Monthly Archives: September 2014

OVERCOME discontentment

I have a million things to do, but God has blessed me with some sinus issue that requires rest! Plus, I just really needed to write. Yesterday was a hard day in church as I announced we would be leaving Sunday mornings because of a mandatory change in my work schedule. I do believe it is so true you don’t miss something until it is gone, or is going to be gone.   It will impact the whole family, because after all we are a den ( = We miss off/on, but we always knew we could return the next Sunday, and that will no longer be the case, which makes it more permanent. I had already told a couple of close friends. The one came to me after my announcement and gave me a big squeeze. Then after church another friend had already been thinking of solutions to keep us in touch (face to face not just facebook). It is the PEOPLE I will miss seeing every day to start my crazy week. Walking through the church doors and feeling unconditional love by some amazing families. Families who want to love on our family – the whole den!!! Sure, there is Facebook, but there is nothing like seeing a face, a smile, a hug, a handshake, and feeling the love!

Last night, once I was alone at work, I listened to a new podcast I discovered. The topic turned was about when live is hard that we don’t always have to be happy, but we can still be content! It was a podcast for moms, not a Biblical based one, but it sparked the verse in scripture about being content. Philippians 4:11b-12b “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. “ . The guest was speaking about a really difficult and disappointing turn her families’ life had taken. She said one day as everything fell apart, she didn’t have to be happy, but needed to learn to be content for herself and as an example to her children. It was as though the Heavens opened up and He placed that podcast on my phone. I was also so thankful for growing up in a Christian home and church that sparked remembering the scriptures planted on my heart to pull from.

Yesterday, also as I was leaving church, another friend reminded me that I always say that church is not those four walls, but the people inside. And that reminder was also needed, because that is so true. Yesterday was full of things that pointed to contentment. We sang “As the deer pants for the water, So my soul longs after You. You alone are my heart’s desire. And I long to worship You !” Psalms 42:1b. But does it really? Because if that was the only thing I longed for was Christ I would be content! I think the podcast hit the nail on the head was I have been searching for happiness (and control).

­When we go anywhere, Sam loves to say “he wants that house” (especially the one in Heritage Hills with the built in swimming pool!) He also will let his imagination go crazy and he is going to build a HUGE mall with a house attached. The mall will have ToyRUs, Red Lobster, Target, and a few stores just for Mary. It will be open 24/7 and I will never have to cook ( = I love his thinking, but he definitely has not learned content with what we have, because toys and red lobster = happiness. Contentment would not wanting more toys than he already has. I am sure, I do not help him learn contentment as I continue to carry in more Target bags, talk about wanting new things, grumble about what I don’t have.

There are days I am just like him, wanting more to make me happy (not to make me content). It seems universal that HAPPINESS is encouraged in society. I do enjoy reading about happiness (The Happiness Project by Rachel Rubin and her second book The Happier at Home). Over time I have really worked on GRATITUDE despite the circumstances… and now I think I need to LEARN CONTENTMENT!

It is really ironic how Paul, the author of Philippians was imprisoned and was still content. The speaker of the podcast was enduring things, but realized when she took her focus off of happiness and placed it on contentment; it made a huge impact on her life – one example she gave: she didn’t have a perfect living situation, but learned to be content she had a place to live.   I also LOVED that Paul said it he had to LEARN IT, which takes a process. He also had some HARD LESSONS that added to his learning contentment! I really would like to avoid prison (lol) – but if I was placed in prison, would I find contentment (praise God and thank Him for safety, for food, for a roof of my head)? Or would I grumble and groan over the horrible living environment, the nasty food, and him allowing me to get caught! What difference contentment can make it how he spent his days in prison. What difference contentment can make when I face daily life. Do I really need to go through prison to learn contentment? I do believe God gives me things to help us LEARN CONTENTMENT, and sometimes it is hard stuff (probably because I missed the lessons from the easy stuff!). I guess it hindsight it is not a coincidence that I didn’t “get to” my gratitude list. I was focusing on being happy – NOT being GRATEFUL and definitely NOT looking to CONTENTMENT.

