Monthly Archives: December 2012

prepare to be…. INTENTIONAL!

What an amazing blessed year for us. Over the past year I used PREPARE to guide me. I started my blog and poured out my heart on many occasions. I believe that I definitely looked at little things in life differently and hopefully for the better. Last year at this time we were in Orlando Florida at Sea World as a family (Sam has mentioned many times that we should be there now). We found our church as a family and have settled in with some amazing new friends. We enjoyed some adventures at Ohiopyle, the Beach, Gettysburg, and Splash Lagoon. I went away for a whole weekend with just Jim, the first time since before having children. We chose to begin cyber schooling and that was monumental. I met new and dear friends on facebook that have grown beyond the basic watching the other person’s post. I followed my heart to lead a Ladies Bible School, and that has brought me together with some amazing Christian women that I so needed to help me grow in my faith and discover support in people outside myself. Thankfully, I have also rediscovered reading to feed my mind and challenged me to re-think life.

I discovered an Online Bible Study for a book that I had downloaded to my Kindle many months ago. But like many things, I had not opened it. The Online Bible Study is awesome because I can do it as time allows, but keeps me moving forward through the book. The book/Bible Study is GREATER by Steven Furtick. That is how the word GREATER became one of my word choices. It isn’t a book about deserving more in life from God, but how I can become greater * right where I am * in my dependence of Christ * in my relationships * in my commitments. As I read the book, it was though on every page, I wanted that to be me. The Ladies Bible Study, then the Online Bible Study, and then the book has made me hungry for a deeper relationship and to become greater. I bought a new Bible with my name beautifully inscribed on the front, as a reminder they are personal letters and lessons just to me. My wonderful family bought me a new IPod and I have filled all 16gb with podcasts by Steven Furtick and listen to at least one everyday. Yes, I want to be Greater…..
My other word came to mind probably as early as September if not before – INTENTIONAL. I am a procrastinator and in addition, I am a go with the flow, no schedule, no routine, kind of person. I meet all mandatory deadlines, but my to-do list from day to day is filled with things I want to get to. Something happened to me this year, in the middle of the chaos of our life, I began to re-learn who I was. As I poured out my heart in my blogs, I became more than all the roles I play, but a person. As I read books, I realized how much more I can be and can offer. For the last month or so I have made a thankful list almost everyday… and it did not take long to write because my focus has changed to looking for blessing.

 Tonight I made my list and it just supports my word of the year

*  loosing my timeline posts (and earlier this year I lost my blog for a few hours). I have shared so many things on these electronic sites about our family and my heart. They are like a little legacy. So in 2013, I want to continue being INTENTIONAL with my writing. I also want to back up all the writings on these sites and save them for the kids – because I am sure facebook and blogs may involve into something bigger/different.

* the discovery of some older CDs. There is a website called Intentional Living by Randy Carlson. I use to listen to the program every day on my commute to/from work and as a supportive listener, I received his CDs on Intentional Living. I remembered them and got them out and they will prep me for my INTENTIONAL year.

* watching Sam build his castle. So often I hurry through things and get busy multi—tasking. For the last couple days, I just watched in amazement at his imagination. I need to be more INTENTIONAL in the time I spend with him. I also really need to get more involved in the politics of Autism, I am afraid. I need to be INTENTIONAL in ensuring that every opportunity available for him is explored.

* receiving text from Mary makes me realize she is growing up. We have our moments that our relationship can be tricky. But we have grown in the past year thanks to Cyber School and actively working on the relationship. I need to be INTENTIONAL in speaking her love language (one of my many discoveries this year) and continue to build on the relationship.

* a full pantry , but not what we were hungry for. So tonight we even went and got groceries – came home and Jim realized he was hungry for homemade pizza. Guess what I didn’t have… there was a day my pantry would be full of the essentials at all times. I have become less prepared in that area. Suppers are usually a throw together at the last minute and multiple meals to accommodate everyone. I need to be INTENTIONAL in meal planning (even joined a website PLANTOEAT to create meal plans and grocery lists). I love to cook and so does Mary but it is always the same dishes.

*the words chosen by FB friends. I am impressed with the selection and I am so excited to watch them unfold over the year for those who have chosen words. I want to support them in their words and need to be INTENTIONAL in my support. Broken promises to support, just can’t happen.

