Category Archives: Relationships

ACT – FINDING MY FLOW (start digging)

On New Year’s Eve I was blessed to be at Virginia Beach with my family. Last year Elevation Church did an online praise party and I planned to watch, but being at the beach, some really loud neighbors, and getting talking to Mary, I became too distracted to fully listen to the sermon. Thankfully, they record them and I could enjoy once I got home. Mary had chosen the word FLOW for 2015, and the sermon from Elevation was “Find Your Flow” – Mary even said that’s a sign because she enjoys listening to Steve Furtick as well.

So, since I have been home, I have listened to this sermon about 10 times and every time I am convicted in a new way. He preached on Genesis 26:12-18 and how the wells were filled with dirt and used it as an analogy of my life and what block my flow from God? How I allow things to block the flow between me and Christ. In verse 17 he talked about how they settled in a valley but how sometimes I grow in Christ when I am in a valley / low place. Because when I am low, I tend to look up! In verse 18 scripture talks of re-opening the wells to allow the flow. Proverbs 4:23 talks how my heart is the well SPRING of life and how it needs to be guarded. But if I allow negativity, sin, complaining, complacency, regrets constantly bombard my thoughts and life, they are stopping my well – my flow between me and God. (if interested the sermon is at this link: http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/find-your-flow)

I think it hit me the hardest when he started giving examples of things that I fill my “wellspring” with – the dirt / the things – that block my flow

Complaining: Monday was a perfect example, the weather was COLD, there were internet connections causing major delays in me getting my work done, Jim wasn’t feeling well, we had to start back to school, I had an interrupted night’s sleep, I didn’t get up as early as I wanted, and the list could continue.   When I start a day like that – it truly stops any positive flow between me and God (and positive flow between me and everyone I come in contact with honestly).   Instead, my focus should be how BLESSED I am to be able to work from home, I am able to have the kids school from home, I got some sleep in my bed (versus a hospital bed), I got some extra rest by sleeping in a little later. Once, I focus that direction, my heart is less heavy, my stomach less knotted, and my hands unclenched.   I generally really focus on blessings / gratitude, but it is so easy to let one thought destroy a moment, a day, a week, etc..

Regrets: Ouch! So, it is New Years and well… last year I did not… lose the weight, read the Bible, work on my prayer life, fulfill my goal for encouragement, unclutter the house, control my spending, write enough blogs, and I didn’t OVERCOME (my 2014 word) everything I had planned. HOWEVER, the past is truly the past and I can’t change any of those things. I can stay in the past, or make progress toward the future.   S. Furtick mentions how some regrets are many years’ worth of “dirt” filling our wells. I can tell you that losing weight has probably always been on my New Years list. The beautiful thing is by choosing a word, I don’t focus so much on the list. The regrets, for me, are an attitude issue as well. I can focus on what I haven’t done or what I did accomplish. Sometimes I can accomplish big things, and sometimes I over estimate and have to take it in smaller “digs” to remove the dirt that stands in the way between me and God. I just have to ACT today to change the regrets, which isn’t easy, but in small shovel amounts, it is possible.

Complacency (another OUCH area): I call them my Eeyore moments. Where I excuse my responsibility by saying that is just how I am.   Or don’t do anything to change because it is easier to stay just the way I am. I also am great about making a list of excuses why they stay the same (I don’t have enough time to exercise or read the Bible, etc…) S. Furtick says how sometimes it is easier to dig a new well, but we really should be cleaning out the ones we already have (like broken relationships – instead of fixing the ones we have we make a new friend; like broken marriages – instead of fixing the one we have we get a divorce and a new spouse; like financial issues – instead of paying off what we already owe we get a new charge card).   I have been known to build new wells – my generally in the sense of taking on one more commitment. The bad thing is some of my wells (spiritual life well, self care well, friendship/family well, finances well, etc..) could use some clearing! I may have just a few shovel of dirt/ things in them getting in the way of the flow, but wouldn’t it be easier to remove a few shovels of dirt than a truck load full of issues. Some things have gone years without tending, and they are honestly major stressors for me (they would be on my “it drives me crazy list”). The stress of not taking care of them has / does / can get in the way of my relationship with God (and others).

