Category Archives: Intentional Living

ACT by recharging

This blog has drug out and around every turn the message comes up again! It all started before our vacation to Florida. I was assembling all of the electronic devices. (No judgment). The one is my Kindle that I take mostly on trips because it has many books I want to read. I opened it and found a message that read “EMPTY BATTERY. Connect your Kindle to a power source and charge it until this screen disappears….. “

I am here to tell you, my Kindle is not the only thing in my life with an EMPTY BATTERY. I am pretty sure if I had a electronic scrolling sign that was on my forehead, it would say EMPTY BATTERY – Connect to power source! Sometimes I charge myself “just enough” to eliminate the warning. I might get a cat nap, or even a whole 4 hours sleep at night, eat a meal that is sort of healthy (potato chips are made from a vegetable), exercise a little (carrying groceries in or laundry up a flight of stairs), or maybe read a page or two before falling asleep.   I know the warning signs without the message scrolling across my forehead telling me to plug in to power source.   I get a little more (a lot) more snippy, headaches, fall asleep while typing emails (and wake up to a lot of a single letter across the page), a little more (ok a lot more) emotional, the desire to run away but don’t even have the energy to do it, and usually my back informs me as my muscle tense and I sleep in the tub. I even had a recent overnight hospital stay to rule out cardiac issues – talk about an empty battery!

After the message, I couldn’t help thinking about the warning.   The great part was I was going on vacation – the one time I usually charge my battery, reconnect with my family, limit electronic devices, squeeze chapters of books, and not have to cook or clean.

But my vacation start did not come without glitches… which probably were smaller than I made them out to be, but remember I was empty…

  • I had to ask for HELP! That is so outside of my comfort zone. I would prefer to deplete my own battery before asking. However, my friend agreed to take care of crazy dog, and I didn’t even die asking for help. (NOTE to self – when battery is running low it is wise to ask for help)!
  • I ordered a new paperwhite Kindle for the trip (my Kindle with low battery was having more issues and books are essential to me). It came in time for the trip, but wouldn’t connect to download my books, so I came up with a plan B to download them and reset it. (NOTE to self – when battery is running low, retail therapy can help (lol) and/or push the RESET button on button – go back to the basics).
  • We were supposed to leave at 1am, but were greeted with SNOW and slush and a mess. I had to speed up my plan and skip some things I do before I leave (clean out fridge, run dishwasher, vacuum, etc…). I usually roll with the punches and tried my best, but I felt rushed and fearful I was forgetting something (despite my packing list). (NOTE to self – when battery is low, eliminate the unessentials – did it matter that I wouldn’t come back to a clean house? Focus on the important – we had the essentials for a perfect vacation – the 4 traveling in the car and clothes on our backs!)
  • The roads were pretty slick for awhile and we were taking the car! We had snow off/on all the way to South Carolina. My battery was empty…. I hadn’t gotten far enough into the trip to recharge… it was a struggle not to say just turn around! We are blessed with great traveling kids who slept and entertained themselves or I may have thrown up the white flag of surrender. (NOTE to self – when battery is low, sometimes I need to just keep going thru the muck as the recharge lies ahead. The drain was temporary and vacation could recharge me.)
  • The trip continued to put my judgment at question… my battery was still empty from only napping in the car (you know the nap with the bobbing head). We had the WORST McDonald’s experience ever (so I wrote to corporate – I would normally ignore it). They messes with me when my battery was not charged (after traveling all day how hard would it be to get a correct order?). Then we went to a Walmart for Sam approved food (Baby carrots, fruit, pasta, popcorn). OH MY WORD! I am not exaggerating when I said we were afraid. Afraid Jim would get arrested. We couldn’t understand about 90% of the people. People were rude and pushy and scary. We escaped as quickly as possible even though they were out of most things we needed. (NOTE to self- avoid strange places and fast food joints when my battery is empty and not prepared to handle potential rude people and bad customer service).

The next day things changed.

