DELIBERATE NEW SONG

I am sure I am not alone in carrying the baggage of bad habits, bad choices, bad attitude from one day to the next. I let the same defeating voices of the outside world and the criticism of my own internal voice. The “I can’t believe you stlll procrastinate!”… “I can’t believe your choices!”… I HATE carrying all of that “stuff” around day after day. I also really tire of seeing it on social media… it seems like it is easier to roll around in the continual defeat than to change the voices I hear.

I work from home and have started to listen to several podcasts often to fill my mind with new voices. I love to listen to Christian authors and Leadership gurus. I have become better with controlling the external voices of public opinion. I also had to block most articles on Facebook about politics, controversial topics, and negative news stories, etc. and chose when I am “ready” to hear what is going on in the world at the sights I choose. I have lost respect for people not for their differences in opinion but in the presentation and resolved if I cannot separate them as a person from their comments and stances, that I need to hide them because I am called to love regardless.   If the podcasts are even controversial, I turn them off. Some will say I am irresponsible for not watching the news and knowing what is going on, and I have let those voices / opinions rule me long enough.   Honestly, there are days that just my four-walls with my family is bigger than I feel I can even handle, let alone taking in the worries of the world. I often don’t have the energy or wisdom to fight my own battles and sort them out with God, let alone get in a debate or get sucked into the latest agendas on the news.

I can always tell when I get in a stagnant area of life, laying in the self-pity pit for too long, or feeling buried alive with others and/or life circumstances throwing in the dirt on me.  A few conversations I have had in the last few weeks, some professional stagnation, and being without my mom another year when I could use her opinion and support have all contributed ad deepened the pit.   As a result of laying and staying in the pit I have buried things that keep me going. I have missed some scheduled appointments because I have even avoided looking at my calendar (so not me!). I have not done encouragement that I love to do. I have missed important signs with my own family because I was too deep in my own pit. The surface things are always a signal of a deeper issue for me.

As a people pleaser, the voices can often be very loud! I replay conversations with others over and over in my head. Even when I was confident in what I said or decided at the time, I feel like I need to replay it. Eventually, the conversations become distorted from the replay. I become less confident and start believing them and allowing their voice to become louder in my head than the whisper of God’s voice. The one calling me to BE STILL. God telling me HE HAS A PLAN FOR MY LIFE… The world has many thoughts and solutions for my life… but they need replaced with the Author of my Life. His words should speak louder to me than those around me..

I knew last Sunday I was feeling this pit and was looking for a scripture to cling to after church. It is always a good place to go to for wisdom and comfort, unfortunately I often wait till I have stayed down too long to seek His help. This week three things happened, unrelated to my life, but symbolic for my life. I felt like they were God’s way of reminding me of the scripture I read last Sunday and that I needed to put it in place…

  • The kitchen breaker was over loaded and it tripped the breaker…. I feel like that is what has happened to me. Too many things, voices, expectations, disappointment have tripped the breaker on my mind and heart.  It was a simple fix in the kitchen.. turn off some of the demands of the energy source. I need to turn off more of the outside voices and demands to keep my breaker from tripping.
  • Then the car has it’s “Maintenance Required” light on permanently (until I get the oil changed).   I too need some maintenance — physical, mental, spiritual. I am bad about looking at the big picture and feeling like I need to do everything all at one time. I am like my car… I know the maintenance required is just an oil change light and a simple fix with a little time at an appointment. The problem is I often neglect the simple fix with my life and it becomes a whole engine that needs repaired. One simple fix I try to do daily is my Grateful list… a small thing to focus on every day that no matter what the world is saying I can say this is what God is doing. When my gratitude lists stop happening or if they are hard to develop, I know maintenance is required.
  • My low fuel light came on the car because I wanted to go just a few more miles before stopping. Well, the low fuel light has been on in my life for a while. I have left my cup go empty spiritually and mentally. I try to juggle that one more thing… ignore the gas gauge on my life for just a little longer as I am sure I can make it… But I don’t stop often enough to even keep me ½ full of all the things I know I need in my heart, brain, and soul.   Lately feeling like I am always on the warning light, and filling just enough to get to the next spot.

I know that God knows my heart, my tripped breaker, my maintenance required, and my low fuel light as he allowed the voices I needed to hear this week come across my path. He gave me some scriptures last Sunday, and despite my attempts at just tucking them away, He has been playing it over and over (now a God-given Scripture is one thing that should be on auto-play in my head)

He even gave me a scripture last Sunday that I sort of tucked away and didn’t use it…

Psalms 40:1-3:   vs1 I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. Vs 2. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Vs 3. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

Wait patiently (not so good at waiting)…. He will hear my cry (but I have to call out to Him and not the world)…. He will lift me out of the pit (not my family, my friends, chocolate)…

But the verse that got me most was HE PUT A NEW SONG in my mouth! He puts a NEW song in my mouth… not the same old complaining song… not the I am not enough song… not the I should not have procrastinated song…. not the that person wronged me song… not the I can do it on my own song… but a A NEW SONG – a Hymn of Praise (not complaining, or worry, or defeat).   He gives me new mercies every day (Lamentations 3:23) and wants my mouth to proclaim a NEW SONG every day. I am going to drown out the voices in my head and those of the world and be DELIBERATE in singing the NEW SONG HE gives me.  Want to sing with me?

DELIBERATE Lessons for Mary

DELIBERATE

So, 18 years ago… a little girl made me a mom. That day, everything changed. Every year she asks for a blog, and now more than ever it is important to feed into her life (while she wants to listen).

