ACT by REMAINING

Last weekend I was “handpicked” by God to attend a women’s retreat. My friend, Johnetta, had the task placed on her heart by God to have this, and unlike what I would likely do… she listened.   She knew God would hand-pick women to attend, and I am so blessed I was one of them. I honestly still get tears in my eyes from the experience. The numbers were not huge… but GOD WAS THERE!!! As we laughed, cried, laughed, sang, ate, fellowshipped, and shared in God’s love. Over and over in my mind, I have replayed the weekend. These three things are on replay. It wasn’t just one speaker, but the combination of speakers who chose different scripture from the Old and New Testament, that melded together…

BE STILL (when I Google Be still scripture, there are 36 incredible verses that come up) – my two favorites are

Psalms 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God

Exodus 14:14 – The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

For the last several weeks, I have started a new habit of prayer and often just being still. Almost every morning (sometimes evening and sometimes both), on my porch swing, I sit and pour out my praise and my heart.   I am still… I listen… I breathe… and my soul calms. It can last minutes or long stretches of time. I usually have a song come to mind and I sing with the deepest of my heart. I am changed. I think that change took me into last weekend like a sponge… ready to receive… without my typical mind wandering of all the other things I should be doing… In all honesty, I have sat in retreats and church and made my list mentally and on paper of all the things that needed done for the day. Not this one ….

I have learned stillness is vital to my life – for my spiritual and mental wellbeing. However, I have also learned I need more than just those few moments of stillness… I need to remain in them… In the promises… In the peace…

REMAIN

Being still is great. However, too many times the stillness was short term. I would then return to my every day life after that time and got pulled back in. Then life would get the best of me and I would return to be still for just a few moments. Last Saturday, I heard scripture I had heard a hundred times before… John 15:4-7: vs 4 “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” And it became part of life addition problem for me.

Being still is great – but I must remain there… For the last several weeks I have been blessed to re-center life. Most of the external factors of work, people, and appointments have been removed. I controlled the calendar and filled it with family, friends, and church. I find when issues or concerns arise, instead of worrying and dwelling on it, I become still. Still and my life were not words that would have been used in the same sentence. I think it is me learning to REMAIN in the stillness. REMAIN in HIM and not the craziness of the world. When I need to re-center life, I find me returning to the moments I had spent with Him that morning and the days before.

I think of all the people who have posted this month things they are thankful for. I love them! But after the month, many get back in their routines

Have you ever had an amazing moment / memory where you can close your eyes and visualize it? Well, my porch time has become that daily moment when all it takes is for me to close my eyes and I can return to that feeling I had while being still.   If I don’t have it that day, it is a little hard to re-center myself and a little easier to get pulled into the craziness of life and brought down by the worries of my heart.

He is ABLE

Ephesians 3:20 – 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

Hearing Priscilla Shirer speak on this scripture brought it to life for me. [That is how God works and why it is important that I keep reading and hearing His word.  “Old” scriptures can have new life based on the circumstances I am going through.] I tend to put God in a box. I pray to Him with a specific need, and wait (often impatiently) for the answer. Priscilla spoke of God being able to go beyond and beyond. All this time, I confined Him to my thoughts when He can go way beyond that, because HE IS ABLE! All this time, I didn’t even take things to Him because I didn’t want to burden Him, bother Him, rely on Him, wait on Him, and the list goes on. I kept many things in my own little ability, and think now how much more He could have done had I given it to Him. Definitely more than I did on my own!

I have been seeking God for direction in areas of my life. I went to scripture for answers (wow imagine that concept). I found several scriptures that my heart needed to read and put them in a collage picture on Facebook. Then I put what I had to do and His return on my investment. It is pretty amazing (and I only chose 13 scriptures of the 31,103 verses in the Bible).   [Great time investment to use Google to search for scriptures that lead me to more scripture than spending that time less wisely – ie facebook]

If I do 2 things – BE STILL (seek Him and listen) and REMAIN (trusting, waiting) [not my own pattern where being Still would be a few minutes and go on my way]

HE gives me 11 things (and there are many more in scripture) – PEACE, HOPE, FUTURE, WORKING things together for good, DIRECTION, ENDURANCE, STRENGTH, RENEWAL, NEW THINGS, COUNSEL, and going BEYOND BEYOND what I could do on my own….