  • That night we all got a good nights sleep (NOTE TO SELF – to recharge – sleep is essential).
  • The weather was beautiful, warm sun, green grass, flowers, etc. (NOTE TO SELF – soaking in nature is a great way to recharge. When I sit behind a desk all day, I may need to break for a trip outside!)
  • We reconnected as a family on the trip. We learned some very valuable lessons on the trip about working together and compromising. (NOTE TO SELF – family connection is imperative for recharging. They are my life line, unfortunately they are also the ones who pay most for my empty battery – I snap, I’m tired, etc.)
  • We did several spur of the moment decisions, which is way outside of our typical functioning comfort zone. The last day we went to a water park and I EVEN GOT IN THE WATER! That is a miracle. I am the observer and bag watcher – lol. I usually have a list of other excuses. It was the last day of our family vacation. (NOTE TO SELF – go outside the comfort zone, the result can be amazing!)

We had gotten recharged as a family – no more empty battery warning as a family. We were ready to come home to sameness (there is truly no place like home for us). We had some good conversations in the car on the way home – projects to complete, and even future vacations to keep our battery charged.

I can tell you though it didn’t take long to start losing my recharge on my battery. We ran into rain and more rain and more rain. The green slowly faded on our drive turning to brown and greys. We got home late eve and I had to work the next morning at 6am.   When we return home, there are no groceries (milk, bread, eggs) and I had to go grocery shopping after work. I also needed to pick up Easter Basket items. On Sunday, I missed church for the first time in years on my favorite Holiday. I missed being with my church family. Then I had a rough Easter morning over a broken heart of a child (another blog). I read facebook and looked at beautiful Easter pictures by others (honestly jealous!)….. and my battery was draining fast!!! I worked a four day stretch. We returned back to school. Therapy resumes…. and my once full battery is draining quick.

I am pretty sure I am not alone when I read Facebook posts.

  • I notice when I get in that empty battery, my gratitude lists disappear because I stop looking at life through gratefulness. I look at it through exhaustion and it just gets more empty, and the vicious cycle continues. NOTE TO SELF – to charge battery must look at positive!
  • When my battery is empty, I don’t take care of anyone well, not even those I love the most! NOTE TO SELF – to charge my battery, I have to learn true self-care. The self-care where I put my own oxygen mask on first, so I can truly be there for others!
  • When my battery is empty I disconnect from my friends. I think of them, but never reach out to them. My text are short and days between. I see sadness on Facebook and I like to try to send a note, but that seems to take too much energy or I forget. NOTE TO SELF – to charge battery connect to friendship power sources!
  • I really know my battery is empty when I forget to even look at my calendar. I forget big and little details, or overschedule because I don’t have the big picture in front of me. NOTE TO SELF – to recharge, reconnect to priorities, keep list simple, and don’t add more!
  • Why do I feel I am so exempt from recharging, when Jesus even took the time from His busy schedule of saving people to recharge – He withdrew from the crowds and the business.  NOTE TO SELF – make time to retreat and talk to the ONE who matters most!
  • When my battery is empty I forget the things that feed my soul. I always watch Elevation Network church on weekends. I try to choose spiritual things to fill the background, but I failed to even play these. So I started listening to them. One sermon even mentioned how we worry about our low battery on our phone, but not the low battery on our soul! OUCH!!! That is so me…  NOTE TO SELF – care about my low battery on my soul as much as I do my iPhone!

The key I am learning is to NOT WAIT for the warnings. It requires daily recharging. For me, it is holding onto the reminder in Lamentations 3:23 (one of my favorites). “His mercies are new every morning”. I have to remember to pause and collect them for daily deposit!!  I need to connect to my main power source – CHRIST – everyday!

ACT by REJOICING

I was so blessed to spend the week after Christmas in one of my favorite places on earth – Virginia Beach, with my favorite people on earth – My family. My wonderful husband made the suggestion just to get away that week. We contemplated Florida, but time off was an issue. I was also blessed that work gave me a few days off just to get to the beach. I prayed and prayed that the weather in Markleysburg would be okay, i.e. no major snow storms, because we needed Bev to get to our dog to care for her. Well, the coast was clear and we left on Sunday evening. However, the weather at the beach the first two days was rainy and cold. I honestly was still okay with the weather, because I was away, watching the ocean, I could read and had no obligations. The other issue was many of our places were closed – the little mart across the street and the biggest crisis was the Dippin’Dot. It was a rough start on the attitudes. The weather continued to improve. The morning of the beautiful sunrise was the change in the attitudes. It was easy to rejoice the nice days at the beach. We also got to take a cruise to see whales, and it was incredible. We could have complained about being frozen on the boat, but the excitement over the whales was worth it.

