Gifts & Talents, Giving, Parenting, Thankfullness

Growing up with Linda

In four weeks a group of old friends will gather on a campus full of highschoolers and reminisce about thier own styles and cliques and adventures full of poor judgement.  They’ll remind each other of hours spent working for free to cover a broken rule, of love lost and found, and they’ll talk about the craziness of 50 years gone by.  They’ll pass their phones around showing off pictures of kids and grandkids and that camper they always wanted.  They also decided to take some time and talk about those who are no longer among them.  Those who have passed away.   One of those is my mom.  Here is the tribute I wrote to be read at that gathering.  I love that they chose to not forget fellow classmates and honored that they asked me to describe what is was like growing up with Linda as my mom.  Here is my, somewhat tearful, walk down memory lane.


Encapsulating the life of your Mom is maybe one of the more difficult things. Mapping out a timechart of motherhood roles and duties requires a scroll of paper across the kitchen floor because the kids have full bellies and safe play and always, always a shoulder to lean into whenever it’s needed and how do you chart that? Growing up with Linda as a Mom was busy and full and secure because she literally took care of everything! Linda was an extrovert but absolutely wanted, needed, to stay home with her kids. So she opened a daycare in our home and filled it with kids and made friends with other Mama’s who needed her multi-tasking, her practicality, and her Christian boldness to help raise their offspring. For roughly 13 years she took care of multiple kids alongside her own 4. At times there were between 15 and 20 little beings pounding up and down the stairs, hanging from trees, splashing in the pool, and snacking on graham crackers with left-over cake frosting smothered on them. She embodied the “old” woman who lived in a shoe and the chaos fueled her. And while the mundane of scrubbing dirty floors and dirty dishes might literally scrub out the very creativity of a God-designed soul, she battled that with a small business on the side. Word got out that Linda made wedding cakes, and so, blushing couples sat side-by-side on our brown patterned couch and talked colors, styles, and dates and there are many memories of helping Mom transport multi-tiered cakes to church after church, the upside, for us, of course, was the start of a new tradition. Leftover wedding cake frosting smeared on graham crackers! Mom and Dad were conservative Seventh day Adventists which meant there was no caffeine, no meat, no alcohol, and no rock-n-roll. Instead, there was church and school involvement. Everything from teaching/leading Sabbath School and heading a group in a potluck rotation to attending music programs and gymnastics shows for all four kids, and eventually starting up a preschool program at Hinsdale Junior Academy. Linda was an early bird, a roadrunner, for the rate of speed at which she could accomplish things was amazing. She started every day ahead of her kids, but that also meant bedtimes were early because mama was tired and she needed to be done at the end of the day.
 Our home was always full of people. If the 6 of us was not enough, we often had people in various transitional places in theirs lives staying for days or weeks, or, occasionally, months. Every Sabbath a special lunch was prepared and it was not an unusual site to have invited guests over for Sabbath lunch. Holidays were the same. If we did not have family around to share a loaded Thanksgiving table with, then she would seek out a single person or two from the church or school and add another place-setting. Hospitality was defined for me by my Mom, and she seemed to have a soft spot for single mothers, because my memory lists quite a few that found a warm smile, a heart that didn’t judge, and a flexible drop-off and pick-up place to bring their kids. The Christian atmosphere was just a bonus.

 Linda was a high-energy, bossy, woman, but she was equally kind, gentle, and nurturing and how you pour all of that into a 5’2″ woman is a wonder to me, but that is how God designed her.

 Her “working” life after kids was that of her in-home daycare until 1988 when she started a preschool program at Hinsdale Junior Academy. It was into her second year there that she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. She took that on like everything else, with fury. She scheduled herself, her kids, and her job around her single mastectomy surgery, her chemotherapy, and her radiation treatments. She never lost her hair that time. I think she was too stubborn and bossy, even the hair follicles learned who they were dealing with. She chose no reconstruction, but instead bore those scars as any good soldier would. You do what you have to do to survive so you can take care of your kids. Because that was her only prayer, “Lord, please let me finish raising my kids.” And she did.

