Sunday, November 27, 2016

Time To 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!

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...

                                   -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. 


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!

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.

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!

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

One Nation Under God...Election Day 2016

           I pledge allegiance to the flag
           of the United States of America.
           And to the Republic for which it stands,
           One nation, under God,
            indivisible, with liberty and justice
            for all.

I won't lie. My "worry gene" has been working overtime during this election season. As a student of human behavior, and a Communication Studies professor, I have often been stunned by the lack of true discourse and civility. The poor manners and communication mishaps have been rich fodder for my students to learn from. 

We have been looking for positive role models who debate real issues, and often just can't find them. 

Sad. Truly sad.

Yet even more perplexing has been the challenge of explaining all of this "poor behavior by adults," as one of my dear grandchildren pointed out. 

"Nana, why are they yelling at each other and using bad language?" 

"Why are people being so nasty?"

My absolute favorite?... 

        "If we acted like this we would be in time out!"

Yes, sweet baby, perhaps that is what we all need to be in.

Time out!

Time out to remember who we really are as a nation.
Time out to remember what we stand for.
Time out to remember that we are ALL Americans.
Time out to remember that we are ONE nation under God.

"You see," I said to my beloved grandson, "I do know that the President of the United States has a very, very important job. 
It's important to vote and be a good citizen."

"Yet, who is really in charge, sweetie, Who holds the whole world in His hands, is God almighty. The God that made heaven and earth."

That's why, when we say "One nation, under God,"
we are declaring that who is really in charge is our
Heavenly Father.

That's why, when we say "Indivisible," we mean that nothing can separate us or tear us apart as a nation. 

Not this election or any election.

That's why when we say "Liberty and Justice for all"
that we mean ALL Americans have the right to be free
and the right to have justice."

My sweet grands listened with eyes wide open since I was making an impassioned plea that when we put our hands over our hearts and say The Pledge of Allegiance, that we are doing something profound. We are doing something that has great meaning.

Their great Grandpa and their Boppa were veterans who put their lives on the line for those words.

They were all quiet and then one of them said with a thoughtful look on his face, "So Nana, we don't have to worry about this election?"

"No sweetie, I call all of them sweetie :), you don't have to worry about this election.

God has got this!

"Will He deal with all of the nasty comments and bad behavior?"

"Yes, sweetie, He will."

However, I went on to explain that we can learn as much from bad examples of what NOT to do as we sometimes learn from good examples of what TO DO.

"Will God put them in time out?"

"I can't say for sure, sweetie. I hope so. Sometimes God puts all of us in time out so we can learn from our mistakes."

"So we don't need to worry? God's in control?"

"Yes, sweetie, you don't need to worry."

And neither do we. No matter how this turns out tonight,
neither do we!

God Bless!
Love, Linda


Saturday, November 05, 2016

Focusing On What Brings Us JOY!!

    you never knew
     WAS EMPTY.   

The sun has been out in Spokane the last two days!
We are all so grateful. October was the wettest
 month in Spokane's history. Yet while it has been so
soggy wet, our focus as been on what brings us true


Just spending time with our grands has been a
great reminder of how deeply God loves us.
  Seeing up close how they grow and change...well,
it just brings HOPE and PEACE and LOVE 
to our hearts!

After all...

A child's laugh could
simply be one of the
 most beautiful sounds
in the world!

 Sending you love, hugs and prayers as you
journey through your day. May you be
  reminded, at every turn, that God is there,
with you, beside you, loving you.
May you focus on what brings you joy!
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              ...