I would be lying if I told you I loved winter. I would be lying if I told you I was not so disappointed that I couldn’t go to Ladie’s Bible Study / Tea due to our road (if Jim says its bad its bad). I would be lying if I told you I didn’t miss being with my friends and our church. I do like having my weekend evenings off, but I so miss being with our church to end/start a week. I could tell you how disappointed I was that I drove all the way to work on Sunday and there was a power outage and I had to come back home to work, or I can focus on the blessing that because I got to come home early, I didn’t have to drive home in the wintery weather in the afternoon.

So, I keep thinking of my crappy attitude. How my attitude can really take my day downhill quickly. If I am driving on crappy roads, I can let that rule my attitude. If my plan gets changed, not by my choice, I can get in a really bad mood. If I make plans to hang out with the ladies and I can’t, I can get in a really bad attitude  I can even grumble about the day or how events turn out, and my actions caused the outcome.   It would be okay if the mood change / the attitude only affected me. , but it spills over into my work, my home, my friends, my family, etc. It is also amazing how other people’s attitudes spill over onto me. How the little miserable irritants become huge deals and the negative attitude and the spouting of the mouth spills out and over. These same attitudes and continual complaints spill over on Facebook. The beautiful thing about Facebook is that I can hide those people from my “newsfeed”. I only wish that were true to face-to-face negativity. I am pretty sure I am not the only one that this has happened to.

Anyway, my word for the year is ACT – and though I can’t change many of the situations, the people I am around (because I can’t hide them), the weather, the roads, etc… I can ACT differently. At the beach I thought about this verse…. Psalm 118:2 (NKJV) – This is the day the Lord has made; I will REJOICE and be glad in it.

This verse does NOT say, this is the day the Lord has made and since it is sunny shining I will rejoice… and since my day is going perfect I will rejoice… and since the round-about in Morgantown is actually flowing as it should I will rejoice… it says This is the day the Lord has made; I will REJOICE and be glad in it.

I WILL REJOICE just because the Lord made this day… the day to count my gratitude, the day to love my family, the day to celebrate living. There are millions of people who would have loved one more day..

I WILL REJOICE and be glad in it. My ACT is to REJOICE despite the weather, the situations, and the negativity. MY ACT is to REJOICE because He gave me one more day to love, to celebrate, to count my blessings. Regardless of what happens I need to REJOICE….

 

It is time to ACT

2015… makes me almost want to cry… as I count my blessings I am humbled, as I think of things I didn’t overcome I am saddened, as I think of things to come (like Mary turns 16, I turn 45, etc…) I am hopeful! For the last several years I have chosen ONE WORD instead of a list of resolutions. This is my fifth year – my words in order have been 2011 – RENEW, 2012 – PREPARE, 2013 – INTENTIONAL, and 2014 -OVERCOME.

I always create a huge list of words that come across my path and I start considering. I had a friend who read an article over the summer of a great word and sent it to me saying it maybe her word for 2015! This ONE WORD is infectious. I have tried to support people that choose a word, because as with any choice, as the days/weeks/months pass, so does one’s strength. I post my word everywhere and when I am in a tough situation, I think of my word. It is like having a crazy eight ball that every time I shake it, the reply is my word (oh I may have to create one of those). I have also been blessed to have friends share with me their words and watch my friends words come to life in their lives as well.

In October, our life as a family had some changes given to us, that were not by my choice. At first, the thought of the changes were quite overwhelming, but I used my word OVERCOME to face the situation and come up with an attitude adjustment! One of the last things I did before the big change was to attend a woman’s conference. A few words were placed in my arsenal to continue at that time including BRAVE, COURAGE, and QUIT. There were a few pivotal messages I got from that weekend, that I thought for sure would be my word. After that weekend, I read a book by Annie Downs “Let’s All be Brave” because I was sure it was the word. My sister-in-law shared a blog about Brave being listening to the small voice inside your head. What that convinced me of was not brave, but the scripture that kept playing over and over in my head. But, I will have to be BRAVE to take this word on, especially for me!!

