Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My City

I choose to be passionate.

I have hope. I have dreams. There is something coming.

 


One of my all-time favorite lines, that inspires and challenges me:

“Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.”


I could be mad all day long. I could place blame for days. But what good would that do? God made a promise...
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  (2 Chronicles 7:14)
It's a really big if, but a much bigger then.

If only we will humble ourselves, pray, seek, and turn... then He will hear, forgive and heal.

Will you do your part?

It's time for the light to start shining brighter... and stop complaining about how dark it is. 

Take heart. Change is coming!

www.mycityca.com



(Check out the website, follow @mycityca... join the takeover. It's time for the light to start shining brighter.) 



Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cade Joshua

Wanted to share a quick note about how excited we are for our little mister-- Cade Joshua.

Of course there's some mixed feelings of wishing for a little girl to add to our boy-heavy home. This week I was so sweetly reminded by the closest-thing-I-have-to-a-sibling, "God knows the perfect sibling for our families- there is a reason He chooses gender, not us!" This is my friend, Katie-- who was born on the same day, in the same hospital room, our mothers were best friends. Now we are both pregnant with our third child and due on the same day. She just found out this week that they will be adding a third little princess to their world... we just found out today we will be adding a third little man to our world.

We consider ourselves extremely blessed to be able to have children and that God has entrusted these lives to us. I feel honored to know He counts me worthy to raise up these little men to be men with great character and integrity, men that will love God and love people... (and I could go on.)

When asked to be brutally honest if I was a bit disappointed or not... I found myself saying this without thinking twice.

"It's like Jesus knows exactly what I need to make sure I remember He's got it all in control and to make sure there's no room for me to have a pity-party."

Without a significant message or sign from Him telling me otherwise, I might of grown bitter or sad that things didn't go "my way". I've grown quite accustomed to things going my way-- and if they didn't, then I would do everything in my power to steer them to. (Ew I know!) This is something we have zero control over in life and a great reminder that He is God and His ways are so much better than ours!

So getting to the cool part-- the miracle message that excites me about this little man coming into the world!!! When we found out we were pregnant in March and started to discuss names we had already decided on the name Caden (if it was a boy) because of the meaning, but hadn't told anyone. Then we lost the baby.

Three months later one of our friends who was named by her parents, Angelique "little messenger", messaged us a dream she had that night. (One of her spiritual gifts is dreams and since she was five years old she gets these dreams & visions.) In this dream I was pregnant with a little boy and we named him Cade. What a promise after such loss and only weeks before we conceived this miracle!

My God knew I needed a reminder (which my immaturity can be embarassing) that this little man is part of His purpose and He has big plans for Cade Joshua. 

Cade means "battle warrior" and we believe he will be just that. Fighting for truth to reign and to bring light into the darkest places. 

"Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12 ERV)

Cade Joshua-- we love you already and can't wait for your debut in March! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Expectations (Part I)

This was a message I prepared for Capital Christian High School's chapel this week. I decided to blog it as well. (Good for my records and memories' sake and to impact more people, it challenged me personally.) 

Expectations. A big word--something that affects each of us on a daily basis, typically without us thinking twice about it. They influence our decisions, our moods, our choices in life and ultimately can dictate what our life looks like. These expectations come from the world, our culture, from our peers and co-workers, from our friends, family, parents, significant others, and there's even silent expectations we place on ourselves.

Another way to think of expectations is an assumption-- of how life should be. On what decision I should make. But all too often we base these expectations on the wrong voice, the opinions of others.

It's so awesome to watch life through the eyes of a child, one who hasn't put on the weight of expectations life. Who lives carefree and not moved by the opinions of others. This is a hilarious video of our 3-year-old son during his first trip to Disneyland-- so carefree.


I mean can you imagine a 35-year-old screaming "Donald Duck?!?!" like that? No way. I just love the innocence of childhood.

It's all too soon that the expectations of life begin to pile on us like a heavy backpack we carry around. Always obsessing about what other people might think. Expectations to have it all together, be the prettiest, smartest, fastest, nicest, best athlete, best friend who always listens and never has their own issues, follow in the footsteps of parents/older siblings, to go to a great college, start a great career, make great money, etc. The lists of expectations are endless and different on everyone's life.

Not all expectations are wrong, some are healthy and right. We just have to keep in the forefront of our life whose opinion matters most and who we are really living for.