  1. Furtick said something that really hit me as a nurse – if I don’t fix my heart issues, my flow between God and me, I will be living this year in a state of Spiritual Cardiac Arrest. As a nurse cardiac arrest leads to death, and I do not want a spiritual death because of everything I have allowed to block my flow.   So, what’s this girl to do?!?!? ACT by FINDING MY FLOW – I have to get busy digging. It may be something like an
  • Saying no to new wells
  • Taking care of me (now that is a really buried well – just saying!)
  • Creating a plan for neglected wells
  • Pick an accountability partner
  • Focusing on relationships
  • Rediscovering some of my passions
  • Reprioritizing my wells
  • Eliminating unnecessary for important (how I spend my time)
  • ACT by FINDING my FLOW!

Proverbs 4:23

  • (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
  • (NLT) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
  • (ESV): Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
  • (NAS): Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Matthew 6:21

  • (NIV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • (NLT) Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
  • (ESV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • (KJV) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

 

Advertisements

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

Computer Error Messages and life….

Two messages I seem to get from my computer – No network connections and Not Responding.  How true to life these phrases can become.   Of note, these drive me crazy.  I don’t want to slow down and these phrases result in my speed going from high speed to stop.

The same thing happens in life it seems, I loose network connections.  For instance:

  • I loose contact with friends over time because the connection becomes weak.  I think of my childhood BFF and how we had drifted apart over the years.  It wasn’t that I didn’t miss her, but the connection had gone.  She had moved away and I remained in our hometown.  Her life led her down different pathways and mine kept me here.  However, life events brought us back together and our connection is strong.  We text at least a few times a week and feel like we have picked up where the connection became weak.  I am so grateful for the technology network connection of Facebook and texting that got us back here.
  • I also loose connections with friends and family close by.  Life gets so busy and the hours get filled with things.  My calendar has multiple appointments. I already deplete myself of sleep to squeeze more things in.   Last week it worked out to go out with a couple friends to celebrate a birthday.  It had been over a year, and probably closer to two.  Our conversation and laughter was non-stop.  Did I get any further behind in the day because of the celebration?  Likely not, and even if I had, the reconnection of the friendship network gave me a renewed energy.   As the holiday season quickly approaches may I find more network connections and strengthen them.
  • I also loose my network connection with God at times.  It takes planning and effort to maintain any relationship.  I know, from experience, one-sided friendships really don’t work.  Being the friend is always seeking out the communication and connections can get weary.  The same goes for God.   He hands me the world, but at times I get so wrapped up in the world and everything I want that I miss what is right before me.  Some would say the relationship must be maintained on Sundays in church.  And though, being with my church family does my heart good, it is not the deepness I need.  To me that’s like dating once a week.  It’s like dating and marriage – the more you go out / the longer I am married the more I know my husband.  I know it needs to be a daily event, and well though I speak to God daily, there are times it is honestly shoved between other things I need to get done.  Maybe it’s a short prayer (not that He won’t hear them), or a quick praise (not that He won’t appreciate that).  But, I can’t expect to spend little time with Him and learning about Him and expect to develop the deepness in a relationship.
  • Some of my strongest network connections with God are while driving in the car.  Sometimes it is the perfect song that comes on and I just sing to the top of my lungs (Sam is not in there to tell me to stop).  But often, I intentionally shut the radio off and just spill it, like He is physically sitting next to me.  However, I know that my network connection strength can vary daily with Him.  I have to be the one to take the next step.  I love to listen to the ElevationChurch (Steve Furtick)  podcast and listen several times a week.  When I get to read or have my Kindle read to me, it is a Christian Author, just so I can fill my mind with positive thoughts.  I also have gotten much better about Prayer with FaceBook because I love to lift people up.  They may not come out and say they need a prayer, but I know in my gut they do.  It is one moment in time to lift that person up to a God who already knows their need.

