Category Archives: Marriage

Living a Testimony

Our Bible Study last night was on Hannah and there could very well be several blogs come from just that one study.  But in our conversation, we got talking about testimonies.  I mentioned how I am always fascinated by the strong testimony of the person who has overcome drugs and/or alcohol, living on the streets, etc… to a life walking with Christ.  I mentioned how my life in comparison did not really have a “testimony” in that sense because I was raised in a Christian home, have been in church since probably the first Sunday after I was born.  I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol.  I dated my husband, who is also a Christian, for five years, got my nursing degree, got married….

On the outside, Hannah looked like she also had it all together – married, a husband who loved her more than all the other wives, etc… But, inside she was a mess.  In fact, she cried and prayed so hard it said that some thought she might be drunk.  She was honest with God and poured out her heart for the longing of a child.  I remember those days when everyone else around me had children, and yet we could not.  Despite infertility treatments and every test known to man, we were left childless.  On the outside, I kept working and helping to take care of mom.  We went to church.  I taught Sunday School.  I just couldn’t understand why God didn’t see us or didn’t answer my prayers.

Well, just as with Hannah – God does see me!  The study talked about that God was just waiting for a GREATER STORY.  Sometimes that story is in the waiting.  The story is when we get honest with God and not worry about our outward smile.  It is so funny, in hindsight, although I am often guilty, of putting on that fake smile to God, to my friends, to my family — the smile that everything is okay.  My friends and family may be fooled, and may appreciate the smile.  However, God knows me and my heart.  While talking, one of the amazing women there mentioned that infertility could be part of my testimony.  After I left the Bible Study I really thought about that.  I really do think God allowed our years of infertility for His glory, and of course, looking back it is easy to say that now.  Had He not waited, we would have missed out on the Greater Story – Mary and Samuel.

But then I got to thinking even more… my daily life is my testimony.  When I step out and say I am a Christian, my everyday actions are pieces to my testimony.  Last week we buried our Grandmother and at her graveside a man spoke up about Grandmother’s life.  How when he showed up at her doorstep, she welcomed him in without question.  Her testimony was her daily life.  Her testimony lived until her last breath.

So, what does that say about me?  I am not a “words of affirmation” person, but I do want my reputation to be my testimony.  Today I went through one of my work evaluations and it felt good to hear my strengths (so much for not being a “words of affirmation” person – lol).  My work ethic is part of my testimony.  It means being honest and working 100%.

Being a mom is part of my testimony. So part of my greater story is a beautiful teen daughter, but with that comes mommy/daughter melt-downs. How I handle them are parts of my testimony. The other part of my greater story is an amazing son with Aspergers, but with that come challenges.  How I handle them are parts of my testimony. Do I speak their love languages consistently? Do I praise Him despite the rough times as a mom, or only when things are going well.

Being a wife is part of my testimony.  Do I lift him up or tear him down?  Do I speak his love languages consistently?

Being a friend is part of my testimony.  Do I remember the little things for them?  Do I let them know I am thinking of them?  Do I honor their secrets?  My friendships are a piece of my testimony.

I don’t need a “big story” to be my testimony… I just need to live out the greater story He gave me.  Live it with greatness… Live it with gratefulness… Intentionally make my every day, my every action, my every word be part of my testimony.

Expectations….

Oh my dear blog… how I have missed having / taking the time to write.  Well, this week was Valentine’s Day.  There are probably three types of people 1. indifferent on celebrating but okay with that, 2. those that absolutely love it, and 3. those that absolutely hate it.   Actually, that summarizes it for most holidays.  Mother’s Day for me, for instance, is always bittersweet.  My mother and grandmother are both in heaven, and I remember the year after our miscarriage and all the years of infertility that I yearned for a child, but God had other timing.