This is the intro to the message, I'll be breaking in down in blog-form so it's not too lengthy. Come back for Expectations (Part II). <-- it's my favorite


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Clothed with Love


I'm writing this today in looking for some people to get together to "do something". To make a difference. I know I feel so small sometimes in the ability to make a difference in such a heinous, worldwide atrocity as modern-day slavery, also known as "human trafficking."


"The modern-day slave trade is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, enslaving more than 30 million individuals today." (notforsalecampaign.org)
See the number 30 million can seem overwhelming, what can I do to help 30 million people? Little 'ol me? It's been an issue that for years gets my blood boiling every time I hear of it, think on it or pray about it. Then doubt, fear, and insignificance creep in... where I start to think that there's nothing I can do. But then I see the word individuals... and it sparks something in me. If I could help just one of those individuals, that has been rescued to receive a glimmer of hope, an expression of love... I would be honored. 

The truth is that when they do make rescues, there aren't enough safe places for these traumatized girls to go. One woman who has inspired me and has really given her all to "do something", she started Courage House Worldwide.  http://courageworldwide.org/ There is a house right here in Sacramento, California that has housed many of these rescued victims and will continue to do so.

There are many ways you can give and get involved in furthering this organization's ability to bringing hope, love and healing into these victims' lives. Here is one simple way in which they asked me to be involved... and so I'm writing this to our Oxygen girls, our Locket ladies, my local friends and MOPS mommies.... we have the opportunity to "do something". 


I know many of us don't have large bank accounts filled with extra money to give. This is something each and every one of us can do. These girls often come in with only the clothes on their back and we have the opportunity to clothe them with love.

The timing of this is perfect as many of you young girls are doing "back-to-school" shopping, maybe you could sacrifice one outfit, or a dollar amount of your budget to get a brand new outfit for one of these girls. I know I'm excited to go to my favs, Target & Marshall's, and pick out outfits for these girls. They are also open to gently-used clothes, so many of us could go through our closets and sacrifice something we maybe only wore a couple of times. They'd like to start their own clothing closet for these girls. They can take anything from size 0-20. Below I will post an even more specific wishlist I was given by one of their staff members. She included some items that aren't clothes, but things that the girls would be blessed by. (I have specific sizes of the girls currently in the Sacramento Courage House as well, if you are interested in those you can comment here or email me privately.)

Consider what you can do. I know each of us can do something and together that something will be significant.

  • The girls need shirts, shorts (must not be short shorts), swimsuits (must be one piece or modest tankini), bras, underwear, socks, jeans and shoes (casual and gym). 
  • **They do often prefer shopping for themselves so gift cards are also great :)
Here are some other needs:

Gift cards:
  • WalMart
  • Target
  • Ross
  • Marshall's
  • TJ Maxx
  • Styles for Less
  • Movies (must be Regal Cinemas)
  • McDonald's
Rec supplies:
  • tetherball
  • volleyball net and ball
  • 4-square balls
  • chalk
  • other fun recreation items
  • passes for laser tag, sports games, petroglyph, etc. (8-10)


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Made to Make a Difference

Silencing the lie: "I can't change the world. I'm nothing special."

"Change the world? Really? Yea right! I'm just one person." This has been a part of my belief system since I was a young girl. But I always remember having a deep desire to make a difference, to change the world. Over time, I've begun to silence that lie in my life and believe that I can.

I believe we really can change the world, because you can change your world. What does your world look like? Who does it consist of? The choices we make never affect just us. They always affect those around us. So your world- your family, your friends, your household, your peers, your co-workers, the cashier you see every week, your decision to say yes or no, to go here or there, to lead or follow, to take a stand or to remain silent.... your world.
"I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do!" -D.L. Moody
What if? What if we woke up each morning letting Jesus love us fully and completely. (Then we'd be reminded of just how special we really are.) We woke up praising Him, thanking Him for another day and asking Him to lead & guide us all day long. To show us what "success" for that day looks like. Take it day by day. Then embrace the passions and call that God has placed in your heart, in your life. We are each unique, an original. There is something that each of us can offer the world, that no one else can do quite like we would. You may be "only one" like D.L. Moody says, but that "one" is a very powerful, special, miraculous, irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind person.

