Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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This morning as I was reading a devotional, I came across this quote I hadn’t heard before. Maybe you have, but it was the first time I’d read it and it really stuck with me.

“Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” -Bil Keane

I’ve been feeling convicted this week, as a mother. My responses to the girls, have been short. I’ve been quick to get angry and quick to speak.

My frustration has been evident. Because I am frustrated, the girls become frustrated. They act out even more and begin to see how far they can go until I really “lose it.” I yell, they scream out back. They don’t seem to listen, but the funny thing is, I never listened to them when they weren’t misbehaving.

I only gave them my full attention when they were doing the wrong thing.

What if God only gave us His full attention when we only did the wrong thing? We wouldn’t want to listen to HIs instruction with joyful expressions and open ears, to listen. We’d grunt, huff and puff and try to interrupt Him ONE HUNDRED TIMES before He could get just ONE sentence out!

That’s what it’s been like for me this week. Instead of taking a step back and giving them my undivided attention; to see them and hear them; to watch what their hearts need in certain moments. In the one moment they do something they aren’t supposed to, that’s when I “listen;” and perhaps, that’s why they did it in the first place.

As I sit here, hearing them laugh and play pretend with their dolls, I am both happy and sad. Sad because, how many of these precious moments have I missed? How much time have I wasted in correcting them over silly things, only because I am frustrated at all the to-do’s that “must” get done before lunch? Frustrated because they didn’t want their pancake cut in half, they wanted it whole. Frustrated because they’re just being a FOUR year old and a TWO year old.

How many times have I acted in the same way toward God? Did he bicker and sneer at me? Fuss and send me to time out? No. He’s always been gentle with his correction, gentle with his words… gracious and merciful.

I could and will pray more consistently for God to make me more like a James 1:19 woman. Even in my marriage, many times I am quick to get angry and not quick to listen or quick to forgive… or apologize for that matter. It just makes everyone frustrated. It’s not about being wrong or right. It’s about working things out peacefully and enjoying the fact that I… YOU are here.

Enjoying the fact God blessed me with motherhood. That He’s blessed me with an amazing husband. That He’s blessed me with our beautiful home…

Waking up every morning with a grateful heart, regardless of our circumstance. 

Enjoying motherhood despite the fact that dishes need to get done, laundry needs folding, toys are covering the living room…

Simply listening to the sounds of laughter coming from those two little humans that God so delicately, lovingly and joyfully created inside of my body. Seriously, what a gift that I take for granted far more than I’d like to admit!

I’m reminded that TODAY IS A GIFT FROM HIM and I must be diligent in my role here on Earth.

To give more grace.

To be more gentle with my words.

To not allow negative circumstances to dictate my day.

To CHOOSE JOY and PUT ON LOVE the way GOD LOVES US, even when we do have our tantrums with Him.

DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF…dishes don’t have eternal weight, but how I go about raising my children does and how I go about being a good steward of what the Lord has entrusted me with, does too. 

XO,

LO

Worship Like Jesus

Worship devotional, daily encouragement, devotions for women, devotionals, spiritual growth, what is worship, scripture, positive affirmations, prayer, prayer journal, inspirational

I started reading this book, Adamant by Lisa Bevere and let me tell you, if you haven’t already read it… go get it now. It is so so good!

Today, I want to share with you a part that has stuck out to me.

“We were created in the image of God, and God is spirit. Though it is invisible, the spirit is as real and as near as the very breath we draw. And yet it is something deeper than the passage of air through our lungs. It is the quickening of God dwelling within us. The God of fire and love consumes all that hinders the expression and reception of his love.” Pg.36

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

John 4:24

First, I want to start off by saying, that worship is more… way more than the “pre game” to the sermon at a church service; It is just one avenue of entering into God’s presence and it’s one of my favorites, 😊 but isn’t the only way in which we are called to worship.

We experience true worship in our daily lives, not just once a week. In our devotions, in our marriage/ relationships, in ministry, in our parenting and the way in which we reach out to others… in our prayer.

