God First

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We live in a social media driven world. It’s so easy to get distracted by Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, the News app etc. We fall victim to their rabbit holes and before we know it, we’ve been scrolling through our phones for an hour!

I’m talking to myself here too. This verse says, “Seek FIRST…” not second, not when you have time, not when it’s convenient for you, but FIRST.

Lately, I find myself first thing, as soon as I open my eyes, reaching for my phone and opening Instagram or whatever app to see what I missed while I was asleep.

It became second nature, an addiction of sorts.

Man oh man did conviction hit me like a ton of bricks! I felt God asking me where He stood in line in my life. Talk about a wake up call!

The funny thing about it all, is that most of what we miss while we’re asleep, is nothing but vain, negative Nancy, look at my flashy this or that news. It’s nothing that really fills your life with positivity, joy or encouragement.

Most of today’s news is depressing, aggravating, and honestly makes me mad that we live in such a world as this.

When we have access to Jesus news right at our fingertips; that talks about hope, joy, love, freedom, and all we have to do is go to HIM FIRST. How much better would our day go if we spend time with Jesus as soon as we open our eyes?

The answer is A LOT!  “…and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Not that our days will be perfect by any means, but when we rely on Jesus as our main source of energy and fuel, we’ll be able to deal with our day a lot better than we do when we’re handling it on our own; when we first fuel our spirits with what social media has to say.

When God is first in every area of my life, I can be a better wife, mom, sister, friend… a better me. I can wage a better war against the enemy and his lies. I can better see the traps he tries to get me to fall to.

Even better… my relationship with Jesus is better, stronger and alive! Our faith is stronger, our anxiety is gone and peace can take over!

Let’s put God First every day and wake up with Jesus!

XoXo,

Lo

Apple Seeds

 

It’s almost 2018! What?! How?! It is crazy how much time just passes us by in the blink of an eye.

What a year this has been! It’s been great for my family and me and I’m excited for what 2018 will bring.

Bearing Fruit, Growth, Flourishing, Motivation, Growing, Blogging,

The other day, I was eating an apple. It was so delicious, that  I ate another one. As I was cutting up my second apple, I noticed the seed; this small little seed. I looked at it, observed it and went about getting the rest of that apple in my belly.

It wasn’t until later, as I was doing things around the house, that I remembered how good that apple was. Then, the seed popped back into my head. I thought, wow, it is crazy how from that tiny little seed, came something so pretty and delicious.

I also thought about how crazy it is, that I’ve birthed two beautiful girls. I am fascinated by the fact that one small little organ inside of my body, can stretch and accommodate and house a tiny human being! God really didn’t leave out any details when He created us and molded us; to be able to do and create amazing things.

As I thought about the seed, I realized how we are very much like that apple seed. Many times in life, we undervalue and underestimate our talents and abilities. We think of our goals and we dream up dreams, but soon squash them because we tell ourselves, “I’ll never make it.” or “I can’t do that.” or “I’m not good enough.” or (insert your own excuse here).

We come up with excuse after excuse and we fail to see ourselves the way God sees us. When He thought us up and began to mold us, we were just tiny little seeds inside of our mother’s womb. However, He didn’t stop there, He knew that that tiny little seed would grow into something bigger, more beautiful, full of life and full of purpose.

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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As we grow up and learn the world and hear the whispers and lies of the enemy, of our “haters,” of the media, of growing up without a mother or father, we lose sight of who we were created to be. We begin to fall victim to the lies and start to conform to the shape of the box instead of thinking and growing outside of the box.

Imagine if someone saw that apple seed and just threw it away? They would have never known that out of something so small, would come a huge tree that bore these beautiful fruits. Someone saw those apple seeds and saw past their size. They had faith when they planted them, that something much better would come out.

They took the time to plant the seeds, and watered them daily. They were persistent and never gave up. It took time and effort, but the fruit…the end result, was worth it.

It takes nine months for us to go from an embryo to a fully developed baby. It takes 13 years for us to go through school. It takes 20+ years for us to become adults. It takes 4+ years to obtain a professional degree and it takes an apple tree 8+ years to grow and bear fruit from a seed.

And so, our own personal seeds (passions, goals, dreams) also need the persistence, the patience, the time and the right tools to grow. Because of the world we live in, it’s so easy for us to give up. It’s so easy for us to think we’ll never make it. It’s easy to quit and move on to what we think will make us happier; or we just settle for mediocrity.