Anyway, about Valentine’s Day… I generally am indifferent.  When the kids were in school and we had to send out Valentines, Mary and I always made homemade Valentines.  With Samuel, he seemed to like parties, but having to write the name of all the children and sign his name on 30 valentines were a little over-rated for him.  I had thought about getting the kids something this year, but my intentions never made it into an action (something I really need to work on, by the way).  Jim and I never get each other anything.  I use to buy or write him a card, but then realized that was never his “love language”.  Our first year of marriage he sent me flowers to work and well, I yelled at him when I found out how much they cost. STUPID ME!  Those were the last flowers I received.  I stole the blessing of his giving by being critical.  In hindsight, the words should have been Thank you and I love you!    So, for 20 years, I have not received flowers, BUT have honestly not been disappointed (a little more on disappointment in a minute).  And then this year, I received a package to me and I literally got goosebumps.  Enclosed were a dozen of beautiful roses from my awesome husband.  I was NOT expecting them and was speechless.  Sort of like the diamond wrap I got for Christmas that I was not expecting.  At first, I felt a little guilty because I had not gotten him anything.  However, that would have taken away from his gift and knew he expected nothing in return.

About disappointment – in the dictionary disappoint means to

Disappoint: fail to meet the expectations, hopes, desires, or standards of; let down

One of my biggest life changing attitudes / mottos is to EXPECT NOTHING AND THEN I’M NOT DISAPPOINTED!   It is one thing I have intentionally worked on (before I ever chose the word intentional).  This has been to my benefit many times in life, and I probably learned it more with each circumstance.  Some common examples,

  • I don’t expect any gifts for holidays or birthdays and am not disappointed when I don’t get them — but when I do, it makes the joy that much greater.
  • I don’t expect people to change their ways, but change my expectation and then I don’t boil over every time I think of them.
  • I don’t expect the garbage to be emptied anymore when overflowing, and now I don’t get upset and yell – but when someone does empty it, I am so excited.
  • I don’t expect to get an IRS refund anymore after generally having to pay in, so if it ever happens, I will be so excited.  Had I expected to get a refund and didn’t (and already had it spent on a new item) I would be devastated.
  • I don’t expect when I come home after a long weekend of work that the house will be spotless, and then I am not upset.
  • I don’t expect when I step on the scale that I have lost any weight – for      years I did that and felt so sad – and now if I do, I am just super happy.

When I use to expect things of people and they didn’t meet the expectations, it controlled my happiness.  It made me yell or bottle it all inside becoming ready to explode.

However, what often happens, I am learning is that with expectations, there MUST be communication.  For instance, if my expectation is that the garbage is emptied, I better tell them.  Too many times, people expect other people to do something, but never verbalize that expectation.  Much of that I learned comes down to love languages, and I know I refer to this often, but it is so true.  If I am a gift person and I want to be shown love by gifts, I better tell my husband.  If I don’t tell him and he doesn’t give me a gift – it is my fault because I never told him my expectation.  For instance, when we started dating I told Jim, “I will live in Markleysburg all my life and I will graduate from college with my maiden name.  If you are not okay with either of those things, we don’t need to continue the relationship.”  Well, that was 25 years ago and we live in Markleysburg (although I would probably be more willing to move now) and my college diploma has Knight on it.  It would not have been fair for me to not disclose that, or my expectations to have children, etc.

Probably, one of my biggest irritations in my professional life was when I sat down for a performance review and was told I did not meet deadlines.  Of note, I have never missed a deadline in my life.  I asked for clarification, and apparently, the person’s standard was that items were in 5 days prior to the deadline.  However, in my world, if it is due on Tuesday, you will likely get Monday night or 3am on Tuesday morning, and I would still consider it early because Tuesday could be interpreted at the close of business day.  She was disappointed in me, because I did not know her expectation was 5 days prior.

My problem still lies in my fear of disappointing others and myself. Here are some examples

  • At  first, I thought Jim may be disappointed because I didn’t get him anything and he got me beautiful roses.  Or at Christmas, he gave diamonds and his gifts were much smaller. I was      disappointed in myself that I had not done more.
  • There are often areas that I could use some help, but I won’t ask for it, because of fear that I may disappoint others that I can’t handle it myself or why I needed help.
  • I avoid being completely honest about situations, because I don’t want to disappoint people with my decisions I made.
  • So many times, I over commit to other people, because I don’t want them to be disappointed in me.