Gratefulness is a little easier for me because I can usually find the silver lining in even a bad situation. One day, I would have thought being gratefulness was also equal to contentment. However, I realize it is not and I have a distance to go for CONTENTMENT. Being grateful for what I have helps me to focus on contentment. I also believe God wants me to do the maximum with my life. He does want me to be happy and not miserable. However, He really calls me to learn to be content in HIM! That HE is enough and I am truly okay where I am and with what I have despite the circumstances, including, when things do not go my way!

TODAY I was handed another new serving of mercies (Lamentations 3:23), and I choose to renew my GRATITUDE and work on my lesson in CONTENTMENT (a great possible word for 2015)! Am I happy about the change in my personal life that I had no control over – NO! But I can be choose to be content!

p.s. I googled for quotes on “choose to be content” and Happiness quotes came up – I think it supports that as a society we think happiness = contentment… and of course for many happiness comes from things and gaining more things which is NOT CONTENTMENT. Contentment is being okay where I am without another thing added, and if something is removed, LEARNING to be content again! Contentment is needing nothing more….

p.s.s. I have a long way to go… but every journey begins with a single step (A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. –Lao-tzu)

OVERCOME the BATTLES

Re-write # 3 of this blog topic. I think it is because I have been really struggling with some battles in my life. Some were chosen by others and some small ones I brought on (because I took my focus off positive things and focused on negative).
The big battles have caused impact to my family, and well, a mama in the battle for her family is intense. I felt guilty for a while when I considered them battles, because there are many others facing life/death battles. But I was reminded of a conversation I had a long time ago (and believe even wrote about), that God cares about all things of our lives. Big things and little things. I shouldn’t compare my battles with someone else’s battle AND I serve an amazing God that can handle every single one!
I have read through some scriptures for answers – after of course, I worried and tried to face it all on my own. Because, you know, God has too much to do to worry about my little battles. Not to mention, I surely know what I need more from my small little view than God’s view (LOL!).
So, as I went in to face my second battle in the same week, I said a little prayer – actually a little request of a prayer…. I only had a small window of time and really needed a parking spot so I could run into my meeting. And sure enough, I pulled in and found a very close parking spot. It was a little sign that spoke LARGE VOLUME to my soul, that I was not going into the battle alone. He was going before me! I didn’t win the battle, but I did win some compromise.
I was so distraught, because I still had to deal with the outcome. I also had another battle brewing also affecting our family. I can’t even describe my inward turmoil. I cried… couldn’t eat… over ate junk… got sick to my stomach (literally)… lost even more of my limited sleep…

So I eventually searched scriptures (which is what I should have done BEFORE the meeting)
2 Chronicles 20
Vs 2. There was a vast army coming against them – that is exactly how I was feeling. I was feeling attacks from various battles.
Vs 14 – The Spirit of the Lord came…
Vs 15 – This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. How many times do I worry, fear, become discouraged instead of repeating – even better repenting – God this is YOUR Battle!
16 Tomorrow march down against them. (and the spirit even said how they would be attacked – and they listened….) Do I listen when God sends His Spirit to tell me where the battles will come. Or am I so busy in making MY plan and stressing I can’t hear Him.
17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’” – He tells me I just have to show up! Show up, stand firm, and trust Him and watch HIM DELIVER. I am also a little amused that they also had to have repeated instructions to Not be afraid or discouraged!
18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. What is their reaction to the battle  that is coming the very next day? They fell down in WORSHIP! What was my reaction leading up to my battles?– worry, stress, loss of sleep, eating, crying, vomiting!!! It was NOT WORSHIP!
19 Then some stood up and praised the LORD with a very loud voice. Did they do it quietly in their home? NO THEY STOOD UP and with LOUD VOICE they PRAISED Him! They would have blasted it all over facebook!  They were seen (by standing) and heard (by loud praise).
20 Early in the morning they left – they set out, Jehoshaphat (the leader) stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” – They  got up early instead of hiding under the covers.  They didn’t moan and groan it wasn’t fair.  They set out.  They are reminded right before a battle that could cost lives! HAVE FAITH and you will be UPHELD. So it is when my faith wavers that is when I FALL. If I keep faith I am upheld!
21 appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” Again THEY SANG and PRAISED HIM!
22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men who were invading Judah, and they were defeated – they showed up, worshipped Him even as they were being invaded. They stood firm, they kept their faith, and GOD DELIVERED!