Resolve to make a difference, it's what you were made for!!!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wake Up

So I've been known to be a bit of a perfectionsist and people-pleaser in my life.... I'm learning that I have to let go of some really high expectations I place on myself and others to live in the peace, rest, joy and freedom that life with Jesus gives. How that applies to my little blog is recognizing I'll rarely, if ever, have a solid block of time where I can focus, write and put my all into it. So my goal is to share a little bit of truth I experience on the daily, whether it's my writing or something that inspired me that day.

This song is what woke me up this morning and I hope it wakes you up too.



We've seen and know all too well the pain that has shaped our hearts. This pain and darkness in our lives can seem to envelope our very being and suck the hope right out of us. The pain we are surrounded with in this world can be overwhelming.    

But.... We have seen the hope of His healing!!! Be reminded today of a time you've experienced this hope, this healing. Remind your soul of that. His light will always shine through this overwhelming darkness, just give it a chance.


"God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light." (Job 33:28 NLT)

So sing over yourself today, speak with authority over your mind, body, spirit, emotions.... Wake up, Stand up, Hands up.... And watch as you come to life and your life is filled with light.

Whatever has been put to sleep, put to death in your life, those things the enemy of your soul has stolen from you... wake them up! Let your aborted dreams be stirred back to life. Let your unbelief be transformed into a powerful, life-changing belief. Breathe Him in. Draw close to Him.

"But now we have a confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God." (Hebrews 7:19 NLT)


Not our will, but Yours be done. Today and everyday.




Saturday, May 18, 2013

Grace for Moms

Earlier this evening I read this amazing little article my beautiful friend, Laine Alves (www.everydaylaine.blogspot.com) posted on Facebook. It was one of those challenging evenings for me with the boys, so of course it came at perfect timing to get my heart in check. So I just had to share it with you (and save this moment to serve as a reminder for another sure-to-come rough day):

To the mom who's breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You're a good mom.

To the mom who's formula feeding: Isn't science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn't produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You're a good mom.

To the cloth diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You're a good mom.

To the disposable diapering mom: Wow, those things hold a lot, and it's excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You're a good mom.

To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn't easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You're a good mom.

To the mom who works: It's wonderful that you're sticking to your career, you're a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it's fantastic. You're a good mom.

To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you're too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You're feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren't complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You're a good mom.

To the mom who gave her kids a home cooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they're learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can't run around. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don't they? We've all been through it. You're a good mom.

Let's be about encouraging one another as we try to be the best moms we can be. May the Lord help us each day to trust Him for the strength and guidance we need and to help us to view motherhood as a blessing, not an inconvenience.
Wow, right? What a reminder to encourage and love those beside us on this journey of motherhood. I've come to find that this season of life has been one that I've felt the most judgement from others and admittedly from my own little heart. It's such an ugly thing, it's filled with judgement and comparison, with pride and insecurity. I will do my best to put this ugliness behind me. To not allow it to reign, or even share more than a moment of my mind's attention. I choose to extend the same grace I'm in need of, while offering the same amount of confrontational love I'd expect and covet from those closest to me if they really did see my blind spot that I've been missing!



But here is what stopped me in my tracks tonight, what moved me to write... the last words of the last sentence came to me... Rewind back to the hours of five to eight o'clock this evening, I have to admit I was feeling pretty inconvenienced and not very blessed in those hours.

After laying them down, kissing their sweet heads and having a few unwinding hours to myself (leaving the housework behind, knowing I needed the rest)... I find myself in a quiet moment with my Lord, candle lit, I reach back and touch my shoulder. "Ew! What is that?" I feel a strange sticky, caked on feeling on my skin. "Oooooohhh!" I remembered holding Connor, while he was crying, with a sucker in hand... getting it all over me. In the moment, that was very inconvenient. We were in a crowd, he was crying & getting his nasty sucker all over me. But once I've gained perspective, had a moment to breath, that sticky substance on my shoulder is a reminder of how blessed I really am. Of the life I am surrounded by and celebrate!

Thank you Jesus for my sweet blessings, may I always be reminded of the life I've been given instead of comparing and being "inconvenienced". Nothing is better than the life and love You've given me!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Feelings: Fall in Line

There's not many more things in this life that control our decisions and our life course than our feelings and emotions. We all too often allow them to dictate our mood, our perception, our decisions and more. Feelings seem to guide us more than truth. Feelings do have a right place, emotions were designed by God. But ultimately, it must be Truth that guides us with our feelings following behind.  I once learned this brilliant visual, that has always stayed with me. It was shared by Alicia Britt Chole (I highly recommend you check out her website/blog at www.truthportraits.com). It's as if our lives were a train-- we typically have our feelings as the engine and the truth as the caboose. What would happen if we switched those around? Being led by truth and telling our feelings how to line up. I think we'd see a dramatic difference in the way our daily lives were lived. We'd find ourselves walking in more freedom and joy.