 

BE STILL (Sheri) * this does not mean that I don’t do my part and just wait for Him to do everything – it’s seeking Him before the world and being quiet and aware enough to Him

+ REMAIN in ME (not in the world or your problems, Sheri!)

= 4 I AM ABLE (Beyond, beyond your imagination, Sheri!)

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ACT by RECEIVING (and it started with a cup)…

There is something I have a big problem with. It could be called many things – faith, trust, control. They really all wrap in one! My prayer life struggles.  I pray daily in conversation and thank him for his gifts and then give Him my list. I am not still and wait to hear Him back, to hear what He wants for me. After all, I had already given Him my list and usually instructed Him in what specifically I wanted. Prayers like please give Jim safety, be with my friend who had surgery heal her of pain, I am going into surgery give the Dr. wisdom. Yes, I say here is the person, here is their specific need. The irony is He already knows their need! He wants me to come to Him as a child with my small request, something as simple as their name, my needs, my hope, and MY PRAISE and then wait and listen and trust.

So, I struggle with the wait. After all, I just told Him exactly what I wanted, so it isn’t like He has to think about it. I did the problem solving for Him. Not only do I struggle with the wait, but I struggle with the answer is not the option I give him. I do not make my prayers multiple choice. I give one option. Now you see my struggle. I am sure, at least I think, I am not alone in this struggle.

I have refrained from starting to watch TV (except cartoon/ movie marathons with the kids) because I don’t want to get started on something I won’t have time to continue. Plus, I have always enjoyed listening to online videos from Christian authors, online sermons, etc….

One of the videos from speaker/authors I have listened to since being off was by Emily Freeman. She talks about how she holds an empty bowl while she prays – symbolic of having her heart empty and ready to receive. At first I thought… ok that’s different. Then soon thought what have I got to loose. I didn’t choose a bowl, but a new mug from an amazing friend that has one of my favorite verses on it… BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!!!   I struggle with BEING STILL and truly hearing. So for over a week, since I have heard this video, I have sat on my porch or a favorite recliner with my empty cup.

I honestly could just cry writing how this has changed me. I have cried during the silence of holding the empty cup. It truly was symbolic of how empty I felt, and didn’t even realize. Empty spiritually, because I have allowed life’s chaos fill all the crevices of my life and weigh me down. Usually when I pray, my crazy to do list goes through my head. But now that I hold an empty cup I sit and truly visualize me waiting to receive from Him. I give him my small list of maybe just someone’s name – He already knows the need…. I give him what is heavy on my heart and then just sit and breathe and wait for His peace. I am STILL! Sometimes a song may come to mind and I sing a verse. He wants my praise! So many analogies have come out of this empty cup time, of how I have pushed Him away with my business and the need for control.

  • When I hold up a full cup/calendar/mind, there is no room left for His will, for me to receive what He has for me. He knows the plans He has for me, but if I fill that with my plans, I miss out.
  • When I go to Him in a hurry to hand over my list of Dear Lord please bless…. Say amen… and carry on my day. He sits there waiting to hear the heart of His child.   It’s like asking your child “how was your day?” because you want to really hear and they say fine and go on to the next task. As a mom, I sit there wanting to really hear
  • He knows my needs. He wants me to bring them with full expectation of what He can do with the needs and leave them there. He can do so much more than I can on my own strength (but for some reason I believe my ways are better when scripture supports His ways are higher than mine).
  • When my heart is heavy and full He can’t pour into it…
  • When my hands are clutched He can’t fill them (and I can’t open them in praise).
  • At times I thought I should put names or needs in my cup, but again that doesn’t leave it empty for me to completely receive.

So tonight when I got an unexpected email, at first I was truly upset. It was a need I shared with Him over the empty cup. The email really upset me and I went into my typical mode of Why didn’t He answer it the way I expected. What am I suppose to do now? How can I fix this? (See the problem, I… I… I….) The chaos starts stirring and I struggle with faith, trust, and control. I wanted to cry because I wanted a different answer! I did start reacting and trying to fix it.… got a little angry at God… and then I started writing this blog. I am a writer at heart and use writing to empty my head / heart. Unfortunately, often I get so busy that I don’t write… which just keeps my head / heart full. When in reality that is when I should write more.