What an amazing example and reminder – 1. Be still so I can hear the spirit directing me, letting me know a battle is coming, and the assurance that God has this battle. 2 Praise and worship God loudly in ADVANCE of the battle in full confidence it is HIS battle. (So much easier to worship and praise when the battle is over and I win!) 3. SHOW UP with truth, righteousness, readiness, faith (The Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18). 4. Just keep PRAISING and keeping my faith!

I have some choices to make after the battles I face/am facing. I must keep praising and keep my faith (regardless if I win / loose the battle). I still have a few battles raging. I love this verse too – Exodus 14:14 “ The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Stillness is not my typical response, and neither is praise.

I do pray for wisdom for the aftermath of the battle(s).
1. Do I let the battle keep me knocked down and feeling defeated and sorry for myself?
2. Do I get back up, brush myself off and move forward?
3. Do I look at the battle as a blessing and figure out a good outcome?
4. Do I choose to stay with the same leader, or do I change?
5. How do I share the outcome of the battle – do I destroy my opposition with words, do I praise Him for the outcome, do I praise Him regardless of outcome?

Not only is God watching and wanting my praise. But others will WATCH my reaction to battle. I am human and thankfully God is loving and forgiving. The example above, the leader was an apparently well trusted leader, to convince all of his followers to also break out into songs and praise! I want to be under that type of leader – HE LED by example! He didn’t send everyone else into battle as he hid.  He listened for / heard the spirit and obeyed. He united everyone and led them. They trusted him. He didn’t waiver – didn’t become discouraged and worry. Again, I want to be under that type of leader.

I pray that when I lead/follow in small and large battles, I am that kind of leader or follower. Even in my own home. Do my children see me listening for GOD’s guidance (not just guidance from friends), breaking out in song and praise as I face battles (I can assure that is NOT what they saw)?  Not only does the world watch me, but more importantly my children watch how I fight, how I lead (if I am the leader), how I follow, what I stand for, how I handle the battles outcome (win/loose/compromise).  I can say at first I couldn’t see the good in the compromise and I spouted at home and to others.  I now can look at the one battle and see the positive… I can see how God was there from the parking space and beyond.  I know I have some more praising to do… as more battles approach.

OVERCOME Perfection

This was not my intended blog today, actually I didn’t plan on writing until a friend today posted a blog that struck a cord, the days before a friend gave me a little gift that struck a cord, and the day before a friend posted a blog that struck a cord (about a woman who posted a picture in her kitchen and she was flooded with comments of what she could do to update her home). Today my friend posted a blog from Proverbs 31 Ministries about perfectionism. I started to type a comment and realized it was entirely too long of a comment, because it is an ISSUE with me. PERFECTIONISM is an issue with me! I want people to see me as the one who has it all together – juggling jobs, home schooling, a mom, a wife, etc…
So which area do I address that has caused my “perfect” world to crumble.
Mary – oh we have a beautiful intelligent daughter. She is smart, talented, respectful, caring, etc… yep the PERFECT daughter. I think of the areas that I have unraveled when perfection didn’t happen. When we did public school, and she would run late, I would turn into an ugly monster. I would YELL about being late for school and she was making me late for work, etc.. She would walk into school already defeated and I would drive to work mad and honestly probably my driving reflected that. As my day would pass I would feel horrible and when I picked her up her day was horrible. I want to think it didn’t take long for me to catch on, and I never did it again, but I know I did. However, I eventually I woke up. I worried that people would think I didn’t have it all together – her lateness made me look imperfect. One day I just said I wasn’t going to be the crazy yelling mom in the mornings that had her starting her day horribly and dealt with it differently. I even got to the point on a few school days that I wrote the reason for lateness it was “just one of those mornings”. Unfortunately before I caught it, my perfectionism (or worry that people thought I was perfect) cost us many bad mommy/daughter days and ate away at our relationship.
Sam – oh we had the perfect family. A daughter and a happy healthy son. Then there was the doctor visit that said they didn’t think he was perfect and had Aspergers. I thought she was crazy and when I got the paperwork to fil out for an evaluation, I felt every child could fit in the category. Our son was perfect. He was happy, healthy, and loving. Well, long story short, the string the doctor pulled eventually unraveled and I can close my eyes sitting in the office as they told me what I already knew. (and yet I still cry when I remember that day). So, I had to choose, which I had done some before then, that “a label / a diagnosis” was not going to define him. I remember the first I.E.P. meeting when they laid out all of his weaknesses and I wanted to throw up, crawl in the corner, and let them keep kicking me. I remember the second I.E.P. meeting where I took the I.E.P. and highlighted it with how what his strengths were and how they were trying to define my child was not who my child was. Sam is the perfect Sam. At the beginning of every year, you often get a little piece of paper with a few available lines to tell about your child. Well I would attach a detailed letter of how our Sam was the perfect Sam. I have had lengthy conversations with people / teachers / professionals over his ability not his weaknesses. How the system is broken, not my son. He doesn’t fit into the “perfect school system” and “perfect standardized testing”, not because of Sam, but because of their testing! I am no longer the mama wolfe cowering in the corner because my son didn’t fit the perfect classroom/ system. Unfortunately, I wasted time trying to make him fit, before I realized he was never meant to!

