Throwing in the Towel #36

When I'm Afraid

I’ve never been good about keeping a journal, so I don’t know why I thought a blog would be any different. I’ve been completely absent for over 7 months. The reason being that I was almost ready to just throw in the towel. I’ve been battling distractions. Mostly I thought to myself this blog doesn’t really matter that much. It’s only for me anyways. I’m not even sure if many people read this, or care that much for that matter. So I’ve truly thrown in the towel. It was until just these past few days that I’ve been REALLY missing this blog. It’s truly the one place where I can go and just start typing what comes to my mind. I don’t really have to put much thought into it, because I’m sorting and organizing my thoughts every single day of my life!!

Yesterday was my birthday and I started thinking about getting older and the purpose for my life. What have I accomplished so far, how many blessing have I received and how many have I missed out on the opportunity of having because I’ve been too distracted? Over these past 7 months I haven’t stopped growing. I haven’t stopped immersing myself in the word. I haven’t stopped dreaming. The one thing I have stopped, is sharing it with others through this blog. I’ve come to find that even though I may not have many people who are on this journey with me now, but there may be people in the future who will find this blog and maybe just maybe they will find some hope. So I’ve decided I’m not THROWING IN THE TOWEL!!!! I’m not giving up. I will not let distractions dictate what I will do with my life. God is in control and I need to only look to Him.

My husband gave me the best birthday gift yesterday. He let me go shopping, BY MYSELF!!! I was given free reign and a budget of $100!!! I could go anywhere and buy anything I wanted…without kids!!! Can I just tell you how amazing it feels to be able to process complete thoughts. How wonderful it is to just roam around stores and just be. The comparison is perfect in how my walk with God feels when I eliminate distractions. Kid’s are the epitome of distractions right? They want what they want the instant the thought pops into their heads. They have no organization or filter as to what things come out of their mouth. They want instant gratification and they expect us to take care of their needs right this instant or else a major meltdown is on the way!! Don’t we treat God like that sometimes? As long as things are going our way, the relationship is great, but the second we don’t get what we want we are ready to either throw in the towel (find our own way to get what we want), or we flat out throw a GROWN up tantrum. It’s funny that often time as parents we think we are so much more mature than children!! That just isn’t true!! Our tantrums just look a little different and sometimes a little less ridiculous.

Anyways, what I’ve been learning these past several months is that when the going get’s tough and the distractions seem endless I need to stop what I’m doing and look to God. I need to filter all of my thoughts and decisions through him and ultimately let him guide my life. Young children are also the epitome of faith. They believe in things with utter abandon. They don’t quite understand self-doubt, or self-consciousness. They don’t let fear stop them from doing things! This is how I want to live. I need to do things that might feel uncomfortable. I need to get out of my own way and stop being fearful. God will work in mysterious and sometimes very obvious ways to get his point across to you. Like this morning for instance…I’ve been struggling with self-doubt lately and check out what just ‘mysteriously’ popped up in my inbox this morning from Rick Warren!!

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

What keeps you from developing your full potential? Fear. What keeps you from becoming all God wants you to be? Fear. What keeps you from building a legacy that will last into eternity? Fear.

There are three kinds of fear that will keep you from developing your talents and accomplishing your purpose.

  1. Self-doubt. It keeps people locked in a prison and unable to develop their potential. This is actually the fear of failure. But failure is not fatal! In fact, the fear of failure is far worse than failure itself. Failure is actually a good thing. Failure is how you learn what doesn’t work. And it’s how you grow into a better parent, partner, and professional. Don’t let self-doubt keep you down. I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than attempt to do nothing and succeed.
  2. Self-consciousness. If you worry about what other people think, nothing will ever get done in your life. You just have to do what God tells you to do. That’s all you’re accountable for. You’re not called to be the best in the world. You’re called to be the best that God made you to be.
  3. Self-pity. There were two disciples that had spectacular failures. Peter and Judas both denied Jesus in clutch time, but they responded to their failure in very different ways. Judas went out and had a pity party and hung himself. Peter, on the other hand, wept bitterly, grieved about it, repented, asked God to forgive him, picked himself up, and went back to serving God. And 40 days later, Peter spoke to the whole city of Jerusalem on Pentecost, and 3,000 people became believers and the Church was born. Of all the people God could have used to start the church, he used the guy with the biggest failure. That means there’s room for you in the family of God!

Instead of living in fear, believe what God says about you in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”

Umm…really?? Seriously? It was like Rick Warren wrote those words exactly for me!! Everything that I’ve feared. Everything that I worry about. Everything that keeps me from unleashing my greatness!! “Of all the people God could have used to start the church, he used the guy with the biggest failure. That means there’s room for you in the family of God!”

