Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Letting Go and Letting God

Can you imagine wishing and praying for something for so long and then having to let go? I was reading the book of 1 Samuel and that is exactly what Hannah went through. For so long I read the story and focused solely on the fact that God blessed her with a child but I never really thought about how she had to let him go. Maybe I’m just now reading it through a mother’s lens but her perseverance, her grit, and total trust in God is fascinating. 

Let me stage the story for you…

Hannah and Peninnah were both wives to Elkanah. Peninnah blessed her husband with children, but Hannah was barren. Peninnah would provoke and irritate Hannah about this to the point of tears. It’s like straight out of the movie “Mean Girls” but Hannah had to face her daily with the taunting, the hurt, the pain and despair. I don’t know if Hannah ever retaliated, the Bible doesn’t say. You’d think a person could only handle so much, but I do know this, she took her pain to The Lord. 

1 Samuel 1:10 says, “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord.” 

I’d like to think she constantly took the high road and moved her aggression to prayer but I’m not sure as the Bible doesn’t specify. Based on what I’ve read her misery was so deep even the priest Eli thought she might have been drunk. I picture a hesitant priest slowly walking up to her tapping her on the shoulder afraid of what her response to him would be. But it was only a woman in great anguish and grief releasing her troubles to the Lord. She tells Eli her story and he says, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.

Verse 11 goes on to say, “And she made a vow saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life.” 

And that’s what happened, she made a vow to God. The next morning she woke up and worshipped before the Lord and went back to her home. 

And God did remember her and blessed her with a child. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 

I’m sorry but when I finished reading that portion of scripture all I could think about was Peninnah. Was she moping in a corner somewhere? Was she ashamed by her previous actions and words? Once again the Bible doesn’t make any of that clear. I guess it’s the female side of me that wants to exploit every detail. 

Anyhow, back to the story…it goes on to say that Hannah keeps Samuel at home and nursed him until she had weaned him. I’m not positive on what his age was at that time but I’m guessing maybe 1 1/2 - 2 years old. 

So imagine that. Hannah for so many years couldn’t bear children and then when she finally does she has him for a short period of time and then he’s gone. Hannah tells Eli in 1 Samuel 1:26-28, “As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord. “  

Hannah was so grateful to the Lord for answering her prayer she saw it as a delight to give to the Lord what was His. Her heart rejoiced in the Lord. As a mother to three beautiful babies I have struggled with what seemed to come so naturally to Hannah, trust. But I am learning to place everyone I love so dearly in the palm of my hands and say Lord these people I love, you’ve entrusted them into my care, but at anytime you wish to take it away I can only trust you have a good reason for it. This is by far the most difficult prayer I’ve had to pray. 

By the way the Lord blessed Hannah with three more sons and two daughters. I’m sure every time Hannah and the family went to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord she stood a bit taller; proud to see Samuel growing in stature and in favor with the Lord. 

So I want to leave you with a few thoughts. Has God asked you to turn your most precious things or people over to him? A loved one? A financial concern? A personal right? If He has and you haven’t responded make it a point to take it to prayer and trust Him; He does know and see the big picture!

Do you have an overwhelming need? Are you bitterness in soul like Hannah? Does your need bring you great anguish? Follow Hannah’s response to a great big need that could only be answered by God. First, she took it to prayer and second, she worshipped him. She didn’t wait till her prayer was answered she worshipped Him regardless. May we all learn a lesson or two from Hannah on letting go and letting God. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Redemption is Yours

My charge to the broken hearted…

I don’t know your situation. I don’t know your struggles and inner battles but God does. There is hope for you. Be still. Bask in God’s grace. God’s love for you is infinite. He sent His one and only Son for you! He loves you that much. In your darkest moment reach out to Him. Redemption is yours!

Power Verses:
Psalms 147:3 
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

2 Corinthians 12:9 
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Isaiah 41:10 
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Little Imitators

With her little hands pressed on her lap she called for Jack to come over. Sensing his hesitancy she said, “Jack come here right now,” in an all too familiar tone. She even pointed her tiny little finger to the rug and said it again, “right here; now please.” Out of curiosity I sat back and just watched. She didn’t even skip a beat. She told her brother how he needed to poop in the potty like a big boy, how he needed to listen to mommy and daddy, and then she said, “come here; give me a big hug.” I was shocked by Jack’s response the entire time she was speaking he stood there just listening. No grunting tones came out of his mouth and he even hugged his sister back. 

