Friday, July 11, 2014

Taking Thoughts Captive

How many times do we allow negative things to control our thoughts and then influence our actions? just the other day, Lindsey decided she wanted to play with playdoh, blow bubbles, water the garden and paint. All at the same time. Now to you that might seem trivial but to me I was overwhelmed by her surge of energy and found myself feeling grumpy. On other days it may be she acts out and does not listen that will send me into the land of scowls and sighs. Granted sometimes feelings of frustration are warranted when she doesn't listen even though I have asked what feels like a million times. Yet is it really worth it to allow those feelings to hold me hostage all day? No it isn't. It wastes a day of playing and enjoying life and replaces it with a short temper and looking forward to the next day.

I have recently been reading Max Lucado's Just Like Jesus and something he wrote really stayed with me. In one of the chapter he said, "This is not your house. You do not have the right to let in everyone who wants to enter. Anger, pride, revenge, pity, lust, etc." Proverbs 4:23 tells us "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

When we allow those thoughts to creep into our mind we fall into temptation. Our bodies, including our minds, belong to Jesus. He bought them with a price, his blood. We are to take those thoughts captive and release them back out after we have prayed through them. I am well aware that it sounds easier than it is but it can be done. Jesus gives us ample instruction on how to capture all thoughts and submit them back to Christ. If we ask, he will let us know if it is worth staying in our mind or if we need to get rid of it. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (NIV, emphasis mine). 

Even Jesus himself knew the temptation of letting certain thoughts enter the mind. When he predicted his death to his disciples in Matthew 16, Peter told him that could never happen. He did not think the death of Christ was necessary. Jesus on the other hand told him, "Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Matt 16:23 NIV).  Christ knew at that moment Satan was trying to infiltrate his thoughts. Then for forty days he was tempted by the devil. We are only given a few examples but scripture says he was tempted for forty days. However, he was armed with scripture and able to not fall into temptation, just as we must be (Matt 4). 

Now back to that day I was grouchy for really no apparent reason. What did I do? I could have stayed in a bad mood all day, but really who wants to do that? I prayed earnestly. I prayed for the Lord to fill my heart with peace and the Spirit to remove the feelings placed there by the enemy. And wouldn't you know, I felt better! I cannot express this enough, there is POWER in PRAYER. I believe that as much as I believe there is air that I breathe. The Lord wants us to come to Him with anything and everything. He promises to listen to us and to never leave us. What an amazing promise that is. 

I pray for you dear friend. That in times of struggle with your thoughts and emotions, you turn to God. You let him filter your mind and fill your heart with the fruits of the Spirit, not the poison of the enemy. We have to constantly be mindful of what we think, for what we think becomes actions. Our Lord conquered all the same thoughts we feel at times. We can rest assured our holy redeemer is mighty to save, always.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Our Highest Calling

There are days where I want to call in sick. I want to clock out early and relax with a glass of wine and watch something that isn't animated. Some days I just don't want to do it. The tantrums, the questions, the power struggles. They're exhausting. 

How many days does God think "I wish she would stop doing that". As humans we are Gods most frustrating creation. But we are also his most precious. So precious he sent his only son to break us from the bondage of sin. 

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
John 3:16-17

So are there days I want to give up and call it quits? Absolutely. Would I ever? Not for all the gold or silver. Being a mom is what I think to be the highest honor this side of heaven. It is God saying here is my child, I'm trusting you to raise them and lead them to me. Y'all that's a lot to take in. But want to know a secret. We aren't doing it alone. Even if it feels like it at times. I'm a single mom. Trust me when I say some days I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. But our father is right there. To give us strength when our earthly minds and bodies cannot take anymore. He's there to give us wisdom when we are lost for answers. He is our biggest supporter. 

For all the hard moments and days there are even more sweet and precious ones. Tonight Lindsey have me a huge hug and said mommy you're my best friend. For me it doesn't get much better. When I feel like I'm failing in the parent department I watch her as she bows her head and folds her hands to pray. She doesn't fully understand the action of praying but I know she will.

Parenting is hard. But it is the most rewarding job I have ever held. To me it is more than a job. I was created to be her mommy. Right now that is my most important role. I know one day my lap will be empty for she will no longer want to sit in it. I'll have a whole new set of power struggles and bad days. For now I need to remember that this moment, this day is a gift. And treat it as such. Everyday I get to teach her, correct her, love her is a gift. 