It reminds me of David's prayer recorded in Psalm 43, I absolutely love these words... I can see myself saying these words in my heart!
 "O my soul, why are you so overwrought? Why are you so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will hope in God again. I will believe and praise the One who saves me and is my life, My Savior and my God." (Psalm 43:5, The Voice)
Then in the version that is typically more familiar to us, I love how direct it makes his statement:
 "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 43:5 NIV) 


I love that. Put your hope in God. I need more of that kind of self-talk. I need to take that confidence and that authority over my emotions and let truth dictate my day! I don't want to be a woman who is easily moved or shaken, my God is not. Therefore, why should I be so fickle? So when the truth vs. feelings battle wages all too subtly in my life, I will take notice-- and truth will win.

That's it right there. The key is to take notice when feelings are ruling my life. I have to take action to challenge them with truth... do they line up? Or am I feeling totally off. I will continue to do whatever it takes in my life to turn up the volume to the truth, especially in the midst of my feelings that are so opposing at times. To do this I need to be prepared-- with the truth of who I am and Whose I am. Find out what God says about you, what He promises you in His word, let Him speak to you in the midst of your chaos and confusion of emotions. I promise, He brings peace.

To be completely honest & transparent-- for three days this week, I felt overrun by "emotions" and maybe a little more. It was exhaustion, sloth-like, just down-and-out feeling. I even started to get a slight headache because of it. It hit me for hours-on-end each day for three days in a row... until I finally realized.. this is not me! This is not right. I was praying through it, but then realized I needed to speak it out, for what it was. I told Cole and had him pray with me. I truly felt instantly different, then gradually over the next few hours I was better. The last two days have been great. I'm not sure how much of what I experienced was spiritual, emotional, or physical... but I know it was not right. It was not healthy, there was no joy, there was no way this is the life God intended me... and I wouldn't allow another hour to be robbed from my life.

So whether it's a daily battle for you right now... or something you face more during challenging circumstances in life. Choose truth and you tell your feelings to fall in line!

Who I Am//Regardless of How I Feel


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

You CAN Change!

Silencing the Lie: "It's too hard to change. I can't do it."  


Why? Why do we keep running back to the same old things? The same points of pain? The same thought patterns? The same lies. They always lead to same result. The result we don't want. Why? Why is it so hard to change?

"I'm scared of change," she told me. I've heard this so many times from different people. My own heart has screamed those same words. It reminds me of this quote I've heard before and it so often rings true: 
"The freedom she yearned for was scarier than the chains she was shackled by, for they were familiar, and well worn, and freedom an unknown."
Take a second and read that again. Let it sink in. Think of how it applies to a past situation in your life. Or even how it currently fits something your fighting. The fight for freedom is worth it. Most of us know that, as we've fought for it before... and won. Nothing feels better than the joy and peace found in true freedom.

The unknown territory of what's ahead, of life change, of freedom-- can be intimidating. Another lie that seems to come into play often is: "But what if I don't change? What if I can't do it? I go right back to the way I used to be? The same old things?". That's a big "what if". I say let's turn it around to: What if we really believed God's promises? What if instead of striving, we rely on God more fully and lean into Him. Because that is a fact... it might be impossible for us. It most likely is impossible if left up to our own will-power, our own strength, our own fight. Not so with Him.
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'" (Mark 10:27 NIV)

You are not alone. As a matter of fact, if you've been trying to do it alone-- no wonder you're so disappointed. You have to walk continuously with Him and rely on Him. When things are in our own control and manipulation, when we are trying to orchestrate everything on our own and doing it in our own power, we will fail. When we ask for forgiveness, invite Him to take the lead, trust and obey Him-- we will see change.

Tomorrow is a new day. Embrace Him, embrace the full life you were created to live.
"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

God Still Speaks

I've been hesitant as whether or not to share this publicly, but I can't stop thinking about it... so therefore I start to write.