She has always had a mind of her own. She defeated the odds. She has always somewhat been the boss. Just a little history… she is a miracle. Some may be tired of the story, but it is important to me.. to remember what God can do… how strong she is… to remind her that God had great plans.. The doctors said we would never have children. But GOD had bigger plans to bless this world.

Hearing we were pregnant was indescribable. When I signed up for a research study, it was because God knew He had big plans for our baby. During a study at 13 weeks pregnant, we were told that I needed emergency surgery to have any chance at saving our baby’s life. I laid on flat bedrest from that point forward. I became diabetic requiring insulin. I did injections of steroid to prepare our baby’s lungs for an early delivery. Our goal was to get to 25 weeks, but God had other plans.   At 36 weeks, our baby stopped moving and there was much concern, but God had great plans.  We did not find out what we were having as we wanted to be surprised. When we heard it’s a girl… we knew there was something about Mary (named her after my beautiful mom).

Over the years, we have watched our Mary grow more beautiful from the inside out. And now that I reminded her and myself of what a miracle she is… what a special gift from God she is… Over the years, she has started to follow in some my steps that need to be reviewed and learned from in hopes she doesn’t repeat them without regard to the cost…

First, pouring yourself into other people is an admirable trait, but there can be a cost. Sometimes, I find myself scraping the bottom of all I have available to give. After all, scripture says it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). We have talked about this before. The problem is I often then do not have the reserve, the stamina, the energy for when I need it. I am empty for myself, and unfortunately at times for those I love most (like my daughter, my husband, my son, etc…).

In life, I have become quite a people pleaser. I make decisions based on what will make other’s happy and hate to disappoint people. It happens at work, with friends, with family, etc. I don’t want to make anyone unhappy so I say yes to everything. I choose different paths to make everyone happy. I do what is best for others, without regards often for what is best for me. I have aimed to please people, and have learned some only wanted to use me for a season in their life. I poured into them and forgot to pour back into myself.

If I were ever a circus performer it would be a juggler. I juggle jobs, family, friends, etc. Unfortunately, all this juggling practice has come at a cost. There is a limit to how many things you can juggle. How many things you can hold onto. How many things can be in the air. Sometimes, things fall when the juggling does not work. I read once about how important it is to know which things can be dropped in the juggling. I have sadly chosen the wrong things in life to juggle and drop.

I look back and think about what I could have done differently. I know we have talked about when you have felt I have dropped the family plate and the “Mary plate”. At times, it felt like it was broken into pieces. However, we are resilient. Anything can be put together with love and attention. We have had open (and some hard) discussions of why the juggling happened and how it failed. At the moment, the decision was what I needed to do. Though I would say I wish I could go back and change things that means that one I would be living in the past, especially past regrets. Also, if I changed my then decisions, it would mean who we are as a family would be different, and I believe we have grown as a family. More importantly, my good and bad decisions have helped shaped you into the amazing daughter you are.

There are so many things I have learned in this journey of being your mom. Lessons from my mistakes that it is not too late for you to learn.

Lessons for us both:

Replenish – Make time for things you love that replenish you. The body, soul, spirit, mind, etc. are like a car. They will stop running when you run out of gas. I admire the time you put into yourself, to look flawless because it makes you feel good on the outside (which still cannot compare to your inward beauty). I love how you know when you need some alone time to regroup. Make time for the people who pour into you with their friendships, their laughter, their honesty, and their love for you.

Serving other and pleasing others are two separate things, but are often blended. In our home, we believe in giving back to people and causes we believe in. We believe in doing what is right, even if it doesn’t fit in with what everyone else does. I love to watch you serve with your dad at the Fireman’s Fair. I love watching you serve families by your love for their children. Mostly I love how you serve and love your brother like no other can! Don’t serve because it is expected… or to please someone… serve because it is what you are called to do and do beautifully.

Stand out.  For so much of my life, I worried how I didn’t look like others, how our home didn’t measure up, etc… that I missed out on living my life. I kept people at a safe distance and only let them see the “acceptable me”. This past year the pool changed everything. I became brave and let people into our life. Guess what? They didn’t judge our craziness! They felt loved, fed, and welcomed. If those you let in judge you… allow them to leave your life. Love them for the lessons you learned from their presence. By letting those go who want you to fit in, you make room for those who will not judge, but love unconditionally. You will make room for those who want to be in your craziness.

Juggling – Be careful which plates you choose to juggle. Juggling is inevitable. It is important to know that no matter even if you drop one, they can be glued back together often with talking, time, and love. Some plates are stronger as a result of the bond to repair them.

Face the world and your fears. – Don’t look back with regret. In life, we all make mistakes. I could give you a good long list. However, the good and bad decisions will help form who you are. It is equally important that you are BRAVE and take chances from big to small things. Overcome your fears, big and small, so you don’t have regrets that you didn’t try. Start small and then move bigger. Worrying how things will turn out are often worse than the actual thing you fear. The worst thing you will say is you won’t do it again.

Christ was the perfect example. He surrounded Himself with his chosen select friends. Although, even some of them turned on Him, but He loved them unconditionally. However, He let them go their own paths. He replenished His spirit, soul, etc. by spending time in quiet away from all distractions. He served unconditionally without expectation for return.   He didn’t change who He was to “fit in”, but did things true to who He was, not the environment He was serving. He welcomed people in, and some still rejected Him. He likely looked back thinking how He may have done things differently, but that would have changed everything we know and believe. He was afraid I am sure of His destination, but He persevered knowing it was the plan for His life. His Heavenly Father was watching Him.

Lastly…

I know life seems uncertain. The people pleasing part of you is drawing you to different paths in life than maybe even your heart is telling you to go. I can’t wait to watch you and support you as you travel in YOUR OWN LANE!   Be the person you want to be – the person God created YOU to be!