As I wrote the brewing slowed and the wrestling with God slowed (like I would win – lol). I then realized I needed to go to Him and pour out my heart. So, I paused my writing and grabbed my cup.  I turned out the light and just paused, laid out my heart to God, and relinquished my control. The irony is the door He closed tonight wasn’t necessarily the one I wanted to be opened. I went back to my old ways of fix it mode and not trusting and not being still. I got caught up in the instant disappointment (and anger) that a door was closed, without trusting the answer was the best for me.

Does the cup hold any of the answers. No! But my Heavenly Father does. If it takes a simple act of holding an empty cup to remind me to be ready to be still, to pause, and to receive… then I will hold the cup… and He will bless my willingness to finally come to receive. I will be the woman of the well… thirsty… seeking… waiting…. Receiving!

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!

Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;

Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more

Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

ACT by writing again (my lessons on belonging)

My dear blog… sorry you have been so neglected. It is not because I haven’t had a million things to say or write, but filled my life with a million other things and excuses. Well, God has given me a time to be still and honestly I still struggle with it (because I wanted to accomplish much in the off-time).   Life has gotten a little crazier than even I prefer. So, as I seek stillness, it is time to ACT on pouring out my heart and head. I need to return to a place of peace.

I feel lately like my equilibrium is off and things that never mattered suddenly do. I am generally a self-sufficient person and really don’t like to ask for help, announce issues going on in my life, announce the need for prayer publically, etc. Unless it is something I can be grateful for, it is likely not going to be advertised.  But lately I have been a little absorbed with all the places / situation I don’t really feel like I belong. (Facebook can do that to a person).

I read about people running here and there with their children for sports. It makes me miss the years of being a “dance mom” and running and belonging to the group of other dance moms. We shared so much around while we waited at practice, recitals, competition, pictures, etc. Our children are in NOTHING. To some that is a foreign concept and to others we are judged for lack of socialization. However, for our family that type of belonging is just not in the cards due multiple factors at different times.

There have been many social events that I have also declined. I have declined some due to timing. To be honest, I have avoided some because I didn’t think I would “fit in” /belong with the crowd. They would talk of school, sports, and children. I had nothing no offer – no sports, we cyber school, and well, we have some unique children. There are many times our different life is really highlighted by just simple comparisons.   I honestly wouldn’t change our choices, but it does limit conversation in many areas. I can’t relate to what they talk about, and honestly, I get tired of defending/explaining our choices. However, I eliminated the option of not belonging before ever giving the event/the people a chance.

I struggle often when I know how much Sam misses “friends” because they are busy with life (school and sports). Mary over time has been blessed to find a group of friends she belongs with and is quite content living the life of the introvert. I pray that one day, Sam is blessed that way too. Life is so full of being the perfect fit, doing it all, belonging…. And well…. We just aren’t there…

However, lately I have had some beautiful reminders of just where we do belong. I have worked weekends every year for 11 years. For a couple years I was blessed to go to evenings on weekends and we found a church we loved. We started going as a family. Then life changed and my schedule got rearranged so we had to give up church again. But on a rare Sunday I had off (Jim had class) and I asked Sam, do you want to go to church with me. He quickly replied YES! I was quite surprised! We went and when we got in the car he said I have really missed church. The church had gone back to how we remembered when we first started.   It felt like home… WE BELONGED!!!! I don’t have to explain Sam’s quirks, or feel like excuses are needed if we can’t come (we had been gone for months and there was no judgement), etc… We sat back down where we hadn’t been for MONTHS and the love still spilled over.   Conversation is easy….   We went as a family last week and it was priceless… A place WE BELONG.

I had another weekend I requested off recently to get together for a teleconference for women. We have an amazing women’s bible study/tea on Mondays. Another group where I BELONG! We have a Bible Study and we talk about what the lesson meant to US. No judgement, no explanation, no excuses needed. Well, I expected a large turn out and it ended up being a small group. Only 3 stayed all night (counting me) and 7 total in/out for the Friday/Saturday. It was perfect and amazing. Though the live teleconference was good….. the small group of ladies (of various ages and stages of life) breathed life back into my weary soul. I BELONGED!

Over life I have had some various jobs in nursing. I still see some of the nurses I worked with on Oncology and we can still talk about life – because I BELONGED in that group. Our love and care for our patients was bonding and over the years we watched our lives grow and change. I miss those bedside nurse days (and say that more and more). I am blessed in my various nursing areas to truly feel like I BELONG in some.