My network connection is definitely a continual work in progress, and I am thankful I serve a God who loves me because of who HE is, not because of what I do.

The other annoying computer issue is “Not Responding”.  When I pull up a computer page and it says it is not responding I want to scream (and Sam does especially if Netflix or YouTube – lol).  There are several other times:

  • I can tell you in every day life, it drives me crazy when I send out an email, a phone call, a text, etc and I do not get a response.  I of course analyze it and feel sometimes disrespected, less important, etc.
  • I have children and a husband, and one thing that can drive me crazy is to yell there name (when they know I am fixing supper) and to get no response or a response of what.  They are NOT responding, or at least not how I want them to.
  • I mentioned earlier that I often reconnect in the car.  Lately, I have been doing a lot of outside work preparing the yard for winter.  Normally, I plug in a podcast or some music and reconnect my network.  However, the last few times I have found myself brewing over some things.  Rewinding them in my mind and hitting the repeat button.  During this time, I have been talking out loud and I am sure God is listening intently.  He is likely expecting my praises and prayers and all He gets is my moaning and groaning.  I am NOT responding the way He wants me to, and He already knows He is NOT responding the way I want Him to (after all, I have some great solutions if He would just listen – LOL).   Of course, the more I brew and hit the rewind button, the more I spew.  It rolls over to my husband in some of our deeper conversation.  What happens, he does NOT respond to my issues (or at least not how I want him to – remember I am the one with the solution – lol).
  • Occasionally (often), our dog does NOT respond the way I want her to.  I can yell and scream at the top of my voice and it may not even touch her reaction.

God, I am sure, sits on His throne, and yells at the top of His voice, and I don’t respond the way He wants me to.  I get so wrapped up in my ways, my visions, my thoughts that I warp them to being “God’s will”.  I have heard people say that such and such is God’s will for their life, and I think to myself “they need a hearing aid”.  From my view point, they are not correct.  However, in Isaiah 55:8-9 it reminds me that His thoughts are NOT my thoughts.   I think of men of the Bible like Jonah, who didn’t initially respond to God’s instructions – he got swallowed by a fish – and in the end did exactly what he was suppose to do initially  had he just responded.  Oh, so many days I am like Jonah, running, instead of just responding.   As irritating as it is when I encounter NOT responding by others, I can only the magnitude that Christ feels everyday.

So maybe the next time I see the No Network Connection and Not Responding on my computer, it can be a self check for my life, my relationship with others, and mostly my relationship with Christ.

In honor – live louder… love harder… dream bigger….

I have been blessed to be a nurse for over twenty-years of my life.  As I type that very sentence I actually am crying over the lives that I have taken care of.  Many of my years were in bedside nursing with cancer patients.  They were always so grateful for the care you provided them, but in reality the gratitude was from me.  They touched my life in ways I could never explain.  Their courage, their strength, their resolve is second to none.  They opened their hearts completely, because when you know your diagnosis can lead to death, you really have NOTHING to loose.  However, we are all going to die with or without a cancer diagnosis.

I mentioned in my last blog about the four women I know fighting cancer, and one lost that fight just a day after my blog.  It truly breaks my heart.  I didn’t really know her well, but I know that she had an amazing family and children that she left behind as she walked through the gates of heaven. She was a nurse and I am sure she will be met not just by family and friends, but all the lives she cared for that preceded her to heaven.  I know how hard loosing a mom is and cry at just the thought of the pain.  I know how hard my mom’s death was on her mother (Grandma Frazee) and my dad.  But, I cling to the many memories of my mom and the life she lived and taught me.

I held the hands of many patients and their families through diagnosis, through treatment, and death.  In fact, I can close my eyes and see the room number and give you names.  When I worked at the bedside it was easy to remember how fragile life was, as I had the daily reminder.   I still see some patients that I cared for in the community or recently when someone was visiting a family member.  I saw him and knew his face and even his room number.  He laughed.  Those I don’t see physically I can close my eyes and see I could honestly name hundreds and the memories we shared.  Maybe I need to close my eyes a little more often to remember them and to honor them.