As we grew up, school took effort. Growing up under our parents authority took effort; being obedient to them, their discipline, their advice etc. College took LOTS of effort but when we walked across that stage, it was worth all of those papers, midterms, finals and late nights of studying. We had something to show for ourselves and were proud that we did it, we made it, despite all of the obstacles and aggravations of college life. All of the seasons and ages and things we go through in life, take effort, persistence, tears, sweat, sleepless nights, but the fruits of our labor make it worth all the effort.

Going through 9 hours of labor for both of my kids… that’s what you call a “labor of love.” It wasn’t easy, but man holding them was worth all of, not just the hours of labor, but the months of holding them inside of me.

What I’m trying to get at is, if you have seeds in your hands, plant them. Cultivate them, water them, be persistent and patient and watch them sprout, bloom and grow. Don’t let fear or negative influences, self-doubt or lies stop you from flourishing.

Over time I have planted seeds, dreams and goals of mine, but have failed to water them daily, have failed at being persistent. One goal of Sam and mine that has finally bore fruit, is getting our songs out there. We did it, we’re being obedient to the Lord and have put them out there for the world to hear. It’s very vulnerable and scary, but seeing the fruits of our labor and walking in obedience has given us that extra push that we needed; a sense of accomplishment and the fear of what people might think or say is wearing off, bc those opinions don’t matter… God’s does!

In 2018, my resolution is to pick up that watering can and water my seeds (two of those seeds are my precious daughters), because I know that one day they’re going to bear many fruit. God has called us for so much more, but it’s up to us to put in the effort and water our God-sized dreams and goals.

What desires has God placed on your heart? Chase after them. Pray and seek Him and wait patiently for the fruits.

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“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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And take delight in knowing that there’s beauty and joy in the journey; in growing; in learning, succeeding and failing.

Make It Happen

Blogging, goals, accomplishments,lifestyle,blogger,parenting, motherhood

This past weekend, a few of my friends and I went to Waco, Texas to attend the Magnolia Silobration. It was such a fun little girls weekend trip and I loved every minute!

I absolutely love Fixer Upper and love Chip and Joanna! They’re seriously the cutest! So, going to Magnolia was definitely a highlight! Despite the killer heat, it was a beautiful weekend and all the details that they put into the Silobration were awesome. Of course being able to spend time with great friends made it a sweeter experience.

That being said, I didn’t expect to come back home feeling like I was spiritually refreshed and encouraged. After all, it’s not like we went to a conference expecting to hear a good word.

We arrived to Magnolia around noon on Saturday and we were all so excited! We couldn’t wait to taste the yummy foods at the food trucks, check out all the street vendors and of course walk around the grounds of the silos.

I love how God works and how much He loves to find us in the most random places in our lives. Looking through clothes, and wandering around in a mundane setting, shopping, I glanced over and saw a notebook. As clear as day, I heard God tell me, pick it up and buy it. So I did.

The notebook says “Make it happen,” and it’s pictured above.

Now to tie all of this in.

As the day progressed and day turned to night (I’m laughing at that sentence right now, I’m corny sometimes), it was time for the concert. The bands were so so good! Opening the night, was Castro (the band), which one of the members is Jason Castro and I remembered him from American Idol! It was so cool to see him and his siblings playing/singing, they’re so talented! Anyway, then Jon Foreman (from Switchfoot)!! played and he didn’t let us down either, and finally Johnnyswim (which I hadn’t heard their music till that day) and they were beasts! Oh man, so many talented and sick musicians/singers!

In each of their sets, they all took moments to give God glory. They all spoke of how crazy it was to see their dreams come to fruition and how blessed they felt to be able to play in front of our/a crowd. They thanked Chip and Joanna for giving them that opportunity. They sang a few worship songs and/or had messages in their songs that were inspired from The Word of God, The Bible! Their messages to us were encouraging and told us to dream big, because anything is possible. To have hope, because we can do more than what the world says we can’t.

Chip and Joanna talked about how they were struggling to flip houses, but persevered in the face of adversity. They spoke about Chip’s endeavor of starting “Chipstarter,” and encouraged people to send in videos explaining their dreams and where they want them to go. The end result being that Chip would help fund those dreams/businesses. That night, they brought up three finalists and we got to see what those dreams/business were and to everyone’s surprise, they gave all three of them checks of different amounts, to help them reach their goals.

They encouraged us to go after those God-sized dreams, because that’s what their whole Silobration was based on, a God-sized dream that they never thought would be possible.

The reason why God told me to buy that notebook, with the words “Make It Happen,” in the front, were because my God-sized dream is to write a book and along with Sam, to write songs that reach nations. A year ago, God told me that I needed to write a book. I thought He was crazy, and I put it off for months! Finally, after He kept reminding me of my disobedience,  I began to write little by little this year. Even though I don’t feel equipped or like it will go any where, but I’m doing it.