            Mary, I created your inmost being, I knit you together in you mom’s womb – Psalms 139:13

At the end of the day you only must answer to Christ. Lay your head in peace knowing you followed YOUR path – not my path for you, your dad’s path, your friend’s path, you aunt/uncle’s path, your grandparent’s path, etc…  That YOU followed YOUR path. It may cause some people to be unpleased and judgmental. However, they are responsible for THEIR path and not yours.   There is only ONE’s approval that matters – Christ.  He knows the plans for you. Go to Him for answers and not the world. Seek HIS word for the truth not the standards of society. When you follow His path, your path with be blessed. It does NOT mean it will not be hard However, when you are going in the RIGHT direction, you will reach the destination you were meant to be despite the detours and road blocks.

Always know that no matter your decision or your path… I am there to help you face your fears. I am there to help you glue back the plates you may drop when you juggle them. I am there for deep conversation or silence when you need it. I am there to support your decisions and free advice (opinions). I am there for a pizza at the Brewery or a bowl of homemade soup. Most importantly, I am there to pray for you!

You are nothing but amazing… in this life, I want nothing more to know what a miracle you are. You were never supposed to be here by medical opinion, but you defied all odds against you! God has you on this earth for a very special purpose. Do not let the opinions and words of others squelch God’s BIG plans for you!

My prayer for you is wisdom as you face life’s decisions and peace for the decisions you make.

Jeremiah 29:11 “ Mary, I know the plans I have for you! Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future!’

p.s. I would love to learn to improve these lessons with you – if we survived exercise class, we can surely do this together! Happy Birthday, our beautiful daughter!

DELIBERATE in Coming As I Am (broken and empty)

So, when I am doing dishes and trying to get through my “to do list” for the day and I start randomly crying I have to stop and write. Maybe just to empty my soul of all the broken pieces. I was listening to an interview of Suzanne Eller and her book Come With Me. She talked about remembering how we felt when we first fell in love with Jesus. (I have not read this book, but have it on my Kindle).

I was raised in an amazing Christian home. We went to church every Sunday even if it was on snowmobile in the winter. My dad was a Sunday School teacher. My mom was the pianist. I sang in the kids choir of how Jesus loved me as a little child. We sang Hymns of it being well with my soul. My Grandma Frazee loved Jesus and always found strength in Him (Philippians 4:13). My mom lived out her faith as she fought Multiple Sclerosis. I have generations of Christ’s love being lived out loud.

Everyday, I try to walk that same walk, but find it easy to pretend. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful and live a daily life of gratitude. I try to always have the cup half full mentality and choose to close almost every day with my gratitude post on Facebook. It helps me to go to sleep knowing that no matter what the day unfolded that I am blessed. I think now that those lists have been “patches” on my brokenness. They help me remember in the middle of hard pieces of life that God has been faithful. There are days it is a struggle to think of the list, but every day I choose to focus on gratitude.

Yes, I am grateful, but I am not okay.

My life is NOT what I want it to look like. I want more, and I am not talking things. I want a “FULL” life, not a “go through the motions” life.   I want a thriving life not a just surviving life.  I want to live an HONEST life not a pretend life.

Yes, my life is full…. So much to do and many areas overflowing (or maybe a better word is overwhelmed). The external areas of my life I make look like I have it completely together (except for my body – that is a separate blog). It’s like a house, from the outside it can look all good, until someone is brave enough to let you in to see the chaos. Sometimes even the inside of the house generally looks good, clean, well decorated, but there is probably a closet somewhere hiding…. Well I am a mess externally to internally (and it is very hard to admit that!)

I am a Christian… I know where my strength SHOULD come from (and can come from)! If my Grandma Frazee ever had a tattoo it would be “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philipians 4:13” (the image of my Grandma with a tattoo made me smile as I proof this blog). She didn’t go to some secret closet and pull out a cape (although she had some amazing aprons with pockets full of candy and she was a super hero to me!). Her hands were worn. I remember watching her cry and be “weak”. Why do I feel I need to put on “my cape”, hide my tears, hide my fears, hide my hurt? Why do I feel like I need to carry my own weakness and walk around broken and speak to others of his unfailing love and strength and yet don’t let Him be the same for me? (sobbing hard).

Honestly, I think I am like the woman at the well… seeking… but too afraid to hold out MY cup. My broken empty cup. That is exactly who I am. Broken and feeling kinda empty and broken (actually very empty and broken). I think I am afraid of what He will pour into it. What if it is different than I want Him to? I have my list of things I need in the “cup” of my life. I know what I want my life to look like (p.s. it doesn’t look like what I want). He knows that list because He knows my heart. But the list is what I think I need to be “FULL”. The scary thing is He knows the list of MY REAL NEEDS. He knows my brokenness. Is it I don’t want Him to fix my brokenness? Is it easier to stay broken than invest in the healing? Is it I don’t want to let go of control? (In reality, I lost control a while ago). Do I not want to admit that I don’t have it all together? Because that involves being honest… being weak… being vulnerable. It means that my “cape” of being a superwoman is just a disguise.

Back to Suzanne Eller in remembering when I fell in love with Jesus…. I think that was such a miraculous feeling because when I went to the altar, He expected the broken pieces. I believed He could take the empty broken cup of my sins and weaknesses and change me. The beautiful thing He is the same God now as He was then. However, I am not the same me. I stopped pursuing Him. I stopped taking the broken pieces to Him.