I could never thank God enough for trusting me to raise His precious daughter. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Mothers Day 2014!

This was our first Mothers Day in NC. Another first celebration in this state we now call home :) My parents are in Iowa with Richards mom so sadly i did not spend the day with her. However, I am so thankful they could be with his mom right now. She's very sick and its important he has as much time with her as possible. 

Y'all Im not going to lie. Being a mom is hard. Whats even harder? Being a single mom. But I would not change my life or any part of it! I love my baby girl with every ounce I have in me. Im so thankful the Lord chose me to be her mama. She challenges me, teaches me, and loves me unconditionally. There is not a job in the world that pays more than those things. 

We celebrated last weekend with brunch while my parents were still here. They got me an adorable card from Loo and drew her hand inside. I literally teared up. They also gave her some money to give to me and she came in saying "mommy paint a nails." Her little vocab is so cute right now.

This Sunday was pretty low key. We spent the morning at church. Then we came home and I made a delicious brunch full of potatoes, danishes, and little egg muffins full of a chorizo and ground turkey mix (to keep it light), some spinach and green chiles. I was very happy to cook rather than going out. It would've been like a mad house and since I just finished a cleanse (more not that later) I wanted to be abel to watch what I ate better. 

The rest of the day was very relaxing. Lindsey laid down for a nap and this mama did too. Then we played for a while and talked with Grammy and Pappy. Her saying Happy Mothers Day is too stinkin cute! That evening we went and had froyo at TCBY. Holy yum! They were giving free yogurt to moms and had SO many healthy and unhealthy ;) options. 

After yogurt we came home and played outside until it was time to start winding down for bed. Me and loo read a new book and snuggled until she was a sleep. I couldn't think of a better way to spend mothers day.

I had a very relaxing day and it was really nice to just enjoy being who God has called me to be. I never thought I would be a mom this young in life but I am SO glad God had different plans for me. My baby has changed my life in ways I would have never dreamed. During the difficult days thats what I need to remember. God chose me to do this. He trusted me to raise his little girl and bring her to Him. Its a big job but with Him by my side, I know it will work out to His glory. Everything always does :) 

I hope everyone had a very blessed Mothers day 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter 2014

This easter season has been one for the memory books. We had an amazing time celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. North Carolina has proved to be making wonderful memories for our family! There were many firsts for my little one this year from her first egg hunt, to her first time dying eggs. It has been an amazing time of year.

She hated her hands getting dirty :)

Showing impressive motor skills with the little spoon

Easter baskets from great-grandma, grammy & pappy, and mommy

Egg hunt at church

I loved her dress this year. Im trying to think of any other day she can wear it!

My heart and soul

The REAL reason we celebrate this glorious holiday. He is risen indeed! How amazing is it to know that our God conquered death and the devil. He sacrificed his only Son that we may no longer be enslaved by our own sin and selfishness. By His wounds we are healed and can now spend eternity with Him. Amazing grace <3

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Enemy Will Not Win

This past week has been such a roller coaster. Lindsey had the flu, spring break was over and that meant a pile of homework and I was preparing to give my testimony at Celebrate Recovery. I was so stressed out and exhausted. My step dad made an interesting observation of how it wasn't a coincidence all that was happening at the same time. The devil was at work. He wanted to distract me from my testimony and delivering it at church. He wanted to exhaust me and detour me from praising God in my words. 

However, the enemy did not win. 

On Thursday I got up on stage and spoke for almost 20 minutes about my past, present, future and how they are all to the glory of God. I have wrote about my difficult relationship with Lindsey's dad and touched on that during my talk but I also let the people there into a part of my past that I hid so deeply my family didn't even know about until a few weeks ago. Im not completely ready to go into detail here with that information but I know it touched many people in that audience. 

My mom told me that as I spoke the words blanketed the crowd. There were tears, laughs, and many amens. I think the best compliment I received that night was that you could see Christ through me. I can't even explain how my heart felt after hearing that. God has done so much in my life that if I can offer a glimpse of His grace, I consider my life well lived.

 Many amazing moments came out of that night. A girl came up to me after I spoke and she told me earlier that day she had decided she didn't want to go to heaven and even questioned her faith in Christ because of what happened to her when she was younger. I spoke with her for a while and prayed with her, lifting her up to the one who heals all hurt. Later that evening she came up to me and told me that because of my testimony and our talk she was reconsidering her recent feelings of heaven and her faith in Christ. 