I love how God continuously uses people who are inadequate. He uses people who have messed up. He uses people when no one else thinks they are worthy. He uses people who are just like us! If we live life trying to measure up to the worlds view of success we will fall flat on our face repeatedly. We will always be wanting more. We will always have a heart of discontentment, because the worlds view is tainted. It’s not reality. It’s distortStrengthed. It’s the highlight reel mentality. It’s the version of people that they WANT us to see. If we saw reels of everyone’s real life, including the good and the bad, it wouldn’t quite match up to the perceived greatness of the world. Remember these words, people typically only share what they want us to know, or show us  what they want us to see, and then for whatever twisted reason, we fall into the trap believing that their whole life looks exactly like that!!!!

I’m here to tell you, it’s not reality!! There is so much more to this world than just striving to live up to the greatness of this world!!! God wants us to strive to live up to the greatness that He will give us!! We are all destined to greatness. We all have something incredible to share with this world. We all have important things to say and people to minister to. The decision is ours. Are we going to head down a path of failure trying to live up to the expectations of this world that we will never meet, or are we going to trust the Creator who made us. The only one who can give us purpose in this life?

I’m on God’s side. He’s already defeated this world! I want what He wants. I will go where He leads and I will put my trust in Him along, even when it scares me!! Which side are you on? Maybe you don’t understand the unconditional love that Jesus has for all of us!! I think this video is absolutely amazing it explains who Jesus is and what salvation means. You can check it out here!!

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Peace & Quiet Please #35

I realize that it’s been a long time since my last post, but I’ve been on a journey of discovering balance in my life. I can’t say that I’ve found it yet, but I’m a little more at peace with the chaos. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but this little phrase comes to mind often and maybe it well help you as well. “Christ is my comfort in the chaos.”

So the other day I was feeling so overwhelmed, which seems to be the trend lately, and I was trying to figure out why I always seem so overwhelmed with my life. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me and he said “make a list of everything”. So I sat down, and I made a list of everything that goes through my head on a daily basis. All the things that I think about, all the things that HAVE to be done, different aspects of my business that need attention, things that are important in my life, things I want to do for myself, things I would love to do for “fun” if I just had the time. It instantly became apparent to me, that I have a lot going on and no wonder I’m so stressed out and overwhelmed. Do you want to see my list?

Designing and building my photography website, scheduling Facebook/Cooking shows, what recipes should I make for show, when will I pack for my show, I need to do customer care calls, I should probably be working out, I need to meal plan, grocery shopping needs to be done, oh and the bills and laundry, family time is important, coloring my hair would be nice, wish I had time to paint my toes, doing my makeup, taking a shower, shaving my legs, reading a book, drinking coffee, sitting in my backyard, watching the kids play, vacuuming, tidying, dusting, organizing, cleaning the bathrooms, upcoming photo shoots, what poses should we try, will they be happy with their photos, I need to design my booth for the expo, I should probably start saving money for upcoming trips and events, I would love to go on date with my husband sometime, the kids really need __________ , I’m dreading nap-time, why can’t my daughter just go to sleep, is it my bed-time yet, oh and I need to prepare stuff for taxes, I’ve been neglecting my blog etc. These are all these that have been taking up space in my head. They are things I worry about. How will I fit everything in?

Did you catch some things that were missing on my list? How about reading the Bible, spending time with God, Small Group, and Church. All of these things are vital to me and if you asked what was important to me I would say these things are top of the list. But would you know that about me if you just saw the list above? No, you wouldn’t have a clue! I didn’t mention it once.

The purpose of this post is not to throw myself a pity party and get down on myself for not being a “good” Christian. This post is simply meant is to expose my brokenness. To expose how easy it is to be misguided. How easy it is to completely miss the mark! All of us a broken. We are sinners. Did you know that we can never be “good” enough for God? Did you know we could do a million good things, and it wouldn’t change how much God loves us. Of course he loves when we make good choices and follow his will for our life, but we are not saved because we do good!!

“For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and it’s not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

This next tidbit I snagged here.

Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine favor.

A preacher once explained grace to me with this acronym:
God’s
Riches
At
Christ’s
Expense

Thank goodness for that truth. I’m so humbled to know that God loves me even when I mess up. Of course the purpose of my life is to be holy, but I follow God’s word in response to the love he has freely given me, not to prove anything to him and definitely not to earn his love. It’s taken me many, many years to understand that God loves me, regardless. I will never fully understand how he can love me in spite of my failures, but I’m so grateful that he does. I don’t have to understand it, I just have to believe it.

It was so amazing to see God work in just a few short moments. I wrote out the list, and as I got to the end, I realized that those things I left out were so important to me, yet they were the furthest from my mind. It reminded me how easily I can become distracted when I’m not focused on his word.

I just have to share something really cool. I just stepped away from my computer because my little one needed to eat. I pulled up my daily devotion today to read as I was feeding him. Take a look at my devotion and see how the Holy Spirit works!

Living at Peace

Peace is one of the most important elements to enjoying your life.

A life of frustration and struggle, a life without peace, is the result of focusing on things you can’t do anything about (amen to that). When you worry about things beyond your control, stress and anxiety begin to creep into your life (isn’t that the truth).