My house – so, I want the “perfect house”, but my house is not it. I would say it was only close to being perfect the first 3 years of marriage and then I broke 3 vertebras in my back, my mom and grandma passed away, I had two high risk pregnancies with strict bedrest, have worked full time, have had 2 nephews move in / out, had 2 children we were told we would never have, etc… Yep life has happened. For YEARS I would have never let people in our home. It would ruin the vision of me. I have had on rare occasion people call and say they were coming and I would do a mad dash to get things on the surface cleaned. If it is the holidays, there will be 2 rooms reasonably cleaned and things hidden (only to try to remember where I placed them). For years, I have worried about what others think of my house and it has caused anger when people point out the many flaws. I want to scream my house is not your house. Granted my house doesn’t quite fit my vision, but I have made huge strides and have some great goals and plans in place. At the end, will it still need work – YEP, but I just ask for grace until complete. So slowly, I have allowed Mary to have friends over and say please warn them the house does not define who we are. We live in crazy but tons of love. It is a work in progress, but I want our house to be a house that people / teens can come to and feel love and fun. We have had a youth meeting and Mary had a group over this past weekend. My goal for perfection has cost me many times the laughter of people filling our home! The teens gathered around my imperfect table (chewed by our dog who was a puppy) with the orange carpeting (yes orange carpeting), dishes in the sink, tacos on the stove, mismatched plates, and all I noticed was the laughter. Sam and Jim did a nerf war in the house and I never once worried about anything that might break in the battle. Sure, the teens may think our house is crazy, and go home and tell their parents, but I think they left feeling love, laughter, and friendship and not worried about the orange carpet. I think about the time I left a friend sit outside while we talked because she was a newer friend and I didn’t want her to think less of me. It was Ellen – and for those who know Ellen, she loves unconditional! My desire for perfectionism has caused me anger toward people who criticize me/our house. Cost me years of not letting people in, when in fact those people should love me for me, not for my home. Does it mean I should leave it at this state of crazy – nope, but I am working on that progress. Until then, I hope to fill the places not filled with furniture and toys and stuff with laughter and love and acceptance. My friend gave me a plague that read “Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids.”
I may need to do a part two on my marriage, my body, my childhood, etc. (LOL).
Yesterday I made a apple pie, and it has bee YEARS probably over 10 years!!! As I rolled out the crust it was far from perfect but hey the bottom crust no one will see. The top crust a little better, but still not perfect. There would have been a day I would have thrown the crusts away and started over. But yesterday, I thought of the verse in I Samuel 16:7b “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” My family would not look at the crust and say I won’t eat the pie because the crust doesn’t look perfect. My real friends will not look at my home and think less of me for it (and if they do it is time to reevaluate friendships). People who really know me don’t look at my imperfect body and think anything less of my heart. Oh the price of perfection, but it is just judging on the outside and worrying about what others will think. May I always pause and look deeper!
p.s. for those thinking this is an open invitation to come to our home, it is; however, in order to still prevent cardiac arrest, a little notice is appreciated (I am an imperfect work in progress).