God is so amazing. 

I remember praying for days leading up to the talk that if I could touch one person, and if one person's faith in Christ was strengthened because of my testimony I would be happy. I prayed that my words would be God's words and that it would only bring Him glory. Not me. I do not deserve any of it. I may have gotten up on that stage but it was God who gave me the words. God who gave me the strength. It was Him who brought me through those storms. He has done so many amazing things in my life and I know this is only the beginning. 

The director of Solus Christus, a christian center for woman, wants me to come out to their center and talk to the girls there. I told her I would be beyond happy to do that. My life has not been easy but God's grace and strength has brought me through every storm and to be able to share that with others would be my dream. For now Ill keep praying. God has big things in store for me.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28 ESV

Heavenly Father I ask you to guide me to bring you glory in any way you will. Take my story and make it all to praise you. You are the author and perfecter of our faith. I praise you for all you have done in my life and all you will do. 
I ask this all in your sons name,

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Unspeakable Joy

This past Saturday i attended a conference held at my church. It was organized by Encouragement Cafe and JOY Fm. This is the second year Unspeakable Joy has been held at my church and I am so glad I was able to attend this year. It truly was refreshment for my thirsty soul. There were women speakers and Sisters performed. I had never heard of them but oh man those girls have some serious talent! 

The verse for this year was "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy"
1 Peter 1:8

There were a few key points that really spoke to me during the conference and I would like to share them:

Carol Davis spoke on how often we trade God's promises for a plastic substitute. I do not know about you but this was like a smack in my face. I have really been focusing and praying to keep hold to God's word and not compromise any of his promises for me. 

She also pointed out that following God is harder and can be more confusing than if we were to just do it ourselves. Let me tell you from first hand experience: doing it on your own may seem easier and make more sense but its not worth it! God has a better plan for your life than we could EVER imagine. This is one truth I cling to with all my heart. I know following God is not always an easy or understandable task but Christ says "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30

Carol also touched on how easy it is for us to hold onto the things we are not proud of. She asked the question, Why do we remember what God has already forgotten? Isn't that such a profound question? So many of us think God could never use us or love us because of what we did in our past. However, God sent his only Son to die on the cross for those mistakes in the past so our slates would be washed clean!! That gives me so much comfort y'all because my closet has some serious skeletons. But if i were to focus on them instead of lifting them up to the father I would harbor serious guilt and feelings of being ashamed. Not how I want to live and how great is it we don't have to! "Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good." Psalm 25:7

Our name snow redeemed through Christ our Savior. That fact alone makes me want to shout from the rooftop the amazing grace of our God. Its our job to reach out to others and share that amazing grace.  

Nia Davenport spoke of giving our tithes to Christ and her words sat so heavy on my heart. It has always been so hard for me to give to the church or those in need. At least monetarily. I will volunteer  in a second or give someone a hand but give my hard earned money away? No thank you! Nia really opened my eyes to how obeying God in our finances pleases Him and he always rewards those who are faithful to Him.  She broke it down into 3 steps:

1. Knowing God- having intimate knowledge of just who He is 
-He is good Psalm 34
-He is love 1 John 4
-He is generous Psalm 145
2. Obeying God- willing to follow His directions
- Giving our first portion to Him consistently Malachi 3:10
3. Trusting God- we need to release our protective grip on money, for he always provides
 -Giving generously Luke 6:28

The last few things I took from this seminar was how we are a new creation in Christ. Without Jesus there are just bandaids to cover our wounds, but we need heart surgery. He takes what is old and uses them for His purpose in a new way. We are called to bring what God has given to us. I have really been praying about this last point. Ive been struggling to find what God has called me to do to serve Him. My heart yearns to serve Him Im just not sure where he wants me yet. I know I must be patient,  He will call on me when He knows its right. 

It was an awesome, Christ-filled weekend. I am so thankful I was able to spend it with God loving women just loving God all day long! 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Little Loo turns 2!!