The apostle Paul said “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7

Once we realize we are struggling with something and feel upset, we need to start praying and immediately turn the situation over to God, thankful He will provide according to His will and offer us peace. You and I are not called to a life of frustration and struggle. Jesus came so we could have righteousness, joy and peace.

I’m feeling so pumped right now. That was so cool to open that up and read exactly what I was talking about. This devotion was written in a way that felt like it was written just for me. That’s usually how the Holy Spirit works. He shares things with you in various ways to get his point across. Well done!! Point taken 🙂

I found this extremely cool video explaining who Jesus is and what salvation and redemption looks like. Check it out here.

Next time, I will be sharing with you this amazing book I’ve been reading, and the dream board I made.

Warning Ahead #34

I’ve been pretty bad about keeping this blog updated, because I’ve been pulled in many different directions. I’ve been working on organizing my life and trying to discover where I can simply and cut back on or cut out certain things. I haven’t exactly discovered which things I can let go yet, but I have discovered what I can’t let go. My relationship with God!

The Lord has been laying some things on my heart lately and I’ve been repeating them over and over again. Here they are:

“I am the comfort in your chaos”

“I am in control”

“Relationships should be your top priority”

I’ve really been taking them to heart and trying to live out their meaning intentionally. I’m trying to raise my children to know how important relationships truly are. Our relationship with Jesus, our family and all of our friends. Even the people we have yet to meet…those relationships are important as well.

As a parent of two now I feel like I’m barely able to keep my head above water. I fell as though I can’t do any ONE thing well. I’m constantly stretched too thin. I know I put this pressure on myself, and it’s been a constant struggle, but it’s really hard. Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of two kids is twice as hard. Trying to keep everyone happy is impossible…It’s really hard for me.

Today has been one of THOSE days…You probably know what I’m talking about. Everything that can go wrong does, your patience is gone, everyone needs you, the house is a mess, you haven’t done your hair in days, every task seems 10x harder…it’s been an awful day for me. My emotions are just everywhere…I feel beat down and on empty. The devil has really been at work today. He knows when I’m at my weakest, and today I’m feeling extremely weak.

I’m pretty sure God sent me a wake up call today…it was pretty literal actually…in the form of our smoke alarms. Two different times to be exact. The first time it woke up my daughter from bedtime, and the second time it woke up my son from his nap!! I was not happy. I really let it ruin my entire morning. I’ve been stuck in a funk lately complaining and feeling sorry for myself. I think this wake up call was to remind me that I’m not in control and when I think I am, nothing will go right. I can do things my own way and throw myself a pity party day after day, but what that really does, is make me feel worse. You know that saying that misery loves company….well it’s so true! When I’m upset, I want to complain about it. It’s so second nature to me to complain…I really need to work on that. I made a  New Year’s resolution last year that when I felt like complaining I would stop and think of 3 things I am thankful for about the situation. I really need to start doing that again. I also need to pray more and seek wisdom from God.

I don’t really know exactly where I’m going with this post, but I just needed to release this burden. I’m giving it to God and I’m learning to bite my tongue. I have so much to be thankful for, yet I spend so much time thinking about all the things that bother me. I’m praying for a grateful heart.

New Found Love for God’s Word #33

A lot has happened these past several months since my last post. On June 20th, 2014 my entire world changed as we welcomed our son Jaden into our family. I became a mom of two and I learned a new meaning of chaos. It’s a whole new ball game. It’s taken me a few months to get settled into the routine of things, but I finally feel like things are settling down. Even though I’ve been MIA from my blog, I have been growing and changing more than ever. I feel like these past several months have really allowed me to challenge my faith and step out in ways I haven’t before.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been meeting with a couple friends for a Bible study. My change project sort of evolved from changing my perfectionist attitude to a more specific project. I need to trust the Lord with my identity as a woman, wife and as a mother. So often, I try to measure up my worth as a woman, wife and mother by comparing myself to other people who I think are the ideals. This absolutely ties into my perfectionist attitude, but specifying my change project into exact areas of my life has really helped me understand the meaning of surrender. God loves me right where I am and he meets me there. Thank heavens I do not have to wait until I’ve got it together for him to love me. I’m so glad that I don’t have to earn his grace or forgiveness. He gives it to me freely. He give it to us all for free…all we have to do is accept and embrace it. I am so grateful to have such a loving God in my life. I honestly cannot fathom my life without him. No one in this whole world is as trustworthy and reliable as He is.

In addition to my weekly Bible study, I have also been making a point to read God’s word as much as possible. I started out studying daily, then sometimes every other day, other times weekly. I’m still working on consistency, but I’ve really come to enjoy reading and studying the Bible. I never used to feel this way in all the many years I’ve been a Christian. I always would get caught up in the words, they confused me, I couldn’t find the present day application and I would just read the words out of obligation. I thought if I read my Bible than I was being a good person. Several months ago, all that changed when I read ‘A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study’ by Jen Hatmaker. She made studying the Bible seem possible, realistic and even fun! On July 28th I decided to start reading the Bible all the way through for a second time, but this time with intention and surrender. I have been keeping a journal everyday and outlining what stands out to me and where I’m challenged.

