Monthly Archives: January 2013

Running and Swimming – Exercise that can get me in trouble.

This is my fourth attempt at this blog. I kept going around the issue and have decided to just go directly to the issue.   Lately things have just been getting under my skin – some are directly my issues and some are issues I have observed in others.

CHOICES

Choices is a daily conversation with me.  I am great about telling Mary to choose.. and I usually choose happiness over other emotions, but, there are other choices I could make more consistently (and some of these are consistent things I hear from others).

  • Sleeping in too late – choice: get a new alarm clock and/or go to bed early
  • Don’t have enough money – choice: work more and/or spend less
  • Don’t like my body, – choice: exercise more and/or eat less
  • Unhappy with their job – choice: look for a new one and/or change your expectations
  • Relationship strains – choice: apologize and/or step up my committment
  • Feeling guilty – choice: change what I am doing and/or make it right
  • Annoyed with people – choice: tell them nicely and/or delete them on facebook (Or realize the annoyance maybe ME and not them)

CONVICTIONS & COMMITMENT

The problem is in not just choosing a different approach but listening to the convictions that are going on in my mind.  I know many times I will be convicted to make a choice, but sometimes the choice requires commitment.  Commitment issues exist because they require

  • Work that I may not want to do  – easier to complain than choose to change
  • Accountability to myself and sometimes to others to carry through on the decision
  • Strong belief and being willing to defend/justify my choice
  • Making a realistic plan to make it come to life
  • Allowing others to support you in action / words
  • Putting the right thing above the convenient thing / “feel good’ thing
  • Action and not my typical procrastination

EXCUSES

So my “aha” moment was a simple innocent “wake up” call, no pun intended.  In the past seven days, I have gotten up late TWICE.  The one incidence I still made it on time, but did not make it early as I hoped (no harm).  The second incidence, it affected someone else because I was late.  Sure I could give you the list of excuses, but they are just that EXCUSES.  I hate when people give me excuses when they don’t choose wisely (see section one), but I have find myself doing the thing that annoys me most. Excuse is also defined as trying to remove blame from (or sometimes I believe to remove responsibility for).  Some excuses are valid… but the majority of excuses are not.   I also love when people only ask for prayer for things to change, but do nothing to help themselves.  That does NOT mean that I don’t believe in prayer… but I believe God wants us to act and not just sit there and wait and then say, my prayers have not been answered.  God will bless efforts (not necessarily in our time but always in his time).

THE BIG PICTURE – It all boils down to

1. Following the conviction.  I know exactly what I need to do and why the conviction exists for me.

2. Make the choice to follow the conviction.  Otherwise, it will continue to “haunt’ my mind.  When I do not follow the path I am led to go, I am just left feeling guilty and lost.  It creates an ongoing knot in my gut and consumes my thoughts.  Running from it and stuffing it in the back of my mind just does not work.

3. I have to commit to making the right choice.  A haphazard approach in my mind is not the answer. I have to be INTENTIONAL.

4. Excuses are often just a way of procrastinating or an escape from the responsibility of commitment.

CONCLUSION

I think it is time to stop running (well, unless of course it is for exercise) from my convictions.  When I go in the wrong direction because I am running from where I should be… I better learn to swim… or I could end up inside a big fish!!! (Thanks Jonah for the example! – I so believe that God gave us scriptures for an example of what to do and what NOT to do…)

Cutting out the labels…

When I still did floor nursing on the Oncology Floor, I remember my patient in Room 905 who told me she had cut all the labels out of her clothes.  I asked her why.  She told me with a chuckle that when she died she didn’t want anyone to know what size she wore.  I laugh now, but also understand.  I don’t want to be remembered by “MY LABELS”.  The ones I have placed on myself.  Yesterday at Ladies Bible Study, we talked about our internal labels we place on ourselves.  The ones not so easily removed by “cutting them out”, but that we replay daily in our minds that we allow to define us.  A few of us shared:

Example A – a friend said she described herself as “unintelligent”.  She had to work really hard in school and study for everything.  I said that I could see that as diligent, dedicated, disciplined, and a hard worker.   There are plenty people in the world that things come naturally for and they still may not use those skills.  Also, there are people who also feel unintelligent, but never take the initiative to change that.