The loss of life is never an easy thing to deal with. This life was so new, I didn't have the chance to hold, talk with, walk with this life... so there was less attachment, but it was life inside of me, none-the-less. Baby Z had a heartbeat. Baby Z had a place in our hearts and lives, even for that short time. Caleb will still ask about Baby Z. Last night he asked me to pray that Baby Z would come back, that Baby Z would grow stronger and stronger. When I tried to explain that Baby Z was in heaven, he said we could call him on Jesus' phone and talk to him for sure. Caleb actually destroyed the flowers in the backyard that we planted to remember the life of Baby Z. When I asked him why he pulled them up, he said... Baby Z doesn't like yellow, he likes red.

Through this incredible journey and loss, I'm had an amazing amount of peace-- peace of mind and heart. I've really been okay, I've been well. I feel as if I've been carried through it for sure. I have a great Helper. (John 14:26 NASB) 

So here's the part that may sound crazy to some. But I know that I know it's been my reason for such great peace and trust during this time. On a very normal Tuesday morning,  I grabbed my Starbucks from the cafe and was running a little late to the women's Bible study time in our chapel after dropping the boys off. I stood in the back. We had guests in town, The Katina's leading us in the song "Blessed be Your Name." I felt an overwhelming sense off loss, that I was about to lose something. That God was telling me to prepare me. Then I heard in my heart.... "you are going to be pregnant and you are going to lose the baby."

It was only two days later that we found out I was pregnant. Of course we celebrated this and were excited. I didn't share that moment with anyone, probably for a couple of reasons... I thought I could be wrong or crazy, I didn't want to speak that out loud, and it really was in the back of my mind. So we celebrated life. We were making plans for the arrival in October, looking into bunk beds for the boys. Preparing for this little life to come.

Until the day it happened... We lost the baby. Then I remembered. He told me. I shared this with Cole right away. I immediately had such an overwhelming amount of peace-- a gift of peace, something that the world cannot offer. 
"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27 NLT)

I rest assured in God's sovereignty, in His greater plans and purposes and the affirmation that He loved me so much and wanted to make sure I knew this love. That He does speak to me. I do hear His voice. (John 10:27 NLT) And this deepened my belief. Then I found these words of Jesus that He shared with His closest followers before He was crucified--

"I've told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me." (John 14:29 MSG)

In an attempt to keep this short, I will sum it all up to say... I hope you can be encouraged that you are on His mind. That He loves you, He has beautiful plans for your life. Plans full of hope. No matter what mess you might be in the middle of, He can truly make something beautiful out of it. I'm not someone special that He speaks to me, I'm just His daughter that's been longing to hear His voice. He wants to be heard by you as well. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) 




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Celebrate Life without Fear

Just this morning-- something unexpected, unplanned, and unwanted happened.

We lost baby Z. It is heartbreaking. I'm definitely still in process, but wanted to let the people we love know what we're walking through.

Many may say that you shared the news too early, but I believe in celebrating life without the fear of death. Cole and I are both pretty much open books and I understand that not everyone is built that way. I will always celebrate the gift of life. Without the idea of impending doom or loss of life. Fear all too often cripples us. It deters us from living out the fullness of life that we were made to experience. This is one area I will never let it creep in. We aim to live fearless in our lives and walk in faith. 

It's also comforting to know that if and when you do experience loss, the people closest to you will surround you with love and support, because they know what you're going through. You won't be isolated and alone. Already today I've had my favorite Starbucks drink delivered, my favorite lunch brought over and shared, and dinner is on it's way from another sweet family of people who love and support us.

These lyrics are the song in my heart today-- and will always remind me of this life & loss:

Blessed be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name





I am a blessed woman. The love of my life took the day off work to take care of me and the boys. They came with me to the doctor and shared Jamba Juice together afterwards. Caleb prayed for mommy & baby Z. It's been a sweet, sweet day in the middle of this loss.

Thank you Lord-- My heart chooses to bless You today no differently than any other day.

A little sunshine today at Jamba after the doctor's office.



Friday, February 22, 2013

Do not be afraid!

The truth is so foreign, because the lies are so familiar.

I am called to be a voice of truth. 

The big BUT...

Sometimes I get scared. Sometimes I don't want to speak. Sometimes I don't want to write. Sometimes I feel completely shut down, shut up, and completely blocked-- and it doesn't feel good. It feels gross. But I give in and just stop.

I'm done with those excuses. I'm done with those lies. Why? Because they are all fear-based. I am not subscribing to be a woman of fear, but aiming to be a woman with great faith.