If we truly have Jesus dwelling, moving, living and breathing in us, then our worship should reflect  just that. Our worship should be unhindered, immovable and undivided, regardless of where we are or who we are around.

We are called to be like Jesus, right?

Through out the New Testament, he tells us that we are to be a light, that we were made in his image, that we are to love one another, that we should share his word and teachings to others, etc. And one thing that amazes me about Jesus, is that he DID NOT CARE where or who he found himself around. He was always going to worship, preach, heal, pray for, raise back to life… regardless of Him being in the midst of  his disciples, pharisees, Jews or gentiles, unbelievers… HE WAS ALWAYS GOING TO WORSHIP!

He was unchanging and because of his devotion, his worship was pure, true and full of the spirit of God.

We aren’t called to be perfect. Our days are not always going to be great. We will go through hardships. We will have “haters” and doubters.  We will be in uncomfortable situations, but  how we respond to each situation is where we truly see if God is really dwelling within us the way we think.

Many times, we like to keep him and his spirit in a box. We don’t want to be labeled the “weird christian.” We don’t want to lift our hands during a worship service. We wake up not really feeling like being nice to people. We don’t feel like spending time in the word or prayer. We don’t feel like volunteering at the church event…

but if we constantly live our lives this way, what will our worship look like?

Empty? Vain? Calloused? Angry? Mediocre?

How can God speak to us? Move through us? How can his presence dwell in us? If we aren’t worshipping him daily in every aspect of our lives, regardless of what we are going through or who’s watching?

Let us not allow our worship to be defined by and dictated by our circumstances. Rather, lets allow our worship to speak volumes despite what our day looks like, who we are around and regardless of those throwing stones.

“Don’t settle for religion void of God’s presence or for turning the pages of the Bible without the wind of his Spirit. His voice speaks life.” pg 37

Let us allow God to “consume all that hinders the expression and reception of his love.” So that our worship (daily life) can reflect his love, joy and peace that surpasses all understanding!

Choose to live a life of worship in a world that wants you to be distracted by the mundane.

Hope this has encouraged you today.

Xo,

Lo

 

Increasing Faith

devotional, scriptures, biblical teaching, encouragement, hope, book of Matthew

This morning, part of the devotional I was reading, included a verse from Matthew 9. It really made me want to read the entire chapter, so that I could fully understand the context of it all, and well, it is a pretty awesome chapter that makes you really think and want to (re) evaluate yourself. (I guess almost the whole Bible does that, right)?

The one verse that really stuck out to me the most, was in the beginning of the chapter. It seriously made me take a step back, and reflect on how I think on a daily basis.

“Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” Matthew 9:4

Umm… can I just say wow?! In context, the verses before are about when Jesus healed the paralyzed man. He told him to pick up his mat and go home. The pharisees, seeing this, thought that Jesus was absurd for saying “such a thing.” They were religious, but faithless men, who didn’t believe Jesus had that kind of authority…that he was “fake.”

But then I began to wonder if I, myself, am like a pharisee sometimes. Throughout the chapter (I encourage you to read it),  we learn about the many people Jesus healed, spoke with and raised from the dead.

It’s crazy to me how much I in fact, can be like a pharisee. How it’s easier to think about all the things that can go wrong; of how things will never work; how there’s no way to get out of a difficult situation. (as if God can’t or won’t do it).

It’s easier for us to believe the lies of the enemy because we’re surrounded and trapped in a world where so many people around us, have forgotten just who JESUS was AND still is! 

All of the people Jesus came across in this chapter had FAITH. Something I personally lack most days.

Jesus performed miracles back then and He still does them now. However, it’s easier for us to doubt that a miracle, big or small, can actually happen in our lives. We doubt that God can do it. And if we don’t believe He can, then he probably won’t… or maybe He will and will show us the power of His love for us, even when we don’t deserve it (this is me currently thinking out loud).

