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. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Truth

I have been wondering why it has been so hard for me to blog lately. Well actually all of 2013 I really struggled with sitting down and doing it. Yes I was busy but I know I had time. There had to be more to it. The other day as I was compiling my Christmas post it dawned on me. I hesitate to blog because I assume my life is inadequate for people to want to see.

I dont have a fancy camera.

I live with my parents and am raising my daughter on my own.

I am still waiting on the happily ever after.

I dont have the faith maturity to give sound advice.

I am still working to earn my degree after being in college since I was 17. Im 23 now.

I am not as creative as other people are.

I dont cook nearly as often as I used to.

My writing is not as eloquent or witty as other blogs I read.

This list could go on and on. I have been so caught up in what I don't have that I have forgotten what I do have. I found it hard to blog because I was constantly comparing myself to other bloggers who seemed to have more in life. I always ended up wanting more in my own life. Yet while I was editing my Christmas post I felt a huge sense of gratitude and gratefulness that my heart has been lacking. 2013 was a really hard year emotionally for me. My life was not in the place I wanted it to be or thought it should have been. I faced many hard days and struggled with my spiritual thirst. All of those material things I listed do not define me as a person. The only thing that can keep my content is my spiritual faith and relationship with God.

My pastor did a sermon a few months ago on spiritual thirst. The story of the samaritan woman in John 4 is one I can identify with. The woman has been fulfilling her needs with husbands to define and quench her spiritual thirst. Jesus tells the woman "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" John 4:13-14. After speaking more with Jesus, John writes that the Samaritan woman left her water jug to tell the people in the town of her encounter with the Christ (John 4:28). To me, her leaving the jug symbolized her leaving all of her shame and guilt from the past with it.

There have been times I have tried to quench my thirst with earthly things. However, when they are gone I am thirsty yet again. It isnt until I ask for God to fill me with his spirit, does my soul feel full. It is a daily process of spending time with God and in his presence that I feel close to him and my need for fulfillment by the earths standards is diminished.

So no I do not have all those things I listed above. But I have much more in my heart of hearts. What I have cannot be measured by others or society's measure of wealth. I have a relationship with my Lord and Savior and that to me is so much more. I now look at my life with an extreme amount of blessing and gratitude. The Lord has blessed me with far more than I deserve and I thank him everyday for that. I think it will be easier for me to be more honest and open with my life on here now that I am aware of my problem. I look back at my posts in 2012 and a lot of them were forced by someone who was trying to portray her life as happily ever after. It couldn't have been further from the truth. So now that is my sob story. But its the truth and what is life is you don't tell the truth?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

Well today is the first official day of the New Year! Its so exciting to have a blank year ahead of me full of possibility. Instead of making any "resolutions" I wanted to make some goals for myself. Resolutions hold so much pressure and I find I break them easily. However, goals for me are more attainable and I can achieve them without the added stress. Heres my list of things I hope to accomplish in the coming year:

1. Become active in the church.
2. Have more playdates.
3. Make some friends!
4. Try my hardest in school.
5. Make it a point to eat cleaner and watch the additives in my food.
6. Exercise at least 3 times a week. 
7. More intentional play time with little Loo.
8. Consistent grace-based discipline.
9. Try something new!
10. Deepen my relationship with Christ.
11. Experiment more with my cooking and trying new recipes.
12. Live out what I learn in the bible.
13. Take chances and seize new opportunities. 
14. Be more consistent with my blogging.

Ironically my list holds 14 goals for 2014. I like when things work out like that. Im very excited to see what this year holds for me and my baby. 2013 was a hard year for me. There were al lot of changes and a lot of challenges. However, I know that God has led me to the exact place I need to be. North Carolina has provided us with a completely fresh start. A place where I can be exactly who I am now without being judged by my past. Its thrilling to start over. I hope to make this year the best yet :)