* a quote that makes me stop. In an Oprah Magazine several years ago, she said “”How you spend your time defines who you are.” Well, I do believe that, but that would also mean there are times I do not like how I am defined. There are times I would be defined as a zombie work-a-holic. Other times I could get good mom and wife. Maybe on occasion be a good Child of God. I want to be INTENTIONAL with my time. Make the moments matter on earth and spend it with the ones that matter.

* Fresh calendar pages, pens, and paper – I had to include this because I know everyday I waste time in a variety of ways. I love the clean pages of a new calendar or tablet and filling it with things to do. I want to be INTENTIONAL of what goes on my list (time for me, time for family, time for Christ, time for others – in no particulat order) . I have the ultimate tools to make the process fun with a little intentional thinking

*Pausing to read – for years I always said I don’t have time. This year, I made time and the books changed me. They  made me question myself and made me improve myself internally. They were a refuge from the daily life and gave me ways to become me! I want to be INTENTIONAL in what I read and making the time to do it.

*My blog – I LOVE to write. It is like thinking out loud and not getting any argument back. I have been so blessed and touched by the feedback to my blogs and the comments. I want to be even more INTENTIONAL in the writing my way to self discovery and hope it continues to touch lives.

Everyday in my job as a nurse, I watch lives change tragically – car accidents, tumors, severe sicknesses. The Bible Study at church is about Unglued, and it has brought me attentive to areas that I can easily fall apart on and I have become more intentional at recognizing them and trying to correct them. Then Newtown happened to re-awaken that nerve. That following Sunday as we were doing our rushing to get to church and patience was running thin for Sam and his speed by some others in the family, I wanted to scream. All I could think of was how many people were rushing that morning, or arguing with their child about their clothes or homework, etc. I don’t want to live like that. I want to INTENTIONALLY ensure my words and actions (and how I spend my time) is a better definition of who I am.

I PREPARE to be INTENTIONAL in 2013. I have named a few areas above, but as with my PREPARE word, it impacted every day living. Please join me in my journey as I intentionally focus on me (spiritually, physically, and mentally), my marriage, our children, my friendships, our home, and our church. And at the end of the year, I think I will discover as I become more Intentional, I will also become GREATER (=
I am so excited for the new year, now if I can stay awake long enough to see it change (=

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prepare for 2013 WORD (part 2)

I am hoping that if I write, my word will reveal itself… I have narrowed it down to 2 words for 2013. My words that were left after the last weaning are Transform, Passion, Greater, and Intentional
I have eliminated the following two and this is why
1. Passion – I absolutely LOVE this word. I drink from my mug that says it at least twice a day. It is a reminder to Live Today with Passion. I even devoted a whole blog to it earlier this year. As a cancer nurse, I would see a patient hear they had cancer and it was though a light switch was turned on. Many lived differently – with passion. They made their days count and did many things they wanted to. Some carried their passion for life to heaven, while others, survived and continued to live life on earth with zeal. I don’t want to have to hear the diagnosis to live like that. I don’t want life to monotonous, and I believe with a word like passion (defined as intense emotion or enthusiasm), it would challenge that. However, passion is an emotion and I have eliminated all other emotion / feeling words.. I do truly believe that if I choose intentional that I can be intentionally passionate. If I choose greater, by become greater in the areas of my life that passion will be an end result. So, instead of it being my word for the year officially, it will remain on my mug as my daily reminder.

2. Transform – I even had the perfect scripture for this one (Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.). Note the definition of transform is to change something dramatically – to change somebody or something complete, especially improving their appearance or usefulness. There are many parts of my life I want to transform (change dramatically) – my body, my health, our home… However, there are many things I just want to add to / build upon the great foundation of – my relationships with Christ, my husband, my children (of note in that order). I also believe that if I choose intentional or greater that the transformation will happen. So, instead of transform being my word for the year – it will be a direct result of being intentional or greater.

TWO DAYS left and TWO WORDS to choose. Decisions, decisions, decisions… I truly am wrestling with them still. Both intentional and greater would be a challenge for me, but that is exactly what I want. I want a challenge and want to be challenged (oh – that would have been a great word too – challenge).

Here are the questions from the MY ONE WORD book – What are some things I would like to change about myself: What distracts you from focusing on the change I desire? What kind of person do I want to become this year? What drives my desire to be that kind of person?