I kept gathering them up and putting “patches” on them to keep it together. From a distance, even a cup with superglue and patches looks like it is strong and will hold the contents poured into it. But when you look close (if you let people get close enough to see) the brokenness is evident. Sometimes/always, I either keep people at a distance so they don’t see. Or, I keep that broken/patch cup hidden and only put out the “perfect” cup for others to see.

Do I not go to God because… I don’t think He can put them back together? NO because I know He can. I am afraid what it will take to fix them? PROBABLY because I want them fixed how I envision it. I am too busy to take them to Him? PROBABLY because it is easier to pretend sometimes than invest. I am afraid to admit I am broken to Him (and friends/family)? YES because I like to have it “all together” and be the strong one.

I have been doing just enough by going to church, listening to podcasts, listening to Christian radio to keep a little in my cup.  I have been going through the motions. I have been putting daily “patches” with my grateful list.

But… when my family questions my facial expressions…. I start crying in the middle of my morning list… I know it is time to be honest and weak and vulnerable and needy… Crowder wrote a song “Come As You Are” and so often we go to the table with our best clothes on and pretend we have it all together. Time to be DELIBERATE in coming as I am to laying it all down….

 

p.s for those who read this and are worried… I will be okay. I can’t really explain why I am feeling this way because I am truly rich in many blessings. I believe it is because of some areas (people, situations, etc..) that have left me vulnerable (future blogs) in life recently. I also know that I need to be DELIBERATE in having a deeper spiritual life, stop pretending, going through the motions, and truly live the life He meant for me (not the one I have created for me).

 

FOCUS on my NEW WORD… being DELIBERATE

Wow, where did another year go? I look back at all the many blessings and I choose to FOCUS on them – the blessings and not the hard times. (Focus was my 2016 word so it is only fitting ). I took a leap of faith and left a job I thought I would retire from. I walked through the door God opened and let Him close it behind me.   This summer we put in a swimming pool – life changing! For the first time in my life I left down my worry about our home and opened the doors wide. Those that came knew they were stepping into a crazy house, but we were there with our arms wide open full of love, acceptance, and friendship. LIFE CHANGING!!!! I could easily focus on the years that I missed those types of friendships, but I choose to FOCUS on the now. Our whole family has felt the most amazing return on love from the people who have swam in our pool, sat by the bonfire, shared at our table, played zombie apocalypse (An original game by Sam), etc… The church family, the youth group, and new friendships. The tears truly run down my cheeks of the deep friendships and the richness they have added to our lives.   When you are a momma to children who don’t fit the “normal” and your children discover genuine love and friendship it is life changing. Had I left my guard up and not opened our home and left myself be vulnerable to judgement, the friendships may not have happened. Instead, at any given time friends are welcomed in… around the table… in any room of the home…   Food will be offered from peanut butter filled pretzels to tacos and if it is warm bonfires provide hot dogs, campfire pies, and smores. Sam developed friendships that are indescribable. Hours on end spent playing with other kids who either “get” him or don’t really care there is a difference. Mary’s friends are like my children. The table is always open – I may need to dump everything into a laundry basket to clear the seats – but it is always open. The table has been a place of many conversations, games, and even a place to stand for Nerf wars. We got to meet the incredible guy that Mary has fallen in love with as he spent time with our family over the summer. Sam describes him as “he is like my brother”, and honestly he just fits right into our craziness. It is hard to see your children grow in some ways, but when you know they have chosen a good partner to go through life with, who respects and loves your child, then you have done your job. It is Mary’s Senior Year and though she does not have all the directions in life figured out, she has a great head on her shoulders, an incredible heart to share, and has a huge future in front of her to live out exactly as God has planned. We also got to spend an amazing week at Virginia Beach and another two weeks out to Yellowstone and South Dakota area. So much family time and we did amazing! FOCUS was an amazing word….

So onto 2017, another fresh start… For 2015 and 2016, we started the year off at Virginia Beach. We had plans for a small get away to Gettysburg this year, but my temporary “crud” put that on hold. I was even a little slow at creating a list this year of possible WORDs for the year. I usually mention it to a few people and that will trigger me to start hearing words that make me go “oh, that is a good word”. I think what happened is when we went out west I read a book Present Over Perfect and deemed Present would be my word and that held me back from entertaining others. I still love present because I often get distracted when I am doing one thing, so… the list began of possibilities:

  • OPEN – I could open my home more, my heart more, my hands more, etc… I could be OPEN to other’s ideas and OPEN to new things for me and my family
  • CLEARING – this is a great word and thought of clearing my home of more stuff, clearing my schedule to make room for people, clearing my mind of unnecessary clutter
  • NOTICE – I want to notice more details of life, little things people say and do instead of rushing thru life and missing those things about others
  • RESTORATION – I have some relationships with people that could be restored, my spiritual life could use some restoration, and so could my physical body
  • PUSH – I need to PUSH myself often to accomplish little and big things. It is so easy for me to get comfortable where I am and not push or challenge myself. I also could use to lovingly Push others in the direction they need to go
  • BIG – I was listening to the radio and they mention how God did not make us to do small things but to shine BIG. I have a mug that says PRAY BIG. I am guilty of doing things at a minimal level. I don’t think I shine BIG for others to know God through my life.
  • CULTIVATE – This is the one I thought I would be doing. I listened to some videos by Lara Casey and she talked about cultivating what matters. Cultivate them by spending time doing little by little to build up relationships, habits, etc… Hearing her and my childhood on the farm, I was sure this was the one… until God kept laying a word on my heart.

DRUM ROLL….