Fear that I will say something wrong and completely mess up. I can guarantee that will happen, I'm human. As you read and listen please remember this. I am very prayerful about everything I write and say, normally I feel completely inspired with what I'm given. I don't take anything lightly, but I unfortunately cannot spend hours over each thought. So I will write and release. Preparing myself for mistakes to come, but walking in obedience to be that voice.

Fear that I will offend someone. Again, I am not perfect. I will get things wrong. But if I offend by speaking the truth, that is something I have to learn to be okay with. Often, the truth is challenging. You better believe it probably challenged me out of my comfort zone, long before I was able to acknowledge it.

Although I could go on and on with fears, I've chosen to become fearless. I've heard it said that "Do not fear" is the most repeated command in the Bible.* When you think about it, fear is at the root of a lot of things that hold us back. Fear so often overwhelms us. When fear overwhelmed His closest companions, Jesus told them to "Get up, and do not be afraid!"(Matthew 17:6-7) My daily reminder will be:
"Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent." (Acts 18:9)
I've chosen to not live and walk in fear, but in freedom. Guess what makes you free? Truth! "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32) This "knowing" is saying, "you will have a constant experiential knowledge of it's power and influence." I personally, want to have this constant experience of the power and the influence of truth in my life. There is a "father of lies" (John 8:44) and he is quick to speak. Our day-to-day lives run rampant with lies and half-truths. People are so quick to speak of the ugly things, I want to be quick to speak of the beautiful things. The beautiful truth.

So here is my running disclaimer and my personal declaration that I will follow through and do what I'm called. Please understand, this is not from a position of "I know better" or even "I live in this truth completely." But an aim to be more surrounded with the truth. I feel we are under an onslaught of lies-- whether they come from music, movies, news, magazines, past pain, current fears, whispers of insecurity, unforgiveness-- whatever the source... daily we are bombarded with lies, so my goal is to turn up truth.


*: http://catholic-resources.org/Bible/HaveNoFear.htm (This is one of the resources which lists many of the "do not fear" references in the Bible.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Do the Right Thing.

Here's a little truth for today. It's a challenging one, but it's been my reminder this week. It's from James 4:17 and I'm going to give it to you in a couple translations.

"Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." (NLT)
 "In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil." (MSG)

This truth speaks for itself and I bet that just reading it we all will have a completely personal and unique application to it. For me it was one of just a few reminders to recognize and listen to God's voice. Then to actually follow through and obey it!

I was also told a crazy story this week from a close friend, to sum it up: her husband had felt strongly urged to search for and find his estranged half-brother to reconcile with him. Both he and his sister were in agreement that they needed to find him and once again share their love, forgiveness and try to restore relationship and ultimately share the hope they've found in Christ with him. Right before he was going to go public with this declaration that he would find his brother and ask for accountability. He received news that his brother had died. They found his obituary. One of the take-aways from this tragic story was that delayed obedience is disobedience. We can't keep putting off the important things in life, especially when they are God-given directives.

Hearing this story finally pushed me over the edge of following through with two different things I knew I "ought to do". It was like lifting a weight off my shoulders by following through and doing what I knew I was supposed to. I like how The Message version says if you "don't do it, that, for you, is evil."

Then Cole shared a story at Vintage (Oxygen small group) how when he was in the middle of such a struggle to forgive someone, when he had every "right" to be bitter, angry, distrustful, etc. Every one of you if you heard the scenario would agree that he had the "right" to feel those things and even to respond in that manner. But he so clearly heard God speak to him,

"Righteous men do what is right, not what they have the right to do."

I'll leave you with that.
We follow in Jesus' example of laying down our "rights" and doing what truly is right, and it's not always easy.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Is This REALLY "Reality" TV?

The reality TV shows are booming in popularity. Why? Studies have been done, you can google it. I just read a Psychology Today article, very interesting. Here's the why we're looking at today...

The fact is we all long for something real. We want what is real so desperately. We're sick of the fake. So we watch these shows because it's the closest thing to "real life" on television. But what is real about a guy dating 12+ women at one time, kissing each of them, holding a "relationship" with each of them to find his wife? That's real? I would hardly be in favor of one of my best friend's boyfriends dating around and having multiple relationships, multiple engagements in physical intimacy, multiple statements of "I'm crazy about you". I would be infuriated if I found out my friend was being treated that way, she is worth way more. Wouldn't you? (I can't even start on shows like Jersey Shore or "The Real World.") But we "subscribe" to these shows and slowly but surely our perspectives change.