Christine Cain said in a sermon, to “do it afraid!” because after a while, we won’t be afraid anymore and we’ll see how far it will take us!

For years now, Sam and I have had songs sitting in the “notes” on our phones. Finally, we recorded them and they’re almost ready to be released, before the year ends!

Those are our dreams, they’re scary, but God has placed them in our hearts! The notebook represents a step in the right direction, for me in my writing and for us with our songs. Every thought as a writer and every lyric we receive will be written down in that notebook and we’re going to make them happen! Who are we to think that we’re talented, smart enough, or good enough for these things? But GOD, ya’ll…BUT GOD!

He uses the most unlikely to reach the unlikely! Oh, He’s so good! He wants us to realize that no dream we could ever dream up will even come close to the plans and dreams HE has for us!

What’s your God-sized dream?

Do it.

Dream big.

Make it Happen!

XO,

Lo 🙂

 

S E V E N

Marriage, Love, challenges, relationship, friendship, Jesus, prayer

There’s no “7 Year Itch” here! On the 13th of August, Sam and I celebrated S E V E N years of marriage! It’s so crazy…I feel like just yesterday, I was walking down the aisle, anxiously and joyously waiting to hear, “Sam, you may now kiss your BRIDE!” How I LOVE being his bride!

Man, how time flies! (I guess that’s my theme as of late, ha). While, I won’t sit here and pretend that our marriage has been that of fairy tales, it has been a fun, crazy, exciting, scary, learning and growing kind of roller coaster ride. We laugh together, we cry together, we argue, bicker, get angry, get loud, frustrated, aggravated, etc., BUT at the end of the day, we resolve our issues and continue enjoying each other and pushing each other to be better and do better.

The last few years, Sam and I have gone on little weekend trips for our anniversary, and they have been so needed, especially after having kids. They have helped us regroup and refresh our friendship and relationship. This year, we had a “staycation” and it was seriously some of the most fun we’ve had together this year! On one of our dates, I asked him what he feels he’s learned in these last seven years and vice-versa. Here’s the biggest things I’ve learned:

Don’t let your guard down

So often now, we hear of pastors, worship leaders and in general, people in ministry, separating and getting divorced. Some cases are because of moral failures, others are because they just couldn’t get along or “had nothing more in common,” they could no longer work through their issues. That really, truly breaks my heart! I sit here and read story after story about these broken marriages and wonder: HOW? WHY? WHEN AND WHERE DID IT GO WRONG? WHAT COULD’VE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY?

I’m not judging their decision to end their marriage, rather, I pray for my own. I pray for God to always strengthen me as a person and as a wife. I pray that God would give me wisdom and show me how to love Sam in every season.

As individuals, we must always be willing to learn, grow and change. We cannot stay the same, because we then become complacent. Complacency can lead to lowering your guard! It’s dangerous to lower our guard as Christians AND in our marriage.

” Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch… What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” Mark 13:33-34;36

Ya’ll the devil be creepin’! He’s waiting for our guard to be down, so he can attack! And if we’re asleep, we won’t even see it coming! He sneak attacks us like a coward and throws a party when we’re defeated. Then, he keeps throwing punches, until we either: give up OR fight back!

I think the brokenness happens when we no longer have the strength to fight back. We throw in the towel and can no longer see a way out because we’re blinded by the devil’s veil of deceit, defeat and discouragement.

But God intended marriage to be a mirror of Him and us. He’s the bridegroom, we are the bride and he wants our marriages to be successful, full of love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, joy, grace… The same is to be said even if you aren’t married.

We CANNOT for one second think that we’ve got it covered, because the second we do, that’s when the devil strikes. In my marriage to Sam, I CANNOT sit here twiddling my thumbs, arms folded, bask in my own glory and think that I’m the most awesome wife in the world! (sometimes I am though) haha just kidding… But seriously, we must always be willing to LEARN AND GROW TOGETHER. Make time for each other and always talk about any issues we may have with one another. <–(this I’ve learned the hard way)

Talk to each other

This seems like a no brainer! However, early on in our marriage, my biggest issue was communication! Any time Sam would say something that would hurt my feelings, aggravate me or just didn’t sit right with me, I’d hold it in. Not immediately letting him know that something bothered me, allowed time for those things to simmer and get blown way out of proportion.

My thoughts would feed into the littlest things he’d do or say and eventually, on a random day when all was going well, I’d explode in anger at him. It’d leave him standing there bewildered and wondering if it was something he just said. It wouldn’t go over very well, and we’d be in hour long (or longer) arguments. That’s no fun!