DELIBERATE will by my word for 2017.   I heard this word on a podcast and I thought that is a good word and put it on the potential list, but really was trying to convince myself on my words present and cultivate.   But over and over, God made things happened that made me realize I really need to be DELIBERATE in my actions. Deliberate to control my procrastination. Deliberate in every area of my life – my spirituality, my health, my relationships, our home, our marriage, our children, my time, finances, and the list goes on. I can be deliberate in being open… clearing… noticing… restoring… pushing… making life BIG… cultivating… I want an even more amazing life. I don’t want just to take life as it comes, but be deliberate in the things that matter.

I always try to pick a scripture that goes with my word, and I could not narrow one down. Then, I thought of Proverbs 31 about the virtuous woman and thought how deliberate she was in her life. Then, I found this commentary and it confirmed it – “ The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 can best be described as deliberate in her actions and duties. Her decisions and undertakings are purposefully in line with her calling, resulting in such a well-run family…” My goal in being deliberate is Proverbs 31:28 “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her!”

Look out 2017, here I come….

p.s. I have plans to be deliberate with some blogs too….

FOCUS on Mary (and makeup)

For the last couple years Mary has asked me to write a blog just for her. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes the “struggle is real” as she would say.  (This is over 6 months overdue). How do you possibly put all the wisdom you want to share in one little letter? How do you possibly tell her everything about how much she means to your family? How do you possibly tell her how much she is loved by so many?!  You can’t.  Heaven knows in the 17 years of her life I have made mistake after mistake, and had to explain things that now she understands about some of my difficult choices. But, I will never be able to give her all my lessons to prevent her from making her own. In fact, I am learning one of the only things I can do is let her also learn some lessons the hard way, and love and support her when she does.  But I know the material ways to my daughter’s heart… food, music, and makeup.  I understand the whole food thing.  I did not earn my beautiful curves by eating too much lettuce.  I get the music because there is an amazing feeling when I get in the car and the perfect song comes on the radio.  Sometime it is a song that speaks to me through word and sometimes it brings back a memory of a younger life.  Sometimes it is sitting at the piano and playing and thinking of Mom and Grandma… But, one of the areas I don’t really get is Makeup. However, when your child loves something, it is important to learn about it and not judge them…. Or they will take that passion to someone else to share.   However, over time I think there are many valuable lessons that can be made in relation to makeup

Some makeup is seasonal… so are relationships. Through my life I have been blessed with some amazing lifelong friendships. I also have been blessed with relationships that were just for the season. People/friends have been planted in my life for me to bless them, or for them to bless me and fill a gap I needed. However, relationships often change, and that I believe is by God’s design. Sometimes the circumstances change and your friends fit differently because of the change in priorities. Sometimes their presence is less, but resumes in another season of your life.  Sometimes they are present only for a brief season to reveal something from God. The biggest piece is loving and savoring the season you are in – even the hard winter seasons. There is always something to learn, and it may not be noticed until later down the road. I have noticed how when a new season on the calendar comes, so does makeup. (And God bless the salesperson who knows we are from out of town and hooks us up for the season’s specials before they are ever on the shelf – another lesson to follow!). Mary can’t wait to score some of the new specials, but at the same time, she loves her tried and true products. God has also blessed me with new friendships that have poured deeply into my life. I would have once tried to hold only onto the ones I knew and were comfortable with, afraid to try new friendships and trust them with my life.   How I would have missed out! I am so blessed with my tried and true that even if I can’t see them, they are a text or Facebook message away to ask for a prayer, for wisdom, etc…

Makeup is a great disguise to cover up physical blemishes. In life, I have used many things to cover other problems. I have used food to cover the hurt I was feeling. I have used little words like “I’m fine” to cover up what I am really feeling. I have used over working to cover up my insecurities as a wife, mom, friend, etc…   Makeup allows you to apply as many layers as needed to hide the blemish, and so does life.   I have put layers and layers of projects, to do lists, commitments to hide behind my insecurities, etc.   But at the end of the day, the makeup comes off, and the blemishes are visible. At some point, I eventually crack and all my inward blemishes are revealed – my weaknesses, my insecurities, my pain, my fear, my hurt. Learning who you can trust to see you without the makeup… see all the outward (and inward) blemishes… is life changing. I love that you have “found” some amazing friends that are exactly that to you!

Do not be afraid to ask questions… a lesson I have watched you overcome in the makeup section. We do not have all the answers in life, but often another person does. We have to ask questions sometimes to find what we are looking for. Without the asking we may miss out on something. The perfect example was recently when we went into a new store and you had a wish list of seasonal items that you could not find. I asked the clerk and she knew exactly where they were. They were not even on the shelf yet, but she hooked us up with them. A simple question changed everything.  Don’t be afraid to ask… and also be willing to help someone find an answer if you can (and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know but will try to help).

Not everyone will understand your passion, but look for those who at least listen. In life, some people are not going to understand your passion about make-up, and this can become quite frustrating, I am sure. However, I have learned that the key is when someone is at least willing to listen to your passion (even if they will never understand it or be willing to try it). Find the ones willing to go on the occasional excursion to find that one makeup product you are missing, even if they think you are crazy. They will be the one who will be there for other crazy adventures. They will support you, even when they don’t understand. They are the ones who accept unconditionally and don’t ask you to change. You also be that one for your friends too… the one who may not understand the friend’s passion, but accepts them. Supports the difference as long as it does not compromise your morals (and preferably does not land you in jail – and if it does, as always, call me no questions asked – lol).