As I mentioned, we are all guaranteed death.   Most patients would say how the diagnosis was the wake up call for priorities.  I have also taken care of trauma patients who never got the “Wake up call’ but were still faced with a life altering event.  The hardest were probably the ones who did not survive an unexpected event (trauma, heart attack, stroke, etc..) and never had the chance to say everything, do everything, reprioritize, etc.   I think of even my mom, whose life was taken early. But prior to her life being taken, so was her walking and ability to care for her family and herself.

I see death many days still in my nursing career.  I also have 3 close friends/family diagnosed with breast cancer just this year.  However, so many days of my life I live like it cannot happen to me.  I don’t live to the fullest.  I hold back on dreams and desires.  I waste hours each week on things that will not matter.  I get wrapped up in drama that is not necessary.  I let too much time pass before I reach out to family / friends.  I let my heath go because of course obesity and diabetes won’t kill me.  I let my life and home be cluttered by things that hold no value. I hold back on my hugs, love, and laughter.  I don’t slow down as much as I need to.  I get absorbed into the daily news and let it depress me.  I don’t make the memories because I don’t have time (really I don’t make time).  My priorities are often out of order.  The list continues…

Why is it I often need the BIG events to wake me up and re-evaluate.  I have many in my memory bank.   But, unfortunately, I quickly get back into the daily rhythm of life and go back to living my daily life and throwing away many precious moments.  I have always felt I should not let someone’s diagnosis or death be in vain.  I love seeing fundraisers for a great cause, scholarships established in honor of a loved one, etc.    Their life, their fight, their battle should be my wake up call.   For my mom, I should walk everyday and praise God that I can.  For those who are no longer here, I should hug more, love more, and make sure my words and actions count.   I have watched my friends with breast cancer continue to praise God through the storm while being honest of how tough the battle.  I should let their battle permanently stamp an imprint on my heart to LIVE LOUDER, LOVE HARDER, HUG TIGHTER, DREAM BIGGER, DO BETTER, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

My prayer, Dear Lord, is first you comfort those who has a loved one who now resides with you.  Wrap your loving arms around them so tight they can feel your breath.  May their life and those who continue the battles, the struggles, be a daily/constant lesson and reminder to me that life on this earth and in this body is temporary.  Help me honor them by living my life  intentionally to the fullest without excuses.  May the close of every day I reflect and know I honored them, my family, my friends.  That I was in fact a good and faithful servant.  And anytime I slack into my old ways, may I be (gently) reminded of the preciousness of every moment.  Thank you for new mercies everyday. 

Blessings in reflecting

It has been a few weeks since we returned from vacation and last Wednesday, I text Jim asking if he was ready to go back.  I told him I could be ready by 5 pm to leave.  We chuckled because as much as we would love to, life isn’t that simple.  But I literally started working the day I returned from beach and felt like the running has not stopped.  Dental appointments, work, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc… I have been surviving in the one day at time mode.  Which, is fine in some areas of life, but not so great when running and juggling work and family and self.  Guess where the juggling fails?  Generally first self, then family, and last my work.  I know that is NOT how it should be, but can honestly tell you that is how it goes.

The beautiful thing about the beach is it places everything into perspective — live a simple life with minimal “stuff” for one week as a family.  There is no work to focus on.  Only things to deal with is admiring God’s beautiful creation AND our beautiful family.  I was able to focus on the positive qualities of my husband without all the daily demands – like him swimming in the indoor pool with the kids, making sandcastles in the sand with Sam, taking Sam into the deeper water, defending our family when we were not being recognized at a restaurant, and never loosing his cool (except when defending our family).  I was able to focus on letting Mary be a little more responsible and loosening my control, and that is FAR from easy.  I was able to focus a lot of time with Sam because Mary didn’t really need me and Jim gets in his “beach zone”.  We built big pits for dinosaurs with tunnels and waterfalls.  We hung out at the playground areas, etc…  I was also able to reconnect with my best friend from childhood and her two sons.  Amazing times!