45 by 45 – Challenging myself to OVERCOME

I was inspired by many things to do this list. As a nurse I have seen many lives end before I felt their living was done. In our local community that has been so true as well. My cousin in Washington did a 40 by 40 list with little and big things. I am so great at filling my time with things but do not squeeze out every bit of life in the days given to me as gifts from my Heavenly Father. My days are often full of things, but not always of living. Some days I waste moments by procrastinating, doing nothing (and regretting that), or saying yes to things that don’t add to the joy of my life (instead drain me). Many days I just go through the motion, but don’t live out the vision of what I want my life to look like. Who is stopping me? The person in the mirror – full of excuses and regret. I have been so richly blessed with a wonderful husband, 2 awesome children (I was never suppose to have) , a great career, a roof over out heads, Christian families, an amazing church family, and incredible friendships. But I let time pass without truly savoring life. I fill it with worry, carry baggage of regret, and forget to take action in my own life. I don’t pause often enough to see hurting people, needs of others, or savor the small moments. I have come a long way as a result of my daily gratitude list, but there is so many things on my to-do list that get shuffled from day to day… saved for someday. You may see the reference – just in case – of note, I do not currently have any illness, etc.. BUT there is no guarantees in life. It is important I leave my imprint now, in the event those I love need something to hold onto. So here is 45 in 45 – some will have explanation, others not necessary. Many are to address issues that drive me consistently crazy. Many will require me to OVERCOME bad habits and procrastination, and most will require me to be more intentional with how I fill my days.

All of that to say here is my 45 by 45 – it addresses
1. Memorize 45 scriptures. I am instructed to hide His word in my heart.
2. Walk to Jumonsville Cross
3. Plant flower bed like Grandma Frazees (plus Black-eyed Susans)
4. Grow my fingernails (I will confess I am a nail-biter)
5. Bike the whole trail ohiopyle to confluence and back
6. Read 45 books (will cheat and count a few I have read recently)
7. Participate in Breast Cancer 5k (hopefully with friend Lynn)
8. Get on Bone Marrow Donation registry (in honor of Joe)
9. Learn to shoot a gun
10. Learn digital photo books (and make)
12. Weight loss of 45% from my highest weight
13. Try a recipe weekly for supper
14. face to face meetup with friends
15. Decorate for the holidays for Sam
16. Attend a concert of Mary’s choice
17. Girls night out at a show with the Wolfe girls (use to be so frequent and now it has been years)
18. Camping in tent (even if in our yard)
19. Write letters to my children so they know my love, just in case (thanks Lynn for the idea)
20. WEEKLY family fun (we often say it but rarely do it)
21. Become a blood donor
22. Horse back trail with Jim in Gettysburg (he talks about it EVERY time we go)
23. Intentional (at least) monthly time with parents (if I don’t plan it time will pass as it has lately)
24. Weekly random act of kindness
25. Play the piano weekly, at least once
26. Rent a cabin for the weekend – maybe just me, maybe with a friend, maybe as a family
27. Hershey Park Spa for Whipped Cocoa Bath (http://www.chocolatespa.com/treatments/classic_spa_experience.
28. Learn to use the wii
29. Be continually / daily involved in God’s word – Bible Study, online, in person, on DVD, reading
30. Blog biweekly (my daughter loves them and it is important for me to share my heart with her – I always said, if your child wants to hear/read what you have to say – I need to be saying it)
31. Meals at the table at least 2 days a week
32. Monthly date with my husband
33. Create a biweekly menu/schedule (huge issue for me)
34. Retrieve all my grateful lists from Facebook to have for my children
35. Organize family memories (old pictures) and visit cousin in New York to go over them
36. Face to face meeting with my long lost friend Tammy
37. Complete a personal financial goal (I have several)
38. Participate in volunteer project at least 4 times
39. Develop intentional prayer life (challenge from book by Candace Cameron Bure – Balancing it All)
40. Try to kayak (after #28) (challenge from cousin)
41. My calendar will reflect my priorities in life 80% of the time – which includes leaving whitespace for opportunities that come up to serve/give/praise – (this one will be tough!!!)
42. Consistently remember people beyond social media
43. Healthy choices for my children (will require planning!)
44. Deepen relationships with families in our church
45. Plan a weekly day of rest (inspired by book 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Matthew Sleeth and Eugene H. Peterson) (p.s. I may have to start with a 1/2 day – lol)
46. (one to grow on) – Create the “material” home I have envisioned in my head.

I know these are MY plans… Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”
But I know He wants me to live bigger than I do… to enjoy the gift of EVERY day!!!