Try new thing… just like makeup, some items you enjoy may one day not be a good fit, and other ties you become so comfortable with them, you don’t try new ones. That is true with life. You may think a certain career path is a good fit (and it may be for a season), but that may change and you may need to try something new.   Can you imagine all the things you would have missed out on had you only stuck to one brand of makeup?!? (I would have saved a fortune, but you would have missed out on colors, and pigments, and all the products that can make you smile. Enjoy life like that… don’t get too comfortable that you won’t try new things, just think if you would have not tried a new setting spray, you would be missing out! Don’t’ let fear get in your way to try new things either. You may miss out on an amazing experience or beautiful view.

Makeup has also taught you the value of different things. There is a purpose in life for the basics (like from NYX or Elf) and other times high-end are the best to choose (p.s. just because you love Too Faced makeup does not mean you are allowed to be – lol). Life also mimics that… there are times where McDonalds will do, and others a good filet from a high-end steak house is a better fit. There are times when your wallet will support a low end product more than a high-end product. But there are some areas of life you should not “settle” for lesser things. For instance, friendships should always be high-end (I mean high quality not costly). Do not “settle” with “friends” who beat up your confidence, who you cannot trust, who go behind your back, etc…. Do not “settle” for a job that steals your joy, criticizes your skill, tears you down, etc…   Look for higher-end, because you deserve them!

When you try a new product and it “doesn’t feel right”, chances are it is a not a good fit and it needs to be changed. There will be life events that just don’t “feel right”. They may not line up with your life for that season, but may later. However, it may be due to your heart saying “danger”, or your gut knotting up because it goes against beliefs/ethics, or your brain screaming because you know it is not wise decision. If it doesn’t feel right (exercise excluded because it may never feel right), listen to the voice. Make sure what you experience / choose lines up with your beliefs, your morals, your ethics, etc… if it “doesn’t feel right” it likely is not. If in doubt, ask your mom (hint hint) or a trusted friend, who will not steer you in the wrong direction!

It is also true that even if it “feels right”, doesn’t mean it is. You may choose an amazing shade of baby blue eyeshadow, and it feels rights. However, it may not be a wise choice! Listen to your inner voice (and a mirror – lol), that baby blue may have gone out of style a long time ago! However, it is good to be confident and if baby blue eyeshadow makes you feel that it fine. But for big choices that can alter your life – just because it feels right does NOT mean it is. Sometimes it gets confusing about what “feels right” and what “is right”. Sometimes what “feels good” is mistaken to be what “feels right”. Surround yourself with people who can help you make the decision, or pull you out of the situation (or better yet prevent you from the situation). Chances are the ones who will lie and say the baby blue eyeshadow looks good to save your feelings, are not the ones to be trusted for the big things. Keep the strong ones nearby and listen to the strong moral compass you have inside of you!

Take a minute for the little things… like mascara and lip gloss.   There was a day when your obsession with makeup drove me crazy. Now I am blessed to have a daughter who cares about what she looks like before she leaves the house. Many others could learn that lesson! It also amazes me how just taking about five minutes for you to apply a little moisturizer, power, mascara, and lip gloss can also help you face the crazy world. In life, it is often the little things that can make all the difference – a smile from a stranger, a text from a friend, a hug from your brother, a hot bath, a burning candle, a smell of amazing cologne…. Treasure the little things! When I started counting little things several years ago, it was amazing at the change in life perspective! Savor them! Sometimes they are the only things that can help you face the world!

There is a time and a place for drama. So true with makeup and life. For instance, if heading for a trip to Fayette County Walmart, you do NOT need smokey eyes and heavy makeup – lol! Just like makeup, some people add DRAMA where it is not necessary. Save the drama and the energy for an appropriate time – you will know when that is. There is enough drama… don’t become a part of it if you can avoid it! If you see friends in the middle of unnecessary drama – step up and save them if possible – but don’t get yourself sucked in trying.

A product you I hear you speak of is setting spray to hold everything in place despite the heat, the environment, etc. (that and waterproof mascara). It is important to have those sacred things that help you hold life together, no matter the circumstances. First would be your relationship with Christ. He is the one who hears all things, knows all things, sees all things, and can help you hold it together. When the world is crashing and times are tough, turn on the radio (your love language) and listen to his promises! Hold on to your dad and I and know that NO MATTER WHAT the circumstances we are there! We may disagree but will NEVER stop loving you! Hold on to your relationships that are the setting spray to your life – that help you keep it together despite the circumstances, etc.

Concealer is an amazing product… it can hide the dark circles under your eyes from the lack of sleep. There are times things should be hidden from the public. Everyone does NOT need to know your personal life. In this wonderful time of technology, too often, people forget to apply their concealer. They let the world see their “dark circles” and hear the whole story behind it. Only certain ones should be privileged enough to know those “dark” parts. People who will love and not judge. People who know your heart. People who will reach in to help.   Call them, send a private message, a private text and conceal the sacredness of your weaknesses, troubles, etc… Few are worthy to have that close of view to your life – guard it well!

I love how you have evolved to do what you do because of who you are and not caring what the general population thinks (and at times your immediate circle). You follow your internal compass well! You love make-up because how it makes you feel confident (even though your mom rarely wears an ounce of it). You have learned to spend time on you, which is a lesson you learned from me not doing it. You have over time also learned to stand strong for what you believe, play the devil’s advocate, and defend what you believe to be important. I love that you have chosen your own path and loves, including makeup, despite what your friends do… what society does… what your family says you should do. I want what is best for you in this world, and to do that you have to follow YOUR goals, YOUR life, YOUR internal compass… keep going your direction… prove the critics wrong… you are an amazing handiwork that God created to be exactly who you are!