Oh, the list of how I disappoint myself and fear of disappointing others could go on.

I need to be more intentional of asking people their expectations of me.  What does my husband expect for me as his wife… my children expect of me as their mom… learning what Christ expects of me as his child….  Because, I truly do love them and want to meet their expectation (and even exceed their expectations).  And on the other side, if you are expecting something of me, just let me know.

But more importantly, I need to be INTENTIONAL about knowing MY expectations, hopes, and desires of MYSELF, and that requires taking the time to figure that out.

Happiness equals reality minus expectations” – Tom Magliozzi

Nightmares – it’s time to Get Up

Last night I had some nightmares.  As I think back what may have caused them is a combination of the news and the podcasts I listened to.  It probably doesn’t help when I am purely exhausted at 5:30am when I crawl into bed.

Yesterday, I learned about the little boy with Aspergers that is held in a bunker by a complete stranger.  As a mom of a boy with Aspergers I know the turmoil inside of him when he doesn’t even take the right toys to church that we will be at for a few hours.  I know his eating habits and when stressed, he does not eat (which is why he likely ate very little at school).  I know how much he relies of seeing his family.  He will stay overnight one night at Poppa and Nanny’s and is ready to come home.  I cannot imagine what he is going through, because most days I don’t even understand “Sam’s World”, instead I just try to understand.   As a mom, I cannot imagine my child being kidnapped. My worst nightmare!  In fact, I have become so distraught I am finding it even hard to eat today.  An experience I never want to live and never want my children to experience!

So my nightmare revolved around Mary at first.  Our dog ran out in the snow and Mary went looking for her.  But we couldn’t find Mary after she left because she was abducted by people I knew.  One was actually a physician at the hospital (and I had done a review for a patient that he was staff on the case just before bed).  The other one was a friend (that I had read a post by on Facebook just before bed).  And while we were rescuing Mary, that kidnapping was a decoy to also kidnap Samuel.  Have you ever woke up crying and in a panic.  In a panic, like I had to go check their rooms just to be sure it wasn’t real.  I went back to sleep and the dream continued in a stairwell with their abductions.  Well, the abduction ended and two kidnappers were shot.  I have never been so happy to wake up.  But, there were also some valuable lessons about safety that came up that I needed to work on with Sam (and even a few things for Mary). I also realized and remembered that I need to be careful with my last thoughts before going to sleep.

I am so thankful that I woke up and my nightmare was over.  We are safe at home without intruders.  However, some nightmares are reality.  Probably some of my reality “nightmares” have been our miscarriage, infertility, and when Baby Caleb passed away.  Some live the nightmare of an abuse, adultery, children in trouble, unexpected deaths, etc… As I have said before, our problems and our nightmares may seem insignificant when we compare them to someone else’s nightmares, but they all matter to God.

I listen to podcasts most nights I work and last night it was a series of 4 lessons – the first one Pastor Furtick talked about David, a man after God’s heart, who lived a nightmare.  Much of the nightmare was a result of David’s choices.  He basically raped Bethsheba, got her pregnant, then had her husband murdered.  He lived the consequence because his son died  as a consequence of the sin.  (Pastor Furtick points out that the Lord will take away our sins immediately when we ask for forgiveness, but we may still have to live out the consequences of the sin.)

The last two points (of 5) Pastor Furtick made really stuck with me that “There is a time to get down and a time to get up.”, and “Events to do not have to define our identity.”

He talked about David and how when his child became ill, he GOT DOWN (2 Samuel 12:15-17.. David pleaded with God for the child.  He fasted and went into his home and slept lying on the ground.. He would not get up, and continued to pray and fast.).  On day 7, the child died, and he GOT UP (2 Samuel 12:20-23 – He got up from the ground, put on lotions, changed clothes and went to the House of the Lord and worshiped and then ate.  His servants could not understand why when his actions.  He explained that he fasted and wept to plea to God.  But now that he is gone, I can’t bring him back.)  NOTE: I also believe this section struck a cord with me because fasting has been on my “need to know more about it” list.  I also know there are situations that instead of staying down (often being negative, whining, and complaining) that I get UP and do something about them!