I also need to realize it is okay not to BELONG perfectly everywhere. It is not necessarily a statement about me or the others, but the fit has changed. Friendships are the same way. I have some life long friends that I can drop a text to and ask for a prayer and it is said. We have meaningful conversation via technology and I feel refreshed. I have friends that when we talk we pick right back up where we left off. I also have had friendships that no longer fit as we have changed. It does not decrease my love for them, but to wish them well as we BELONG in new areas.

In our home we teach be true to who you are. However, I still find myself focusing too much on where I don’t belong. It probably goes back to one of my strength/weaknesses of people pleasing. I want to be all things to all people. I want to say yes to everyone (which can be a dangerous thing because our daughter just echoed those exact words last night!). I want to understand everyone so I can meet their needs! However, in the end, I am often left drained and alone.

I was not created to fit in everywhere.   Just like a plant and growing – some need more water, more sun, no water or maintenance (Like the only plant I have not killed since getting married – a cactus). I grow where I belong! Just like our children in school – Mary was getting strangled by the weeds and Sam was stuck in a pot with too many seeds (a too large of a class). So we moved them so they could grow.

I have to learn / apply some lessons

  • Appreciate and focus on the beautiful places God has placed me to belong – our church, my friendships, and work. Make sure they know how much they mean to be. Pour back into them.
  • Try new things and see if I really don’t fit (I have made many a decision by the scenario I play in my head of what may happen and never try).
  • When I know I don’t belong, don’t try to fit in… move on and learn from the lesson.
  • The lifelong lessons will be — I don’t have to be all things to all people! People pleasing is not a strength when I am left depleted!

Thank you Lord for this time you have given me to be still…. Thank you for the beautiful places you have planted me that I do belong…. Thank you for the amazing church that welcomes us just as we are… Thank you for my incredible friendships that I never realized how much I needed (because I thought I could do it all on my own)…. Thank you in advance for making me brave to move on and learn…. Thank you for letting me know that I always BELONG wrapped tightly in your arms as your child!

p.s Please Lord, give me the strength to work on the people pleasing!

ACT on the writing on the wall

On my grateful list awhile back I wrote I was grateful that the writing on the wall was big enough to see. A friend responded that it would be a great blog. So here it is.

I would say for months I have been stressed beyond my normal. I can handle the normal stressors of my crazy life and actually thrive on it. However, the balancing act of the added stress, that I cannot control, has taken me to a new level. My family would describe me differently. I snap when I would have never snapped. I even threw something the other night, which I have NEVER done in my life. I am emotional and just want quiet. I have headaches on a daily basis.   My family walks on egg shells and those who truly know me know that I am not easily shaken.   I am scattered and forgetful and consumed. I miss ME!

The sad thing is that people and situations have been writing on the wall for some time.

Sometimes it was a blank wall (which can be the biggest writing in reality). It means I didn’t even really exist, when I thought I made a difference. I dismissed the blank wall as they were too busy, things must be fine, and no news is good news.   In hindsight I see the blank wall and it gives me the chance to sit back and realize what my silence is doing to others. There have definitely been times when my reaching out could be much improved, and do people wonder if they don’t matter or if things are more important than they are.

Sometimes it is just little words or small sentence written on the wall. A little jab, a little change, a little email and it all seems harmless at the time.   Little words written on a wall are easy to miss by being so busy in life.   Tonight I saw the perfect example — in the corn field next to my house there is a single sunflower growing above the stalks. I never noticed it till tonight when I was coming home and got behind a slow moving car. I had to slow down to see it. I also think that little things are easy to dismiss as not “about me” and even believing it won’t affect me. But over time it’s like spelling words, the more times you have to write them, the more they are embedded (or so they say). So maybe the words became more obvious because they were repeated over and over. Or maybe they just got bigger and bigger. Or maybe I slowed down and noticed.

The problem is the little words became sentences…. The sentences became paragraphs… the paragraphs became chapters… and the chapter became a book. All the little things I missed are now a novel swarming in my head constantly. I am consumed and I dwell on the words.   I remember Mary memorizing the Gettysburg Address and hearing it over and over (and still says when we go). The problem is when the writing on the wall becomes a mural in your head that repeats over and over.

I am sure I am not alone in situations that consume. It can be health issues, financial issues, marital issues, family issues, work issues, etc…   They usually all start with something small – health could be the finding of a mass and it consumes you…. – financial can be making a bad purchase and short on money to pay bills and it consumes you — family can be a little argument over a slice of pizza that becomes a wrestling fight in the yard (a childhood memory) or worse never speaking again … it is consuming.