The enemy is a liar. He is oh so subtle. But in this search for something real, he's got us convinced that the most real thing is a lie. That the word of God, the Son of God, the promises of God, the power of God... is a joke. He has mocked the very truth we all need most-- the love of God. The love He has for us is the realest thing you can find. He's convinced us that either it's not real, we don't deserve it, or it's conditional based on our behavior. Do I love my sons less when they misbehave? That would be the real joke. Of course not, and how much greater is His love for us!

So I want to post some of the reality I have the opportunity to experience and walk in every day. The reality of God's unchanging love for me. The reality of what Jesus is currently doing on a day-to-day basis in my life and the lives of those around me. To expose the silly little liar for who he is. Instead of allowing him to go on mocking the truth, we will bring his lies and his craftiness into the light in our lives, so that he no longer has the right to play with it in the darkness.

Today, I want to share with you the story of Brittany. I could write for days about her story, but instead I'll let you simply watch this video. This is reality TV.



Please feel free to comment your thoughts below. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

You Snooze, You Lose.

"Caitlin Rooooseeee, it's time to waaaake uuupppp." I can so vividly remember the way my mom would say that, I also recall how much I hated hearing it! It was like nails on a chalkboard.

I mean really, who actually likes to be woken up? I remember my dad (who spoiled me as I was the only child) was my human alarm clock and he accommodated my crazy request of coming thirty minutes before I actually needed to wake up and then come back again when it was a must. (This is before the age of iPhone where you can just set your own multiple alarms.) I hated the idea of waking up so much that I felt like this concept was beating it! "Ha! I'll wake up when I want to!"

Who doesn't hit the snooze button once, or twice, or fifteen times. (Yes, I'm one of those... I can actually sleep through snoozing for a couple hours.) The snooze button and I have been friends for quite some time. 



As much as you don't want to hear this (and neither do I on a typical day): it really is time to WAKE UP and say goodbye to the snooze button. I know sleep is something that is so precious to most of us (and rightly so, we need a good amount of it to function and be the best version of ourselves.) But I have proven to myself time and time again, that when I wake up just a little earlier than I need to, just enough time to be still, to think about the things that matter and spend time with the One who knows me better than I know myself.... EVERY little thing in my life will be better.

This is one of my favorite quotes from an artist, Brian Andreas: "I've always liked the time before dawn because there's no one around to remind me who I'm supposed to be, so it's easier to remember who I am."

I know the "waking-up-earlier-than-you-have-to" part is not fun and it doesn't sound appealing. Trust me, as a young mom with two beautiful baby boys, the thought of waking up before them sounds like pure stupidity. But just picture with me: complete stillness, a grateful heart, no responsibilities or expectations from anyone have begun for the day yet, a time to quiet your heart and mind and just sit with you, yourself and I AM. I AM-- the Creator of the universe, the Lover of your soul, the perfect Father, the best Friend, and the list goes on.

Nothing is more refreshing than some quiet time, coffee (it's a must for me!), a journal, some music and the Word of Life.  It's a time to gain perspective, be grateful and just BE YOU without any expectations. Just putting yourself before God and letting His presence make your day. (Psalm 27:4)* We have so much that we carry with us day-to-day. (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22)* No matter what stage of life you're in. I promise it's the most refreshing thing to start your day with Him. You'll never leave thinking, "gosh... I wish I didn't do that this morning!" You'll always want more.

And now this one I know you've probably heard before, but sincerely.... Jesus did it. (Mark 1:35)* And I want to follow His example and be more like Him. If He needed it, it helped Him... than surely I need it and it will help me. We all could use a little help.

Just try it. Please. Just for a week. Seven days. You can do it. I promise it will be worth it. You'll be a better YOU. You'll walk in a better world. He's on the throne already, but it's so important for us to daily choose to give Him His place on the throne of our hearts. (Hebrews 4:16)*
  
You snooze, you lose. OR. Wake up and live.
I'd love to hear your stories of how it changed your day. So please share!

* Truth in Words
"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple." (Psalm 27:4 AMP) 

"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (1 Peter 5:7 AMP)

"Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you." (Psalm 55:22 NLT) 

"Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray." (Mark 1:35 NLT) 

"Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. " (Hebrews 4:16 AMP)