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!

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!

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.

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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!

Unpredictable

Life is so unpredictable! But, what’s new about that? Life tends to become so routine, we do the same things, at about the same time every day and when there’s a bump in the road, we get so freaked out. I think that that’s God reminding us, and alerting us to always keep our eyes open and keep our guard up. Last week, my sweet grandpa passed away. It all happened so quick, so unexpectedly, we weren’t prepared to hear his diagnosis. Sometimes, I still can’t believe he’s gone, it’s crazy. Well, my mom and my sister came over my house on Monday, and my mom said that on the car ride (which is 5 minutes) my sister began feeling unwell, and while they were here, she was moaning and not being herself. We thought it may just be gas, because she kept burping. My parents had to bring her to the ER at about 5 am the following morning, and later that day they ran a CT scan of her stomach. Turns out that some of her bowels were twisted and that they would have to operate on her ASAP, so that the blood wouldn’t get cut off to that part of her bowels. So, in she went for surgery, which when my dad notified me, I got so scared. I began to pray and asked my dear friends and family to also lift her up in prayer. Thankfully, everything went well in the surgery and my mom said that apparently, her bowels had been that way since birth, and the doctors were surprised to find that. It’s hard not to wonder why things happen when they happen; Because my grandpa was sick these last few weeks, my mom hasn’t been to work. She was expecting to go back today, but because of my sister’s unexpected surgery, of course she couldn’t. They have gone through so much, but still we hold on to the faith that God is just and merciful and his ways are perfect. Through this, I am reminded that we are not in control of life, but when wrenches are thrown at us, we have to stay strong, stand firm, and seek HIM. Doubt, giving up, being mad, not an option, though it’s easy to go to those places. I know that God has a plan and a purpose for everything, though we may not understand, we know that He has never forsaken us. Through the trials and tribulations, we learn, we grow, we become stronger. No one ever said life was easy, but it’s through these circumstances that we get back “on track,” I guess you could say, and remind ourselves to take life day by day, not as if it’s routine. I thank God for my family, for life, for the blessings that he’s constantly pouring out on us. He is ALWAYS good, and I know that he hold’s my precious sister in his embrace and that she’ll be her smiling self in no time. Even in the midst of storms, his love and promises shine through. I pray that He would strengthen my mom and dad, that peace would fill their hearts, and that they would know that He is always by their side, and will never leave them. I pray that we wouldn’t lose sight of his hand.