It was a proud mommy moment for me. Seeing Sophia blossom into a sweet big sister. A little too bossy at times but none the less, sweet. What surprised me though was her tone and mannerisms; they were mine. She was imitating me. What’s even more scary is I’ve seen her imitate my bad side too. It’s very humbling. My kids are growing up to be mini versions of my husband and I. At this point because they spend a majority of their time with us their only representative of Christ is us. 

Ephesians 5:1 in the English Standard Version says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

So my personal challenge as a parent is just that. I hope that in my pursuit to be more like Christ my children will too. I will fail at times. I will have moments where I will need to apologize to my children. But I pray that my little imitators will grow to be mighty and strong in the Lord with a little bit of their mom and dad. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Partnering in Prayer

Good morning everyone! Hopefully your week is wrapping up to be fabulous. These last few weeks you can usually find me at one of three places: my home, the YMCA, or the grocery store. I don't get out of the house too much, taking three kids under the age of four without backup can be a nightmare. All of that to say...I like to be productive with my time. So starting today and throughout the weekend I'd like to do something a little different. 

I'd be honored if you'd allow me to pray for you. Throughout the weekend you can leave your prayer request on the comment feed. If you have a personal prayer request feel free to inbox me on Beautifully Living's Facebook page.

Be blessed and I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Do You Make the Savior Attractive?

Not everyone will have a Paul moment (read Acts 9:1-19) or a burning bush experience (read Exodus 3:1-14). We can’t physically see God. Sometimes the only “Jesus” people will see or experience is you and me.

Are you kind? Loving? Self-controlled? Do you bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)?

Do you draw people towards Christ or away from him? Do people gravitate towards your joyful spirt or are they disgusted by our actions, lack of patience, or love for one another? 

It is Mark Twain who said, “Action speaks louder than words…” 

Just within 1 Thessalonians 5 we are commanded to…

  • Encourage one another (v.11)
  • Build each other up(v.11)
  • Live in peace with each other (v.13)
  • Be joyful always (v. 16)

Today, find opportunities and live in such a way that will draw all people unto the Living God (John 12:32). 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Exposing Sin

"But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible." - Ephesians 3:13-14

I recently bought two potted plants. I had them sitting on my front porch. They were beautiful fall looking flowers. But as the days went on I kept ignoring them. I didn't mean to, I just got busy and I would forget to water them and give them the sunlight they needed. I didn’t take care of them and now they are dying. I wasn’t exposing it to the light. I wasn’t giving it water to grow. I kept it away from everything it needed it to flourish. And that’s a picture of what our souls could look like if not taken care of. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16). We need our sin to be exposed to light. 

Sin loves darkness. It loves to hide. If not exposed it’s like a cancer that spreads. It could spread quickly, and if it’s not cut out it will live there slowly eating your body away. Treat sin aggressively. I take that back, to treat it is to foster it; put a bandaid on it. Kill it. Put it to death (Colossians 3:5) Expose it.

I think I’d be mortified if we all gathered and sat down and watched a video of what goes on in the mind of Lora. It’s not pretty. I’m not at all perfect. I’m with Paul when he says, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12). But as I strive to be more like Christ I search for light and truth. 

I search for help. The Bible says to confess your sins to one another. Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13). Your vulnerability may spur others to be genuine. 

So join me on this daily process of setting our hearts on things above (Colossians 3:1) and devoting ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful (Colossians 4:2). 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Fear & Truth About Community

photo by my hubby
  1. 1.
    a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

  2. 2.
    a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Some of you are cringing at the thought of this word. Some of you are introverts. Some of you prefer being alone. It could also be that some of you desire community but you don’t know how to get there. Some of you love the thought of being surrounded by people. Whatever stage it is that you are in I want you to dive a little deeper. As people we are created for community. God did not intend for us to be alone. We each have our own personality, gifts, abilities, family dynamics, etc. but we NEED community to thrive, to learn from and to grow.  