 From the school she left and went on to run a daycare center in an elite business district in a western suburb of Chicago, eventually starting a private school within its walls. When she reached a point where she could no longer give her whole heart to those kids and their families, she switched careers and worked for a financial investment group. When the main broker that she worked for went to start his own company she left and went to work for a Honda dealership close to home, where she retired from when her own mother got sick with cancer. 

  She left and went to FL and stayed with her mom until her death in March of 2005. Struggling with where to stay and live from there, she and Alan, who had retired from Hinsdale Hospital, sent prayers heavenward for direction, never dreaming that a few weeks later they would get an anxious call from a hospital in Grand Rapids, MI where their second daughter, (me) had just given birth to micro-premie twins at only 24 wks gestation. She shed tears and packed her bags and sat by my side for all of the fours months required. This is where she also buried a grandson. The loss of her mother, who was one of her closest friends, and her almost 2 month old baby grandson whom she had held only once, finally took some of the wind out of her sails. Once her daughter and granddaughter were safely home, she and Alan moved down to Nashville, TN to live near her oldest daughter, Diana. Life grew quieter there.

 Linda was a ‘busy-body’, and although she had slowed some, true “retirement” nearly drove her crazy, so she got involved in a free medical clinic for the poor and put her efforts into running the office there. But in January of 2008, the same day grandchild number 7 was born, she received an early morning call from her doctor who told her that the weakness in her left hand and the drooping of the left side of her smile was because of an inoperable brain tumor. For the next two and a half years she took the recommended treatments until finally there was nothing else and the tumor was growing so fast she declined every day. Her family gathered quickly and on June 2, 2010, after a peaceful five day coma, her heart stopped, and she rested quietly. It was a strange quiet for a woman born with a fire burning in her. Linda was 64 years old.

 I miss that Mama every day. I miss how she would stop her entire world if you called her and needed her. “Ok, honey, what can I do to help? Do you need me to come?”

 Always. Every time.


Gifts & Talents, Giving

David, The Sweet Psalmist

The truth is, I’ve never thought much about writing. Never felt a talent for it. Sure, I scribbled things down now and then over the years and Dad and Mom would say things like, “You need to write!” But I always took those words as kind of like being poked with a needle. Sharp and maybe ‘NO’. Stop! Stop saying that! It sounds like a commitment that maybe I don’t want. Like babysitting your younger siblings who you knew would never respect you and secretly had already decided to ignore everything you said the minute your parents left. And I struggled with the biggest question, “What would I write about?” I’m not a Tom Clancy, or a Kay Kuzma, or even a Gertrude Chandler Warner. I have only rambling thoughts and, most of the time, interruptions, and I NEVER keep a journal or bullet points or…….
OK. You get it, I’m a mess!

And then God spoke.


I don’t type those words easily. This was not a light show or a boom of thunder or a firm grip on my shoulder holding me down in a chair “til you finish that job” kind of moment. This was a ‘quiet in the night’, ‘solo drive down the highway’, ‘lonely hotel room’ kind of conversation. Writing is not a career path for me. It’s a holy walk.

What is YOUR holy walk?

2 Samuel 23 is subtitled ‘David’s Last Words’ (NLT). David was a writer. A poet. A singer/songwriter. He was also a warrior, a shepherd, a king, and a “man anointed by the God of Jacob.” That’s a tall order. How did he balance all those talents? I ask this honestly and globally.
If God gives you gifts, (and you ALL have them), how do we balance them with a seemingly endless list of to-do’s? And how do we accept them without including exhaustive sighs and overwhelming fears of not-good-enoughs?

Friend, please realize that your talents, your gifts, are God given. And there are so. many. ways. to package them in our ordinary lives. Those of you with the gift of song raise that music to glorify the Lord and the rest of us are served with the sound. Those of you with the gift of culinary savvy spin spoons and feed the weary, serving the hungry. And those of you with the gift of organization put to order rooms and programs to serve our senses and you’re following God’s law of order in this big universe. And you’re following King Solomon’s Proverbs 18:16, “Giving a gift works wonders; it may bring you before important people!”

And who’s more important than the children of God?