Every time I cozy up with my Bible, I review these notes I made to remind me why I’m doing this!

* Do not be afraid of change, commitment or insecurities.

* The Bible is not a quick fix used for a jolt of godliness.

* I pour my heart into every other activity I’ve deemed worthy, why isn’t Bible study one of them?

* I want to know God intimately, understand the significance of his word and dive into truth. I want to be an all-my-heart believer who will come away changed.

* Me + The Word + The Holy Spirit = Successful Bible Study

* The Holy Spirit directs my heart into truth. He protects me from misinterpretation & deception.

* Just as surely as God wants to adore me and Jesus wants to redeem me, the Holy Spirit wants to teach me.

* Reading God’s word requires interaction. LESS is more!

“Holy Spirit, teach me what is true about these verses. What do you want me to understand? Direct my thoughts with every word I read. Protect and lead my mind.”

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I can’t even express in words what a game changer this book has been for my spiritual journey. I’m excited to read God’s word and humbled to know that I can never earn God’s love or approval. I can never do enough good things to make him love me anymore than he already does. It’s amazing to me that my God has so much love that he shares it with anyone and everyone who believes in him and surrenders their life to him. If you’re struggling with falling in love with God’s word I absolutely recommend this book. I have no doubt that it will change your life the way it has mine!

Strength In His Presence #32

It has been a crazy past few weeks. I have really been struggling to trust God in every area of my life. Specifically in the work department. So much of what I do lately seems to be my own efforts. I’m trying so hard to get things done with my own strength and by my own means and let me tell you what…it hasn’t been working. It’s made me anxious, stressed and exhausted. I think a lot of us, believers or not, struggle with trying to do things ourselves. Especially as women, we tend to do everything and never ask for help…or if we do ask for help the person that helps doesn’t do it the ‘right’ way so we end up doing it again. I know I struggle with this since I’ve allowed perfectionism into my life. The Lord has really laid it on my heart to stop trying to be perfect. I will never be perfect and I can’t expect anyone else to live up to those expectations either.

Recently a couple friends and I started a bible study. We meet weekly and discuss various topics about the Gospel and one specific area we wish to change. I know I have a long list of things I need to work on, but the most important thing I think God wants me to change is the unrealistic expectations I set for myself. I think this truly is the root of a lot of my other issues. My perfectionistic attitude and the need to compare my success against others has become a real problem. I’m learning everyday that they only perspective and person who matters is God. I need to compare my success with the standards and calling he has given to me. I need to remember who my real audience is and perform only for him! It is my hope that throughout this bible study I will begin to develop a new perspective, and a different attitude about myself. I hope to focus on what’s really important and that’s fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.

My purpose is to become more like Jesus by getting to know everything I can about him so I can understand his truth’s and apply them to my life. Then I must grow in his image by changing the things in my life that I know are not pleasing to him. Then finally, to go out in the world and shout it from the mountains that He is Lord! My sole purpose is to finish what God originally set out to do which was save the lost and dying world so that one day they will be reunited with God in Heaven. When I begin to realize that my purpose is so much greater than I ever imagined all the problems in my life seem insignificant. It’s encouraging to know that God is in control and he has the perfect plan for my life. All I need to do is trust in him completely.

I’m also working really hard to be diligent about my prayers. I recently found the following quote and it really spoke to me. So often I spend time talking to other people about my worries, fears, complaints and problems, but I don’t spend much time praying about them. Why on Earth am I talking to people who can’t really do much to help me…why am I not talking to the one and only person who can do something about it? What a profound thought. Since reading that, I’ve been surprised at how much more I’ve been praying. It’s so comforting to know that God will always have time to listen to everything I have to say. No matter how insignificant it may be. It all matters to him.

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At times, life can seem so hard and unbearable. Quite honestly, over these past few weeks I’ve hit my breaking point more than once. I’ve felt completely empty, alone and helpless. It’s at these times that I realized I wasn’t ever alone. The Lord stood with me and strengthened me. He pulled me up out of that darkness and reminded me that I cannot do this life alone. He never intended for me to. Have you ever heard that saying “God won’t give me more than you can handle”? It’s a complete myth! It’s a lie! God gives us just more than enough than we can handle so we learn to trust and rely on him and other people. God is all about community. He asks us to come together and support one another in Christ. I’m so blessed to have such an amazing Church family. Our Pastor is truly an amazing leader and challenges me every week by sharing God’s word and his amazing truth. I’ve grown so much since we started attending Rock Point 2.5 years ago and I know that I’m in the right place. Travis and I recently joined a small group and we continually grow and are challenged by our friends. I’m very open and honest about my life and transparent about my weaknesses. It’s through transparency that Jesus allows us to grow. If we always hide our weaknesses and insecurities they will become harder to confess and change later in life. I’m so thankful and blessed for the people that have been placed in my life right now. I’m learning and growing so much. I’ve learned that I need to rely on God’s strength not my own every single day and in every area of my life. Here is hoping for better weeks ahead.