Here are four reasons why I think we are afraid of community:

1.  It requires work
I will tell you right now I am horrible at staying in touch with people. This really requires some intentionality on my part. It’s not that I don’t miss my friends I just get caught up in life. But friendships are worth the work. You never know,  a simple text or phone call could bless someone’s day. This friend of mine has been so faithful in sending me a daily text since I moved three months ago. Her texts are from a devotional and let me tell you, the timing on some of those have been perfect. About a month ago I was having a bad day and I was just broken in tears. Seconds later my phone buzzed and it was her text. I needed to hear God’s word in that moment. So yes, it does require work but you could be a blessing to someone.

2. It’s messy
Let’s face it, we don’t want to get hurt, nobody does. So in our minds the easiest thing is to step back and just watch. We don’t want to get our hands “dirty” so we become content with what we have even if that means no “true” community. I will tell you from experience that you will be hurt by people; you will be challenged by relationships. I came across a quote that says, “We met for a reason either you’re a blessing or a lesson.” Don't let that quote scare you. So this point ties in with the next..

3. It’s scary
We are afraid. Because I’ve been hurt my automatic response is to build up a wall so high nobody is ever allowed to get in. But that my friends is selfish. I need people and people need me. I had to stop looking at how I’ve been hurt, brush off the pain, and let God heal the wounds because somewhere out there someone just might need me as friend. It is not all about me. It is scary opening up your heart and revealing yourself to someone. Obviously exercise wisdom on who you are sharing your heart with but people need people.

4. I’m tired of being the initiator
Some of you are just naturally welcoming. You have the gift of hospitality. Your home is always open to bible studies, play dates, and dinners. But you’ve grown tired of giving and for once you want to be the receiver. If this is you let me just encourage you for a moment. Don’t give up. Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." I’m so thankful for people like you. Take a break if need be but don't be discouraged and quit all together.

Community can be scary, tiring, unending, and messy but it can also be strengthening and well worth it. I will leave you with this last thought in Hebrews 10:24-25, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

Additional Resources:

  • Visit church websites near you. In most cases churches have communities or small groups that may fit your needs with people who share common interests.
  • Meetup is the world's largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities. (If you have a smart phone you can get their app for free)
  • (in)RL - Exploring the Nitty Gritty of Community Video Series by (in)courage

Power Verses:

Proverbs 17:17
A good friend loves at all times

John 13:34-35
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Philippians 2:4
Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Monday, November 18, 2013

God's Arms Are Big Enough

The other day I sat on my recliner feeding my baby. With one hand I was drinking my coffee and with the other I was feeding Chase. Then one by one, first Jack, came to me and wanted to sit beside me. The moments are rare so I put my coffee mug on the side table and lifted him up. My two boys in my arms, nestled perfectly. Then Sophia came over. Four people in a recliner! I was buried at the bottom, but it felt so good to feel loved. Every one of them wanted me; they wanted my attention. 

That’s how I want to be with God. I want His attention and time, where nothing else matters but His presence. I don’t crave it as often as I should. This little scenario reminded me of the scripture in Matthew 19:14,  "Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 

When you think about it God didn’t care about how messy the kids were. He didn’t care about the dirty feet or the nose picker (I'm sure "that" kid was there). He wanted to love them just the way they were and they loved him right back. 

I don’t know why I don’t do it enough. Maybe it’s laziness or maybe I feel dirty in my sin and not worthy enough for His presence. But I am learning this...God isn’t looking for my perfection He’s looking for my love. My willingness and desire to spend time with Him. He’s looking for my offering. He’s looking for me to climb up on the recliner.

After a while that precious moment I described earlier became a bit overwhelming. My arms weren’t big enough to hold all three and no matter how hard I tried to contain them they weren’t happy sharing mommy with each other.  

But God’s arms are big enough. They will carry you through any circumstance. He can handle it. He won’t grow tired or impatient. So go ahead, climb up on His recliner.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Thankful Heart

*Photo by my hubby
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes understanding shall ground your hearts and minds in Jesus. " - Philippians 4:6-7 
Throughout scripture, we are commanded to offer praise to God from our thankful hearts. Once again, I have to quote Robert McGee. I’ve been studying this passage of scripture but he broke it down beautifully.

“Be anxious for nothing …”

Whatever it is you are going through it could take time. Thank God anyway.

“…but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving…”
Thank God for the situation. 

“…let your request be made known to God…”
Tell God where you are in the process and ask him to meet your need right there.

“…And the peace of God which passes understanding shall ground your hearts and minds in Jesus.”
This is peace. Notice how it will affect both your heart and mind. At times you may not feel as though you have made the progress you should have. Just remember that this is a process.