So as I prepare for 2013, the sky is the limit. I know exactly the areas of my life I want to focus on, and will choose the perfect word to guide and inspire me.

prepare for MY NEW WORD – 2013

I have mentioned many times about choosing one word to guide me through the year. I first heard about it 2 years ago on K-Love. I use to make long lists of resolutions that never came to remain passed a few days. The lists were always to focus on personal things I wanted to change – you know the weight, the exercise, projects, etc… In hindsight, most things were external issues. By choosing a WORD, in focuses more on the internal me.
In 2011, I chose the word RENEW. I wanted to renew my life – it was the year, I asked to change work hours to better accommodate our family. It was the year that we started going to church together in the fall. I just dabbled with the word in hindsight, but it was the start. In 2012, I chose the word PREPARE and created my blog around it. The word became a daily reminder for me. I have poured my heart out in 125 posts and have grown and changed as a result.
So, I am going to be brave and share my current list, and my thought process behind each word. I started the list probably in November, and the one word surfaced early this year with a mug (read on). Literally, I am going to think “out loud” in this blog and work through my consideration process. On January 1st, after more prayer and contemplation, I will let you know the final decision. I am sharing to encourage others to choose a word and watch it change your heart. Also, I have learned this year, that I think best when I write.
My list started with these words: 1. thankfulness, 2. intentional, 3. purposeful, 4. greater, 5. progress, 6. happiness, 7. hopeful, 8. contentment, 9. passion, 10. serenity, 11. more, 12. move, 13. release, 14. inspiration, 15. attention, and 16. transform.

The ELIMINATION PROCESS:
The first set of words I eliminated were more of feelings and attitude words, including: thankfulness, happiness, hopeful, contentment, and serenity are more feelings and attitude words. These feelings/attitude would/could be a result of a powerful action word. For instance, if I transform my life it will lead to being more thankful, happy, hopeful, etc… If I become Greater where I am in life, it will lead to being more content, thankful, happy, etc… So, these are eliminated as my words, because I am praying they become a result of the word I choose.
Another word I eliminated is inspiration. I wanted to be inspired by Christ and in return inspire others. This word I also believe can become a result of chosing a “stronger” word. Again, if I become the person I want/need to become, I pray the result will be inspiration to others. I know I have to work on ME first before I can inspire others.
The last word I eliminated is release. My thinking of this word was to release my bad habits, my fears that stop me, and also my bad attitude/feelings towards some people/things. But for me the word release was more about negatives than positives – not that letting go of bad things are detrimental. However, I believe by adding more positives and becoming more / better, the negatives will become less in my life.

So I am left with 2. intentional, 3. purposeful, 4. greater, 5. progress, 9. passion, 11. more, 12. move, 15. attention, and 16. transform.

GROUPING PROCESS:
I also resolved that certain words could be grouped into similar goals and will leave the word bolded and underlined be the strongest of the group that I am considering. All of the words that are left cover all the areas of my life that I want to focus on – ME (spiritual, mental, and physical), Relationships (family, friends), and Home (physical, financial, and emotional).

Intentional would encompass purposeful and attention. Intentional is from Family Life ministries (www.theintentionallife.com). Being intentional would make me focus and have a plan to address areas of my life. Purposeful is like being intentional and doing things with a purpose, rather just to do them. There are many areas of my life that need Attention – my health, relationships, work, etc.. But if I am intentional, I also would be giving the important things the attention they deserve.

Transform would encompass Progress and Move. Transform is a word that came out of a recent scripture reading and my son’s love of the Transformers. The transformers toys can become something new with some detailed instructions. Transforming would be a step in becoming the person I want to be and Christ asks me to be. Progress would also mean moving forward in the direction of becoming that same person. Progress is a result of our Ladies’ Bible Study because the author talks about imperfect progress. The word Move was chosen because that is what I need to do – move forward physically, emotionally, and mentally and not be stuck in the past failures. They also all address my procrastination and allowing my self to get stuck in a pit.  I feel like if I transform I will be moving and making progress.

Greater and more would both mean going above where I am. I am currently reading and doing a Online Bible Study on the book GREATER by Steven Furtick. Wow, what a challenging book. He talks about how ordinary people can do Greater right where we are. I also wanted my IPod I got so I could download his sermon podcasts from ITunes. The word More is similar to Greater because it means doing MORE for people, for relationships, for work, for taking care of me. Although these words could be taken by some as conceited because I must think I am Great and just want to be Greater OR because I must think I deserve More. However, this is my word choice and do not really let other’s opinion weigh in. This is a decision between me and God.