Dear Lord,

I thank you for all the many blessings you have given me. I truly have no reason to complain and no place to worry. Worry is like praying for something I don’t want to happen. Instead of worrying, I need to pray about everything. Help me to stop talking so much about my concerns and continually lift them up to you. Lord, it’s my prayer that I will trust your way and believe in your truths. I want to follow you, wherever you may lead. Give me strength and courage to stop comparing myself to the worlds definition of success and to look only to you.

Amen

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

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Moving Day! #31

It’s interesting to see the development of my blog over the past couple of years. I definitely feel like this blog has given me an outlet to deepen my relationship with God. I feel as though my blog was a turning point in my life. It was when I really started owning my faith. I have been a Christian for so many years, but it was more of a habitual relationship. I grew up in a Christian home, was surrounded by church and Godly people, so it just seemed like the right thing to do. When Travis and I got married, I think I was just going through the motions of being a Christian. We were still attending the same church we both grew up in, and we were the youngest people there. There were no programs, no young families, no accountability. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the Lord was really preparing us for a big change. With the birth of our daughter, we knew that we needed to make a change. We so desperately wanted Scarlett to grow up in a church with kids her own age, programs geared specifically to meet her needs as a growing child and resources for us as parents. We needed to be challenged, we needed to get uncomfortable. We had been in a place so long that was just too cozy.

But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” – Francis Chan

In January of 2012 we started attending Rock Point church. It has seriously been such a life changing experience to be in a place where I’m challenged. I’m starting to get a little uncomfortable. I’m serving and giving more generously. I’m trusting in the Lord more completely and praying more frequently. I’m actually seeking out the parts of my life that are not pleasing to God and deliberately making changes. It’s pretty amazing when you start seeing and experiencing God changing your life.

I’m still struggling. I’m still a sinner. I still have so much work to do, but at least I know I’m not alone. At least I can acknowledge that I don’t have it all together and that most days I’m a complete mess. I can confess to the Lord everyday that I cannot make it without him and that I refuse to let the enemy destroy me. I refuse to give up. I refuse to feel sorry for myself. I was never promised the journey would be easy. In fact, nothing worth having is easy! Everyday I have a choice. Will I choose to live for myself and have it my way, or will I choose to live for God and let him direct me on the path of righteousness. Some days I make the wrong choice. Some days it takes longer than others to make the switch, but other days when I start my day on the right path, those are the days worth remembering. Those are the days worth celebrating! Better is one day in his courts than thousands elsewhere…

So now that I know the direction I want to go, how do I know what I need to leave behind. What are the things in my life that are keeping me from doing what I know is right? What in my life do I give priority to over God? Well I think I know exactly what it is. It can be summed up into one word. MEDIA! It’s really hard to escape for me. It’s a serious struggle. I am such an information lover. I love reading blogs and articles and usually get on Facebook just to find those. I’m constantly craving social interaction even if it’s just texting with a friend or reading forums about Photography or Pampered Chef. I’m such a knowledge junkie that it consumes me. Then Pinterest is just such a great time waster when I’m bored that I find myself looking at all these awesome things and wanting things I never even knew existed. It’s crazy to me how much time I spend interacting with media everyday. As soon as Scarlett goes to sleep I’m usually working on one or both of my businesses, which are all done via the internet so I’m constantly e-mailing, entering shows, researching things etc. When I do get some down time, I like to catch up on some grown up TV shows…ones that don’t consist of purple dinosaurs. It’s just non-stop! No wonder I’m so distracted all the time. My brain never has a minute to stop processing.

I’m ready to move forward.

I’m ready to get uncomfortable.

I’m ready for more out of this life.

What can I leave behind…

I’m leaving my pride behind. I’m leaving my selfishness behind. I’m leaving earthly desires behind. I want to bring life to others. I want to bring joy and comfort to all who cross my path….starting with my own family! I don’t think it’s fair that my family gets the left over me. They see the worst of me. I’m often nicer to strangers then I am to my own family at times….what’s wrong with that picture!? Something has to change. I’m leaving this old life behind!

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Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.

Ephesians 4:22

 

 

Twisted Lies #30

As I sit down at my computer to chip away at the excessive amount of tasks I need to accomplish, I feel absolutely led to write this blog post. I have been putting it off for so many months, it’s just ridiculous. I keep thinking about what the reasoning behind the delay is and every time I ponder the question, I come up drawing a blank. I know in my heart and my head that I need to be writing these posts. They are therapeutic in a way and really help keep me grounded. It wasn’t until yesterday at church, during Pastor Bill’s sermon that the answer struck me. I’ve been deceived. I have been falling into the lies of the devil. His only reason for existence is to put an end to God’s will. The closer people are to the Lord, the harder he fights. If he can keep me away…distracted and occupied with other things, then his mission has been successful. Once again, I’ve fallen into the trap…I’ve slowly rearranged my priorities. The devil knows exactly how to throw me off the path. Ugh, it makes me so mad!! I have no one to blame but myself. It’s my own selfishness that gets in the way.