So in the midst of the problem we are facing we are commanded to offer praise to God. Here are a few PRAISE reminders:

  • Praise says, “Thank you God.” 
  • Gratefulness is an important part of praise. 
  • Praise also changes the attitude of the heart. 
  • It is so easy to praise God when things are going well. But when times are difficult praise does not come easy or naturally. In those moments we have to practice the sacrifice of praise. 

I realize doing all these things could be frustrating especially when you are hurting or discouraged, but let praise come from a grateful heart. God will accept it and bless you for offering it up to Him. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obedience is Joy

Most days teaching my kids to obey is like herding a group of cats. I want to pull my hair out and get them to understand that I’m not trying to be cruel there’s a reason why I need them to obey. “Don’t you know that when I yell STOP it’s because there’s a car coming and I’m concerned for your safety,” sound familiar?

When I get overly frustrated I can’t help but wonder about how God feels with my lack of obedience. Obedience is opportunity. Opportunity to show me some lessons, to see His goodness, to feel joy. Some people don’t see it that way. They think obedience means I will have to do something I don’t want to do. In previous situations He’s put up a sign warning me of my consequences if I didn’t stop doing what I was doing. There were times I obeyed and there were times I’ve failed. Obedience comes out of a true relationship with God. Our willingness to obey is a change of response out of love that we should be eager to undertake. 

John Piper in his book, The Dangerous Duty of Delight says, “Joy is not just the spin-off of obedience to God, but part of obedience. It seems as though people are willing to let joy be a by-product of our relationship to God, but not an essential part of it. Because joy is an act of obedience, we are commanded to rejoice in God. If obedience is doing what God commands, then joy is not merely the spin-off of obedience, it is obedience.”

I’ve been doing a bible study by Robert McGee and he says this, "Obedience is co-active. To obey, we have to act. It is a requirement that we do something. Working co-actively with God is not a common approach for most Christians. Most Christians are passive in their faith. Obedience is taking responsibility for our part of the process. God values us so much that he chooses to allow us to work with him. In the co-active process, God demonstrates the great value he has put on us and on our free will."

Throughout history, God has worked through individuals’ willingness to obey. The thing is this, God sees the big picture and we don’t. He has a reason for everything. Our minds can’t handle all of what God sees so we have to trust Him and obey. Just like our relationship with our kids. We want them to trust us; trust our decisions. A good parent trains a child and teaches him/her to do things for themselves and allows them to experience the consequences of their actions. Yes, they will make mistakes and when they do we can be there to help solve the problem and learn from it. We give them healthy boundaries. But they don’t have to be alone. It’s a co-active relationship. The more we obey the more victories we have under our belt. 

Additional Resources:
The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper

Search for Peace by Robert S. McGee

Power Verses:
Psalm 40:8
I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.

Isaiah 26:8
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Finding Your Passion & Pursuing It - Part 2

Yesterday we talked about the crazy and busy life a mom faces on a daily basis. If you missed Part 1 you can catch up by reading yesterday's post.

As I mentioned I love to blog. I just enjoy writing and I just felt like there never was the “right time” to get a blog going. The last four years I’ve been in baby mode and I felt way too tired to focus on me. But the days seemed endless and I was feeling tired, lonely and desperate. A few months ago my family moved to another city and I finally decided it was time. I discovered writing was a key ingredient to fueling my day. It keeps me accountable and sane. I was enjoying the neat truths and treasures God was showing me and I wanted someone to share it with. 

So how do you know when is the “right time” to pursue your passion? Sometimes it takes prayer, advice from a trusted friend or your spouse, and sometimes just a step of faith. You have to be wise and you have to discern the situation you are in at the moment. What are you willing to sacrifice? For me staying at home with my kids is important. So blogging from my recliner while my kids are napping works perfect.  I have tried juggling work and kids and I couldn’t do it. It stressed me out. I knew I would be a better wife and mom if I was able to give my attention to one of the two. So I am not dissing the working mom. Others are good at it, I wasn’t. 

When I first became a full fledged stay at home mom my church did not have any type of moms group. I knew that if I hungered for a support system there had to be other moms who desired it too. I was able to meet with the leadership of my church and organize a group for moms with my schedule in mind and what I knew would work best for my family. However, be aware, not all good ideas are meant for you so think things through in its entirety. Luckily I had a few other moms who were just as passionate as I was and they helped me start up this group. I could not have done this on my own.