Example B – one of the words that best describes me and I have labeled myself with is a procrastinator.  As I age, I really hate that being one of my legacies!  I have passed on this practice to my daughter.  It is the end of the semester for her, and well, she is walking in my footprints.  However, some may see my trait as a positive in that I can meet deadlines at last minute, work well under pressure, and have a full life that prevents me for working on things sooner.

This is a perfect example how every label we give ourselves could be examined as a strength. Other people often do not see our labels that track through our mind daily — well, until you disclose them like I am going to (lol).

What do I want to hear eery morning I get out of bed?  Look in the mirror? Yesterday morning, I got up late.  Late in meaning I wanted to be out of the house by 8:30 and did not wake up until 8:38 am!  I not only had to get up but awaken two beautiful children, who are not- morning people (also my trait).  There would have been a day that would have been a definite unglued day – yelling at the kids, forgetting something important, etc.   However, this morning, I intentionally focused on NOT being unglued.  I got ready first, praising God for my curly hair and having laundry done.  I then conquered waking the children.   I could have easily let that bad start snowball into a very ugly day, by feeding my thoughts with – I can’t believe you did this again, if you would go to bed earlier you could get up earlier, etc., but I did really well arriving safely on time (just not early like I wanted).  However,  I did at one point say out loud at the Bible Study that I should have just not gone to bed, so I would have already been up (yep – that’s how I think).

Back to the labels that I use for myself.  I think of my friend and her label she lived in her head.  She is amazing to many and I would have never known her feeling.  So too, many may be surprised to read this.  Here are my self-defeating labels…

Procrastinator – this is my one item that always tops my list.  For the past two years I have chosen words to help me to defeat this bad habit.  It is a bad habit when I know that as a result of it, I often am cramming at the last minute to get things done.  One of my life rules, is always have enough gas in the tank to get me/family to the hospital.  I would dread the day that I would have to stop to get gas on the way of taking someone emergently or following an ambulance, by putting getting gas off until “tomorrow”. I never really thought about it, but that “gas rule” should be my guiding principal for all things though, because what happens if I wait until tomorrow to finish something and a bigger emergency comes up.

Night-Owl.  I definitely am one to stay up late and prefer to sleep in.  I have created 2 children like me.  Although, when I worked day shift, I could manage even leaving by 4am. I use to even go to work day shift and take the kids to sitters/daycare, etc.  I use to be able to say I stay up late because that is when it is quiet in the house, but by developing my children into night owls and now cyberschooling, that is also not the case. Then there are the days I justify my little sleep by saying I am a night-owl and I am use to it, when I know I may still have an early morning the next day.  REALITY is I am generally just trying to cram more stuff into a day.  Sometimes because I have procrastinated, and sometimes just to cram more stuff in.  Cramming more stuff in maybe fine at times, but am I cramming important stuff because I procrastinated, or have I planned poorly/not at all, or am I wasting time on things that even matter.  Most of my friends are early birds and I even tried it for awhile last year, and it is nice to have a little more daylight.   So, the choice needs to be mine… do I control the clock and my body or do I let it control me?

Insufficient.  A perfect example above of how I said/believed that I just should not have gone to bed (I worked till 2:30 am) and stayed up so I would not have slept in.  Because, I always feel insufficient – like I need to do more!  Most days, I feel like I have not done enough, and that also adds to my procrastination and my night-owl.  I even keep a tablet by my bed and have a place for notes on my cell phone because my mind does not stop even then of all the things I should have / could have done.  I have the paper/phone there because I would have once stayed awake all night so I didn’t forget the idea / or my list.  Or if I did fall asleep, I would awaken in a panic.  To the world, they often do not see this because I am a “stuffer” (another lesson learned from Bible Study and great blog topic).  I hold it together for the “world” and not let my feelings/emotions be known externally, even if I am blowing up inside.  Do I try to be a good mom and wife? – yes, but often feel like I have not done enough.!   Many will say to me they don’t know how I do it all (work, children, home school, church, etc)… well, I don’t.  I get what I have to have done completed, but something/someone always pays.  The cost maybe my house is left go (often), my sleep/eating well/health is left go (often), and those cause my family to suffer indirectly.  I could get a whole list of things done for the day, and still believe that it wasn’t enough.  So, instead of just pausing and refocusing and figure ways to improve… I just complete believing I am insufficient, like it is never enough and I am never enough.  Never good enough mom, wife, friend, Christian, employee, etc….

That’s enough confession – I am not even going to describe in detail the words I use for how I feel I look on many day.