I cannot believe that 2 years ago my little girl was born. She really has been my saving grace. I love watching her grow and learn and this past year has been so entertaining. It has also been very challenging. She is growing into a little person rather than a baby. I know how to parent a baby but a toddler? I feel lost almost everyday. Luckily she is a giver of grace unconditionally. For her birthday we went to the children's museum and had a blast! We decided not to have a party since we don't really know many people yet. Lindsey had so much fun! We ended the day at church and opening presents with her Grandma and aunt from Ohio. And who could forget cake?

I cannot believe I have been so blessed with an amazing baby girl. The past two years have made me a better person. The love you have given me has changed my life. I am so amazed by how much you grow daily. Happy birthday little loo. Mommy loves you very much <3

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Can we just take a minute and chat?

Is it really already the middle of February? Is my baby girl really going to be two next week?? 2014 please slow down just for a second. This mama needs a chance to catch her breath.

Some big things going on in my life recently! I was offered admission into the Honors College at UNCG! This is huge. I got an email saying they were taking applications but I just brushed it off. I figured there was no way I would ever get accepted so why bother trying. Then a day later in the mail I received this letter:

I did not even apply they just offered me admission. Holy amazing. Thank you sweet Jesus for always keeping me motivated and giving me strength. It’s only through you I have achieved all that I have.

Another big thing in my life: I am giving up my diet coke addiction COLD TURKEY. I have been getting constant headaches for the longest time. I thought it was just part of having a toddler. However, recently I have been really paying attention to the additives and GMO’s I’ve been consuming and it seems aspartame is the culprit of my headaches. I narrowed it down to that after I cut out diet coke and then had a crystal light packet in my water. Instant headache. I googled the ingredients in Crystal light and wouldn’t ya know aspartame is on there. No more diet anything for this girl. I’ve been replacing it with this amazing green and white mint tea from Trader Joes. I drink copious amount of water through the day and like to have something else with my meals. Breakfast I have coffee and lunch and dinner I would have a diet coke. Not anymore and I feel a lot better.

Can we talk about how much my girl loves The Wizard of Oz? She has become literally obsessed. She asks for “witch” constantly. Hopefully she doesn’t do it outside the house because sometimes witch sounds like, well that other word that rhymes.

Girlfriend has some awesome headphones

 But anyway, she will sit so insanely still the whole time. She has even started singing along which just makes my heart of stone melt like ice cream on a hot summer day. She has so much personality wrapped up in such a little girl. I love it! She also only has 2 teeth left to break through! The top molars are giving her real issues though. Terrible sleeping patterns, hit or miss with eating, and only sleeps well when snuggled up next to mommy.
She is also quite the bed hog :)
 I don’t mind the snuggles. I know one day they wont be here. I just wish she wasn’t in pain. I can tell when they are really bothering her because she just is so out of whack. She went like two straight weeks without a nap. I thought we both were going to jump out the windows with frustration. She’s back to napping thank goodness!

My church has started a 40 Day Devotion called “God’s Story, My Story.” 

Its great so far. I love growing closer to God especially as a congregation. The church actually wrote the devotion. It focuses on how God uses our story for His glory. Regardless of your past, God can use everything to his glory. The stories in her are of amazing transformation and God working in people's lives.  Once a week we meet with our small groups for deeper devotion. Going with that I have decided to cut out pretty much all processed foods. I want to focus more on my relationship with Christ and getting on a deeper level with Him. I have been reading Made to Crave by Lysa Turkurst and it is really changing the way I am relating food to my relationship with Christ. I plan on doing a full review once I’m done. The main point is that yes God made us to crave so that we would always want more of Him. However, the devil uses the craving to push us further from him and towards unhealthy food, sexual immorality, gambling, drugs etc. Its really opened my eyes to how much the devil really prowls waiting to jump on God’s children. Lots of prayer. Lots of prayer. Lots of prayer!!!

Well with all the snow coming our way it is time to bunker down for the snowpocalypse. 

Stay warm my friends

Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: A Confident Heart

I participated in P31 Online bible Study of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope this past fall/winter. Holy Cow this book is a life changer.

Please excuse the marker. My toddler thinks every book is a coloring book.

This is the book description from amazon is this :
Often the biggest obstacle to living out our faith is our own doubt--about our worth, our abilities, our relationship with God, and situations in our lives. A Confident Heart gives voice to the questions, doubts, struggles, and hopes so many women have. Author Renee Swope shows women how to identify, overcome, and even use doubt in order to live confidently in God's power, truth, and grace. Perfect for women's small groups or individuals, A Confident Heart is an authentic, insight-filled and encouraging message for any woman who wants to exchange destructive thought patterns with biblical truth that will transform the way she thinks, feels, and lives.