For  a while, in the beginning of our marriage, I kept on in that cycle and eventually it made him take the same approach. He started bottling up his anger towards me, because he thought if he told me any little thing, I couldn’t handle it. He would rather try to brush it off and ignore his feelings, than have to deal with my irrational responses.

This issue really was one of the bigger issues that if we still dealt with to this day, may have made for a different kind of blog post! Thankfully, we have learned how to communicate better! I’m not saying that I still don’t keep things in sometimes, but 95% of the time, I immediately let him know that something he did/said/didn’t say bothered me. We work through the issue and ask each other how we can be/get better with whatever it was.

Communication is a serious thing! If we’re not in constant communication, and not even just on what’s bothering us, but even on what’s going well with us, how can our marriage thrive? We are ALWAYS in the know about the happenings of our lives outside of each other. We trust each other, lean on each other and feed off of each other’s thoughts. Our spouses should be the person we trust the most and tell everything to! I DO NOT believe in keeping secrets from each other, nothing good comes from that, in my opinion.  Otherwise that leaves room for entrusting things in others, leading to…well nothing good.

I could seriously go on and on about things I’ve learned in these short 7 years. We are still young and still have so many more years to learn and grow! Make time for each other, be each other’s best friend, enjoy every moment together in every season, push each other (lovingly of course) to be better and do better! Don’t be afraid to seek wise counsel if you are going through rough times. Don’t give up! Push through, because your marriage is intended to be something beautiful, even through the trials!

NOT TODAY

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Life is an oxymoron. It’s rough, tough, crazy, wild, sad, lonely, discouraging. At the same time, it’s easy, fun, chill, happy, full of love, family, friends and laughter, encouraging and hopeful.

However, lately I have been feeling discouraged.  I hate discouragement!

I know that success doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, it takes hard work and it takes perseverance. The perseverance is the part that gets me.

I wrote a post not too long ago entitled “Don’t Be Cheap,” and while the particular example I spoke on was about fitness, it also applies to other areas of my life as well. Over the last few years, I’ve started out on a couple of ventures, only to give up half-way through, out of discouragement and feeling like I wasn’t any good at it; so why keep going?

Regardless of what it is, Sam was and always is in my corner. He told me recently that I keep starting things but never get anywhere with them. He didn’t say it in a mean or discouraging way, rather he wanted to encourage me to really stick to one and go after it. I gave a million excuses as to why I dropped it and moved on to another subject.  That was maybe two or three months ago, yet it has been replaying in my head.

For much of my life, I’ve struggled with insecurity.  Over the years, the insecurities have morphed and changed from one thing to another, and lately I’m insecure in my talents and abilities. One of them is, I fear that I’m not good enough in my writing and that’s why I hardly get any readers, and the book that I’m working on, won’t get picked up because it’ll suck…with thoughts and feelings like that, it’s easy to feel discouraged, right?

Oh, but then, I remember that there is a liar and he goes by the name of devil. The father of lies, and he’s been whispering in my ear telling me all these things. You’ll never be a good writer. Your blog sucks. Your book will suck. No one will read it, etc., etc. But no, not today Satan! NOT TODAY!

When we don’t give our worries/fears/anxieties to the Lord, it leaves room for the devil to stick his nose in our life and release feelings of insecurity, fear and doubt. He loves discouraging us and stopping us from reaching our full potential in whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish.

BUT, God wants us to be successful! He wants to see us flourish and go after our goals. He wants us to use our talents, our voices, our abilities to go out and do whatever it is we have set out to do. Sometimes we will fail, but we get back up and try again. Fail and try again. Fail and try again. Fail and try something new. Fail and change our approach. Fail and then finally succeed. Sometimes we succeed after the first try. The point is no matter how many times we fail or how long the journey takes, we will succeed.

I cannot allow the devil to have any wiggle room, and Jesus tells us that DAILY we must give Him ALL of our worries. I don’t do it daily and that’s when I feel the most discouraged, on the days when my hope and my trust hasn’t been put in the Lord.

So, I guess, what I’m trying to get at is that life truly is like a rollercoaster. BUT when we set our focus on allowing God to take full control, putting our faith and trust that He wants and knows what’s best for us, we will be more encouraged than discouraged to persevere. Honestly, there are always going to be people that are better at what we do than us, but we can’t let that stop us. I can’t let that stop me, because there is always room and time to grow and get better.

My friend, or anyone who is reading this, be encouraged. Persevere and trust that God’s got your back! He’ll always see us through as we keep pressing on, but if we give up we’ll never get anywhere and we’ll always have a cloud of discouragement over our heads.

“Tell the devil NO, NOT TODAY!”