But even life at the beach was not perfect, even though I so wanted a perfect vacation.  One issue consumed parts of my first days there.  It takes a lot to get to the there with me, because I am usually one who believes suck it up and move on… or figure out in the big picture it isn’ that big of deal… or no one is going to steel my joy because then they win.  But I let it.  I let something that was out of my control take control over my thoughts.  I let my disappointment from someone else’s choices consume me.   Let’s just say communication is imperative in life.  I finally exploded and let it all out and chose NOT to let it consume me and our vacation.  I was in a beautiful place with my wonderful family, but my mind and heart was overshadowed at first.  When going on vacation, it is important to leave bad and heavy luggage and life issues at home!

The second issue was with a slap of reality.  I know our son’s quirks, but it is not until I see him with other kids his age that the quirks are magnified.  Unfortunately, in the wrong groups, those quirks are magnified to kids and he becomes a target.  Almost daily I became a bouncer in some sort of situation.  I so wanted to let my guard down and believe that bullies just didn’t exist at the beach.  One day a little boy, who reminded my of Sam and his quirks, started talking to him and they were doing great re-enacting Sponge Bob… until the bigger brother came along and was really mean to his little brother and to Sam.  Well, that quickly ended.  The day we were at the pirate ship and it was four boys who thought they could push him in the sand and he could always be “it”.  Sometimes I would just feel the tears trickle.

A couple things stood out at the beach for me.  The one day as Jim and Sam built a sand castle they were a little too close to the tide and it would come in and wipe out parts of the castle.  Some days that would have led to meltdowns, but that day, Sam just kept building with his dad.  The foundation of the castle remained intact even as the waves crashed in and knocked a wall down. I PRAY that our family will always be that firm foundation for our children.  When the waves of life come crashing in on their hopes and dreams, that the foundation we have created stands firm in their lives.  I pray that we can be there to help them rebuild the walls time and again.

Another lesson was my search for shells.  I love the broken ones just as much as they are usually smoothed out from crashing in the sand time and again.  Most of my shells I found were broken, but beautiful.  So many times, I want the perfect life without the crashing waves and without getting rammed into the sand time after time.  I definitely hate to watch my children endure bullies who crash their spirits and ram them time and again.  However, I PRAY that the waves do not leave scars on me or my children, but build our character and make us smooth and beautiful.

Of note, I did find one huge perfect shell one day.  I had seen the shell but initially thought it was a crab (we saw a few of those too), because I had never seen that large of a shell in the ocean in Virginia Beach.  When I realized it was a shell, I kept my eyes open and tried a couple times to capture it, including getting wiped out on my face once by a wave.  It disappeared and then Sam and I went out in the water and as we were out past the waves crashing I felt something large under my foot (of note yelled thinking a creature).  Then realized it was a shell – the very one I had my eye on. Amazing!  When I was looking for it, I remember how many other shells I let passed by and they may have just been as beautiful.  How many times in my life do I get so focused on one thing / end result / solution, that I may in fact miss something even more beautiful / better / perfect for my life?