Brand names are important in the makeup world. They make a product special and often limited. They are of higher quality and cannot be substituted easily. People can try to make “knock offs”, but they are not the same pure blend. You have two brand names — Child of God and Wolfe!   First of all you are a child of God! Secondly, you are our child – a Wolfe! You are a beautiful amazing mixture of some pretty crazy genes.   The world cannot change that… people cannot change that… circumstances cannot change that… You are YOU… AMAZING, FEARFULLY, and WONDERFULY made. You are a one of a kind blend. Do not try to be something/someone you are not. You are a limited edition… and for that our lives are richly blessed.

Dear Mary, I am sorry it has taken me over 6 months, to slow my world enough to finish this… I am a work in process… every day I am amazed by your love for people (especially Sam), passion for your beliefs, and your wisdom beyond your yours. I am blessed for all of our talks and even when we agree to disagree. When my mom went to heaven, she did a great job to pick you out just for us… she knew exactly what I needed! Love you!

FOCUS on the blesses and not the messes!

I am so blessed and that is where I will focus. Wow, what a year 2015 was. I fell short in so many ways. I didn’t ___________ (fill in the blank). My list would be pretty long. But a few things have brought things back into FOCUS for me and I hope they will you too! Today for example, I slept in… I wanted to go to church, and well… it didn’t happen. I can FOCUS on the sadness all day or I can 1. Make the most of the hours at home and 2. Watch one or more of my favorite online speakers (Steve Furtick, Priscilla Shirer, etc.).

I have been pretty hard on myself for not keeping up with people in 2015. My WORD FRIENDS got a little neglected. Honestly “my word” ACT got a lot neglected too. I wanted to get more done and reach out more. You should have seen the list I planned to accomplish when off for surgery. I don’t really have a great excuse but that I left life get in the way. Unfortunately, it wasn’t because I was always living, but because of the messy parts of life (my attitude, motivation, etc.). As I look forward to 2016, I have been blessed as I reach out to people for their words, that though I may not have lived up to my expectations, my efforts touched them. That is a different FOCUS.   To FOCUS on what I didn’t instead of the few times I could.

I listened to a message by Steve Furtick last weekend that we can choose to FOCUS on the messes of 2015 and the past or the miracles.   I don’t know about you, but I said I wanted to FOCUS on the miracles, the blessings, the right, the lessons, etc.   But, the days roll into each other… and my blessings fall into the cracks un-noticed. My grateful list has faded because I get so busy that I don’t pause for those few minutes to close my day with a thank you to God for the little things. My prayer life since returning to work has changed because I don’t make that time.   Let me just tell you… I AM FEELING IT!!!

Some amazing life changes have happened as a result when I FOCUS on the gratefulness of little things. I slow down. I breathe in. I smile.   Even more amazing life changing things happened as a result of my time on my porch swing with my empty cup waiting to receive from God (a great habit I started when off for surgery and time just passed without anywhere to be). (I started to cry just remembering that time). He honors a grateful heart… an empty soul… and every tear!

So today, since I missed church I wanted to start on one of many little projects and it required going through photos. I want to get a belated card out since I missed a Christmas card. I could say I was too busy but I was off work for 9 weeks due to a surgery and then the blessing of migraines.   But, it’s never too late to keep in touch, so Valentine’s Day or Easter the card may come. Anyway, I had to go through files and files of iphone photos and with every folder I opened, I smiled. My FOCUS became on what an amazing year our little family had. Trips and time together… Laughter and sadness… Sunshine and snow showers… Cuddling and chaos…. In the middle of the mess of life (the hard times, the struggles), some amazing beautiful times happened. I needed this today. I needed to FOCUS on all that is right to point my heart back in the direction it needs to go.

Our family has some BIG changes in 2016. On New Year’s Day, I resigned from my job after 11 ½ years. I made the decision, ironically, at the beach. The irony is because when I resigned my last position to go to my current employer, it was at the beach.   There is something about pushing pause on life and sitting in front of the huge ocean and watching the sun come over the horizon, and watching the waves stop exactly where they are supposed to, and the shells laying out beautifully saying “pick me”, and Sam swimming like a fish in the pool, and Mary falling in love with cheesy grits, and our family of four in a hotel room ordering chocolate cake from room service… that makes you get BRAVE because you know that what matters are the people in that room, and the God who controls that ocean and sun, has our lives directly in the palm of His hands. He was just waiting for me to push pause. I paused a lot on my porch when life slowed and truly believe that it was during that time, He made BIG plans for my family.   He sees us, He knows us, and He has GOT THIS! I just have to FOCUS my eyes on Him. It’s easy at the beach… and as I sorted through pictures and placed my beautiful shells (the most I have ever found there) in a big glass vase on my table as a constant reminder to FOCUS… Today on this snowy day in PA, can be as calm as that day in Virginia Beach… if I FOCUS my eyes in the right direction.

God has BIG BIG plans for us… but if I take my eyes off Him, I might just stumble (voice of experience). Thankfully, He is my heavenly Father and will brush off the dirt when I do, kiss my wound (physical, emotional, spiritual, mental), and get my FOCUS back once again.

So FOCUS on the blesses and not the messes — that’s my new motto!

BRINGING 2016 into FOCUS!!!

2016… where has the time gone… so much more I said I would do, wanted to do, thought about doing in 2015 (and in the 45 years of my life prior…). But all that is gone… no regrets… just moving forward and time to FOCUS on 2016. That’s my word FOCUS!   This was a jointly decided upon word for me with the help of my beautiful family. It is the word I probably utter most to myself, as I have been more scattered mentally than ever….