I had a great list of other words I was considering..

  • Replace (bad habits/attitude/food with good/positive) ,
  • Eliminate (but this meant getting rid of without adding something to my life) ,
  • Authentic (also from the conference I attended to become the authentic version of me) ,
  • Balance (because face it I have a lot of plates in the air at any given time),
  • Notice (I love the book the Noticer, the Noticer returns and recently Lysa TerKeurst one of my favorite authors did a blog about being one who notices). How many times do I not notice a need because I am too busy
  • Whitespace /Margins – this is from a blog I enjoy about not leaving enough empty space to have for God, people’s needs, unexpected needs, etc… Lisa TerKeurst also talks about in her book The Best Yes. I know there are days I fill to the brim and leave nothing open for God, to take care of me, for my husband or children…
  • Mindful – this was a word a friend of mind chose after an article about how we are so busy multi-tasking that we are not truly mindful in what we are in. This is so true for me, the multi-tasker.

And then, my friend, Johnetta, had a ladies bible study / tea and the first week was about “She did what she could” (Mark 14:8). (at the tea I joked that the scripture that should have been chosen was Why are you bothering her! Mark 14:6). Elisa Morgan talked of how these 5 words made such a huge difference in her life. It is the story of Mary who pours a whole bottle of very expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. She just did it… didn’t worry about the crowds’ opinion (which was very negative)… didn’t worry about the costs… didn’t worry about others reactions… didn’t make excuses why she couldn’t or shouldn’t…. she just acted!   I bought the book from that study and read it this past week. Really I was trying to avoid reading it, but have been so convicted since that session.  The book is full of examples of the power of the people’s actions.

  • I have the weakness of procrastination, the strength of working well under pressure (probably because I usually procrastinate so have to perform at the last minute), the strength of planning but the weakness of implementing the plans.
  • Yes, I want to NOTICE people and needs as I mentioned being a word I considered, but is it enough for me to notice a need and do nothing about it?  I want to ACT on what I notice
  • Yes, I want to eliminate things that are not good for my life and replace them with good / positive things. I can make a huge list of items that fall in this category, but they mean nothing if I don’t ACT to eliminate / replace.
  • Yes, I want to balance my life better. I want more whitespace. I want to be more mindful. My family time, me time, God time definitely gets less time than they should… I can plan the balance/whitespace on paper, with my calendar, but if I don’t follow through and ACT on balancing nothing will change.
  • Yes, I want to be more brave, have more courage, and quit things to become more authentic. Again, I have to ACT on them.
  • I also just finished 2 books by authors with cancer… The Hardest Peace (Kara Tippetts), and Napkin Notes (Garth Callaghan).  Both talked of the importance of acting on life.  Garth especially said we spend so much time getting ready and not enough acting on things.
  • ACT means assuming responsibility, not sitting back and just adding to my list to do (yikes).
  • It is not making excuses of why I can’t but ACTING with what I can.
  • I can’t just make promises.. I need to follow through – ACTIONS speak louder than words.
  • I will never complete my 45 by 45 list if I don’t ACT
  • I need to strengthen relationships – with God, my husband, my children – but they can’t just be an item on my to-do list that gets moved week to week. I must take ACTION.
  • I need to take care of ME (hasn’t that been on many list), but without ACTING with the first exercise, first healthy meal, the quiet time –  it just remains an item on the list.
  • I think of times I have avoided people, sometimes because I didn’t want to get involved or know what to say… in the book, she talked about we may only have 10 minutes, but I can give the 10 minutes – it doesn’t mean I have to take on someone else conflict but I can listen.
  • Move past my moving things from one list to the next, to the next week, to the next week, without completing. The sad thing is many could probably been ACTED on and completed in the time I wrote them on my list… I am the great procrastinator.