The last lesson for this blog is that even the smallest of prayers are heard.  I mentioned in my last post that sometimes I feel like asking for prayers when others are going through so much is hard.  Anyway, Sam had decided to take 2 Spidermen to the beach and we dug our huge hole with tunnels, etc… When it was time to go back to the hotel, he realizes he is missing one.  Okay… it is fourth of July, the beach is packed people to people, and he has NO idea where he lost it at first.  After the melting down, he explains a tunnel we had dug had crashed in.  Jim and I dug frantically and never found him. Back the room was a broken heart boy, a frustrated dad, and a defeated mom.  I even prayed while digging that we could find it.  I was prepared to order a new one and have shipped to the hotel (no parental judgment about just teaching him a lesson to take better care of his toys).  I had been the one who told him they would be okay to bring to the beach and felt horrible.  I also sort of felt defeated because my prayer was unanswered at that time and God, I believe, knows exactly how hard it is for Sam.  The next day, Sam had NO desire to head to the beach, but eventually gave in.  As we were setting up our tent, I looked over to the left and thought I saw something red in the sand.  I walked over and brushed off a layer of sand and found SPIDERMAN! (of note, I found my big shell that same day and Jim said we should have gone to play the lotto – lol. To me, finding Spiderman was better than winning the lottery!).   I learned He hears our prayers… and knew exactly how and when to answer… I need to learn to work on my mustard seed faith!

So blessed to go to the beach… and so blessed to reflect on that time.  Until next year (unless I can convince Jim otherwise)….

My view of remembering

When I think of Memorial Day it is natural to think of all who do/have fought for the country freedom. Am blessed to know many… In my immediate family it would include my nephew currently serving in the Marines.  My father and father-in-law also both served their country.  So thank you!  (p.s.) My dad will always be my hero far beyond the time he served his country for the time he served my mother.  I will have to do a whole blog for him on his upcoming birthday!

When I think of Memorial Day, I think of the people in my life growing up that fought an everyday battle.

May is a rough month of memory for me… Last week May 21 would have been my Mom’s 16th year since she arrived into heaven and yesterday May 26 would have been my Grandma Frazee’s 14th year since she arrived into heaven.  It so feels like yesterday that they were physically here, but maybe because everyday of my life something reminds me of them.  I have become so emotional lately that I am sure I will sob my way through this entire blog.  But they definitely helped form who I am today… but also sure they would snatch me up sometimes and Grandma may even get out a switch.

They taught me about being strong when the world crashes down around you.  My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when she was pregnant with me (or close to that time).  I remember her bravery in always trying to make things seem okay even when she had to drag her legs to walk.  I remember how she would go to the bathroom and because she was so weak to get back up she may sit there all day till we got home and never complained.  I remember how she fought to not use a cane even if it meant sometimes crawling to get around.  I remember when I got engaged she fought back tears because she would not be able to go gown shopping and be a “real mom” (I fixed that and went only once by myself and tried on two gowns decided which one I loved and had a family friend make it.)  I remember how long she fought to drive until it was no longer safe and then fought to make me drive. I remember taking care of her and her still trying as hard as she could to keep doing things for herself.  I remember her sitting in her wheelchair barely able to feed herself but give us her love and blessing to go to work.  I remember her having her stroke and insisted that I still went on my trip to Toronto and she would be okay and be there when I got back.  I remembered the day that she passed away at home and she would wait until we all got there – and she did.  I remember all our talks about life, I could and would tell her everything.  I don’t remember her complaining much except some moments of frustration that she couldn’t do more for us.  I don’t remember her loosing her faith despite loosing her ability to care for herself.  I don’t remember her giving up without a knock-out fight.  She stayed strong, put on the smile, kept believing, and fought the good fight!