Everyone handles nightmares in their lives differently.  Some remain stuck in the situation and bitter.  Their lives fall apart and they become depressed and live in the past.  Others, somehow, find the strength (often only through Christ) to get up and go and worship and live life despite of the past.  They restore marriages despite adultery,  recover relationships with their children when their children return like the prodigal son, etc..  Some are able to make the nightmare they have lived not be in vain.  I think of a dear life-long friend whose beautiful daughter passed away after birth.  I am sure she mourns and misses her child, but now she is learning to serve as a Perinatal Grief Doula for other families.   I think of the scripture 2 Corinthians 1:3b-4 the God of all comforts who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God.”  We should pay our comfort forward.

The second point that I love was the events in our lives do not define our identity.  Despite all of his sins, God was still described as a man after God’s heart.  Pastor Furtick mentions that our failures are just a success story in process.  For the “alchoholic” – God sees as a person who used alcohol to cope, but does not label him the alchoholic for life.  When we shed our failures and repent we are made new and all labels are gone from our identity in Christ.  He talked about Lamentations 3 of how he has afflictions and walked in darkness, and could not escape, etc  (vs 1-21).  And then verses 22-23 that “ therefore I have hope because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for his compassions never fail.  They are NEW EVERY MORNING..”  I have that scripture on a magnet on my fridge.  I believe that is why I so love a sunrise.  It is a reminder (a gift) of a fresh start, where I often look as a sunset as an ending and all the things I didn’t accomplish.  What a hope to know Hi compassion is new every day.  If we are faithful to put my hope in Him and seek Him (vs 25) , He will show His compassion and unfailing love (vs 32b)

I need to be intentional not to get stuck in my nightmares (and mistakes) and get up and do something about them.  Let them just be a step in the success story that God has outlined for my life.

Here is the link for the 4 series podcast if you are interested – http://www.elevationchurch.org/sermons/itakeitback

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

 

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.

Challenging the Comfort Zones (Part 1)

Blog – Take 2… I started another blog, but it wasn’t going where I wanted to headed. I am learning in life that I need to be more intentional about my journeys. I need to stop beng a “wanderer” and have a destination in mind. The interesting thing with me is that I am not really a traveler by nature. I am very happy with just staying home. When we do go on vacations or trips as a family, we generally choose the same destination and eat at our favorite places – almost like a second home. For instance, when we go to Gettysburg we eat Vinny’s Pizza and Eddy’s. When we go to VA Beach, we eat at Planet Pizza, Calypso, and Mai Mai. When I use to travel for work, I was fine with getting to the hotel and just staying there, and if I do venture for sight seeing I generally find a city tour to point out the highlights. I have many friends who love to travel and have an itinerary of everything they want to see. If I went with them, I would likely just say I’ll stay here and let them go. It really isn’t about liking change, because I often do, but about being comfortable. Also, it is about the quietness and being unhurried in life. If I get a moment from reality, I will like choose a quiet activity (book) versus sight seeing. Do I miss out at times? Probably. But, then again, that is a matter of perspective. I may truly get more from the quiet time then seeing a monument or a landmark. But I am realizing that I am getting a little too comfortable in many areas of my life – and well, that isn’t always good. I may just get something more from change.