Passion, this has been a word in my vocabulary this year – starting with my mug (Live Today with Passion). It is such a powerful word that evokes strong emotions in me. It isn’t about just getting by day by day, but living it fully as God has intended. 

I am so glad I decided to write this blog as in writing it brought the choices down to four words from sixteen. The next step is finding scriptures and songs. Then I listen quietly as Christ will lead me in the direction I should go and who He wants me to become….

Side notes: The site is http://www.myoneword.org, and now they have a book. I downloaded it last week, and have read all but one chapter (waiting for my Kindle to re-charge). In the last chapter, it talks about the power of writing and reflecting on your word. In addition, the book suggests to place the word in many places as a reminder and encourager. There were several “oneword stories” and it even made me add a few words to my list. Now, I am in the planning and praying for the right word phase. I also find a great scripture that applies to the word and a song. I have the scripture and my song on my phone as a constant reminder (https://sherisoulsearch.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/preparing-for-a-soul-search/).

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” – Peace Pilgrims

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” – Buddha

“What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” – Eleanor Powell

prepare to BRING THE BEST

Christmas Day is winding down and exhaustion is setting in.  Last night after work, I just sat and shut off all the lights except for the Christmas tree.  Now, I question myself why do I always wait so long to have it put up.  It is so beautiful, not just because of the reflection of the lights off of the metallic bulbs, or that ornaments that my mom painted are proudly displayed at the top, but the fact that every decoration was hung by our incredible children.

Another main focus of the evening was the placing of our gifts under the tree.  I knew that I had found some incredible items from “the lists” and Santa would take care of the rest (as well as Poppa and Nanny and Uncle Donnie and Aunt Kristin).  But to be honest, I was excited to have a few under the tree for me.  Most years, Jim and I do not exchange gifts as we buy things throughout the year.  This year, we agreed to purchase some small items.   Well, little did I know that Jim had already started a purchase earlier this year for a beautiful diamond wrap for my engagement ring/wedding band.  I was pretty excited when I opened the box that was inside a box, inside a bigger box.  They say diamonds are a girls best friend – not so much for me, but a gift of diamonds from MY BEST FRIEND = priceless!  I also, within the last week, asked for an IPod to download podcasts and my husband and children blessed me with that as well – and my greater than 350 podcasts/sermons are loading as I type.  Samuel is pretty entertaining on Christmas with the anticipation, the looking down the stairs when pitch black to declare Santa had been there, and then to open one gift and play with it for a bit while acting like no other gifts existed.  At some points, we had to encourage him to keep opening them.  Mary also opened the gifts and I think was surprised that I remembered things that she had requested throughout the year (her favorite gums, some movies, books, etc…).  The opening of more gifts continued with Poppa/Nanny and Don/Kristen and Grandmother.  More excitement… more joy… more “just what I wanted”.  Sam has said “Merry Christmas” to me several times today and the hugs and lovings are in continual supply.

As Christmas ends and the gifts have been exchanged and opened, my mind thinks about the prospect of the New Year, and I am super excited.  I feel like I am a different person internally this year.  My heart is definitely more open and my mind is more focused on what matters in life.  I also think about all the “perfect” gifts that I found this year and the satisfaction of the receivers of the gifts. But it makes me think of the gifts I should give year-round.  Do I give them the best of me?  My time? My undivided attention or continue to multi-task and half hear?  Words of praise and gratitude or words in anger and frustration?

Today is the celebration of Jesus birthday and I think – what did I give Him and what could I give Him?  Today, I gave Him praise and thanksgiving… I am also downloading only scriptural messages to learn more about Him.  But really, He was born in a manger only to die for my sin! I am so sure it trumps my little prayer and praise today.  So what is the perfect gift I can give Him for all He has given me?  In the Bible, it was not uncommon to offer a sacrifice.  We talked about this in Ladies Bible Study of how there were times people would just sin and expect a simple burnt offering enough coverage for the sin.  In the Bible, there was also Wisemen who brought gifts to the Christ child.  One of my favorite Christmas songs is the Drummer Boy and it talks about our finest gifts we bring… and the Little Drummer Boy had no gift to bring that was fit to give the King… So he asks Shall I play for you and Mary and the animals nodded – and the Drummer Boy played his best for Him.

So, what do I bring to Him on His birthday, or more importantly everyday?