My Grandma Frazee also taught me that same fighting spirit when my Pap died of prostate cancer in 1979.  But probably a stronger lesson was when she finally got brave enough to stay by herself at night (about 1986 when I went on a date, until then I stayed every night with her once my brothers grew up).  It was probably within the first handful of times that she stayed by herself that an arsonist burnt down the barn.  She stayed strong.  I remember her having a hip replacement and shortly after getting on the floors at my mom and dad’s to scrub the carpets by hand.  But strength was all she knew as a farmer’s wife.  When they had to sell the farm because of Pap’s failing health, she stayed strong.  When she buried her husband and her only child before she passed, she stayed strong.  Even up until her final weeks on this earth, she fought hard with a smile.  She was admitted to the hospital the day I was to come home with Mary.  The xrays showed what we thought was a minor surgery, but I knew she said she would live only long enough to see my child born.  That morning of the discharge for us I spent much time in the ED with Grandma.  They had to take her to surgery… so as soon as Mary was officially discharged I went straight to the operating rooms and handed Mary over to a nurse who carried her into the OR room so Grandma could meet her – Mary, named after my mom (her beloved daughter) – she was what she was living for.  Grandma fought for another week and ½ on the ventilator as the surgery was bigger than expected.  Everyday I took Mary to the hospital with me waiting for her to wake up.  Once she woke up and came off the ventilator, everyday I took Mary to the hospital so Grandma Frazee could hold her.  They were so at peace with each other. Mary spent many hours in Grandma’s arms.  We then went to Rehab and spent every day, and finally she came home to the Personal Care Home.  Grandma told me it would be too hard for take care of her and baby Mary, I assured her I could.  Just a few days after and a few days prior to me returning to work, I got a call that she wasn’t responding.  I went to see her immediately and she woke up and asked for her baby Mary about 9 weeks old.  I laid Mary in bed with her and went out to call family and returned to find Grandma had passed peacefully holding my Mary as she went to heaven to meet her Mary…. She fought and smiled and kept the faith (i.e. Mary’s middle name).

I look at their lives and realize how much like them I can be… or at least hope I am.  Most would say I talk as much as they did (and I am pretty sure Grandma Frazee passed that to Mary in her last breath when I left the room – lol).  I miss the wet (from rootbeer barrels or Brach butterscotch candy) kisses from Grandma Frazee that she always had in her apron pockets.  I miss talking to my mom about everything and even if I didn’t listen to her advice I felt better.   In my heart I know they are proud of me, but there are sometimes I know they would handle things differently.  Sometimes it is that split second after I make a decision or say something to someone or hit send on an email that I think they would have handled it so much better.  I want to think that when times get tough I fight hard for what matters… I fight hard for what / who I believe in… but more importantly that in the midst of life’s battles and the fight is bigger than me, that I keep my faith in the One who can fight it for me.  And my biggest hope is that our children will see them in me, so they have the same strong example.  But, I fear at times they will never understand because I shelter them so they do not have to see my struggles or my weaknesses.

At Grandma Frazee’s funeral, we played  Holes in the Floor of Heaven.  When Mary grew a little older and asked about my mom, I told her she had to go to Heaven to pick her out for us.  So when Samuel was born I heard her tell Sam that Grandma Mary picked him out too!  I am so sure they would love to be here is some ways.  I know they look down and I so wish they could be here to know our children.  I wish they could be here and give some love and comfort on the days that are just hard.  But they are in a much better place in Heaven just watching down the holes.  So the next time it rains I need to remember it is…. For every day needs to be Memorial Day

‘Cause there’s holes in the floor of Heaven
and her tears are pourin’ down
that’s how you know she’s watchin’
wishin’ she could be here now
And sometimes if you’re lonely
just remember she can see
there’s holes in the floor of Heaven
and she’s watchin’ over you and me.

 

Unexpected Responses

What I should be doing and what I am doing = two different things… but just need to write… So yesterday, I do believe was an evening of unexpected responses – a couple responses were ones received and one I “sent”.  I had a big discussion with two of my favorite girls last night about the power behind the “sent’ message by text, in their instance.  When I receive a text/email sometimes it is difficult to interpret the feelings behind the text/email.  I can’t see the face, hear the voice, or see body expressions.  It can easily be misinterpreted, and gave them specific examples.  I even gave them an example of a personal response on the phone. Mary had called me and she thought I sounded in a bad mood, but in fact, my rushing was so I could just wrap up and get done for the day.  When I called her back, she said you sound like you are in a better mood.  I said I wasn’t in a bad mood before just juggling about 10 other things.  So even though she heard my voice in a response she could not see what I was doing = misinterpreted response.