So do you know what fuels you? Do you like to cook, sew, garden or craft? Whatever it is you enjoy doing find a way to pursue it. It is YOUR job to find your passion and pursue it. I read a great blog post on this you can read about it here. I knew another stay at home mom who loved to cook and she was a good cook too. She put her passion into action and she’s a part of a hospitality group at her church that makes meals for those who are sick or mammas who just had babies. There are a ton of opportunities to put your passion into action you just have to look for them!

If you are still stuck I want you to listen to this sermon. It shares some great practical ideas on how to approach this if you still don’t know where to start. I already shared what fuels me daily but I also know that I need a weekly family night that brings my family together for some fun times. I also know that 1-2 times a month I need a date night with my husband. It’s important to me that we are strengthening our marriage by having time alone and away from the kids. What fuels you daily, weekly, and monthly? Journal it out and make it happen.

This is not being selfish. It is being smart. A better you means a healthier home!

Additional Resources: 
Desperate, Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson

Velocity Series by Rick Gannon at Palm Valley Church

Power Verses:
Philippians 4:9
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice.

Philippians 4:13
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Finding Your Passion & Pursuing It - Part 1

As a stay at home mom it can be very easy to put your passions and dreams on the back burner. Diaper changing, meal making, and house cleaning consumes your day and before you know it you’re so exhausted all you can think about is your bed. So someone please tell me when will I find time to read a book, try a new recipe, or paint my toe nails??? There are days when all I want is to eat a meal in silence with no little hands picking off my plate or returning to a plate of cold food due to some sort of dramatic melt down that needed my attention. Yes, all true stories and I’m pretty certain some of you reading this can feel my pain. 

This is only a season. Temporary. You will survive, I promise. By the way, I say this to myself all the time, I don’t have this down! I have a four year old, a two year old, and a five month old so I am still in this and I'm still learning. I know some moms who feel like failures for feeling the way they do. You are NOT a failure. You have the toughest job in the world and it is okay to have a bad day. It is hard and difficult. Quickly, a few things you can do to prepare yourself before you have a melt down.

  • Wake up before your kids and have some quiet time. Read your bible, journal, and pray. God will give you the strength you need for that day.
  • Take a deep breath and take a time out. For five minutes lock yourself in a room and just breathe. 
  •  Find a support system. It could be your spouse, a good friend or a mom’s group. I’m sure they’d all be willing to pray for you during the tough times or give a lending hand.

Do you know what fuels you? What gives you energy for the day? What do you enjoy doing? There are a few things I know I need daily or I will be grumpy and mean. I need time to read my Bible, I need my coffee, I have to read at least a chapter or two of one of my books I'm reading, and I need some writing/journaling time for myself. For a long time now I’ve been wanting to blog. I enjoy writing and for me it’s something I’m passionate about. I see it as ministry. This fuels me, it gets my creative wheels turning, and it brings just pure joy to my heart. 

There’s a lot to be said about this subject and I think moms don’t allow themselves the freedom to dream  because they feel it’s selfish. It is not. Your children and your spouse need a healthy mom (physically, emotionally, spiritually). Tomorrow I will talking about the following:

  • Practical ways to figure out what fuels you daily, weekly, and monthly.
  • When is the right time to pursue my passions?
  • Ideas on putting your passions into practice/pursuing it.
  • Resources that have helped me in this subject and could help you.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

Philippians 4:5 says, "Let your gentleness be evident to all." A special thank you to those who have served and are serving our country! Extend gentleness by giving a solider a hug or a handshake. We are blessed by those who have sacrificed so we can have freedom!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Shining Stars

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become  blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” Philippians 2:14-15

Thanksgiving is a few weeks away; the season of thankfulness. I’m glad we take time to pause and reflect on what we are grateful for but if the habit is good for a month why not make it a daily habit. 

Philippians 2:14 says do everything without complaining or arguing. This can be a challenge. It can be a challenge because our human nature wants to do that, complain and argue. The opposite of that? Thankfulness. 