  • What is my offering?
  • What is my sacrifice?
  • Do I bring the best I have to offer Him, or do I consistently give Him my leftovers?
  • Do I give him the first of my time or do I “squeeze” Him in where I can (and if I want)?

When I think of gifts, I think of beautiful wrapping.

  • Do I bring it wrapped with a beautiful heart (I could easily focus on my outward appearance, but God looks at my heart)?
  • Do I bring with a beautiful heart or out of obligation?   I also think about the selection of the ‘perfect gift”.

For our children, I had to go out of the way for a few gifts (i.e. they do not sell Ultraman toys in Morgantown) and calculated the time it would take to get here and if the s/h was worth it.

  • Do I spend that much time on the gift I bring to Christ?
  • Do I plan it out or just rush through to give him some time and devotion?
  • Do I just go through the motions or mean what I say/do?

I never really thought about Christmas this way, and it is probably because my heart was different this year.  I do know that even Christmas Day changed me – I need to PREPARE TO BRING THE BEST… bring the best gift, the non-material kind!  The best of me – my devotion, my time, my love, my words, etc…  And well, I need to work on the wrapping too (my body/my health), but that is another blog!  ( =

 

“Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.”  – Steve Marboli

prepare for CHRISTMAS IN MY HEART

Feels like forever since I did a blog,  Have sat down several times and started several, but I didn’t want to write about all the things going on in the world, all my “issues” because they were so small in comparison with what was going on in the world.  However, in reality everyday my “issues” are so much smaller than the world.

Well, Christmas is right around the corner, and the blessed thing is I am okay with it.  In fact, very excited for it to arrive.  It could be finding the perfect gifts for my amazing family.  Throughout the year I have wrote down things and most of them were purchased – it is remembering the little things that my family says.  But, also, I gifted to some others who have directly touched the lives of our children, and their facial expressions said it all.  It could be the smell of cookies baking in the oven on many evenings, because Mary became the family baker.   I can’t tell you the last cookies made in this home, but I am loving the change.  It could be the gifts in the garage for ME!  For many year, Jim and I have not exchanged gifts, but I wanted to this year.  I wanted to pick out some things for him.  He has gone out of his way to get my gifts, which is hard since I control most of the online purchasing, etc…  It could be listening to Christmas music that also talks about Easter (which by the way is my favorite holiday).   It could be that over 90% of my gifts have come from on-line and avoiding the craziness of shopping with people.  It could be that the gifts are almost all wrapped, which never happens before Dec 24th here.

Oh, I had a list of more things I wanted to do and made a good thought with it – including downloading the advent devotional that I read one chapter on – HOPE!  Great chapter.  I have an advent book I wanted to do with the kids, but that fell along the wayside as a formal thing.  I usually do the 12 days of Christmas for the kids, but that too came and went.  I did start an online Bible Study, which has changed my heart, but I have gotten behind, but plan to catch up after Tuesday.

So many things, that have changed and so many things still left unaccomplished.  But, I actually applied one of my life principals to Christmas this year.  EXPECT NOTHING AND I WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.  It is the pressure of comparing what I do with what others do, that can leave a void.  I have a friend that has her Christmas decorating done by Thanksgiving and almost every room of her home.  It look beautiful.  But, if I set that as the standard for my life – I would be disappointed in myself because I could never do it.  If I expect to give the perfect gift to everyone but can’t find it in the stores – I would be disappointed and settle for less.  All I can expect of myself is to do what I can and free my self of the high expectation!   I am sure Mary never expected to be the mother to Jesus – shepherds were not expecting angels – wisemen didn’t expect the north star – Joseph didn’t expect not finding a room for his expectant wife, but I am sure NONE of them were disappointed.  Had they expected those things, and God changed the plans – they would have been disappointed.

I also believe that my gratitude lists have added to my heart.  My eyes are fixed on the blessings and not the burdens.  Sure, life still has it’s issues – but at least I have a life!  I found a scripture tonight in my new Bible (my gift to myself).  Of note, I got my Bible in Navy Blue (my mom’s favorite color) and my name embossed in the front with gold (I had Sheri Knight Wolfe placed because my dad and mom were such great Christian examples and so blessed.  I have also been blessed to be given a wonderful husband, and may we be the example for our children).  When I opened the box, I cried.  Seeing my name on the Bible was like saying – “Sheri, here are my words of love and wisdom, written just for you!”  Anyway, back to the verse – Hebrews 13:15 – let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.  It doesn’t say offer to God a list of complaints, wants, needs, etc..  It also doesn’t say to sometimes offer him praise, but continually.  I believe by my change in focus from the negative to my many blessings, it is a praise to Him for all He is doing in my life.