Yesterday my first unexpected response was from Jim inviting his family out for a night of family fun – no misinterpretation… only pure joy.  No cooking… heading for wings in Pittsburgh which also meant happiness for Sam (Toys-R-Us) and Mary (Mall) especially since I got her BFF Melissa to come too.

The second response was one she received.  I usually am the devils advocate about text that maybe things were misinterpreted.  She always hates that.  However, by doing that it opens her mind to the other side.  But this time, she was clearly hurt.  I completely understood.  Often times, she has me read her text to be sure that they should cannot be misinterpreted by the receiver.  I read the one sent prior and I believed it to be typed and sent with a pure and honest heart without hidden agenda.  The other problem I have learned with me and text is I want an instant response; however, just as every other communication, sometimes the response needs thought, the receiver maybe pre-occupied and not best time to respond, or sometimes there is nothing to be said.  Perfect example was text she sent was day prior… response received day later… her response back none.  I told her when she did not get a reply the day earlier they may not have received it or may not have been able to respond.  Sometimes it is easier to be silent than to keep the text flowing back and forth to add to the fire.   I am not often speechless, and she hates when I am, but I didn’t know what to say.  Sometimes it hurts when you get an unexpected response, from someone you love, especially when you put your heart out there.   We talked about how her initial text the day prior spoke for the testimony of her life, coming from a family that enforces asking forgiveness.  I told her I was proud of her for that, and wish I knew a way to fix the unexpected response back.  More conversation happened, but that will have to be another blog.

The third response was one I sent.  I had received an email, that I sort of expected to receive, but did not want to get.  I had read it earlier before our family night, but knew if I responded then it would be out of rush and not thought.  I wanted to just say NO to the question… and maybe that would have been wiser.  However, once I came home I sat and typed a response with SEVERAL edits.  I felt I needed to stand up for my personal needs in the situation.  I love to be flexible and help, but have learned over time that can place me in that constant expectation to change.  The change can then become morphed into my role.  I honestly have never said NO in this situation before.  I always go with the flow and adjust and change.  This morning, I gingerly opened the email, and no response back.  The problem with a slow response back is I don’t know if I will even get one, which means I do not know what the other person thought.  I am sure it will “cost” me at some point.  I do not have regrets about my response; however, some guilt for not saying yes.  I even started it by saying not sure how to respond… and ended with I am sure this is not the response you expected.  But, oh the uneasy feeling I have of the silence on the other end.

I think of dear friends – one cousin who received the notice that the lump was positive for cancer who had a double mastectomy… one friend who received the notice the lump was positive but thought treatment would be minimal; however, when the surgery happened it became more extensive and treatment plan changed – unexpected response from doctors… I have another friend who gets her results from her biopsy today… and another friend who gets her results next week…   I think back to Samuel’s diagnosing and though in my gut I knew the response – it still hit me like an unexpected response.

I am in the middle of a book about prayer (a blog later) and how I wish I would have prayed over the response before hitting send – I guess that would be the only piece of regret, so now of course I pray for a good response.  One of the guidance I always give to friends/ family/patients when waiting for a result is to pray for the best and prepare for the worst.  But, in hindsight, that really is hypocritical.  When I pray to God, I should just pray for the best and expect nothing less of him.  Does that mean it will always work exactly like I prayed?  No, but when I prepare for the worst, it may mean that I don’t trust him to give me the best (OUCH!), and I never thought about it that way!  Granted, the answer I wanted may not come when I want it (i.e. years of infertility), and may never come, but as I mentioned in my previous blog – it may be because there is a GREATER STORY He is trying to write!

I think my testimony continues in my response to unexpected responses.  Do I praise Him through the storms or only when life is smooth sailing?  My testimony is seen everyday by my children, and they learn from that.  I need to learn to pray intentionally over the small things – including my responses before I hit send or open my mouth – so I don’t sit now with some regret for not doing that with my email.   I also need to pray intentionally for the best answer, because my God is capable of things beyond my imagination (and Sam’s – which is one of the best imaginations I have ever witnessed – lol).

Isaiah 55: 9 ” “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”