Just a few areas… my health. Well, those who know me (or have seen my picture) realize I have some curves. Every year I say I will change them, and well, every year I get comfortable right where I am. I do know my body pretty well and do follow my labs and Blood Pressure, etc. As a nurse, I know the consequences of my curves and have had 2 cancer scares, both listing obesity as a risk factor. A risk factor that I can change, but never do. I could give you all the excuses – time to exercise, food choices, working night shift, etc.. But I know it comes down to being too comfortable – being a procrastinator that I will start tomorrow – and not being intentional in taking care of me!!! My family will even tell you, there is little “ME” time, not because they won’t give it, but because I don’t take it! My labs are great and so is my BP, so always rationalize that I am healthy. I claim I love my family more than life itself, but do nothing to change one factor I can. I can’t remove my genes, but I could definitely loose some weight and wear a smaller pair of jeans. I am a diabetic and have been since having children. Until this year, I have been able to “control” it with my diet. On December 24th, I went to the doctor because I knew my fasting glucose was climbing and he prescribed medications (of which I was waiting to start). We do believe part of it is from my crazy ongoing rash and then again my diabetes may be adding to the rash. Either way… if I don’t do something, I just may find myself getting comfortable with a prosthetic leg or even worse in a coffin – now that is a scary reality!

Our children. Too comfortable. I step it up when I see there is an issue. This year I have probably become a little less comfortable (actually a lot less comfortable) by cyber schooling. It was easy to take them to school everyday and go on with all my things to do and just help with homework. Now, I have stepped out of my comfort zone as I am responsible. That is definitely always easy. With Sam, I have become so comfortable with his uniqueness that it becomes daily life. But, should I press more issues. I have done this more with insurance battles, having weekly meetings with his online teacher, etc… But, often I know there are more things to be done, but I have to step out of the comfortable/easy. With Mary, she has always been the easy child – does her homework without asking, works ahead, etc.. However, because I got comfortable and tried to talk her through things, I believe I missed out on some “signs” of impending issues. Last year, we also talked about her vision for our family. She challenged many of our comfort zones, and that was not easy. She is an affectionate person, and hugging and touching are not so much in my comfort vocabulary, I am afraid. It isn’t always easy to step out of what I know into the unknown, and rarely is it comfortable to do that! But, all the steps taken out of the comfort zone is one more block in their foundation… so time to get to building!

My marriage. 25 years together and 20 years of marriage. Pretty impressive record in this society. I have learned from society and dear friends… that this can also be a bad area to get comfortable. You know… you shave your legs less, wear ponytails more, PJs or comfy clothes all day. Last month Jim had his annual Christmas party and Open House for work. I got semi-dressed up and wore makeup, paid a little more attention to my hair, etc.. Mary’s response was I didn’t look natural. Jim’s response was that I looked beautiful. I have gotten comfortable in my marriage and automatically think, he won’t care what I am wearing when he comes home, whether the bed is made, if he has to eat cereal for supper, etc… We went away for a weekend this past fall and it was the first full weekend we had gone anywhere without children. Some will argue and say that is fine, but I can tell you, it was nice to just be with each other as grown ups. Do we love our children – absolutely! But I know all too often our discussions become all about the children and we loose who we are as a couple and individuals in a marriage. I think we were starting to become that couple. The ongoing joke for our family for YEARS, and I do mean YEARS is that we traveled everywhere is separate vehicles. One reason is that he is a firefighter and has left me to go to a fire. We would work in Morgantown together, but also drove separately. We stopped going to church together for several years and that became comfortable for us, but that should not have been. I worked weekends and he worked weekdays so our paths crossed seldom. I realized things were slowly slipping – our marriage and our family. I wanted us to be together as a family in a church, so I changed my shift, I told him to find a church and we would follow – we followed as a family and it was the best thing we could have ever done. We started always traveling to church together. Then, we bought our car – in 20 years our first truly mutual decision on a vehicle – and now I even get taken to work and dropped off at the door. I think some of the biggest wake-up call was the two big fires in a row last year – Nemacolin and the Mill Run church. Then there was the flood rescue he had gone on for Hazmat. As I heard him talk and know that he doesn’t sit on the sidelines – as I watched the one video as he counted the firefighters coming out of the burning church and one was him. I am married to an amazing man… and comfortable just isn’t okay. I think in the last year we have done better, but I have a lot more work to do to get out of the comfort zone, but know that every step is worth it.

So many more comfort zones… so little time…. I think this will be continued tomorrow…

Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.” – Jon Bon Jovi