Take a moment this week and write down your gifts. You’re already using them. It’s the happy joy tool designed just for you that brings you satisfaction at the end of the day. It’s the true art within that helps you unwind when life’s a bit upside down. And it’s that red thread that reminds us to be thankful unto the Lord, keeping us from becoming foolishly selfish. Then ask yourself if God is nudging you to step out and use it in a slightly new light. And if you feel so inclined, if you feel your own talent walking towards holiness, share with us?

purely searching for gifts,



Rather Reckless

I had, rather recklessly, driven to Wisconsin and back in 2 days with a dear girlfriend and 4 small children.  It was a split second decision because we’re not always given more time than that.  I went even with thoughts of “what won’t get done in my absence”.  One of which was “return library books”.  So when we walked through the heavy wooden doors with large brass pulls into a hushed library, the children and I quickly slipped our hardcovers through the drop-box and moved into the children’s department for another weeks reads.

It wasn’t until we were checking out that I looked the librarian in the eye and owned up to our tardiness.  “They were due yesterday, but we didn’t make it.”  I actually felt a large breath of air leave my lungs then.  I didn’t know I had been holding it, but now that the confession had been made, relief took its place and I waited for the results.  Cents possibly had already added up to dollars, but I had my wallet in hand with fingers poised to pull cash when she smiled and said, “You don’t owe anything.  You’re given one grace day.”

I blinked.  Paused.  Humbly mumbled, “Thank you.”

She then began scanning the new pile of books on the verge of toppling.  She talked of books and authors she remembered reading as a child and all I could think about was my reckless decision to NOT be here to turn these books in on time and now there was NO punishment.  No slap on the hand, no chill shoulder, no pursed lips, or tsking of the tongue.  All that stood in its place was a hand-out of Grace.

And isn’t that the same decision God’s taken?  This doling out of pure Grace?  Even to those of us who possess a small reckless gene?

“You don’t owe anything.  You’re given one grace day.”  

And one more, and one more, and one more………more…….more!

Christ in his offering of ALL that is grace.  Given more each day, each hour, each breath of life.  Grace with no price tag.  My skin stretched over bones He sees as that one great pearl worth selling everything to have.

And if I am worth all of that, than isn’t my life designed to smile and repeat this offering?

May I see myself pure as pearl, and recklessly giving grace!


Giving, Homeschooling, Listen

Crazy In A Hushed Way

It’s the last day of August, which to me often marks the end of summer.  September brings school, and I remember being small and not always ready for hot, humid, carefree days to be over.  I remember a Mama who baked a birthday cake for the last Sabbath before school started to sing through four birthdays together, before she sent us on the one mile walk along the suburban sidewalk to the brick school with its long hall.

Today is different.  Mama who baked has been gone two years now, school begins on Tuesday right here at the kitchen table, and I am ready.  My own daughter has become a knowledge seeker, and teaching her has become exciting!

But my fears hang out there still.  I’m not sure I’m worthy to be called her “Teacher” because I have not always loved the learning as she has.  I am known to be distracted and impatient, and what if I am not what or who she needs?

The thought to homeschool came quietly and startled.  I wondered if someone could be moved to go out crazy in a hushed way?  I wrestled within.  Sleep ran away and a small light shone onto His Word morning after still morning.  I had been given this book about counting gifts, the gifts given by the Holy One at every moment, and how, when seeing them and counting them, we are finally able to live, FULLY!!  I hadn’t begun to count…yet.  But the whispers of Spirit cradled me and carried me, so very gently, to a place of beginning.  A beginning of counting.

It was in counting and reading, both this new book and the Holy Word, that the homeschooling idea started to unfold.  I was terrified!  Homeschooling had held its own stigma and, as stated above, I am sure I was not worthy.

But when we spend time digging through God’s Word, and when we are still enough to listen to what might be the strongest calling of our life, we find ourselves surprised by the journey.  The turn in the bend that brings billboards lit by Pure Light we cannot deny.  I walked on knees for months before a late night kitchen table conversation with Husband.  Me slowly speaking this craziness, eyes looking down.  The conviction of my words more clear than I had thought they could be.

Initially revoked, he patiently listened to my heart, and when the clock had spun all around twice, his words surprised me.  “You are not the same woman.  The change…… you can do this.  Because you BELIEVE you can.  You’re convicted, and that’s the first step.”  And since that night, he has stood with hand on my shoulder, through the ebb and flow of processing the HOW(?).