I am sure I am not alone in the self-defeating labels.  I would believe we all have them.  For so long, I have had the labels in my head that I have allowed them to define me.  I think of people hearing all their lives they are “not good enough”, and believing that thought, instead of overcoming the thought.  I am great about telling my daughter and others – prove them wrong.  Prove the labels wrong.  I should look in the mirror and say that to myself.  PROVE THEM WRONG!!!  Remove the old labels and put new ones on.  I should choose what I want to define me, both in my head and to the world.  Lysa Teurkyrst also suggested labels from I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances’ – Joyful, Prayerful, and Thankful are three labels she would like to represent her.  Those are GREAT labels!  .  One new label for me is intentional.  I could probably add the list grateful/thankful because every day I list at least 10 things.  It is time for me to cut the negative labels out of my life, just as my patient did her clothes size!

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

Empty Gas Tanks

One of the things I love about cars is the low fuel light.  It is even better when it even tells you how many miles until you are completely empty and will need to call AAA.  I really wish my brain and heart had one of those warning lights, I am pretty sure it would have been going off a few times.

I started the week with a pretty full tank.  I was able to join people in worshiping God in church.  I generally am exhausted because I have worked nights, but the music seeps into my soul and strengthens me.  The people in the congregation fill me.   I then sat on Sunday and wrote out little notes to people to let them know they were on my mind.  On Monday, I joined with other women at Ladies Bible Study and left filled.   On Tuesday, the kids and I spent the day with an amazing friend and her children.   The conversation and her warm heart just filled my spirit.  I was blessed with little gifts in my personal Facebook inbox this week..  Also, I was blessed with gifts and cards that arrived in the mail.  I focus on my blessings everyday and that helps sustain me.  I listen to sermons on line to feed and fill me.  And I tried to squeeze in a little reading from Christian authors to fill me.  It sounds like I should have a full-tank… and I should! But…

Sometimes I have a big hole in my heart and mind and let things drain me.  This week, I read a blog that I took personally.  I do not want to bring up the conversation to avoid conflict and rationalize that I was wrong.  I have hidden some people from my Facebook newsfeed because they drain me with their posts.   I am dealing with a silence to some emails requesting information that directly impact my life. No reply. It feels as though my life is not important and can be left on puppet strings.   I have made a sincere apology to someone I apparently offended (unintentionally), and silence to accepting the apology.

So it drains me as I dwell on it.   This week, I have had some pretty deep conversations with Mary.  She is so amazing to talk with, but this week the topics have weighted heavy on my heart.  Maybe it isn’t they drain me, but that I let these things “fill” my mind and thoughts, it keeps me from being filled by greater things.  These things keep me from giving full concentration from people and things that matter.

For me there are many dangers in becoming empty or being filled with the wrong stuff.   First, when I am in this situation, it prevents me from helping others.   This week, I so blew it with someone I love dearly (different from the person above).  I do not believe I lifted up, but possibly tore down.  I feel like by me being empty (despite my attempts to stay filled this week), it prevents me from filling others.  It also tends to make me more on my opinions, then on what they want/need to hear.   I am so focused on the things that are draining me that I can’t be the person I love to be – the one who people can come to be filled and lifted up.  Last night, I just felt like there was a big knot in my gut.  Even my normal filling of comfort (food) is not an option because the “pit” makes me nauseated.  I don’t even want to eat.  Maybe it is God’s way to help me with understanding others.   I have attempted a warm bath to relax me, listening to my sermons online that always fill me, and even hot tea in my favorite cup.

The problem is that I am looking everywhere to be “filled” – I love this video I came across in my search for answers and comfort.  http://reneeswope.com/2012/02/letting-god-fill-the-empty-places-in-our-hearts/    I have this book and I do believe I need to re-visit it.  It is so unlike me to be on empty…

I think He has allowed me to become empty.   To teach me empathy so I can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4).  To trust that He has a better view than I do (Jeremiah 29:11).  To make me stronger (James 1:2-4)  To teach me to lift up my heart and mind to Him to fill!.

The song that keeps coming to my mind – Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwvqX4nm2sE

I need to intentionally watch for the warning signs.  Stop before I hit empty.

