Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Just Plain Hard"...

                 Stand up straight and
                  realize who you are,
                  that you tower over your
                  circumstances. You are a 
                  child of God. Stand up straight.
                                                                                      -Maya Angelou

Yesterday was hard. Really hard. All of the details don't really matter, but somehow I was just off, misdirected and over sensitive. I knew I was in trouble when the tears started to flow, and I was so missing my Mom that I couldn't stop crying. I must have said ten times, "I wish she was here to talk to. She would know what to do." I kept talking to God all day long, but looking back now, in the early morning light of today after several hours of sleep, I recognize that I might have been talking to Him, but I'm quite sure I wasn't listening to Him.

My  Grandma (Nana) used to say, with a half- stern, half-twinkling look in her eye, "Sometimes days are just plain hard and then we all just need a talkin'  to." 

What she meant was that we all get mixed up, sad, frustrated and tied in knots, and we all need a voice to redirect our efforts. We all need someone to sit us down, look us square in the eye and say... "Yes, this is hard. It's very hard. But you are not alone in this hard. I am here with you."

I don't have very many days when I feel grumpy. Almost never, ever. But I sure as heck felt grumpy yesterday. I felt a mix of sad and mad and helpless. I felt scared. I prayed continually, but not whole-heartedly. Truth be told, I was mad at God.

Yes, mad at God.

I was tied in knots knowing my dear sweet friend, Vicky Westra... who has stage four breast cancer, was in the hospital having to have another surgery on a kidney stent that was causing her a serious infection.

She has been through so much and now this.

I just couldn't wrap my heart around the suffering she has been going through. So I told God (as if He didn't know) that enough is enough. I didn't just say it. I shouted it!

I was out in the garden working and praying and my tears started to fall. So I turned to Heaven and yelled, "Enough. Hasn't she gone through enough?"

I have to laugh a bit this morning wondering if any of our dear neighbors were out in their backyards and how my talking to God out loud might have sounded to them.
Yet I truly didn't care then, and honestly don't care now, how it sounded to anyone else. I needed God to listen, to hear my heart, to hear how scared and mad I am about the suffering that Vicky has gone through, is going through.

After a good cry and some sleep, I know that not only does God know that Vicky is suffering, He was with her in it all.

* He was there to comfort her in that surgery room. 
* He was there to hold her hand. 
* He was there with Vicky and is there right this very minute.

He is here!

I wish I could say that the rest of the day went better. Outwardly it did, but inwardly I was still struggling. I felt discouraged. I just let myself feel whatever came up, and kept giving it all to Him. 

Giving Vicky to Him, no matter what. Letting go of thinking
this just can't turn out this way. 

When I get scared like this and have a "just plain hard day", I
always feel better when I read God's word, and when I go back to Jesus Calling, a simple daily devotional. I feel better when God gives me a "talking' to."

Sure enough, I found so many "gems" that spoke to my hurting heart. Reminders about who God is and reminders that He loves me and is always there for me.

Reminders that he He loves Vicky and is always there for her, too.

And then I came upon a quote by Maya Angelou that felt like a gift from the Lord. I could almost imagine Maya Angelou, in a grandmotherly tone, saying to me...

Linda Marie...

Stand up straight
Realize who you are
You tower over your circumstances
You are a child of God
Stand up straight.

Finally, after a big ugly cry, I sat down , journaled and listened to the song Even if. 

Finally, my heart felt calm.

Yes, yesterday was "just plain hard," to quote my Nana.
Super hard for my sweet friend Vicky and hard for me
as her friend. Yet I feel renewed this morning because I am focusing not on how awful things are, but how God is there in the awful.

God is here, no matter what, and for that I am deeply grateful!
Today I will remember that I AM A CHILD of GOD!...
and as Vicky always says..."All Shall Be Well!"

Amen and Amen!
God Bless!


Friday, July 14, 2017


"Summer was our best season; it was sleeping on the back
  screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse;
          summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand 
colors in a parched landscape."
                                                   -Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 

We just came back from ten glorious days at Diamond Lake, surrounded by family and hot days and warm nights. Splashing water and time to hold the baby of the family. Casual meals and sleeping in. Playing Pictionary and having long, catch-up talks.

I love the pace of summer, mostly because it is such a huge contrast to the rest of the year. I love taking the time to let in all of God's love and grace. I love taking the time to read books that suck me in and turn me around and challenges my thinking. My grandchildren always like to ask me, especially at the end of a vacation, "How many books did you read this time, Nana?" And my answer this vacation was "Five amazing books, sweetie." These were books that I heard about and loved to read (or re-read in some cases). Books that made me think and 
books that helped me better understand love and loss, especially the 
loss of a child. Here are a few of those titles:

and Still She Laughs: Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering by Kate Merrick
 colors of goodbye: A Memoir of holding on, letting go, and reclaiming joy in the wake of loss
by September Vaudrey
bittersweet: thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way by Shauna Nyquist
HALLELUJAH ANYWAY: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott
Goliath MUST Fall: Winning the Battle Against our Giants by Louie Giglio

All of these stories talk about faith in hard times, finding peace in times of unbelievable hardship and loss, and trusting God in the very worst moments of our lives.

I not only read books for me, I also read books to my dear, sweet grand baby, Annora Grace. Two of her new favorites are:
Bears on Wheels (with sound effects for the wheels) :) and 
God Bless You and Goodnight!

This time away was also a chance to sit by the water and pray, to thank God for so many blessings and to ask Him to heal those I love who are struggling with health issues, especially my dear friend and soul sis, Vicky Westra.

It was a time to look out at gorgeous sunsets and hold Bert's hand.
It was a time to watch the 4th of July fireworks as they reflected on the lake. It was a time to sleep in and sip coffee and have early morning chats.
I am so grateful to God for this time away, a time of refreshment
and renewal!

I hope that you, too, are having a blessed summer! 
Enjoy these pictures of our special time!!
God Bless!
Much love, Linda


"Just Plain Hard"...

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