I have wrestled through all kinds of fears, each time praying, again, searching for God’s guidance, because in this big universe, somehow our lives matter.  I don’t know the end, but these are the two He’s allowing me to raise here on earth, and their lives matter greatly to me!

This is yet another file of pure search and I am compiling, because it too will change and grow as I categorize as only an amateur can.

In her book One Thousand Gifts, author and blogger, Ann Voskamp says, “The only way to see God manifested in the world around is with the eyes of Jesus within.”  I pray deeply for the eyes of Jesus within this home, because the creating of it is changing, and the character we are trying to mold takes place NOW!  Can I ask that you pray for me friend?  Pray for the pure humility necessary to raise these two children well, serving unto our great God.

In pure, humbling, search,


ps – This book might also wildly change you as it has me.  Might you give it a try?

Giving, Listen

What To Say Among the Discontent.

We’re up at the garden watering plants severely parched from July’s heat and the neglect of a family gone for the weekend.  And although all nature appears to have me at its mercy, I am content.  Content with the silence.  Silence of the bees hum, hawks cry, pulled hose through tall weeds.  I surprise myself when I find I am even content with the moans, heavy sighs, and, yes, the outcry of little son wailing his protest at being IN the garden.

For two and a half hours we three bend low over water and weeds, and the Spirit moves about inside this mother with a stillness all His own.  I, who was made from this dirt, now pulls from the dirt all the green that cannot be there if I am to eat anything good from it.

My two young ones are not patient with me or any part of this garden today, and they let me know over and over again, and I feel mildly like Moses walking them through the rituals of what God has given and how we tend it and nurture it, but their stillness never comes.  Like Moses I walk slow and speak what words can only come from the Pillar of Fire and talk joy and thankfulness to them, but, alas, when the last row is wet and we walk down the long slope towards home I can see they are not convinced.

Yet I am content.  I am content for I am filled with Grace and my human hand has tried to give Grace in the only way a Mother can.

The road is long and I pray this pure Grace weaves its way through.

Then why, several days later, does it take so much for me to find and feel that same Spirit of Grace when questions arise as to “what are YOU doing?”.  Words that demand and now I’m the one not convinced.  Fingers are pointed and people are all thrown into one gunny sack and tossed in front of the judgement seat and they don’t even know it.  I feel the tight pull of being stymied and it becomes the wall climb of my faith, my upstream intent to find the pure purpose of this.  This judgement being doled out and how do I stroke through this wave of discontent?

I look desperately for the gift.  I feel my head hanging low and know that my eyes no longer try to see because my default sees only their shortsightedness.  This is where I have looked for change on the inside of me, but it feels like buckets of loose gravel under my feet and the slope will take me down fast if I do not hold on to the only Steady.  The hand of the pebble Maker.

I do not want this judgement seat, and yet it has a magnet pull to my fallen self.  How do I not sit….there?!  I try to form prayer and stumble out something about everyone going through different phases and stages of life and how conviction must be felt, but I do NOT feel content.  Not in this space.  I want to escape, back to the quiet of the garden, but they won’t let me go and I try to only stay silent, for what more could I say?

What would the Teacher have said in this corner?

I have read the story of King Josiah and how he fought a battle he should NOT have fought.  The story of the enemy shouting in the midst of a war for this worshiper of God Almighty to go back home because he had NOT been given orders from the Heavenly King to fight.  The enemy.  The idol worshiper.  Telling King Josiah to wait on the Lord!

But King Josiah, he feels gallant.  He feels the strong structure of what he has painstakingly built up over the years of his reign.  He has spent his time in the Garden walking with God and feels that this is where he should be, but he did not ASK.  And when arrows pierce flesh and his servants drag his bleeding body from one chariot to the next, I wonder if he also, then, realizes he did not HEAR either.  For God speaks at all times through all things.

I struggle to hear.  I don’t always know what to ask for, but I cling to Grace.  And maybe that is all I have at the moment of unease.  Knowing there is Grace.  The same Spirit guiding me through the garden is the same Spirit trapped with me in a corner of unworthy.  I must not forget to ask, and I most certainly must not forget to hear.  And although silence, not words, may be the pure answer today, I must learn to trust that the battle Keeper knows the end.  Maybe not speaking turns more powerful than mumbling in the long run… as long as I remember to ask.

In pure hard search,