I find it really hard to carve out that quiet time I need with God daily. I have so many things going on that it just seems impossible to take the time to sit and pray, study the bible and mediate. Although, I’m constantly reminded that when I don’t spend the time with God, the rest of my day is a chaotic mess. This is the reasoning behind my absolutely insane few weeks. I’m trying to take control and act like I’ve got it all together when I straight up DON’T!!!! I have no clue what I’m doing. My way isn’t working….my way never works. It just takes me a while sometimes to realize that I was trying to do it my way. The devil is so sly. He twists the truth just enough to steer me in the wrong direction just enough, but that when I realize what’s happened I’m so far off the course, that I have to work harder to get back on the right path. I really need to be praying more often and seeking wisdom. I’ve been so quick to complain and compare lately that it’s made parts of my life hard to enjoy. I hate saying the words “I’m stressed, overwhelmed and anxious”. All of which I do to myself. If I’m dwelling on the negative things all the time, no wonder I’m having those feelings. Those are all feelings that will lead to destruction. I need to learn to channel my energy for good and towards the things I can change. I need to focus on those positive things in my life and find the good in every situation.

The following quote really speaks to me! It’s absolute truth and especially hits home. This past month or so, I’ve felt completely overwhelmed. I feel like my life is unmanageable. I have so many responsibilities and hats to wear, that I’m having a hard time taking care of myself and making time for my family. When I think about where I can cut back, there really isn’t an option. I think my biggest problem is my perspective. I’m focusing on the little negative things, complaining FAR too much and it’s creating negative thoughts and feelings. This can all be attributed to the fact that I’m spending less time with God. That is definitely going to change. I’m making a course correction and I’m heading back on the right path. I will continually pray for wisdom and courage to battle the deceptive war the devil stirs up in my head. With the Lord by my side, I will no longer believe his wicked lies!

A good reminder!

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

James 4:7-10

 

Progress vs. Perfection #29

As I sit here at my computer, about to begin writing, I can’t help but think of all the other things I could be, and quite frankly would rather be doing. I often find myself allowing my feelings and emotions to stop me from doing what I know I need to be doing. I had every intention of writing this post as soon as I put Scarlett down for her nap, but instead of being obedient and doing what I knew I needed to do, I let me emotions decide for me. Scarlett was having an extremely hard time falling asleep and I allowed the situation to completely take over. I’ve been learning over the past several weeks, that I allow my thoughts and feelings to control my actions. They influence my productivity and more often lack their of. I use excuses such as I’m just stressed out, exhausted or anxious and I automatically decide I need to ‘relax’. Sometimes this is true, but when I’m using the same excuse time after time it becomes a habit. I’m not truly stressed out because she won’t sleep. It does make me a little anxious, because I know she needs the rest, but I think by now this has just become a habit. It’s become a foot hold that I’ve allowed the devil to use. He knows what sets me off and he will continue to use it over and over again. I have to admit that it was really hard for me to force myself to sit down and write this post. Not because I don’t want to, but because I want my attitude to be different. I want to be in a perfect mood when I write these blog posts, but the reality is, there is no perfect moment. I think that’s often why I have a hard time staying consistent with these posts. I feel like I need to be in a certain frame of mind to feel like I can express my thoughts. When truly, this is probably the best time to write. When I’m having an off day. I feel like these days are when God wants to use me the most.

A lot of new exciting things have been happening around here. 1- We recently found out that this cute little baby in my tummy is a boy. We are beyond excited and cannot wait to expand our family and share our love with him. 2- Travis and I have started taking Financial Peace University for a second time as a refresher. We are now in a completely different financial situation than we were 3.5 years ago when we first took the class. 3- I’m in the process of joining a Trio at my church to help me get connected with a couple ladies. 4- Both of my businesses are flourishing and I have lots of new exciting opportunities up ahead. 5- New Year’s Resolutions are in full swing.

Since this is my first post of the New Year, I feel like it’s quite fitting for me to discuss resolutions once again. If you know me at all, you know that I’m a goal driven person. People who set goals, are the ones who get the most out of life. So many people disregard goals and resolutions and say ‘those aren’t for me’ because they are afraid of failing. But let’s get real, it’s better to fail at something than succeed at nothing!!! By far one of my favorite quotes of all times. Who wants to go through life afraid of failing? What a burden to have. Goals are things you want to work on and work towards. If you are always working toward the goal you can never fail. It’s when you stop trying, that you fail. NEVER STOP TRYING. Pain is temporary, but quitting is forever. This is another one of my favorite quotes (from the Biggest Loser). The contestants on the Ranch always use this quote to help motivate themselves and others in the gym while the work out, but truly this quote reaches beyond physical pain. No one ever said becoming a better person was easy. No one ever said getting where you want to go would be a stroll in the park. If you want something to change, you have to work at it and it will definitely be hard work.