There are so many parts of this book that really hit home with me. I was in a place of insecurity when I read this book and it really helped me work through my struggles. Renee writes "We are worth his love because he chose to give it to us." Read that again for me. God has chosen to love us. He chose to send his send to redeem us from the grasp of sin and the future of hell. Amazing.

Another part I found helpful was when she says "Our hearts will always end up empty when we find out worth in anything but who we are in Christ." That sentence has found its place in my heart for good. I find I can attempt to fill myself up in material things rather than through God and his Word. I have a whole post on my quest to fill my spiritual thirst. Renee points out that we were created to be filled by God and him alone. When we try to find fulfillment in other things we will never be satisfied.

"A confident woman trusts God's trust. Even when she falls she doesnt stay down. Instead, she reaches for God's hand and rises again."

Girl if you are looking for a book to bring you back to God or strengthen your relationship with him, this is it. If you are struggling with your past or your insecurities you will love this book!!

You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.
Psalm 18:35

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Focus for 2014

I have been thinking a lot about this coming year and all I hope to accomplish. Last week at womens bible study, we were told to pray for God to lead us to a verse that would be our focus for the year. The next morning I was doing my study earlier than normal and could feel my spiritual thirst being quenched. I then stumbled upon this little guy:

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

This verse holds for me all I seek from God on a continual basis. I constantly struggle with feelings of inadequacies every day. As a mother, a student, even just being a woman in this world sometimes makes me feel less than amazing. However, Paul just reminds me that in my moments of weakness, thats when God's love and power shine. He takes those feelings of imperfection and replaces them with his mercy and grace. 

When I feel myself looking in the mirror wishing I had less body to see, I will find comfort in who God made me. When I wish I hadn't eaten that cookie, I will pray for self control and strength. When I find myself envying that happy family in the restaurant I will take comfort in God's plan for my life.

God is in control of all area's of my life. It is up to me to release the control and find strength through him in my times of weakness. Those feelings of weakness are completely normal. But we have a chance to live beyond that and find strength in those times of weakness through prayer and spiritual nourishment. 

This leads me to another focus for 2014: Embrace. I am constantly finding myself living in the future and not in the present. You know that fabulous future where I finally meet my prince charming and we live in a fabulous house and are so incredibly in love. Yes I still dream of getting married and finding the man God created for me but it shouldn't deter me from finding fulfillment right now. God is paving my future and will bring me my partner when he knows I am ready. 

Another part of my life I long to Embrace more of is my time with Lindsey. I have found that with her being a toddler I am more worn out than ever. I feel like no has become my favorite word and while no is sometimes necessary, I want to be more of a yes mom. I want to embrace her being 2 and not struggle with it. I want to fully soak up every word she says and see life through her baby eyes. Its amazing how we can find ourselves in a place of later rather than now. So I'm taking a stand. I say now, not later. 

Now I will be healthier. Not tomorrow.

Now I will embrace all my child has to offer. Not later.

Now I will enjoy my life single and get to know myself better. Not next week.

The later, tomorrow, and next week will come. But the today will be gone once we lay our head down at night. I intend to make 2014 full of finding comfort in God's strength and fulfillment and joy in the day I have now. Not tomorrow. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Today is a Gift

Dear mama:

I wont always cry when you leave the room, or beg to sit on your lap during dinner.

I wont always want to color on every inch of our house or drop goldfish crumbs wherever I go.

I wont always throw tantrums in the grocery store or fight my sleep until we are both worn out.

I wont always want to watch the same show or ask you to play with me.

I wont always want to wear your shoes or ask for your lipstick.

I wont always ask for a cookie for breakfast or hardly eat any dinner.

I wont always want to drink your coffee first thing in the morning or ask you to read the same book over and over again.

I wont always want to snuggle in your bed or get tangled in my covers.

I wont always want you to take me to the park or go down the slide a hundred times.

I wont always want to color on every inch of our house or drop goldfish crumbs wherever I go.

Take heart mama for these days will go as quick as they came. Remember I am still a baby learning my way in this world. I depend on you to guide me and teach me. Be patient with my never ending questions and remember these moments for one day they will be gone.

Remember today is a gift and to enjoy every inch of it.