Clearing the Fog by Counting to 10

My trip home last night was one of the worst ever!  The fog was so thick and almost appeared like blowing snow.  At times I could just see a flicker of yellow line out my driver’s window.  I also prayed big time.  I thought of scriptures about not being afraid and that He never leaves me.  When the weather is foggy or icy or snowy, I also have to turn off the radio, the kids know to keep quite, and my only focus is the road in front of me.  Last night was one of those nights.  I had dropped a friend off and the closer I got to home, the worse it got.  The other hard thing about fog is you loose a concept of distance and time.  For instance, I drove super slow which made the ride longer, and with all the fog, I could not see the landmarks to judge even where I was.

I generally stay away from political issues on Facebook, because well, my beliefs are my beliefs.    We live in America… land of the free…. and the last time I checked, that means that we follow the Constitution.  Unfortunately, like every law, every rule, every political area, people interpret to fit the given problem.  It is also true for the Bible.  There are now how many “interpretations” and sermons are a person “of God” who guides me on a different way to look at the scripture.  However, by all the interpretations of the Bible, of the Constitution, etc… it has all become very foggy.  Sometimes, we just need to focus at the original intent of when they were written.  When Moses wrote the 10 Commandments it was black and white, and now some will interpret Thou Shalt Not Kill includes animals and people.  I am also pretty sure that there was plenty of animal killings for sacrifice and food for families.  I am not even going to touch the Constitution, because well, I separate my blogs and Facebook from politics, with rare exception.  Exceptions will include issues regarding Bullying (which could often be fixed with parents) and Autism.   Also, people’s interpretation and forcing them in my face, actually drives me crazy and I just don’t need it… Anyway, I think I can safely say that these areas are “foggy”.

On a personal level, I look at MY life and that of MY family.  Just looking at the 10 Commandments, and well, I have even made them “foggy” to fit my life.  Ten basic rules to follow that Christ felt important enough to list twice in the Bible  (Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:1-21) – also, twice because people likely didn’t listen the first time.  I am using NIV because simpler to read.   The Ten Commandments

1: “You shall have no other gods beforeme. –

This is about my relationship with God — does He come first?  Or do I put other people and things first?  Answer is Guilty.  As a wife and a mom, I justify that it is okay to put them first.  However, I know if He is first, everything else will fall into place.)

2:  “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.  

Do I have idols, things that I put before Him, Facebook, TV, my job, etc… – GUILTY.  Do I take my time with Him in the morning before rushing through the day?  Or is He an after thought or if I can fit Him in relationship? I do not like to talk about God being jealous and punishing us and our children. However, my interpretation is that as a parent, the further my children see me getting from God, they too will become further… if they see me put Facebook, TV, etc… before God, they too will believe it is okay.  I believe the punishment is not having that relationship with the one who knows and loves us most, and that will impact our eternity.  Since, my children learn from example and will likely follow in my footprints, I best step it up!

3.“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.   

Our home is pretty cautious about this, and I cringe when I hear it in cuss words.  But, do I call people out when they do it saying it offends me?

4. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter… 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth… but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY…  So, I physically work every weekend.  I have adjusted my schedule to go to church as a family, and believe God blesses that.  And, for now, my weekends will not change.  However, I can still keep it holy by going to church, having food done the night before in the crock pot.  I can rest with the family and enjoy them.  The laundry can wait till Monday, so can the dishes.  As a society, kids are now involved in 7-days a week activities with sports, etc.. because, as a society we accept that.  I remember the days that IF stores were open on Sundays, they at least opened late and closed early.  Banks were closed.  Now everything is open, many 24 hours.    I don’t have to go to the stores that are open to promote my sales on a Sunday.  Yes, I am just one person and I doubt that a store will close without my purchases.  However, it could show our children we value Sundays, plus, I don’t always have the nicest thoughts when shopping… so not only do I not honor it by not resting, I am not loving many people… I love Chik-fil-A – they so believe in this that they close their restaurant on Sundays, and God honors that with making them one of the top restaurants in the nation.  Granted, I work in a hospital, and it will not close on weekends, but I so could look at my Sabbath and make it more holy.

5. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

I do believe I do okay in this category.  But, as I mentioned in one of my comfort blogs, I definitely could do better spending time with them.  Although, do I hold my children accountable to this?  Do I let them get away with “tones” to their voice or words they say?  Do I make them honor my time?  GUILTY

6. “You shall not murder.  I am good here (even though we believe in gun ownership).