Anyway,

Miracles look different, because our world is different, but He still works in and through us… when we allow our faith in HIM to increase and allow Him to move in our lives.

“…’If  I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you’…” Matthew 9:22

If we only, If I could only have the tiniest bit of faith when things get rocky, tough, complicated, scary, rough… it will/has already been done.

We forget the BIGGEST promise He’s already made to us. We lose sight of His sacrifice. We become consumed and blinded by the temporary; our focus shifts and we’re too focused on the Earthly things.

Which, yes, what we do here on Earth matters, but not the silly things.

The ETERNAL things like:

Our relationship with Jesus, our spouse, children and others.

How we’re showing His love in spite of our good or bad situation.

Here are some questions I asked myself and will seek to resolve if I’m not doing it right. I encourage you to ask yourself the same questions how they apply to you.

  • What am I sowing and reaping into my marriage? 
  • into my daughters?
  • my relationships with others?
  • into ministry?
  • at work/school?
  • Am I being like the pharisees that only saw the negative and constantly doubted and questioned the work of Jesus?

if so,

  • How can I be more like the faith filled people Jesus healed?

 

xoxo,

Lo

 

 

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.

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!”

Time

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For the next 18 years, we will have first days of schools; and I can’t wait to capture that smile every time, yes even when she goes off to her first day of college! She just started in Pre-K 3, and although she’s only going three days a week, there’s so much excitement in that little girl, with the big heart, big smile and out of this world personality! I absolutely love her enthusiasm for learning; she started asking about school when she was only two years old, seriously! It reminds me of the excitement I felt every year for my first days of school.

I vividly remember waking up super early, getting dressed and sitting on the couch, waiting for my mom to wake up and bring me to school.  She has that same excitement, maybe even a little more and I love it!

She just finished her first week and today started her second week.  Already, she has made friends and talks my ears off with how much fun she had at school! I want to remember these conversations. I want to engrain them forever in my mind to replay over and over. I want to remember the sound of her voice as she tells me everything she’s learned, because time doesn’t stop.

Sometimes, I wish I had the super power to stop it, rewind and replay these tender moments with not just Ava, but with all four of us! Oh, if only I could! I feel like just yesterday, Sam and I were bringing home these two little tiny humans, and just like that, they’re growing into fierce, bubbly, sweet and sometimes sour girls!

Our days go by so fast, some days are tougher and rougher than others, and there are days when I let the frustrations of the day get the best of me. While they’re throwing a tantrum, sometimes I boil up and yell in anger…and I forget that my girls are still little.  They’re still learning and growing. They’re still discovering their emotions, and I need to be there for them. I need to help them work through THEIR frustrations, and not get frustrated at them.

Some days I want to give myself a high five, because I calmly corrected them and successfully disciplined them without being angry. Other days I do it all wrong! However, in those times, I quickly feel conviction and bring myself back down to Earth. I remember:

“…You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 

My daughters are watching me, observing me, hearing me and copying the things I say and do. I want to set the right example for them and love them tenderly and reflect Jesus on them. They are young, and so are Sam and I in our parenting. We are all growing and learning together and I want to make the most out of the time that we have. Time is fleeting, and they’ll never be this little again. I don’t want to take anymore moments for granted and soak in the things they do and who they are!

My prayer is that we will be the parents that they need us to be. That we would show them how to walk with the Lord and how to love not just each other, but everyone else around them.

I pray that while Ava is in school, she is a light and is showing love to her classmates and my prayer will be the same for Addi when her time comes. As kids, we learn and are molded into the adults we are, by watching our parents and I don’t want to let them down. I know at times I will, because we’re not perfect, however, I’m trying my darn hardest!

Every day, my prayer is: “Jesus, be my portion!” I can only be successful if He is the source of my strength and the focus of my heart and life! I can only be the mother my girls need if He is my number ONE. With that said, I feel so blessed He chose me and has entrusted ME to raise these two beauties! So I want to do it right, and enjoy each and every moment!