I really didn’t want ACT, but I can’t shake the conviction.  This will require me to take an active part in life, in relationships, etc… that I have successfully sat back and watched and put on my list.  I pray with God’s strength and wisdom at the end of each day, each week, each month I want to say I did what I could…

 

My song – Matthew West “Do Something”

My scripture for the year is Mark 14:8 ” She did what she could”

but also love – James 1:22-25The Message (MSG)  22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

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)

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!!!

A Word Search….

MY ONE WORD.  Starting in 2011, I heard about choosing one word to guide/lead my year instead of the list of resolutions that I would give up in one month.  In 2011 my word was renew.  In 2012 I chose prepare and started a blog which I believe helped me to live my word out loud.   In 2013, I chose the word intentional and had over 20 people join me in choosing a word (10x the year before).  Through this past year I have seen people “live their word out loud”, have received personal messages of how their word changed a moment or day, and encouraging messages when they saw things to encourage me.

I have already been having conversations with people about their word for 2014. I have started to think of some words and I will likely do several blogs over my thoughts and ideas for my word.  It is a work in progress, and more importantly, I really have to pray over it.  Listening for the whisper that I found “the one’.  I can’t wait to hear the stories of how / why people chose their words.

In order for me to live my word and be reminded of my word so it becomes part of my daily living I have done the following:

  • Placed it on post-it notes in my calendar, my car dash, etc.
  • Have made magnets with the word (that I also sent to people who shared their word)
  • Put the word as my phone screen saver when it was a little harder to be intentional
  • Make it a password (combined with other symbols – lol) for a website
  • Made the song I chose as an alarm song
  • Wrote a blog.

What I am happy with in 2013 with INTENTIONAL

  • I started strong and ended strong – got a little relaxed with it in the middle
  • I was intentionally grateful almost every day to count my many blessings
  • I was intentional about reaching out to others with their words
  • I got intentional about getting my garage clean
  • I became intentional about my relationships with my peers (rough one)
  • I got intentional and did my first 5K in honor of Sam.
  • When I got stuck in a rut/mood/emotion, I would be intentional about a solution
  • I am intentionally NOT focusing on the areas I didn’t do what I hoped

For those who shared their word, I want you to know how much it means to me.  I loved reaching out and sending a note when I could, thinking of you even on vacation, etc… To me the ONE WORD is so personal!  I have everyone’s word with me every day on my phone.  When I go places and I see your word on an item I stop and say a small prayer and smile.  I have all your addresses so I can drop a note no matter where I am.  SO thank you for letting me part of YOUR ONE WORD!

The process of finding my word:

It is so funny for me when I start talking about a new word, all these words are in front of me suddenly and I think “That is a great word!”  And start a list with them.  This year my list started when I saw or heard a word:

  • The word list all started this year for me when I was finally intentionally cleaning our garage and came across a block of wood with the word SIMPLIFY on it.  By the way, today as I was going to let the dog out I looked down and saw the word SIMPLIFY as a title of a book I own (and didn’t know I had).  I put a second check by that word because I feel like maybe that is a second whisper for that word.  It is like I am taking a tally of how often I have thought of a word.
  • I listen to Elevation Network and a sermon I listened to recently made me add a very simple word.
  • I heard a song by Laura Story and thought that would be a great word and a great theme song.  I will share more about my words when I do a little more evaluating (that is a good word too!)

I also like to look back at previous years.  So, looking back at 2012 Prepare and 2013 Intentional, I think I was stronger with Prepare and here is why.

  • I realize one of the biggest difference is Prepare is an ACTION VERB – I had to do something.  Intentional is more of an adjective or a thought, and no action required.
  • For 2012 my blog titles included my word PREPARE in the title.  For 2013 I got a little more relaxed about writing and didn’t even include intentional in every blog.
  • In 2012 I put PREPARE at the top of every to do list in CAPITAL LETTERS, wrote it on every month of my calendar.  In 2013, not so dedicated (Oh, another good word – see what I mean, every word can become MY word).

However, I have no regrets about my word, it was where I needed to be in 2013.  In fact, I have truly used it a lot the past two months taking care of things that have been issues for years.  So even if it didn’t impact my life daily or weekly, it has made a huge difference overall in the areas I applied it.   I had a conversation with a friend and she only saw her word become alive only in one area or her life.  My reply was maybe that was the area God wanted you to be in, and not have your word cover your whole life.