This next passage is an excerpt taken from a New Years Resolution article written by Laura Markham; “If you make the same resolution every year, join the club. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re headed in the right direction, and you aren’t perfect yet. (Shocking, I know!) The bad news is, you won’t be perfect this year either. The good news is, you don’t have to be!” When I read this, it totally took a weight off my shoulders. I too have fallen into the trap of feeling like a failure at times when I can’t be perfect, but let me tell you the Lord is absolutely working on me and trying to teach me that I WILL NEVER EVER….REPEAT EVER BE ANYWHERE NEAR PERFECT!!!!! So why do I keep trying? I am definitely coming around. I’m trying to learn to give myself some slack and pray for wisdom and acceptance daily. I know that I’m not a perfect person and I’m learning to accept that. So let’s dive right into my 2014 resolutions. Now these resolutions may look quite familiar, since I’m still working on the same ones from last year, but I have prioritized them differently this year. Last year they were prioritized by which I needed to work the hardest on, and this year will be no different, however my priorities have changed. You can read last year’s resolution post here.

1. Curb My Phone Attachment: I still have an extreme attachment with my phone. If it is within reach, I will always be using it. If it’s in the other room, I’m less likely to think about it. I am so much more productive and happy when I don’t have my phone around me all the time. I feel as though I need to work more diligently this year, making sure my family knows that they are more important than my phone. I cannot wait to get my hands on this new book. I feel like it was written just for me. ‘Hand’s Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters’ by Rachel Macy Stafford. Snag your copy here.

* Leave my phone out of reach, and only use it when I absolutely need it.

* Only check Facebook & Pinterest twice a day. (This one is going to be hard but it’s necessary)

2. Focus On Marriage: Anyone who is married knows that it’s hard work. It takes time and effort to make a marriage not only survive but thrive. My husband is my best friend. He is the most important person in my life. I need to remind him of that daily not only with my words but with my actions as well.

* I will stop comparing and competing. My husband and I are a team. We each contribute to the family however we can even if it’s not always equal.

* I will spend more quality time with my husband. We will go on a date at least every other week.

3. Take care of myself: Especially now that I’m pregnant, I really need to make sure that I’m taking the time to spend on me.

* I will eat at least 3 regular meals everyday (this may sound like a crazy one but often I skip meals because I’m just too overwhelmed and busy)

* I will learn to say no. My goal is to not have things scheduled every day.

* I need to go to bed earlier. It’s hard to make sleep a priority when there are other things I would rather be doing, but I know this will completely change my overall mood and level of productivity.

4. Spend more time with God: This year I want to be in a fully engaged relationship with Christ. I want to give him my whole self and not just what is left over. I want to determine God’s will for my life by remaining in his Love. I want to not only read his words, but allow them to penetrate my soul and completely change my life.

* I will set aside at least 15 minutes each day to spend reading the bible.

* I will pray continuously and not just when I need something.

5. Stop Complaining: I have a huge problem with complaining. I really want to change this about myself. In 2010 I had the chance to take a missions trip to Honduras and I experienced first hand what poverty looked like. I met people who had every right to complain, but they never did!! I know that I have nothing to complain about, but I still find myself being very ungrateful for what I already have.

* When I feel like complaining, I will stop and think of 3 things I am thankful for about that situation.

* I will pray continuously for contentment.

6. Get More Organized: When my home is organized, I am one happy girl! It puts me in such an amazing mood to know that things have a designated home. I feel more productive and efficient!

* I will work on one project at a time until it’s done before I move on to the next one. My office is my first project.

* I will be content with the progress I make and not let the list of things that need to be done overwhelm me.

7. Exercise 3 days a week: When I exercise regularly I feel better about myself. I want my daughter to grow up knowing the importance or exercise.

* I will go to the gym 2 times a week.

* I will spend time outside with my family being active (hiking, walking, riding bikes etc.)

I hope that all of you have goals and aspirations for your life!! If you write them down and post them somewhere, I guarantee that you will be more successful while working towards those goals. I plan to post these modified resolutions on the wall in my office so I can be reminded of them daily. I also would love for you to share some of your resolutions with me. Please help keep me accountable by checking in often about a few of mine and asking about my progress. Remember it’s important to note it’s all about progress NOT perfection.

ps. I could have sworn I just made this progress vs. perfection up, but apparently I did not!! When I searched for bible verses on this comparison, all kinds of motivational images popped up!! I’m guessing I’ve heard this before. I think I need to frame this and post it all over my house.