It is GREAT that I finally saw the writing on the wall, but it is not okay to just sit there and expect the writing to change. But that is exactly what I have done. I have let the writing of someone else impact and change ME! The bad thing about me is that at times I believe the writing will change in a certain circumstance to find out that instead it is now in BOLD print! But I keep returning to the same wall and same situation – I guess the eternal optimist.

What have I done… I dwell on these words and think how I can change them. I have stopped writing grateful lists because I am consumed on reading the words over and over. I stay home because I just don’t have any reserve to deal with people.   I have let this become an emotional battle that I am completely loosing.

What has this done – exchanged the writing on the wall for my family. The wall that use to say I love you!.. I want to spend time with you…. what can I do for you…. you matter to me……    to writing that reads — I am too busy dwelling to remember that…  this situation is more important than you…. I am mad (and things may be flying)…. , don’t joke because my reaction is unpredictable. By being mad and dwelling, I have forgotten little details that showed I loved them. That is NOT who I am or what I want my family to be reading on my wall to them. It is UP TO ME to change that!

Somethings I learned about the writing on the wall. If the author doesn’t want to change the words, and I don’t agree, then  1. I can keep reading the words over and over and dwell. 2. I could ignore the words and pretend they will go away. 3. I can try to convince them to change the writing. or 4. I can find a new wall to read.

So what is a girl to do? Well, I think I need to find a new wall to read.

I need to read and hear the words of God repeating in my head.  Reminding me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He has a plan for me. He goes into battle for me. Be still! Youtube is my best friend as I google amazing Christian speakers (Liberty University, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa Terkeurst, etc…), Elevation Network, and more. It has fed me some amazing messages to replace some writing.

I need to pray harder and then be still to hear the direction I need to go. He wants to be part of the little details of my life. I need to replace the words written by others with the ones in His word!

I need to read and hear the words of the ones I love. Saying they will love me no matter what, they miss who I was, they have my backs, it will be okay.

I need to read and hear the words of the ones who know my integrity. Saying everything will be okay, I am worth more than this, and the writing is wrong.

I need to pour into the lives of others and ACT on who I am.   I need to replace the focus/dwelling on negativity in my head with positive actions.

I think for this season of my life, I need to rely on a new love language of WORD of AFFIRMATION! Satan wants negative things in my mind to make me question who I am and my value. He wants space created between me and God, me and family, etc. Well, time to tear down the wall where the words are written! It is time to write new words for me, for my family, and reclaim ME!

ACT by not waiting for rainbows

Sunday when I walked out of work there was a rainbow that spanned the sky. I so needed that rainbow just to remind me of God’s promises to protect. Unlike many rainbows, that seem to fade before I even get my camera out, this rainbow almost the whole way home. I may go around one corner and think it was gone, but as soon as I went around the next one and my vision was adjusted just a little bit, it was there again.   The whole time I was thinking thank you Lord for the promise… Some things came to mind with that rainbow since that day.