So here are some guidelines so far for my selection, because I realize the power of a word.

  • I am leaning more towards an action word (for example, instead of commitment I may choose commit.  Instead of determination, I may chose determine).  Of note, I have a few in the running that are not action words.    But I think an action word in comparing the years is a little easier to LIVE OUT LOUD!
  • I also want to make a list of things that I have struggled with this year to see if I can find a powerful word to lead me passed those things this year. Also, look at areas of service, community, etc.. that I want to participate (another great word) in.  Please note this not resolutions of I will loose 10 pounds.. I will exercise everyday, but health is an ongoing issue for me.

So, I am INTENTIONAL about finding the best word for me in 2014.  I want a word that is like an invisible tattoo that I can see when I look in the mirror and people can see living out loud in me.  Or maybe I should start getting a tattoo with all of my words for a reminder!  ( =

I can hardly contain the excitement of hearing what other people decide!!!

Where will I be this Christmas?

My take on Christmas – I must admit I have a love / hate relationship.  Not for the meaning of Christmas but all that it has become!

It makes me miss people who I loved to celebrate with.  I loved making hard tack with my mom.  As children, we pulled taffy with my Grandma and Grandpa Frazee.  Christmas wrapping paper was reused every year at our home.  It was cut off the packages and flattened out to use next year (the first year I dated Jim and I was gingerly taking off the paper they said to tear it and I thought they were crazy!  I had never ripped paper before – seriously!!).  The presents were hid in the attic and my brothers would have me be a look out so they could play with the Legos in advance.  I remember… and sometimes it just hurts because my mom and Grandma, my rocks, are not here to see my children.  I still have a million things in my home that have “To Sheri, Love Grandma Frazee” hand written in them.   It will be our first year without Jim’s Grandmother… I may just have to eat a chocolate covered cherry in her honor!

It is the season when all the homeless, needy, poor, shut ins are remembered with gifts, cookies, and money.  However, the other 364 days of the year we don’t pause to even think of them.

So, I have all of these memories of Christmas from my childhood, and wonder what memories my children will have.  I am too afraid to ask Mary.  Sam could tell you the gift he got each year.  But, I lack on traditions here )=    Every year I say it will be better and different.  Sometimes Christmas makes me realize all the things I have robbed my children of because it is such a crazy season.  So worried about making enough money to buy “the gift”.   So rushed getting to the next event.  The days of the month disappear and at the end I look back in a daze wondering where time went!

I worry about company and cleaning our crazy home that it is crazy the other 364 days of the year and I am acting like I just found out Christmas was here so clean frantically to try to impress people who may come to our house that will still not be impressed. (p.s I know that was a really long sentence but if you read it really fast and get out of breath that is exactly how it feels!)   Either they will have mercy and look over my many flaws and love me anyway or they will focus on the children and feel the love that fills the walls or they will walk away knowing our house is still crazy, needs a paint job, and some things will never change.  I still remember the year that Mary came down the steps so excited and said “Look Mommy, the elves cleaned our house!”  That elf was some superwoman with a cape wanting everything hid for Christmas pictures that made it appeared “perfect”.  But why does she come by just once a year?

The tree!  Oh the years of the trees in this house!  The first several years we bought potted trees so we could replant them.  They are in our front yard to this day, despite the couple years that our dog dug them up in the pot to find the tree crashed the next morning.  I remember the year of our miscarriage and I wasn’t putting up a tree.  The church friends brought the tree from the church to our home.  Steven Lint played the violin and we sang carols – I still cry when I think about the true love that went into that.  I remember the year that I just used Grandma Frazee mini tree in the burlap sack put on a piano bench for Mary’s first Christmas.  I was too busy to get a big one.  Or even recently, the year I just went out and bought an artificial tree and ornaments with no meaning just to have a tree.  While, in my boxes are stored away a village, ornaments from patients, and ornaments my mom painted.

It is the season when we squeeze in extra church programs, caroling, decorating, baking, Christmas parties for school / work / church.  We squeeze in so much stuff that by the time Christmas comes we are exhausted.  We have put on weight.  We have drained our bank accounts.