7. “You shall not commit adultery. I am good here.  Jim and I have had many discussions about this.  In this society, I may believe we are “safe”, but it is full of temptations and other people who do not honor other peoples vows.  Marriage is not 50/50 but 100/100 and if either of us ever give less, we could be at risk.

8. “You shall not steal. I don’t believe I intentionally steal with material goods.  However, there are foggy areas.  Is it easy to consider not being completely honest on taxes (especially when I feel like the government constantly steals from me?).  Do I steal time from my employer when I don’t do 100% when I am there?

9. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  That is DON’T LIE.  So does this include “little white lies”? Telling a lie to prevent from hurting their feelings?  Does this include withholding information, since thy technically did not ask?  How about gossip?  Foggy area… GUILTY!

10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” To covet means to crave or desire, especially in excessive or improper ways.  I am good with the wife, servants, ox, donkey – LOL.  We often drive through places and the kids will say, I love that house, etc.. But, we have also taught them, you have to work for those things.  So though I may desire them, I don’t believe in excessive or improper ways.

I have never honestly looked at my life in relationship to the 10 Commandments.  I definitely believe that I have left room between my life and what they really say.  It is 10 simple rules.  I have gotten busy in life, and sloppy in my relationships with Christ and family and friends.  Just as last night, when the road got hard to see, I really focused (turned off all the distractions) and looked for the yellow and white lines to keep me on track.  When my life is getting foggy, and priorities out of line, I need to intentionally focus and look to the Bible to keep me on track.

*** I found this neat site that I read to deepen my understanding as I wrote this blog.  When I sit down to write, sometimes I have no idea what will come out, and this one is a perfect example.  Though the following site may be considered an interpretation (which I mentioned earlier can be dangerous) , but this one made me think deeper.  I believe He will honor that as trying to clear the fog.

LOVE THIS for studying and applying them to my life! 

http://www.the-ten-commandments.org/ten_commandments-purpose_meaning.html

 

A New Battle Plan

I really love the Ladies Bible Study at our church, and love getting to know the ladies that attend.  I definitely believe that in our society, I was loosing quality time with people.  It is so easy just to send an email or text or facebook message and never actually talk.  In some ways, that is great for me because when I want to talk (i.e. 2am) very few others are up.  Sure, I interact with people at work, but it is usually small talk or about work.  I use to interact with other mom’s when Mary was in dance, and that was like weekly therapy.  When she stopped dancing, I lost my free therapy.  I have my few close friends, and they are awesome. I would prefer to have a few close friends than multiple “friends – it is all about the quality, not the quantity. But often, that talking with friends is through technology.

When we started attending our church, it was easy just to go and disappear, even though it was small.  Actually, I always said my next church would be huge, so I could be just there… and well, we ended up at a little church in the woods – with no regrets I must add.  But, then I wanted to know the ladies more.  In the churches I have grown up in, the women usually met, they were neighbors, they were friends beyond the church’s walls.  It is so easy to just become the wallflower, but then you miss out on so much.  I just had no idea how much I would have missed out until our Ladies Bible Study.  I so love getting with them and learning about them and feeling like I can pour out my weaknesses with no judgment.  They share their wisdom and it feeds my soul, often in places I didn’t even realize I needed fed.  I am so blessed to have listened to God to start this, even though every ounce of me just wanted to stay on my pew (just one more comfort zone).

All of my life, I believe I have represented myself as the strong one.  Many think I am the one who holds it all together.  In fact, my friend was very surprised that I fall apart and even cried myself to work on Saturday.  It is easier for me to put up that front than to trust and share my deepest fears.  I am sure I am not alone.  But, you know that may be one of my biggest weaknesses, because it takes more courage to be honest than live a life hidden with a smile.   I think in my blog, I have started tearing down that image, that I am in fact human.

So the lesson (2 Chronicles 20) we talked about today was King Jehoshaphat and his response to three armies joining to attack him.  Of note, I don’t even remember learning this Bible Story as a child.  My absolute human response would NOT have been his response.  He hears the that the army is coming and what does he do first.. 1. resolved to inquire of the Lord  then 2. proclaimed a fast then 3. gathered the entire town and they prayed and fasted.  His prayer pretty much was praising God for all He had done.  And ends in saying in his prayer – “We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”   His focus went to God, instead of the battle ahead.