  1. It was there the whole time, it was my vision that needed adjusted.   That happens to with beautiful sunsets, sunrises, etc. They are always there. Sometimes they seem closer based on where I am located (on the mountain) and sometimes further away (in the valley). It is just like God — HE is always there. My closeness to Him is based on where I AM, not where He is. Scripture reinforces He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He NEVER moves. It is me that creates the distance. Just like the prodigal son. The dad never left, he stayed in the same home praying for his son return. His son is the one who moved. But, when the son returned, the father opened wide His arms. So does the Heavenly Father…. I just have to get close enough to feel him, hear him, see him….
  2. I was holding onto that rainbow as a reminder of His promise. I have been going through some “stuff” outside of my control (hate that!). At times not sure God heard my prayers, yet in reality I may not said them out loud. Well because I hate to let go for a variety of reasons / excuses. I realize that scriptures say He knows my words and thought before they are said and even if they are never said. But, He wants to her me come to Him. Just as I want my children to come to me and just talk. I want to know their heart without using my mother E.S.P. skills. Thankfully, He knew what I needed without me saying a word… I never said Lord give me a sign. To be honest, there have been times that I have required BILLBOARDS to get my attention. I didn’t want that kind of sign, so I am cautious in asking! Funny how I even want to control the sign He sends me – LOL!
  3. The irony of the rainbow is that it has to rain/storm to make it happen. Yet, I want a sign from God without wanting to go through the storm to get it I want the sign to come easy. Would love a big arrow saying that way. A sign without drama, without trials, without choices, etc. In reality, I want easy signs without the work / pain / suffering to get me there. Honestly some of the most powerful things I have learned were after a trying times in life. Scriptures says that suffering creates perseverance (Romans 5:3-4). In my impatience I just want the reward / the promise / the rainbow but without all the journey to get there! I want the sign today… please don’t make me wait. Last week at Ladies tea we talked about how Sarai was so wanting a child NOW that she sent her husband to sleep with a maidservant. Yes a child was conceived, but so were many problems. Had she just waited, her time did come.  How many times am I like her, wanting it now, instead of waiting for His time?!?!
  4. Why did I wait for the rainbow to feel I had a promise from Him when every day my Bible waits to be opened. Full of love letters from Christ to ME! Full of promised from Christ to me. I can rattle off some scripture but does it soak in my soul?   Here are the ones I say I cling to, but how many times does it truly absorb?
  • I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, not harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
  • Every morning Christ gives me a new serving of mercies – Lamentations 3:23 (and guess what He will give more if I need it.)
  • His thoughts are not my thoughts – His ways are not my ways – They are beyond comprehension (i.e. Sheri interpretation – He can see the BIG picture, I must trust Him).
  • BE STILL and know that I am God. Psalms 43:10 (my problem is being STILL and letting HIM be God).
  • The Lord will fight for me; I need only to BE STILL – Exodus 14:14 (my interpretation – is get out of HIS way and let Him be God).
  • Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11; 28 (I have to go and give it to Him instead of carrying it around and whining).
  • He gives power to the weak, strength to powerless. . Those that trust in the Lord will renew their strength… Isaiah 40:30 (He is my source of power – just like a light switch all I have to do is turn to it).
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength – Philippians 4:13 (I can say it but do I believe it / practice it?)
  • He gives a gift – peace of mind and heart. A peace the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 (so why do I look for peace everywhere else?_)
  • Look at the sparrows and God takes care of them and is concerned for them – how much more does He care for me? Mathew 10:31 (I often think of this in winter of how the birds survive the cold, the storms, and provides for the bird… I also think of the song – His eye is on the sparrow – so I know he watches me).
  • There are HUNDREDS more promises… these are just a few that I can recite. No matter what I am facing – physical, emotional, mental, work, home, friendships, enemies, etc… HE KNOWS! There are times there are times I need to make the scripture personal with my name… Sometimes I need to make my own paraphrase (like instead of saying Be Still and know that I am God – I should say SHUT UP SHERI and get out of HIS way!)

Thank you Lord for the beautiful rainbow. A reminder on a day I needed it so. Thank you for reminding me to look up and keep my perspective on YOU. But help me not to just wait to chase rainbows, but to ACT by resting in your promised every day!

ACT by connecting

PART 2: In my last blog I wrote about abandonment and holes in the soul. But there is hope with CONNECTIONS. (of note: Connections will go on my list of possible words for next year)!

After listening to the Bible Study, and the many books I had been listening too, it became quite obvious that my connections to people had been broken. I had filled my life with many things other than people. Also, in the day of technology, it is easy to replace FACEBOOK as a way of “connecting” versus FACE-to-FACE! There is not much better for a rough day or a moment of encouragement than to hear a friends voice on the phone or better yet sit across the table talking. Friends can just pick up where we left off.

One of the other things mentioned by my friend, Johnetta, at the study was to ensure our connections are HEALTHY. She mentioned on about Facebook, and how she had to assess if the relationships / “friends” were healthy. She encouraged us to look at that. I had already hid some from my daily view based on their language choices or picture postings. But I assessed the number of “friends” that drained me just by negativity and hid those as well from my daily view. I have them in a separate group so I can periodically check on them and say an extra prayer. However, their negativity does not feed into me daily anymore.