Let me not forget shopping, now even on Thanksgiving.  Looking for the perfect gift for people we may only talk to once a year.  I have to delete about 50 emails a day about “specials” I must have.

It is the season when families should get together to just be together.  But, it becomes a huge feast of more baking.  We try to fit a date in the calendar when everyone can meet, and someone still can’t come, because our calendars are too full of “stuff”.  Even worse, it becomes the one time I am reminded that our family can’t even get together for the time of the year we should!

I have a love / hate relationship with Facebook now too. I see all these people who have it all together and are ready for Christmas.  It sometimes makes me feel guilty that I am not in that place.  But, I have to sit back and realize how much I have going on in my life and know I am in a different place.  At church they asked who was ready and I said I was because I could be ready in a day, if everyone removes their expectations and set aside mine and just celebrate the birth of Christ.  I do have children, so would still like to get a few gifts, but I could be ready now.  I could decorate a tree in our front yard and celebrate out there with a little bonfire and smores and family – then I wouldn’t have to decorate our home, bake cookies we don’t need,  buy gifts just to have them.  WOULD LOVE THAT KIND OF CHRISTMAS!!!

So enough gloom and doom, but I had to spill my guts and tears are on a special with me these days!  As my friend Johnetta would say, first today I need to wrap a GRACE BLANKET around myself. So, I have resolved this Christmas to be INTENTIONAL and end 2013 with my word lived out loud!

I will be careful with events that are added to our family calendar.  In fact, I have erased many.  I will NOT be attending many extra functions – Christmas parties (except Jim’s work one – it is our yearly date!), extra school days out, caroling, etc.   I will not be donating extra money at this time of the year, because this is the time of the year I have the least to offer.  I will however, remember the charity in April or June, etc… when everyone else has forgotten them.

I will try to find the perfect gifts for my children, because I love them.  However, I will not be worrying and ordering extra gifts because I am afraid I didn’t get enough (that is often my tendency and Amazon makes it too easy to order with 2 day free shipping).  I have been intentional and did NOT subscribe to the newspaper this year.  I did not look at Black Friday ads nor am I looking at the weekly ads to see what “I must have”.  If I don’t look I won’t know and then won’t buy.  I have done a few spontaneous purchases on Amazon, so I have stopped opening the site up.  I have my list and I will be sticking to it and not consuming myself with constant intake of the “deals”.

Christmas is NOT going to be about my clean house.  It is going to be about managed chaos, doing what I can do, and putting my time into memories and not impressions!  So, if you are brave enough to come here, please call first… second, leave all expectations outside the door,… you may want to leave your shoes on for all the pieces of legos (they are dangerous to your feet and language)… and know you will be greeted with love.

I do have some things I really want to put special intentions into, but they are all negotiable and most can wait until after Christmas if possible.

I want to buy some little gifts for people in my life just because, but I have put that list in my tablet and will do after the first of the year.   I will do it after the chaos of Christmas.  Surprise them when the depression and the exhaustion of the aftermath hits.  Send them when a hard winter day just makes it hard to get out of bed.  Everyone is well taken care of Christmas.  I want my friends to know I think of them through the year.

I had intended on a Christmas card this year, but that is not likely to happen as it hasn’t for many years.  However, I will NOT be beating myself up.  Instead, I think for Valentines Day I will send cards of love.  People will have time to actually read them.  I want to give more than just a signature in a card.  I want to tell you about how blessed we are!

God is one of perfect timing.. I saw a picture of a stray German Shepherd pup up inside the manager at an outside nativity scene at a church (I guess the original story was from 2009) – the post read “We should all have the good sense of this dog and curl up in Jesus’ lap from time to time. No one mentioned that the dog breed is a “shepherd.  So if you don’t see me at a function you thought I should be at, or a church service you thought I should be attending, etc… I want you to know I am being INTENTIONAL this Christmas.  WHERE WILL I BE THIS CHRISTMAS???  You can find me curled up in Jesus’ lap, finding mercy, grace, and peace (the three gifts I want this Christmas)!

p.s.    I have printed that picture for my reminder