The Spirit of the Lord does come to them and says “Do not be afraid… For the battle is not yours, but Gods.” And then gives them the battle strategy.  They obey.  At the beginning of the battle, they are so secure that it is God’s battle, that they sent out men first just to sing to the Lord to praise him!  While they praised God, the other armies were ambushed and killed.  Just as God promised, the battle was his.

My observations

  • When I face a battle in life, in fact enduring a few now, often the last thing I do is inquire of the Lord.  I generally put together a game plan and if it doesn’t work out, well, then my prayer life kicks into place.
  • He fasted.  If I am going through a battle, I am looking for anything to eat to comfort me.  The last thing I would think of is fasting.
  • He gathered the town and they did it together.  First of all, he must have been a strong Godly leader that they would join him and trust him.  I am thinking I would be saying, are you sure we shouldn’t be getting our weapons together?
  • He praises God in prayer and just admits they are powerless and they are going to keep their focus on God.  WOW.  I would have a hard time admitting the powerlessness, and I get so busy coming up with my own solution, that my eyes come off of God.
  • If I am getting ready for battle, I rarely think about singing praises to God for His deliverance before it is even given.  However, I may sing praises after the battle is won.

I was so challenged and humbled by this example.  I was blessed by the conversation and the tears shed.  In this year of being intentional, the one area I have to get in order is my battle plan.  I need to

  • be a leader like Jehoshaphat so that I can be an example to my children, that when we face a battle, we go to the Lord first.
  • call in my community of friends and ask for them to join me in prayer.  This involves trusting others to support me and trust them with my deepest needs
  • Keep my eyes upon God instead of the battle ahead
  • Remember that the battle is not mine, but God’s – if I just take it to him and wait for the battle plan (listening and waiting – easier said then done)
  • Praise Him because of Who He is and not what I want Him to do for me.
  • Just believe that He will Deliver.

One of the resounding messages in our Bible study has been the “Battle is not mine, but God’s”.  He has the perfect view of what lies ahead… oh that I have the faith… may I intentionally hand it over!

New Mercies sprinkled with Hope

So on Saturday, I had one of those days and really wanted to blog to just pour it all out, but weekends are tough to blog with trying to get things done and working. I had high hopes to get x, y, z done – actually I wasn’t going to do anything but my word intentional kept going over in my mind. I resolved to do something before work. Well, my project got changed, not that is bad, because I was still productive.

I really can’t tell you what order things happened in, nor is it really important, but through the day I really began feeling defeated as a wife and as a mother. It was little things, but they felt like paper cuts… you know the smallest cuts in the world that hurt the most and keep burning no matter the band-aids or ointment you apply. I hate when projects and good intentions go south quickly. It was everything I touched. Satan had definitely tried to take residency on Saturday. Of course, when I feel like I am not the wife and mother I should be, that also places me in question of worth even in God’s eyes. He has blessed me with a great husband who endures my many faults and two beautiful children who love me too. So, I left for work… Saturday, I was so thankful for the drive alone in the car. I could cry my eyes out and I didn’t have to explain to anyone the tears. I didn’t want to tell anyone how I felt and what hurt and hear that my assessment of myself was wrong. So cry is exactly what I did, and God heard everyone of them as a prayer – prayers for my weakness, my pain, my insecurities, etc… Let’s say there were many tears and therefore many prayers. I also knew that the “great” day had several hours to go as I worked till 5:30 am. It was not like I could just go to bed and get a night’s sleep and wake up to the new mercies He promised in Lamentations 3:23.

At work, I knew that I also would be working with someone that I had not worked with for weeks and that some things occurred that put a strain on our working relationship. I could hardly wait to face that. One place I always feel secure is work. I believe it is because I am a hard worker and my work ethic generally pays off. So now, not only had I felt crappy as a wife and mom, I was walking into work feeling like a bad peer. UGH!!! Of course, it wasn’t done… Sam had arrived home only to discover I wasn’t there and was devastated and Jim let me know. The day was just getting better. I had struck out on every base in my life. And there were more hours to face in the day.

I am not a big believer in coincidences. I am a believer that God sends signs if I am just careful to observe them or hear them. That of course, requires that I open my heart, my mind, my ears, my eyes and SLOW DOWN so they are not a blur. I hate when I think I have captured a perfect picture only to discover a blur. Either the subject moved or I did, either way, the moment is not captured as I wanted. I believe that is generally what happens with me in “signs” they are there, but I don’t recognize them and think I am never heard.