I absolutely love choosing a word for the year to set my mind on. Every year I generally choose one to combat one of my largest weaknesses – procrastination. I have come a loooong way, but definitely a looong way to go! The biggest moment of reality for me is when our daughter started walking in my very deep footprints of procrastination. It took me watching her trip over her own footprints that I knew I had to change. I had to be the change I wanted to see in her. I have procrastinated everything from homework assignments, work assignments, and even my health with my do it tomorrow attitude. So as in previous years, my word will continue to help me fight the battle of procrastination.

I am finding I notice little things like I can’t remember where something is. When, I generally am the girl who can remember where anything is as long as I have touched it at least once. Even on Christmas, after shuffling things around to be ready for the day, I had misplaced my wallet. Keep in mind, the last prior place I had been was Walmart. All I could think of was that our account would be hacked, and that would be on top of an issue I was already facing regarding finances. After much loss of valuable time, I had to FOCUS of where I had been last and recall if/when I had touched it. I found it, in the bottom of a laundry basket that had been further covered with a load of laundry or two.

What’s changed… I multi-task more than over. I pause less than ever. If I were to dump my mind out on a table, it would resemble the bottom of my purse (or even worse my Grandma Frazee’s purse – lol). I would know everything in there, but some things would need to be thrown away, some would need removed but saved for a later time, and other things would deserve more care! Most importantly, it would make room for other things that needed to be in there!

I recently was off of work for about 9 weeks after a routine surgery. The last time I was off that long was to deliver a child. Well, when you are off and come home with a baby, there is no focus on the mama. This time, I could FOCUS on God, on me, and on family! I found a stillness that I didn’t remember existed. I sat on my porch swing almost every morning for weeks, holding my cup, empty before God, and listened! I blocked out the to-do list, which had shrunk immensely without work. I didn’t even touch my “while I am off” dream list including photo organization, lego organization, house projects, books to read… But I did restore ME… Sheri, the mom, the wife, the friend, etc. I was able to be there… physically and mentally… I could FOCUS on the people that mattered.

I watch Mary… when she is in “school mode” she has a focus – her planner for the week is done, post-it notes for the days work is complete, projects are organized, everything has a color. The end result of her focus is some amazing grades and a happy daughter! When things start swarming in that pulls her away, the focus becomes foggy, she gets flustered and feels overwhelmed. (I can relate).   Then she goes back to the steps she knows to focus and produce. …. (Of note, this beautiful system took place after a hard fall from stepping in my footprints of procrastination, and her watching me constantly refer to the importance of my calendar).

I watch Sam… his focus for whatever his passion is for the moment – Legos, action figures, or Minecraft. His concentration is amazing. He can block out the rest of the world and FOCUS on just that one thing. The result is an amazing creation and/or hours of play. He can become so focused on a project, that he can stay up most of the night or at times wake in the middle of the night to complete what is in his mind. The result is a calm and happy son!

I watched the movie War Room over and over recently. Life changing! When I was off, my porch was a mini war room. The peace after that time spent with God was priceless and poured into my whole day. But when I returned to my pre-surgery schedule, I let my old routine seep back in and I didn’t make time to go to God. When in reality is when I need that FOCUS most.  It is like a puzzle, with FOCUS (especially on God), all the pieces fit. Without that, I discover pieces are temporarily misplaced! (I say replaced because once I focus, I will find the missing item – Jim and Mary will both tell you… 1. If I have ever touched it, I will know where it is. 2. If it is to be found, it will be done by me, and 3. I won’t rest until it is found).

God has some amazing things ahead of me in 2016, I am sure! He promises in His word that He has a plan for me…. A hope and a future… Unfortunately, if I don’t keep my mind fixed and in FOCUS, I just might miss things, because I am so busy looking for the pieces I have misplaced. I think about binoculars (or me without my glasses), the object maybe in “view” but it’s just a blurb. With my glasses or binoculars, I can FOCUS on what it truly is.

It is only a day into 2016 and I have already made some changes…

  • My calendar has shrunk in size. If I have smaller “blocks”, I will be more careful to FOCUS on the things that should be there! (People over projects as Lysa Terkeurst refers to).
  • I have said YES to two major decisions that will change my FOCUS in a new direction. (remember the analogy of dumping out my mind is like dumping out a purse – it is getting rid of some of the garbage that took up too much space and making room for new exciting things – more in near future)
  • I am spending the weekend with my family. We have talked and laughed. They have listened to me talk about all the WORDs my friends have chosen. When I didn’t want to commit (another great word chosen by a friend) to FOCUS, I did a typical search looking for something temporarily misplaced and said (what I thought was under my breathe) FOCUS SHERI! They have since not let up to remind me why this is the word – FOCUS!
  • I chose a word… the one I was avoiding, because it’s the one I need most in my life most.

So a couple things I generally do in choosing a word is to look up definition, find a song, and find a scripture…

Definition (using verb – because I like my one word to be an action because in procrastination I put off, by choosing an action I feel it combats that habit more): 1. To be directed at something specific… 2. To direct attention / effort at something specific…. 3. To adjust to make an image clear

Scripture: wow there are a few… but I like Isaiah 26:3 as it is a promise to ME (paraphrase by me) – He will keep ME, Sheri, in perfect peace, when my mind is steadfast (FOCUSED) on Him!

Song / Hymns – Turn your eyes upon Jesus… Of note, I googled the words of the hymn just to be sure and found this interesting – The lyrics were inspired by the Gospel Tract FOCUSED, by Lilias Trotter… (no coincidence there – lol)…    O soul, are you weary and troubled?   No light in the darkness you see? There’s a light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!  Refrain: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

I can’t wait to watch FOCUS live out loud in my life… and watch your ONE WORD live out loud in yours!!!!