Well, I have also been checking some other connections… and I have some major re-networking to do…

Generally speaking, my immediate family pays for when I disconnect when I fill my time and energy without putting them as the priority. Jim takes the hardest hit. Yes, I will do the daily texts to check in on his day, and we may talk a little at home. But, we are generally a couple of few words. I remember the days, I would do the little things to let him know I loved him, and now it is easier to be a little snarky than pour into him. I am still the night owl and he is the early bird, so often our schedules do not connect. I work weekends and he is off. I think as parents, our marriages are often the first disconnection. As a working mom, I pour what I have into our children. My husband is definitely someone I need to make sure the connection is secure. This past weekend we spent in Gettysburg connecting as a family. As we drove the different routes, we talked about things he wanted to do. I wrote them down because I truly care, and if I don’t write it I won’t remember.   So, now armed with a few things on his “bucket list”, I can connect by helping them to happen. Sometimes, it requires me going outside of my comfort zone to connect.

As a mom, overall I think I have a strong connection. We talk just about everything and I am physically here every day. I am blessed to work from home 3 of 4 days, but I am hidden away in my space. When I am “off” work, I generally find myself pouring into my to do list. Dishes, laundry, projects, etc… A perfect example, which hurts to even admit, happened recently.  Sam’s birthday is on a Saturday in June. (remember, I have worked every weekend for years, and hate to take it off and ask others to work, and was limited to the weekends I could request). So, I have Friday off and asked Sam if we could celebrate a day early. He hesitated, but then said okay. I really thought it was “okay” with him until I overheard him talking to his speech therapist. He told her that we were celebrating his birthday a day early because I was too busy with work (OUCH!). I was crushed. I waited till later and asked him if he was really okay with celebrating a day early (I thought he would be excited to go shopping early). He said, could you just tell work it is a really important day to celebrate and ask if I could have off. Honestly, there would have been a day I would have still tried to negotiate with him.   This time, I said absolutely and just took the day off. When Mary asked me to sit at the table while she did school, I sat and worked on things. When Sam asks me to keep him company while he takes a bath, I say yes. I am working on deepening the connections, but it is definitely a work in progress.

I definitely could work on my connection with my Heavenly Father. I am working on this too. I now pause to watch the sunrise, the sunset, the flowers, etc… his box full of crayons leaves me in awe! There would have been a day I would have been too busy to notice.   I will be honest, I have to write down people to pray for, or set my alarm to remember. My mind just isn’t what it used to be. If I wait till night time, I will be honest, I will fall asleep (do you know how many times I start a grateful list and it never gets posted because I fall asleep.). My grateful list is like my thank you / praise to God. I have been doing it for a few years and I can tell you, when I go days without a list, I am likely going days without connecting with God. I have friends who are so dedicated of first thing in the morning, but I struggle with mornings. I have a list of reasons I could provide. Part of my problem use to be I had an expectation that I would do a certain length of time, and when one day fell short, it was like my ongoing diets… I fell off the bandwagon and didn’t get back on. Now, I do my praise/grateful list, routinely search for scriptures for a friend, listen to sermons online by downloading to my phone, and have loaded my Nano with all Christian music. I need to pour in Christ in my life, even if just for 15 minutes. On the video at Bible Study they talked about how the prodigal son had wondered, but when he returned His father reconnected with Him. Christ does that with me, every time I stray and return He welcomes me back ready to reconnect. Christ never moves… it is me. The connection is always there, I just have to move closer.

I have really been really working on what I describe as “following my gut and not my schedule!” Yes, I have certain commitments in my calendar, but it is imperative that I fill the gaps between obligations with PEOPLE.   Life is so busy and rushed, but if I can’t pause to remember people, then I need to re-evaluate my connections! I need to spend more time with Christ, write more notes, have more meals (or desserts) with friends, dates with my husband, visits with family, say extra prayers because just as electrical connections, they give me energy and renew me, unlike my ever ending to-do list that leaves me defeated.

When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves. – Jack Komfield

ACT by filling the potholes….

Monday night I was blessed to have the evening off and spent it recharging my battery with some amazing ladies around a table enjoying tea and learning about Christ. It doesn’t get much better than that! Well, after the video we talk about what we learned and it was about abandonment and connections. One thing about the videos is I keep thinking and thinking on it…

There were several take away thoughts for me. And the more I think the more aha moments!!!

First about abandonment. Marilyn Meberg talked about how we have all have an abandonment issue. At times it is because:

  • Someone has left us that had a role in our lives and it left a hole.
  • We have lost friendships (some for valid reasons and some we will never know).
  • We have felt “abandoned” when in fact, it was unjustified fear.
  • Sometimes we live out the abandonment others felt – example was a woman whose husband left placed in her daughter’s mind that men will always leave – so the daughter believed that.
  • Sometimes as a result of our beliefs we avoid relationships to prevent the pain/fear of being abandoned/left.