The signs…
Normally, when I just want to cry my eyes out, I want silence. However, this day I kept the radio on. A song came on by Matt Maher called RISE UP (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmOvRflPZCo ). Here are the lyrics of that song that really just shook me – the kind of shaking you do when you grab ahold of someone and shake them to wake up or to get their attention…

Chorus: You’ve got to rise up (rise up)- when this life has got you down
You’ve got to look up (look up) – when you search & nothings found
Verse 2: When you don’t know how to surrender – ‘Cause your whole life’s been a fight
When the dark holds you and you can’t break through – cause you haven’t seen the light. Open up your eyes…

I continue on my drive… the sun is brightly shining. Almost hurting my eyes because of the tears, the glare from the snow, and it’s brightness. I put on my sunglasses and try to control the light. But as I reach Uniontown, there is a beautiful sunset. I had been crying so hard, so I had to pull off the road so I could let my eyes really focus. At that moment I felt like it was a sign. Sometimes the sunset is not so obvious or bright, but on this day, it was my sign to focus. I was to focus that He was wrapping up this not so great day in a beautiful sunset.

Got to work, still an awkward evening, but every review I typed, was a sign. My life issues are nothing. At least I could still go home and be a wife and mom. I may not be the best the world has to offer, but what I lack in weaknesses, I try to make up in my genuine love for them. I make it home safely and tuck Sam in as he fell asleep in the recliner, probably waiting to see me. As I walk back to go up the steps, yet another sign.

The piano top. Earlier on Saturday, the one project completed was the clearing and cleaning of my mom’s piano. I have a few angels, my mom’s serenity prayer plaque, my mom’s picture, and a picture of my mom at 15months, me at 15 months, and Mary at 15 months. Also, is my little boy precious moment I found last year. He is wearing a cape and holding a bear that says Hope. I did a whole blog on this little purchase, because it reminds me of Sam (https://sherisoulsearch.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/prepare-for-hope/) . There is always Hope no matter what we are facing. Jeremiah 29:11 assures us that He has plans to give me hope and a future. It was the reminder of my mother’s love, even though she wasn’t perfect. The serenity prayer statue of my mom’s, that reminded me to change what I can and accept what I can’t.

I laid down for a nap before church. Within a few minutes, I heard footprints on the steps. Sam came to my side of the bed and just kissed my head and gave me the biggest hug. God did indeed give me New Mercies that Sunday morning. New mercies with a fresh sprinkling of Hope. I reflect now on my blog last year about the measuring stick that I use to judge my life as a mom, wife, Christian. (https://sherisoulsearch.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/prepare-for-measurements/). Sometimes, my eyes get out of focus and things get blurry… sometimes, I feel like little paper cuts on my heart are large open wounds… sometimes, I just need to use a different measuring stick when evaluating the situation. I do know I have to be intentional to Rise Up, look for the signs, and hold onto hope.

Cautious of Junk Drawers

Most of us have one. Some peoples are well organized with labels and close nicely, Well, then there is mine… the junk drawer. It seems as though I have about three in my kitchen. One holds all the cup lids, of note my children have not used sippy cups in years, but I likely still have a few of those lids. There is the official junk drawer with birthday candles, matches, and I am sure broken pieces of toys, and much more. Then there is the utensil drawer overflowing with things I likely have not used in years and some doubles. It does not help that I once sold Pampered Chef and had all the gadgets that they came out with. I also use to do a lot of marketing in a former job which included the need of utensils when I took in breakfasts or lunches. I would infamously forget the utensils and have to stop at a store and buy more. One day, I got smart enough to put all the extras in a plastic container and just carry in my car.

Okay, let me be honest, what did I not carry in my car? My Jeep was bad as I commuted to Pittsburgh 3-4 days week for work. I always had a change of clothes, a book to read, and plenty of snacks. One time, I got stuck sitting in traffic on the interstate for 8 hours because of a wreck. It was fine, I was prepared. Once we had children I was always prepared with having everything in the car, just in case. The things are too numerous to even list. I will never forget the year I attended a birthday party and they asked if I had a cake cutter and spatula in my car, and well of course I did. When I cleaned out my Envoy to trade in for the car, it took a few large boxes and several hours. For years Mary did dance and we had all the extra tights and makeup, etc. At our annual photo shoot for dance, I always had everything we needed and made sure I had enough for everyone else. For dance recitals, Mary knew that she could open her case and everything would be in there, usually double. I always carried changes of clothes and coats, of course. I had every medical product or medication you could need, of course, just in case someone needed it.