I am blessed to have another Christmas with my family.  I am blessed to have the money to give some gifts.  I am blessed to have a church family to celebrate the season.  I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who picked out gifts just for me.  I am blessed to have beautiful children to see the excitement in their eyes.  I am blessed to have a home with an undecorated tree.  I am blessed and that has made all the difference this Christmas.  I, my friends, am prepared for Christmas in my heart – what a wonderful place to be!

prepare to be CINDY LOU (or the Grinch with a changed heart)

I just need to sit and write for a few minutes or hours or days.  The sermon today was about PEACE.(see I was paying attention).  And… it sounded great while listening and believed it in the car… and then we stepped into our home and it is time for lunch, and for Sam time to play, and time to think about everything that needs done for the week, before work tonight, and details for Christmas such as:  cookie exchanges, a tree would be nice, Sam’s O.T. gave him gingerbread houses to make, Church activities / events, work parties, some Santa lists to complete, and let’s not even forget the house.  Oh, and then there are the extra things not related to Christmas: signed up for an online Bible Study in addition to my weekly Bible Study at church, agreed to cover a co-worker at my per diem job, cyber schooling the kids, and my regular job.   Know that I did not create that list to show how busy I am, to get accolades for wearing a cape, to get empathy for my crazy life, to get criticism / advice on what I should do differently, etc.  I wrote it down just to focus me, because well, writing is what I do when I need to focus.  I could be working on the many projects, but honestly, I have learned sometimes I just need to write – sometimes a blog and often a list just to figure out the breathing room.

Anyway, going into this Christmas season, I vowed this year I would be different!  My procrastination generally discourages me – I mean I have known since last year Christmas was coming (=   To be honest, I had hoped to be a little further along than I am.  But, there is a difference in ME!  I actually put the Christmas channel on in the car.  We went shopping as a family to a large mall.  I took the kids shopping to a large mall last weekend too and was fine passing the time away at Toys-R-Us, the huge fountain with Sam (even after we ran out of coins), and watching the Grinch Stole Christmas (Cartoon version) about 15 times.  Yes, I should / could have, instead of shopping, been home taking care of things.  I could have made the excuse I have a “million things to do” (and though it isn’t a million, it feels that way).  But, I have no regrets not staying home and capturing those memories – the Grinch of Christmas just wants me to feel guilty.

In the movie the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original one)  the basic premise is  Whoville is one happy community who loves each other and Christmas. The Grinch hated happiness, singing, celebration, etc.. and decided to “steal” Christmas – which he views as the gifts, the food, and the decorations.  Poor Max, his dog, gets pulled into the plot by his owner, the Grinch.  And after the stealing of all the “goods”  there is a little Girl, Cindy Lou, who still knows that Christmas goes beyond the material and the things in the heart cannot be stolen.

So, what does that have to do with this whole blog… I have some choices this Christmas, as I always have before.  But, I haven’t always taken the high road to be honest.  Sometimes I do just enough to get through Christmas.  First of all, I can choose to be a part of the happy group (Whoville) that celebrates Christmas, or the Grinch who dreads every song, decoration, event etc..  I can choose to be Max and be drug along by the bad attitude (my Grinch) of the past failures at Christmas (including the rush to get a tree done so running to target and buying a fake one and ornaments so I don’t have to dig out mine) OR I can plan for a tree (even if it gets up a little late – not the first time) and put my favorite ornaments of my mom’s on the tree, the ones from my patients I cared for over the years.  I can choose to let the lists of things to do become my Grinch, stealing the joy from my heart or I can enjoy the moment I am in, choose the things that will bring back memories or create memories.   I can bake the cookies and go to the church events and well, my list will wait and no one will die if it doesn’t get done. I can be the Grinch and drag my family and friends along, just like poor Max.

So what else is my Grinch – Worry and the list of everything to be done – really no different than every other day of the year – just magnified at Christmas.   The list will always be never ending until I die.  And yes, Christmas cookies, trees, events, etc does add to the routine list.   I also worry if I get the “perfect” gift.  Worry about money to pay for the “perfect gift”.  One of my big worries is knowing that people will come to our home and judge me and know that I don’t measure up to their standard (and I get nauseated thinking about that – honestly).  I also let guilt be my Grinch.  I feel guilty that I can’t do more, give more, be more. I can feel guilty that I haven’t done more before this moment.

