Gratitude Journey – October 2013

Greetings! Here is the October report of my gratitude journey as well as an invitation to attend the Thanksgiving Retreat that is in just 2 weeks, November 15-16. I will share several truths and principles that have shaped my soul and help prepare me to fully enjoy this special time of year. My hope is that at the end of our time together you will find your soul refreshed and ready for the best holiday season ever!

October was filled with some amazing travel as well as conversations and memory making events with family, friends, and some life-shaping mentors.

Ashley Miriam Grandstaff

Jim and I also welcomed our newest granddaughter on Saturday, October 20 when Ashley Miriam Grandstaff (born September 3, 2012, Ethiopia) joined our family. Brian and Sarah now have five beautiful daughters. We are blessed today with 8 precious granddaughters and 3 amazing grandsons.

October 13-20 – Blowing Rock, North Carolina

We enjoyed the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with our entire family (minus Brian Grandstaff and Tim Graeser) when we gathered in Blowing Rock with my brother and sister and their families. It was the first time the entire Woodall Family (51 people) was together. Unfortunately, my mom was unable to attend as she was recovering from back surgery several weeks prior. The best part of the event was getting all the grandchildren together (23 of the 24 were present, 19 were age 5 and younger). It was a sweet time. Each child wore a shirt with the birth order number so that my mom could have a fun family picture. Ashley was missing and Danae Woodall is currently pregnant with number 25.

Takeaways from our family time

  • There is NOTHING sweeter than family time together when relationships are healthy but it requires us to give full attention to each person and his/her needs.
  • It takes work to be a mom that serves her family wholeheartedly and authentically. Serving my family will always be my highest and greatest calling.
  • Laying aside expectations brings freedom and delight.
  • Generosity is not just measured by resources but also by time and words (and sometimes no words).


October 25-28 – Portland, Oregon

We were home for a few days before Jim and I headed to the West Coast. Our trip to Oregon was filled with precious as well as hard conversations. Our visit to Portland would take us back to where we lived from 1979-1980. We moved from Virginia for Jim to attend Western Seminary to pursue graduate study in pastoral ministry. When we arrived in Portland Sarah was 18 months old and it would not be long before I learned that I was pregnant with Jonathan. During that year we faced the most troublesome time in our marriage. It did not take us long to realize that Portland was not for us, so two weeks after Jon was born (March 27, 1980) my mom and dad helped us move to Orlando. The visit to our former home, the seminary, and the surrounding areas prompted many conversations.

Takeaways from the return to Portland

Leaving Portland in 1980 marked the death of a dream for Jim. At the time we both felt hopeless and confused but we were confident that God did not want us to stay. We made a decision to leave based on faith not knowing what the future would bring.

In time God demonstrated that he had a greater plan for us. For the last 30 years God has given us a ministry that is deeply rooted in our passion and love for our family. It has not taken us away from our family but has brought us closer together.  At the time we had NO IDEA what hung in the balance.

I love what Wayne Cordeiro says, “We can only see the immediate but God sees the beginning and the end and He has a plan, and we must be OK with that.” At the time the immediate was devastating and seemingly impossible, and often times we found ourselves NOT being OK with it, but GOD’s plan has been incredible.

Linda_GreggGregg Harris

Gregg is a very special friend who God has used to speak many truths into our family story over the last thirty years. We began homeschooling Sarah in 1983 where there was no law that was in place and we found ourselves all alone in following what God had placed on our heart. In 1984 we attended a homeschooling workshop presented by Gregg. From the moment we heard him speak, we knew that God had called us to something great. He put words to our heart’s thoughts and desires. He helped me more than anyone understand the “Seasons of Life.” As a homeschooling mom of many children, I found myself often wanting to be doing something different, but Gregg helped me see the importance of learning all that I can in this season in order for me to move to the next season with no regrets.

Our time with Gregg was sweet. I wanted him to know how he shaped not only my heart, but also our family story. Today Gregg is alone. His precious wife Sono died three years ago from colon cancer. I wanted our words to encourage his heart in the difficult season of aloneness. The truths of understanding God’s plan from beginning to end and being OK with it was our prayer for Gregg. His season is hard but he knows he can trust God’s plan from beginning to end.

Linda_WayneWayne Cordeiro

From Portland we traveled to Eugene, Oregon to be with author and pastor Wayne Cordeiro. Our time with Wayne was incredible. Wayne pastors a church in Hawaii and also serves at New Hope Christian College in Eugene. My life was dramatically changed in 2008 when I heard Wayne speak at the Willow Creek Leader’s Summit. His message was entitled, Dead Leader Running. I was on the verge of burnout and I knew it. I knew if I did not radically change some of my habits and practices that I would no longer be effective for what God had for me. After listening to him speak and share his story I made changes to my sleep patterns, my morning practices, and my overall health. After that session he then mentored me through his books, Leading on Empty and The Divine Mentor.  I highly recommend both for your reading.

Jim and I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with Wayne and his wife Anna sharing our story and our gratitude. Our time together was intimate and tender. My words to Wayne were emotional for him to hear as they came at a time when he is wondering what is next for him.

When Jim and I were driving home we found ourselves moved deeply by this one idea. You never know what another person is going through at the time you share your words of gratitude. It was obvious to us that our simple and specific words were sweet and life giving to Wayne’s soul.

Proverbs 16:24, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.

Takeaways from our visits in Oregon

  • Specific words of appreciation and gratitude shape a person’s soul.
  • Pleasant words truly are sweet and bring health to the bones.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your gratitude and words of affirmation with others, your words may be more important than you realize.

October 28-30 – Santa Rosa, California

Three years ago God brought Lynn Ross into my life. She helped me walk through a difficult time of leadership transition. She was a safe friend who was able to listen and serve me when I did not know what to do. When I look back on our story together I smile as I think about how when I could only see the immediate, God could see the beginning and the end and He had a plan, and I had to be OK with that. I’m so grateful for her friendship.

October 30-November 4 – San Diego, California

Our final five days are in beautiful San Diego. We will enjoy time with Jon and his family, as well as spending time reflecting and dreaming.

The year is nearly over and as you look at where you are today are you excited for what is ahead? As you look back on 2013 are you able to take time and reflect on what GOD brought to you in this year? I hope so.

November 15-16 – Thanksgiving Retreat

I really hope I will be able to SEE YOU in the next few weeks at the Thanksgiving Retreat. I can’t wait to share more!

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