So at 3 o’clock in the morning when my five month old is wide awake while I’m in a dead sleep I should not complain? When I get a flat tire on the highway I should not complain? We are still human with human tendencies but I think in those moments what we need is a mentality shift. Instead of complaining or arguing we should be grateful. Grateful that I have a healthy baby boy. Grateful that even though I got a flat tire I’m safe and I have a car to drive around in. 

Verse 15 says, “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” 

We live in a world where it’s all about ME and MY rights. So when we take the road less traveled like gratefulness, we stand out like shining stars. Some people will not understand where the peace of your decisions come from but our lack of complaining should be a testimony to the world we live in. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Never Ending Tests

Everyday I’m growing more and more in The Lord. Some days are harder to accept the tests He puts before me because I know I may fail, and some days I high five myself because I was victorious. And that’s the thing, when we have Christ in our life His mission is to make us more like Him so He’s constantly shaping us and molding us in forms of “tests."

Philippians 1:6 says, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

I am so grateful for God’s promise in this verse. He has started a work in me and He WILL carry it on to completion. Notice how the verse doesn’t end at the word completion but he reassures us that He is going to keep working on us until Jesus comes. So as long as I’m living and I allow The Lord to do that work He’s not going to give up on me. That test of patience will keep coming up until I pass. That little thorn of hurt I keep feeling it will continue to fester until I truly forgive. God loves us enough to see all those "tests" through completion. 

One of my greatest mentors was my high school cross country and track coach, Kathy Howell. I’ve known Coach Howell since the eighth grade and this lady would never give up on me. What I loved about her was she picked a tiny runt kid and saw potential in me. I never in my wildest dreams thought I could be a runner, but she did and she worked me hard. She was always teaching me to be a better leader and a better person. Coach Howell started a good work in me. She taught me discipline and strength and by my senior year I was ranked one of the top runners in the Rio Grande Valley. Coach Howell did her job as a coach. She carried my talent and abilities to completion.

And as good as those years were in high school I’m looking forward to my spiritual journey. This is the part in my journey that counts. Have you had a bad day or week or month? It’s ok. Get up and move forward God has started a work in you and will carry it on to completion!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

7 Reasons Why We Should Seize the Moment & Pray

Over the last few days some very real needs have come to my attention. It can be easy to hear or see those needs (if you’re scrolling on Facebook) and just move on, but I’m trying to make it a point to stop and pray in the moment. No more waiting or “I’ll be praying for you” I want to seize the opportunity. 

Let me encourage you, don't be embarrassed or afraid, most people are extremely grateful that you even took the time to pray for them. The looming problem is squashed with prayer because anxiety is lifted off even if it's for a few moments or for a few days.

I’ve been reading the book of 1 Peter. So as these needs and prayer requests are coming my way, 1 Peter 5:5-11 has been a perfect reminder...

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

What a great reminder laid out for us and here are some reasons I think why:

  • Don't be too proud to pray for someone in need.
  • God’s hand is mighty and will lift you up in HIS timing. So don’t be discouraged.
  • Give Him your worries He cares enough for you that He’ll carry it for you.
  • Be ready at all times (prayed up & read up) because the enemy is waiting to destroy you.
  • Resist the Devil and stand firm in your faith you aren’t the only one going through this (whatever “this” is) that is why we have to pray for others.
  • Don’t forget God is a God of grace. He will restore you and make you strong.
  • He is all powerful!

If you are discouraged, read this portion of scripture. Let it sink in. If someone you know is going through a challenging time read it out loud to them and seize the opportunity to pray.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Unwrap the Bible Conference

I just got my ticket to the Women of Faith's Unwrap the Bible Conference in February! My friend Vanessa and her mom Deborah will be joining me. We are beyond excited! Thanks to our hubbies we got the Premium VIP seating!!! Sign up now I want to see you there!

My Latest Addiction

I love to read!!!!! As a kid I grew up in the library and spent hours there. Do you remember Book It? Yup, I was always the over achiever in this dandy little club. 

As an adult visiting a bookstore is far more fun for me than shopping for clothes. I love to scan all the titles and just admire the pretty designs on each cover. Ok you can stop making fun of me now!