But this year, I want to be like Cindy Lou and know that the material things / the lists to be done – do not matter (if so Grinch would have been happy with his big lot of stuff).  What matters is the attitude of MY HEART.    I have a choice – I can love Christmas and what it really means and the wonderful memories with my family OR I can dread every moment and let the Grinch steal my Christmas and maybe even slowly become the Grinch.   I can do the best with the money we have, the home we have, and the time I have to get everything done.  It really isn’t rocket science which I should choose.

So, before today is done, a few things will happen.  I will press send on two large orders for delivery.  I will download some of my favorite Christmas music to take to work tonight. I have printed a weekly calendar for the next few weeks with all hours covered 12m – 12m to put things in perspective, to prepare a little more, and to make sure I get some sleep and quiet time.  I want to really look at the weeks ahead approaching Christmas and put things in perspective of what matters – Church, family, and work is not an option.  What gets done will be done… what does not get done will wait… because I prepare to be Cindy Lou and know and feel what Christmas really means!   (I mean after all, the Grinch, himself, even GOT IT at the end… )

prepare to go AT ONCE

AT ONCE they left their nets and followed Him – Matthew 4:20. I honestly had to put the book down once I read that. The problem for me is I always have a million things to do or to distract me. Honestly, I can think of a million things that would have caused me to pause.

First the verse before Matthew 4:19 He says “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” I can hear me thinking and maybe bold enough to say – What if I don’t want to do that?

And where it says AT ONCE (meaning no hesitation, no excuses, no 50 questions) they left their nets and followed Him. As a mom, I will say, come here at once. Chances are, my children will ask to wait for a commercial is on or yell back what do you want instead of dropping everything and coming. But, that comes by honestly. I can think of many ways I may have reacted if I was these brothers being called to be disciples.

They would likely include

  • I would want to verify He was who He said He was.
  •  But Lord, if I drop my nets who will feed my family?
  • But Lord, if I don’t fish who will support my family?
  • But Lord, it is all I know how to do.
  •  What if I change my mind when I get where you are leading

 And if I did follow, I would be thinking

  • Who will take care of my children and husband?
  • Are you sure you want me?? 
  • Are we there yet? Where are we going?
  • How much time will this take because I have a million things on my calendar?
  • Can I stop by my house and get my belongings (my phone, my Kindle, etc..)?
  • If we do stop by the house, you definitely cannot come in because I wasn’t expecting company!

Yes, those and many more would be my response. Oh, how I long to be silent long enough and spend enough time with Him that I can hear him whisper “Sheri, come follow me and I will make you _______.” The problem is I have my own vision of how to fill in the blank. I don’t know that I have really consistently consulted God. As a child, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. When I started dating my husband in high school I knew that I would be a nurse, graduate from college before I got married, and live in Markleysburg / Mountains. We talked about that on the first date because I wasn’t getting involved with someone who did not agree with my plan. I had good reasons, mostly because of mom and grandma I wanted to stay within a close distance. Do I believe that God led me in the pathway of nursing, and to my wonderful husband – YES! However, I also had planned 4-6 children right after we were married (we dated 5 years)… well, that is where God changed the blank and I was NOT happy that He messed with MY plans. But, He blessed us with two and for that I am grateful.

The other issue isn’t just being quiet long enough to hear Him, but spending enough time with Him to know Him like He knows me. When I spend time with people, I tend to trust them more. I know their likes/dislikes, their favorite foods, their favorite movies and music, etc.. If my friends would call and say would you like to go with us, I would likely try to make a way so I could (husband fed, children taken care of, and well the house can wait till I get back). Christ knows my favorites, He knows my thoughts, He knows my strengths and weaknesses, and He even knows the hairs on my head. So, why is it that I don’t trust Him with my plans? That is the relationship I need / want with Christ. The kind that when He calls me, and I stop everything and just make it happen.

It is very hard for me to let go of my plans, my vision, and my wants… so hard, that I am afraid I would so hesitate and find it difficult to go AT ONCE. But, I know that when I do let go, I will hear Him say and reach out His hand and say…”Sheri, come follow me and I will make you GREATER.”