Regardless, of what happened, we are left with a “BIG HOLE in OUR SOUL” that we constantly try to fill with things, superficial relationships (facebook friends can often qualify – we connect only there and some for all the wrong reasons), and addictions.

I have had several losses… our miscarriage – I felt abandoned by Christ. That Christmas, I protested Christmas! But our awesome church friends after the church Christmas program brought the live tree, fully decorated, and Steven played the violin for Christmas Carols. Friends tried to fill in that hole. They became the arms of God that held us close! My how times have changed… many additional holes in the soul because two of our dear friends – Bruce and Ed have gone on to heaven (also way to early in my humble opinion)! I sure do not understand why Christ chooses who He does (in our previous week it was about God knows the bigger plan, and though we don’t like it, it is HIS PLAN!)

I have had the loss of my two biggest role models – my mom and grandma Frazee! My mom way too early. She never met my children. I can’t call her and ask her questions. The list could go on and on. My Grandma was amazing too. They lived out Christ. They were gentle sweet spirits. I could go on and on about the life lessons they taught me by word and even more by example! But if I start listing that will just mean the tears won’t stop to finish the blog! I have had wonderful women who have stepped in personally and professionally to mentor me and help with the big HOLE IN THE SOUL! How appropriate to sit around the table with Christian women having tea, hearing a video that put into words what I was feeling on what would have been my mom’s birthday!

Some losses others understand as we grieve – the loss of a loved one, loss of a home, or loss of marriage. While other losses people will never know or understand the grief of – a miscarriage (after all many do not believe that child was a life and say crazy things like there must have been something wrong with “it”)… loss of a friendship (Mary has felt the pain of friend betrayal, a pain that creates a hole and makes you build a wall to protect from happening again.)… loss of a pet (those without pets will never understand – Sam still talks about our first dog Sarah.).

Some losses are things I never thought about until now, but how I have the loss of identity. I am a child of God, a daughter, a wife, a mom, a sister, a nurse, a friend. But often, honestly, I get so wrapped up in my identity to other people/things, and being all things for them, and doing all things for them, that I don’t know who Sheri is…. (now that is a little too deep but definitely explains my issue with recharging me – last blog!)

So how do I fill the HOLES? I don’t believe that some holes will ever be filled completely. I will never know the child we miscarried and often wonder what if… I will never fill the void of my mom and Grandma in my life… I think it is okay to recognize the holes and mourn them, but very dangerous to allow them to consume me or stay in them. For instance, “landmarks” (like birthdays, dates of deaths) can be hard – and honestly, though I am a mom I struggle deeply with Mother’s Day. It’s okay to dwell on the hole of them missing physically in my life.

On Monday with what would have been Mom’s birthday, I chose to surround myself with other women of God who could help fill the hole… I baked the cake we always had on our birthdays and cried as I made it (tears of joys of all the memories) and ate it filling the hole…. I shared the cake with my brother as a surprise as he has a hole from missing her too and filled our holes a little… My daughter is named after my mom and saying her name everyday reminds me of her and fills the hole a little… I can share the memories and as I speak of them the hole seems a little less deep. All healthy hole fillers – memories and relationships!

I will be honest, I fill my holes in my life with not so great health fillers. I would have once said food was a filler, and though I occasionally indulge in food it is more for a taste and not to fill the hole. However, I have a consequence of all the years I tried to fill the hole with the food. I will say I fill holes with work because what I do is measurable, I feel good about my work, and it keeps me busy from focusing on the holes. I am awful on feeling I am not enough of a child of God, a daughter, a wife, a mom, a sister, a friend, etc… so I keep pouring out, and pouring out, and pouring out… the problem is I pour out into the wrong things – leaving the people I should be filling empty and me too….

As a result of self-reflection… I have made some changes. It’s just a start, and it’s going to be a day by day step. There may be a few step forward and a step back. On Monday and Tuesday, my choices and things I discovered totally made me realize what I need to fill the potholes of my soul… Spring is the time for renewal and road work of filling potholes. I am going to ACT on filling my pot holes!

(p.s. I have so much to say about abandonment I will make connections part two!)

(p.s.s. I would love to encourage you as you fill your “pot holes in your soul”, please send me a message and will lift you in prayer, etc.)

“In all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.” – Carl Sagan