Image

Trust & Obey #28

This post will be short and sweet, I just wanted to update you as to what’s been going on in my life over here. Actually, quite a lot has been going on over the past few months and now the secret is finally out. We are expecting baby #2 next summer. We are extremely excited. As you can imagine though, that means there are a lot of things to do to prepare, and a lot of changes coming our way. This pregnancy is actually more difficult than my pregnancy with Scarlett, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I was pretty lucky with Scarlett and didn’t get too sick. I’ve been feeling much worse this pregnancy, but that’s okay with me! I love being pregnant and I will take whatever comes with it. Of course, with the birth of a new baby comes more of a financial burden, however we are learning to trust God with our finances more and more everyday. The money we have has been entrusted to us from God anyways. It’s his money to begin with, and we are simply asked to be stewards. I think being on the same page with finances is truly important. I’m so thankful that Travis and I were able to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University so many years ago. I really believe it truly saved our marriage from years of financial stress and unhappiness. We decided early on that it was imperative to our marriage to make sure we had the same goals. Part of the battle is knowing what to do, then the hardest part is actually doing it. I’ve been feeling led to really get back on track with budgeting. It’s truly something that I struggle with. If I have money, I like to spend it. I guess you can say I’m the ‘free spirit’ in our marriage! I have a hard time planning for the future. Travis on the other hand is always thinking about the future so we kind of balance each other out.

Aside from finances, my relationship with God has really been on my mind. I mean it always is, but I’m learning more about him everyday. He is revealing to me the things that I really need to prioritize. One of those things being myself. I know I talk about this a lot, but it’s really something I struggle with. I need to prioritize taking care of myself and having a good relationship with my self conscious. I am extremely hard on myself. I demand perfection from myself and nothing less. It’s something I haven’t had much control over in the past, I’m very critical of the person I am, the mother and wife that I am and it’s taking a toll. I know that God has made me perfect in his image and I strive to see myself through his eyes everyday! I’m learning to cut myself some slack. I’m trying to prioritize things differently and really make sure I’m being constructive and productive. It’s a battle, and the enemy is at my heels constantly, but this just reminds me that I need to pray, trust and lean on the Lord! With him, nothing is impossible. I’m so excited for all the amazing things to come. I know I cannot fathom or even comprehend the blessings that lie ahead, but scripture promises good to those who trust and obey.

From now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he’ll take charge of sending the rain at the right time, both autumn and spring rains, so that you’ll be able to harvest your grain, your grapes, and your olives. He’ll make sure there’s plenty of grass for your animals. You’ll have plenty to eat.

Deuteronomy 11:13-15

Seeking Wise Counsel #27

As I look back and read through some of my previous posts I can’t help but laugh as I read the very first entry I wrote. My initial motivation behind starting this blog has surely gone to the wayside. My sweet addiction is still there, and the desire to minimize this addiction is still there, but I haven’t really succeeded in this department. What’s come of this blog is much more than I really expected. It’s a place where I can keep track of my daily walk with Jesus. In one of my earlier posts, Looked Good From Afar, I talked a lot about being transparent and how rare it is to find people who are willing to really share themselves. I did promise that I would be transparent in this blog and so my promise will remain. These thoughts I write down are real and extremely personal. I write them in hopes of inspiring people or helping someone relate. I trust that I won’t be judged for sharing my personal experiences here, and it is my hope that each of you have someone you trust to share similar experiences with. I’m going to get super personal and share something with you that no one, aside from my husband, knows.

I recently started seeing a Christian Counselor. We meet on a bi-weekly basis and I’m already learning a lot. I know people will have their own opinions about seeking counsel, but let me tell you my thoughts. I have never viewed counseling as defeat, I have never viewed it as shameful nor I have viewed it as a last resort . Counseling in my opinion is imperative. It’s so important for all of us to seek counsel in different ways and from different people. I have just come to the realization that I need Godly professional counsel that I haven’t be able to find on my own. I have always known that I would someday see a counselor. I don’t exactly know why, but I think I just like leaving things to professionals. I don’t want to live a mediocre life. I don’t want to merely survive, I want to thrive. I want to be the best version of me. If I don’t like something about myself, I’m going to do whatever it takes to change it. That’s just how I’ve always been. I know when I can handle things on my own, and I know when I can’t. I hope that maybe by sharing this very personal part of my life will encourage you to think differently about seeking counsel. I know so many people who would benefit from counseling but simply refuse because it’s too shameful or vulnerable to put yourself out there. I’m just here to tell you that if you want things to change and you haven’t been able to make it happen on your own, seek counsel. Now please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying everyone needs to seek professional counsel, I’m just trying to encourage you to seek any counsel. We were not meant to go through life alone. We were meant to need other people!! Let me make a suggestion however. Please be sure you are seeking the counsel of someone who is wise. So often we want to rally with our friends and family and “vent” our angers to each other, simply because we know they will be on our sides, but let me ask you something. Is that ever productive? Does that ever really truly help the situation? In my experience, it does not.

So for those of you dying to know why I’m going to counseling, I will curb the curiousity with saying that there are things about me I don’t like. To name a few I’m quick to anger, I’m critical, I have insane expectations (for myself and others) and I’m not the wife or mother I want to be. In only 2 sessions I’m already learning a lot of where this is coming from and I’m looking forward to doing the work that needs to be done to change things. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity and I really believe this is a critical step in my walk with the Lord. He knows exactly what he is doing and everyday he is shaping me into the person he wants me to be. I don’t know what the Lord is preparing me for, but I know it’s something AMAZING and I can’t wait to find out what it is.

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.

Proverbs 1:5

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