 I recently had to ban myself from purchasing another book; my bookshelf is overflowing and my iPad is full of reads I haven’t even started. In the last three months I have read 4 books and 3 ebooks. Some of these books have been my inspiration for my blog posts, a reason why I can’t stop reading. So today I’d thought I’d share the wealth of information by posting some of my most recent reads with a short synopsis. I hope this is helpful to you when picking your next book but I want to hear from you too. What are you reading?
*Not pictured is The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I purchased this one on my Kindle App for my iPad.*

Title: Winning the War Within by Charles Stanley
Length: 203 pages
Summary: This book is about facing trials, temptations and inner struggles. Charles Stanley is the father to Andy Stanley at North Point Church. The book gave insight on how to define the problem, developing a self-defense and discover the truth. It was a great read especially since we all struggle with temptation. It was difficult picking my favorite quotes out of the book because it was jammed packed with so much truth. I will say that although this wasn’t revelation  it was a good reminder, Ephesians 6:13-17 (dressing up for the battle). We forget the importance of putting on the armor and we need it daily to be prepared for battle.
My favorite Quotes from the Book:

  • We forget that although God gave us the potential to feel and desire certain things, Satan has the ability to manipulate and misdirect those feelings and desires. That is the essence of temptation. Satan’s appeal to you and me is to meet God-given needs and fulfill God-given desires the easiest, quickest, and least painful way.
  • God does not intend for you to live a life full of frustration and anxiety. On the contrary, Satan is the one who wants your life to be filled with anxiety. That is why he is always so quick to offer a substitute for God’s best.
  • God does not promise to meet your need immediately. But He does promise the inner strength you need to keep going in the meantime. By opting for His peace rather than Satan’s substitute, you can be assured that when the time comes for God to meet your particular need, you will be ready.

Title: A Glimpse of Jesus by Brennan Manning
Length: 140 pages
Summary: Brennan Manning is just a lovely writer, almost poetic in a way. The book was written for what he believes is the most pressing spiritual problem of our age: self-hatred. His writing encourages you to not look at ourselves if we want to understand God’s love but is better understood by looking at the life of Jesus. Unfortunately Mr. Manning passed away not to long ago so we won’t be seeing new books on the shelves, but he does have a few others that are worth the read.
My favorite Quotes from the Book:

  • There is more power in sharing our weaknesses than in sharing our strengths.
  • Healthy guilt is other-centered, arouses compunction and the desire for reconciliation, and calls us into the fullness of humanity by staring in the face defiantly and without embarrassment the gods of pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, and self-pity. “Learn from me,” the Master says, “for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29). Unhealthy guilt is self-centered, it stirs our emotions to churn in self-destructive ways, leads to depression and despair, closes us in upon ourselves and preempts the presence of a compassionate God. 
  • By sheer undeserved grace, I’ve been able to abandon myself in unshaken trust to the compassion and mercy of Jesus Christ. 

Title: It’s Not About Me by Max Lucado
Length: 146 pages
Summary: Don’t be fooled by the length of the book it was actually a quick read. The book encourages you to look outward and not inward. God is so much bigger than me. The title pretty much explains itself.
My favorite Quotes from the Book:

  • Our society is not wired for this kind of thinking. It’s a “me-centric” world out there which destroys much of what should be good. And for some, life’s troubles are magnified because they believe life is all about them. - David Robinson
  • If you think it’s all about you, and I think it’s all about me, we have no hope for melody.
  • Why does the earth spin? For him. Why do you have talents and abilities? For him. Why do you have money or poverty? For him. Strength or struggles? For him. Everything and everyone exists to reveal His glory including you.

Title: The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
Length: 203 pages
Summary: This book was powerful. I’ve prayed for my husband many times but it was so eye opening how important it is to pray for one another in a marriage on a daily basis; to be intentional. She even provided a prayer after each chapter to help guide you on what to pray for. She also provided lots of stories on her own relationship with her husband which was nice to hear a “been there” attitude but in a very humbling way.
My favorite Quotes from the Book:
  • Something amazing happens to our hearts when we pray for another person. The hardness melts. We become able to get beyond the hurts, and forgive. We even end up loving the person we are praying for. It's miraculous! It happens because when we pray we enter in to the presence of God and He fills us with His Spirit of love.
  • The past should not be a place where we live, but something from which we learn.
Pursuit of Proverbs 31 by Amy Bayliss
How to Have Your Cake and Eat it Too by Mandi Ehman
Simple Blogging by Rachel Meeks

So share with me what you are reading, I'm dying to know!!!

*The above reviews are my personal thoughts and opinions. I did not get paid or was asked to promote or advertise these books*