I am the middle of reading a book called Grace for the Good Girl (that temporarily got interrupted for my online study book – Greater). I almost believe that Greater was sent my direction by God, so I could take a break about reading my issues. The book is a scary description of me, and will need to devote a blog upon its completion. However, there is a woman they described with “THE PURSE”. She always had everything in her person, just in case someone needed it. I am that woman. Remember those Mother’s Day banquets where they asked to see everything in your purse? I could win those hands-down! I probably got that gene from my grandmother who also carried everything in little baggies. Well, I don’t have baggies, but little zipper pouches. One is for office supplies – yes a stapler with extra stables, post it notes in various sizes and shapes, paper clips, scissors, white-out, and a small roll of scotch tape. One pouch is for health/drink items – tea bags, sweetener, flavoring packets for water (those three items are in a separate little bag within the pouch so they do not take on the taste of the other products – LOL), dental floss, toothbrush, tooth paste, band aids in colors and patterns, small air freshener, and a small deodorant. One pouch is devoted just to my pens and pencils – I have several click pencils (you know just in case someone needs them), every color of the new sharpie no-leak pens, a regular sharpie (just in case someone needs to label something), ball point pens, flair markers, and the basic crayons. Okay, I probably really should stop, but there is more (that is just what I am recalling without even looking into my purse). If you ever have to go to a conference, you really should sit by me because I also carry gums in a variety of flavors (just in case not everyone likes mine), tic-tacs in flavors, hard candy, and usually a few pieces of Dove Chocolate (a whole bag if I know I will be at a conference all day to share).

Enough about the confession of my issue(s) , although my blog is like therapy, but cheaper. Yes I have too much stuff, and definitely procrastinate in getting rid of it. So, tonight getting into the one utensil drawer to look for something I was sure we had (of note, just like my purse, I could tell you exactly where everything is even in the chaos. If I have touched the item, I can 99% of the time tell you exactly where it is at. The other 1% is likely because someone else touched it after me and moved it) And that 1% of the time will literally drive me crazy and I will search and search until it is found (gloves, a movie projector – that wasn’t even here, tools, etc…). Anyway, I think the bigger issue, honestly is my constant desire, need, obsession to take care of other people. If they need something, I want to say, I have it for you (and sometimes even if I don’t I will quickly order from Amazon and have it to them in just 1-2 days). I often tell family that before they buy something to ask if I have it first, and chances I do). The dance moms would tell you, go ask Sheri. Fellow nurses know to come see me for any goods. It has become part of my identity. It is probably, just from my nature of being a nurse. Part of it is being stuck in the living “what if?” What if someone needs something and I don’t have it? What if I need that someday and I don’t have it?

Life gets dangerous when living in the “what if”. If I don’t have something someone needs physically, no one will die. Living in the “what if” can also stop me from doing things. For instance, if I think what if I don’t succeed at something, I may never take the risk of even trying. What if we went to a new vacation spot, instead I stick to the comfortable, and just may be missing out on an awesome adventure. I want to be more intentional in living in the now, and not in the what if!

Also, life is like the junk drawer. I fill it with things that don’t really matter and it leaves no space for what does. When I fill my time with unnecessary activities / time wasters – such as TV, it takes me away from productive things (like cleaning the junk drawers and closets). I am okay with Facebook because it allows me to be in touch with people, and I use it only for that person. I had to avoid all the games and liking the many sites like Walmart and restaurants, etc. Otherwise, it would replace connecting with people, and fill my time with things. I removed the apps for word games on my Kindle and phone because I would do them instead of things I should be doing. I also had to step away from Pinterest, although that was hard. I love the concept, but I found myself easily become addicted to filling my time on there. (I just may make it a reward for each thing I get accomplished – oh, that is a great idea and glad I though of it!)

I have to be intentional and cautious to not always be living in the “what if” and live in the now. And I definitely have to be careful that I fill my life drawers with time for myself and other relationships and not all the junk!

“Stop the mindless wishing that things would be different. Rather than wasting time and emotional and spiritual energy in explaining why we don’t have what we want, we can start to pursue other ways to get it.” – Greg Anderson

Ephesians 5:15-16a – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity