Don’t Be Cheap

F3364ADC-F000-4854-9E87-3F2C91C6752A.jpgI’m sure we’ve all heard the expression, “talk is cheap.”  And it’s so true! Talk really is cheap, we can say a lot of things  but never really follow through with our actions.

I’ll be the first to say that there are times when I say I’ll do something and I don’t actually do it. I pull out every excuse in the book as to why.

I’ll use my kids as an excuse. “I’m tired.” “I don’t have time.” “I already made plans.” “I won’t do well at it, so why bother?”  And the list can go on and on.

Am I the only one? Yes… no… maybe?

Anyway, this year both my husband and I have really tried to be more intentional with what we say we want to do. Since we’ve been married, every December we sit down and write out our goals for the following year and talk about the goals we had for the ending year. What did/didn’t we accomplish and if we didn’t let’s add it to next year’s list and get it done…or at least try to.

For the first few years, we would check off somethings but others would be left unchecked and added again to next year in hopes that maybe this time we would actually do it! We’d say: “ok, well let’s keep that in our goals to accomplish, but let’s really do it this time!”

One of the goals that we’d talk about every year but could never seem to check off, had to do with getting in shape. We would start the year off right, but one or two months into it, we’d give up, kind of eat healthy-ish and go to the gym or work out like twice a week, then complain come summer that we’re unhappy with our physique. This happened for about two years straight!

Finally, in September/October of 2014, we mustered up courage, put on our game faces, found motivation and really started doing the thing! We both hit our fitness goals hard and about 6 months later, we did it! We accomplished our fitness goals and we did a hypothetical happy dance.

About a month into me being at my goal, I found out I was pregnant with our second daughter. *So, for most of us, being pregnant = turning into little miss piggy! haha I swore to myself I wouldn’t let myself get too crazy, and for the most part I did really well, but it’s the last month of pregnancy that gets me! That’s where I gained 30 more pounds!!*         -Oh my gosh, actually typing that out is crazy!-

Also, for most men, it’s hard to stay motivated and fit when your wife’s pregnant and wants poboys, donuts, beignets and ice cream all the time, so I kind of brought him down with me! (I’M SORRY, I’M TERRIBLE)! We entered into a schlump again (is that how you spell schlump)? Is it even a word? oh well… Anyway, we ended 2015 and had to hit the reset button and we’d been on and off all of 2016 with getting fit again.

So, here we are halfway through 2017 and one of our goals again, is our health and fitness. (which by the way, we are sticking to it and getting it done again, yay)! We found motivation through famous fitness bloggers/youtubers, motivational speakers, successful and well known entrepreneurs and a couple of our friends, to really put our best foot forward and change not just our physical selves but our way of thinking as well.

Sam and I have always wanted to be successful and excel at the things we put our minds and hearts to, whether those things work out or not, we could at least say “hey, we gave it our best shot and TRIED. We didn’t just talk the talk, but we walked the walk.”

Throughout our marriage, there have been lots of things that I personally have started and stopped, be it because of lack of motivation, self-doubt, or just plain excuses. I don’t want my words to be cheap… I want to follow through and get stuff done. We both have lots of exciting projects going on with our music and with my writing and we are walking in obedience to the Lord with the songs and words He’s placed in our hearts. We’ll see where they land us and keep striving to be the best version of ourselves and teach our daughters how to work hard and follow through with goals, talents and dreams.

I hope that you’ve found encouragement and go for those goals you’ve been putting off. Don’t be “cheap…” get them done and in the words of Nike, “JUST DO IT!” Surround yourself with people that encourage you and motivate you to accomplish your goals.

Lost Baggage

“Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love…”

Micah 7:19-20

Does anyone besides me have a suitcase filled with things that may look like: anxiety, depression, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred, anger, jealousy, etc.?

Despite knowing that Jesus paid the ultimate price, forgave our sins and even blots them out of his mind, never to be remembered again (Is. 43:25), why do we still carry around our baggage?

Inside of my suitcase, you’ll find anxiety, not feeling “good enough” and uncared for.  Those are the main things in my life that are a constant struggle to let go of. I carry them around like a purse, and honestly, I didn’t start to feel the weight of them until recently.

I want to say that it all started one or two weeks ago while working out at the gym.  When I go into the gym, the only thing I take with me is my water bottle, keys and my phone for the music. I jump on the treadmill, elliptical or the stair master and I begin my workout. Now, I’m a wife and a mom, so I’m always busy cleaning up, cooking, and running after the girls and I rarely get time to myself, and the gym is one of the few times where I am alone and can de-stress and rid my mind of whatever.

On my recent trips to the gym, I have started to feel like there is a bag at the foot of whatever machine I’m on. It may sound weird or crazy, but I literally look behind me and check to see if maybe I did bring my purse with me, somehow, and just dropped it on the floor. Obviously, nothing is there and it bothers me, because the whole time I’m working out I feel the weight of it. I get the urge to pick up this invisible bag and throw it across the gym… like leave me alone!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but a lot of times, the gym is where I can let out frustration and any stresses of the day. The last thing I need or want is the feeling of a lingering bag full of stress that is right behind me!

Finally, last night I was like “Ok, God. What is this? What’s going on? What are you trying to tell me?” I said this all in my head because I didn’t want to look like a crazy person talking to myself in a gym packed with people… don’t judge me! Then I clearly felt Him shine a light on the fact that it was my baggage… my anxiety, my feeling of unworthiness and feeling of being uncared for.

This week has been kind of a rough one on me. There have been many things that have caused a great deal of anxiety in me.

Philippians 4:6 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

and

1 Peter 5:7 says: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” 

And, I haven’t done either of those things… I’ve been carrying the weight of my own sins, struggles and strongholds and once again, have not gone to Him. I haven’t laid down my burdens before Jesus, because I sometimes feel like I might burden Him with my silly little issues… isn’t that funny?

Yet, time and time again, He reminds me who He is and just how much He L O V E S me! He does not want me to walk around with a bag full of stress and burdens, he wants to take it from me and I have not allowed him to. Instead, they’ve been sitting at my feet, weighing me down. And boy, the devil loves that! He wants me to be weighed down by sins and make me forget that Jesus already won that battle, he already forgot them and he indeed DOES care about me, love me, cherish me… and YOU!

I… you… we need to stop carrying around that baggage and allow God to take it from us every day! He wants nothing more than to see us live in the freedom of knowing that we don’t have to walk through life being weighed down by our sins and strongholds. He’s already tossed them into the deepest parts of the ocean where they will never be found again… like lost baggage at the airport!

Just. Give. It. All. To. Him!

Gotta be intentional

future-richWhen I was in middle school, I had already decided that I wanted to go into a career in medicine.

At first, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but when I found out that I’d have to sell my soul to years and years of school, I settled on becoming a nurse (don’t judge me ha).

Finally, graduation day came and I had that, “I’m finally an adult!” excitement in my head… that was 10 years ago!! What?! I still can’t believe I’ve been out of high school for a decade now… I still feel so young at heart! Where does the time go?!

Anyway, to make a long story short, four universities later, I ended up graduating with a degree in American Studies (to become a history teacher later on). I got pregnant with my first daughter during my last semester in college and my husband and I decided that I should be a stay at home mom and postpone continuing education.

So, how did I go from nursing to teaching? And why on earth did I go to FOUR different universities?! What the heck?! Who does that?! I guess I do… I did that.

After I completed all the required courses before applying into the nursing programs, I applied three times, at three different schools and they all rejected me. That was a pretty big blow to my self esteem, because it immediately made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or smart enough (which obviously wasn’t true). I cried A LOT.  My husband kept encouraging me and after praying for the next steps for me to take, I ended up going to a counselor at the fourth school, to talk about what I could do next and with all of the credits I accumulated at the three previous schools I went to.

Before going in, I had decided long before, that if nursing hadn’t worked out, I’d want to be a teacher.  So after speaking with the counselor and going through all of my options, I took a fast track to a degree that would help me become a teacher through continuing education post undergrad.  At this point in my life, I had already been in college for 5 years and was ready to get the heck out! It was one of the best decisions I had made and actually enjoyed my last two semesters at UNO. It really is such a great school and I kicked myself in the butt for not going there from the very beginning, it would’ve saved me two years and heartache.

However, every experience I’ve gone through in life has taught me so much and has helped me grow into the person I am today.  Rejection is such a tough pill for me to  swallow. I grew up feeling rejected, which is why after the third rejection, I felt like my life was over.  As I’ve grown up, I have realized that you cannot outgrow hurts in your life.  You’ve got to face them, work through them, and then move passed them. Grow from them and learn how to better deal with the obstacles that come your way.

Since I became a mom and my daughters are growing up, they watch me, and look up to me, I am more intentional with the things I say/don’t say.

Lately, my eldest says “but mom, I can’t!” I really loathe the word “can’t.”  I make sure to tell her that she can. I encourage her, explain to her how to work through her problem and when she succeeds, I tell her “see, I told you you could do it! great job!” When she doesn’t, I make sure to still encourage her and tell her to keep trying, I help her and make sure she knows that as long as she perseveres she will succeed.

My prayer for them is that they never have to feel rejected, or like they aren’t good enough.  They really do push me passed my limits and push me to be the best version of myself. I want them to be strong, compassionate, loving girls and women who don’t let fear or negative words affect who they are.  God’s plan for them is big, I know it. The same way that I know God’s plans for me and my family together, are big.

I’m excited to continue blogging and seeing where writing takes me.  I’ve stopped myself in the two years of not blogging out of fear of what people would think of me, but I guess there ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it!

Expectant and Accepted

WORSHIP, MUSIC, CHRISTIAN ARTIST, CHRISTIAN MUSIC, FAITH, CHRISTIANITY, INSPIRATION,

So, I will start my first blog post of 2017 by sharing with you what God placed in my heart for this new year. It ties into what he placed on my heart last year, which was the word “Grace.” Grace because I found myself not wanting to let people off the hook for their “offenses” against me, especially those closest to me. Also, because I needed to give myself more grace. I truly am my own worst enemy and critic!

A few days ago I was in my car and just began talking/thinking/praying out loud about what God wanted this year to be about in regards to my heart and growth in Him. Then, the word expectant popped in my head… I thought, well that can’t be right, weird… mmm no. So, I just kept talking to God and asking Him to let me know what it is that I need to implement this year.

Over the course of the next few days, expectant continued to pop up in my head. I then just started saying, how can that be right? It sounds so selfish and weird and kind of mean, right God? Is that really you telling me to be expectant of YOU?!  Like, yeah, I EXPECT him to do this for me because he better… what?! (at least that’s what it sounds like in my head).  The second word is… you guessed it, accepted. That one came tonight during our worship night at church.

Expectant because He wants me to be expectant in a humble way. It now makes sense because throughout the course of my life, there have been many times when I’ve felt unworthy of God and all that He has and does or wants to do for me. Present day, this is what it looks like: If I know that I lost my cool with the girls one too many times, or had a huge disagreement with Sam and refused to apologize, I reasoned that, because of those shortcomings, God wouldn’t/couldn’t bless me and it’d be ok; because I didn’t “deserve” to be blessed or forgiven or I didn’t deserve to be given grace.

I could feel a sense of unworthiness and almost be too proud to accept forgiveness, etc. from God. Yet, God wants to bless me (and you) regardless of our shortcomings and in spite of who we are… “duh,” we’re only human right? He actually expects that of us!  He says that I should humbly expect Him to bless me because He loves me and I am worthy of His love, blessings, mercy, love, forgiveness, grace!

It’s ok for me to pray and ask for forgiveness in spite of my  lack thereof in a moment, for His grace, for His favor…expectant even when I am simply praying over my day… it’s ok. (Hebrews 4:16; John 15:7).  And even if he doesn’t (Daniel 3:16-18)… because sometimes the answers to our prayers may be “no.”

Accepted because I’ve always felt forgotten, unloved, not cared about… the list really can go on. I know where these roots come from and last year while at a women’s conference, I had a breakthrough, from a complete stranger,  after so many years.

At church, I had never felt a sense of belonging among my peers. I came from another church, therefore, I was an “outsider” and the devil used that to make me feel like an outsider for the next 7 years!! This would look like being at a gathering with friends and everyone else is engaged in conversation except me…the devil would use that to feed the lie that no one cared to come talk to me. It would be like “see, no one really cares about you or how you’re doing, no one likes you.” Ouch! When by nature,  unless I am in a group of people that I know, I am kept to myself and even around friends, sometimes I just keep to myself out plain old introvertedness (mmm… probably not a word).

I bought that lie for so long, because even in my childhood, there were times that I felt  unwanted. These were the results of deep-rooted issues that to this day I’m still working on and have worked on, and will probably still be working on for a while. I’m an adult… why do I still struggle with this? The answer seems to be that you can’t outgrow hurts, you have to face them and kill the root… I tried to outgrow them and cover them and ignore them and deal with them on my own… pride!

Since the conference, I’ve worked on shooting down the lies and the negative thoughts from the enemy and I’ve gotten a lot better of not reading into situations and knowing that these things don’t define me or my worth. Jesus already accepted me a long time ago and I’ve forgotten over the course of day to day life, motherhood, wifehood… and the enemy loves when we forget who God has already called us. I am accepted, loved, worthy, wanted, cared for… we all are.

Have you weeded your garden lately?

This past Sunday, I decided that I was tired of looking at the ugly weeds that began to take over our garden. They had grown so tall; they were such an eyesore. So, after our busy day, I told Sam I was going to weed the garden. He kind of looked at me like I was crazy and asked if I was sure… (If you know me, then you know that I think bugs and dirt are gross and icky, and I’m such a girly girl). I don’t know what got into me. I think it was the fact that I wanted to do something active and sweat off some fat! However, from the moment I pulled out that first weed, I regretted it immediately! The texture of the roots and dirt with moisture, YUCK! Anyway, I just kept going, and the more weeds I pulled, the more I started thinking about my life and how many times “weeds” have grown in my heart that I’ve had to ask God to yank, and sometimes I’ve even tried to do it on my own. I was reminded about how as Christians, we must constantly be on our guard to make sure that weeds aren’t growing over the godly seeds and plants that we have sowed and watered over time.
The thing about weeds is that they creep up, and sometimes we don’t notice them, sometimes a flower may even bloom and look so pretty, that we mistake it for a flower that we planted and watered ourselves. It’s not! It’s a weed. I almost didn’t pull one out because it was a pretty white little flower, then I realized it was an imposter, so I yanked it! I don’t want it messing up my pretty garden in the literal or hypothetical sense. As I was weeding, I came across three different types of weeds.
The first, are weeds that are easier to uproot than others. In the spiritual sense, these may look like selfishness, lying, jealousy, cursing, gossip, etc. (I know that sins are all equal, but because we’re human, we tend to categorize them on a “not so bad” to “extremely horrible” scale. So, for that reason, I’m categorizing them). These weeds may not seem so bad, but weeds are weeds and they will destroy the beautiful flowers one way or another. I was able to completely uproot some, and others I could only pull from the surface. That brings me to the second type of weeds I came across. These weeds were so deeply embedded in the ground, that there was no way I could uproot them. I knew that for those, I needed someone stronger than me to pull them out completely. I was only able to pull what was on the surface. They were so challenging and I got so aggravated because I knew that those would come back within a few days. I feel like that’s how it is when we have “weeds” in our hearts. Some are easier to get rid of and some are not so easy. We can pull some out on our own, or so we think, but no matter what, they still grow back some time after. Some we just pull from the top, but they grow back because the root is still there. We might only give God the “small” or “not so bad” weeds to get rid of, but what good will that do in the long run?

The last kind of weed I came across were the ones that disguise themselves or try to hide in between the pretty flowers that I mentioned earlier. Here’s a picture of some trying to hide in between the agapanthus.

image image

 

I looked at these and just knew that they were going to be a challenge. These are the worst kind because they are deeply rooted and they’re trying to pretend they aren’t weeds. So, I tried to muster all of the strength I could, and began pulling them like a mad woman! I was even talking to them, telling them, “Yeah, I see you! I’m not gunna let you think you belong here, because you don’t! Come here!” I’m not lying either hahaha. I eventually gave up. My hands, fingers and arms hurt from trying so hard. That’s exactly what happens in our lives, many times we give up, because it starts to hurt. The thing is, the pain won’t last forever and we’ll be better off anyway. The next day, my fingers still burned a little, but by the end of the day, that sensation was gone. So many times in my walk, I’ve tried to pull weeds out on my own, hesitant to give them to God, because I doubted that they’d really be uprooted. I’ve grown weeds of resentment, bitterness, low self-esteem, jealousy, and they kept my godly seeds from growing into the beautiful flowers they were intended to be. I couldn’t really enjoy God and all of the ways He would or could bless me. There was always something that would immediately shoot down anything that seemed nice. Weeds tend to stick/grow together. I would pull one out on one end and there would be a trail that led to more roots a few feet away. The same goes for the weeds in our lives that we think aren’t so bad. Bitterness can lead to anger, anger to hate, hate to actually hurting the person that caused us to be bitter, which can all lead up to the weeds that disguise themselves as flowers that are supposed to be there. This happens whether we have just begun our walk with God, or if we’ve been walking with God for years. We are never exempt from weeds growing, so we must be cautious. Daily, we must renew our hearts and minds and the moment we feel a weed growing, give it to God so that it won’t stand a chance. We must constantly work out our salvation. (Phil. 2:12)

So, have you weeded your garden lately?

 

 

 

I need Jesus

I will be the first to admit that I don’t read The word everyday. Sometimes, I forget to pray and thank God for life today, for health, favor, mercy, his unending love. There’s no excuse for my lack of acknowledging Gods goodness over my husband, daughter, and over my life. No matter what circumstances we go through in life, He has never failed to come through for us. I saw a video this morning on Facebook about how consumed we have become with technology, that we forget to “look up” and notice what’s going on around us. Just last night I had actually told my husband that from now on, when we are home together, I don’t want our phones to exist. I actually didn’t let my phone exist throughout my day either. I don’t want to miss a moment with my daughter. I don’t want to get so consumed that I miss out in my quiet time with Jesus. He gave his life for me, and I can’t give him a portion of my day… I’m guilty. There’s no doubt in my mind that I love Jesus with all that I am, I don’t know how I could go a day without thanking him and loving on him the same way I show my husband and daughter love, he deserves my affections as well! There’s so much of Gods heart that I have yet to discover and it all starts with putting down my phone, turning off the TV, opening my heart to receive what God wants to show me, really listening and letting his word seep in, and putting it to practice daily. I don’t want to have regret in my heart for not fulfilling Gods purpose in my life; or for losing out in spending time with my loved ones. I want to rekindle that fire that the 17 year old me had. I now have a daughter to lead in the right direction and pour into. My prayer is that she and our future children will love Jesus, serve him, stand firm in knowing their faith, be leaders and examples to those around… And it starts with Sam and I leading by example. Our lives should reflect Christ, and sometimes my life doesn’t. As Christians we will never peak and be so “holy” or “righteous” that we don’t need more of God. I must remind myself of this constantly. I will always be in need of Jesus!

Moving Forward

So I started reading a book called So Long Insecurity, by Beth Moore. I’ve actually been having this book for a while now with intent to read, but haven’t gotten around to it until now. So far, it has been right on point in the way I feel at times. This book caught my attention, because I’ve always dealt with insecurities, as a young teenager and sometimes even now as an adult.

As a teenager, I never felt like I was pretty enough and I dealt with this insecurity for so long.  I would pray and ask God to give me the confidence to know that he made me in his image. Beautiful. It was a word that I couldn’t believe to be true about myself. However, one day I had enough of it. I didn’t want to keep buying into the lies of the devil, I wanted to move forward and live in true freedom. I began writing words of affirmation on my mirror, so that every time I’d look at myself I would see who God saw. Fast forward and today I know that I’m beautiful, smart, the daughter of the Most High who sees me and has called me his own!

As a kid, you would think that as an adult, you don’t deal with insecurities, you’re mature and nothing can bring you down. Wrong. I find that now as an adult, I still have insecurities. Beth Moore talks about different types of insecurities, one is insecurity when it comes to relationships. I realized that I currently struggle with that insecurity. Sam has actually mentioned it to me before, but because I can sometimes be prideful and stubborn I deny it. As a result of my insecurities in my relationships, I tend to put all of my hope for the perfect relationship in Sam. He is my best friend aside from being my husband. He knows everything about me, all of my fears, my flaws and all of the good things about me. I rely on Sam to meet all of my needs, which is unrealistic. Beth mentioned that at one point in her life, she had been hurt by a friend and it broke their friendship. Because of that broken friendship, she told her husband that from that point on, he’d be the only person she’d ever trust again. However, her husband told her that she couldn’t do that, because at some point, he too would let her down… because he’s human and no one is perfect. That turned the light bulb on in my head. I have subconsciously placed all of my trust in Sam to be my only friend who will never purposely hurt me and who I can trust wholeheartedly! But like I said a few sentences earlier, that’s unrealistic. There have been times when we’ve gotten in an argument and I can’t help but feel so disappointed in him, that he let me down. How could he? He’s not supposed to let me down. Little did I realize until now, that it’s an insecurity of mine because of other relationships. I too, like Beth, have been hurt by friends that I sadly no longer have a relationship with. It is hurtful when friendships end, unexpectedly, unwillingly. This hurt is what has brought on this insecurity. I know that I can always count on Sam and trust him, because he is my husband. However, I cannot let the fear of hurt and being let down cripple my other relationships with people. I realized that because of this, I have been closed off to everyone else but Sam in my life. It’s time to move forward. I cannot continue to let the fear of being hurt or let down by others to feed this insecurity. After all, that’s life. You get hurt. You forgive. You move forward. And at the end of the day we can always rely, trust and lean on God.