, love having time to read a book that is not teaching-related. Give me a good suspense novel and I am truly in heaven-on-earth!

I love the sumer traditions like going to Diamond Lake, harvesting herbs from my garden and spontaneously calling up friends to see if they want to go to dinner or a movie.

Sometimes I think that God must love summer best. Maybe He never intended for us to live such rush...rush...rush schedules, like the other seasons provide. 

It's so easy to miss God's grace and glory in all of the hustle and bustle.  It's easy to miss His whisper in my ear...
   "Linda, look at all of the glory I have made for you to enjoy!"

In summer's slower pace, I can see God's blessings everywhere. I breathe more fully, and can feel His presence more deeply.

Yes, I know fall with all of its busyness is right around the corner, yet I am relishing each summer's day and warm evening. After all, some of my best memories are made in flip flops!!

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Saturday, August 06, 2016

It's A Choice...

                        Piglet noticed that even though he had
                   a very small heart, it could hold a rather
                   large amount of Gratitude!
                                                    -AA Milne

It's really a choice every day. Not always an easy choice, mind you, or one that the world in general chooses. None the less, it is a choice I can make.

                              It's a choice to be grateful.

I truly believe that when I have an attitude of gratitude... EVERYTHING changes.


Most people would tell you that I am a very grateful person and that would be true, I am. However internally, like many of us, there are times when things look bleak and outcomes are not what I have prayed for. In those times, I struggle with turning my attitude around from skeptical or critical to happy and grateful.

Yet those are the very times when being grateful makes all the difference. Finding even the smallest thing to thank God for can bring His light into a very dark situation.

Let me share some examples from my own life...

I can be irritated or frustrated at Bert's memory loss, or I can be overflowing with gratitude to God that Bert is still here.

I can be irritated or frustrated that our neighbor, without our permission, cut down 16 large, beautiful trees that created a
boundary between our properties. Or, I can appreciate the new view we have and the opportunity to once again be creative on that side of the house.

I can be irritated or frustrated at our decreased enrollment at the college where I teach, or I can be grateful that I have a wonderful job that enriches my soul.

                        It's always a choice. Always!

And I truly believe there is a cascading effect from the choice to be grateful. When I am grateful, even in hard circumstances, others may stop to consider what they have to be grateful for.

When I am grateful, no matter what, my health improves and my blood pressure goes down.

When I hear how other folks, like my dear friend Vicky Westra, are grateful in tough circumstances, my attitude of gratitude is nourished and expanded.

            After all, an attitude of gratitude is contagious!

Yet I know, and have experienced in my life, some very tough times where my heart was broken, and I was so discouraged that I couldn't find my grateful spirit. It felt like it had been extinguished by so much grief.

That's when I think about this amazing quotation by Albert Schweitzer...

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark
from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep
gratitude for those who have lit the flame within us.          

So today I am grateful to God for every blessing He has brought into my life. I am grateful for His love and abundant grace and care. I am grateful for the hard times that have made me stronger. I am grateful for those I love who have lit the flame within me when my grateful spirit was extinguished.

Today I am praying that I might be the kind of grateful person who helps to light the flame in others when their grateful spirits are extinguished.

Today I am praying that my eyes truly see all the goodness in others, even those I struggle with. May I know that God loves them, just as He loves me.

Today I am so grateful for all of you who come here and share in my life. I am grateful for your prayers and your friendship and your comments.

May we all choose an attitude of gratitude today, no matter what!

God Bless!
Love Linda

Finding Comfort in Kindness...sharing from the heart

                                If every person made it a rule that                          wherever you are, whenever you              ...