Saturday, December 7, 2013

Guest Post: By Cierra Latrice

Cierra

You turn on the TV and all that’s on the news is what is going wrong in the world. You turn on the radio and a song about heartbreak or death is playing. The billboard by the highway shows the face of a missing person. The magazine at the checkout wants to point out how imperfect you are. No matter where you go, we live in a world that is full of the negative. It’s almost come to the point where it is more acceptable to be negative than it is to be positive. If you walk down the street with a smile on your face pay attention because I guarantee someone will look at you strange and someone that you know will ask you “Why are you smiling? Why are you so happy?” My question to them is…”Why not?”

I’ve experienced the dark side of depression and lived a life of negativity. I’m good on never going back. Life is full of ups and downs. There’s always going to be someone or something that is going to try and bring you down. It is all about how you handle and view those situations. When God is the reason for our joy and happiness, the storms of life become minor ripples in a pond. Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Did you know that during a storm an eagle will fly above the storm and clouds and soar in the sunlight? When we experience tough times and lean on Him, God provides the strength for us to fly above our storm and soar into His light. He never wants to see us upset. He never wants to see us angry or negative. His arms are open wide and ready to give us pure joy and happiness each and every day no matter what the situation may be. So why not take it?

Every negative situation in our life is a chance to not only grow in ourselves but grow in our relationship with God. There is always a silver lining in every situation. Sometimes you just need to dig a little to see it. God sometimes allows bad things to happen in order to lead us into a new and better direction or to keep us from something or someone that may hurt us down the road. The pieces always come together in the end. You just have to make it through the storm. Don’t let it bring you down. There’s enough negative in the world. The world doesn’t need me adding my negativism to it. In fact, the world needs more positive. The world needs more love. The world needs more people who understand that bad things happen, but it is not the end of the world. The world needs more people who are willing to look past the negative and set their eyes on Christ and the joy He provides. Every day is a gift from Him. Anything that brings a smile to your face or brings laughter is an added blessing.

The next time someone tries to tear you down or something bad happens remember this: Bad things happen, but God’s love, promises and joy He provides are stronger and bigger than anything or anyone. Today I’m choosing to be positive and to be a blessing to those around me.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Diary of an Imperfect Mom

When I found out I was pregnant over 8 years ago, I scrambled to find all the parenting books so I could be "super mom". As my baby J was growing in my belly I had one of those calendar thingy's that told me all about my baby boy and how he was developing each day down to when his fingernails were beginning to grow on his teensy tiny toes. On April 28th, 2005 my bundle of joy was born and that is when that planning book went out the window with a crash. As my sweet boy was laid upon me I was thinking two things. 1.)I was scared out of my mind that I was responsible for this precious life 2.) He was the cutest thing I ever had seen in my life. Instant fear and instant love all at the same time.

Everything now revolved around him and I was now on the back burner. I couldn't have ever planned for the selflessness that would ultimately take over whether I liked it or not. Going to the grocery store took on a whole new meaning as I bundled up my boy and made sure I had all the necessities: diapers- check, bottle-check, extra outfit-check, pacifier-check, and some random toy that would keep his interest for about a micro second-check. It took an extra 15 minutes to just get in the car and an extra hour to go shopping for what would used to  take 20 minutes. I could no longer dash to any place, instead I had to be prepared and on top of things. I had to carry containers and fill them with stuff. I'm a creative, all over the place, whimsical soul by nature so this was like a foreign language to me. BUT I wouldn't be caught dead anywhere with a screaming inconsolable  child so everywhere I went I was armed for battle. For a while I was in constant panic mode wondering if I was really cut out for this whole mom thing. I didn't want to mess up, I didn't want to fail at the ONE thing I was supposed to just be naturally good at.

Then just as I was figuring out this mom gig I found myself a single mom on a new journey-survival. There was no room for pity parties or time to think- I just did whatever it would take to be “super single mom”. I thought this would be a piece of cake- wrong! That saying that it takes a tribe to raise a child is really, really true. There were all sorts of things to consider that I never even thought of like how expensive children are for one thing and how to have a job that is willing to work around your kid but jobs are not that flexible so  you have to have someone to watch your child while your working late- can anyone say cha-ching? And then on top of that you want your child to fit in so you HAVE to have them love something. I tried soccer-NOPE, I tried basketball-double no, we tried soccer again just to be sure- nada. Finally my little fish found his pond, he is a swimmer folks- the next Michael Phelps I believe (keep your eye out for the insane mom cheering at the Olympics in a few years!).

On top of all that you have to deal with your child's ever evolving personality, I know imagine that! So one day they are the most charming little darling and your heart is melting at their ridiculous cuteness and then you blink and  all of a sudden they become curious about the anatomy of the human body and the burning question for what seems like the past decade is how my son can exist if  his mom is not married.  And now I’m freaking out because his father is somewhere in Bangladesh and I’m stuck having to talk about the birds and the bees which is not my forte and  now I’m back at the bookstore finding the latest copy of how to not ruin your child’s life. Sigh. So needless to say being a mom has had its ups and downs in the most horrific and most beautiful ways. But I would not trade it for the world (you know we have to say that right?).

Yet I have found one thing that has been steady in the midst of chaos. No matter what day it was or how old my son has been thus far there is always that moment at the end of the day where we find peace. When he was a baby it was that moment his baby soft Johnson &Johnson's aroma scented head was nestled on my shoulder. It was in these times that all my fears and doubts faded off into the distance. As he peacefully rested in my arms he melted more and more into my heart. Nothing could match these perfect moments and not even the most strenuous day could take away how much this boy meant to me.  As the days, months and years have passed I've learned so much about not only selflessness but what it means to let go of that expectation to be the perfect mom and to truly enjoy the little things. My Jalen didn't have terrible 2's… oh no he waited until he was 4...he gave me a couple extra years to prepare for the relentless dreaded tantrums. There were times I was defeated and that I felt like I was definitely not cut out to be a mom but alas that "moment" always came. At the end of the day,the sun would set and my rambunctious boy would nestle up to me ready for his bed time story and once again all was well in the world and I had peace that I would survive mother hood.

I've come to accept the fact that I'm the farthest thing from "super" mom or “super single mom” but I've never been more okay with that because at the end of the day I am certain that in the strife and in each moment of calm at the end of a long day the definition of being a mother has been built as I have learned that nothing can replace a mothers love and her efforts. Nothing can replace the bond between a mother and her child that is defined over the years of simply being present.  I have learned to create my own book  mastering the ups and downs in the perfectly imperfect life of being a mom. The zombie days and nights from the lack of sleep, the hundredth trip downstairs to get some water after story time, the millionth story that is read even when its past bedtime, the bumps and bruises, the constant reminders that could qualify me for nagging mom of the year all somehow become this beautiful story that leaves an imprint on my heart that beats for my son with the hope to watch him grow up, have a family of his own to share the same unconditional love that all started from the love of a mother.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Enduring Well

In my past two posts I have gone on about the fury and disappointment of my dating life to how I have turned it over to God and started praying specifically for my husband. But its not just dating that gives me that itch of impatience. In a world where everything is virtually at my fingertips it seems there is a quick way to feeling better instead of simply enduring through the wilderness of uncertainty. Recently I’ve been feeling that I have been doing a whole lot of enduring and started to wonder what the purpose of all this muck and mire was about. I wondered if God couldn’t see my hard work, my good intentions, my dedication. But there I stood still knee deep in disappointment with the outcome and aching for something that would bring me joy. So as I continued waddling around in the wilderness of frustration Jesus began to teach me a lesson about how I need to learn to endure well.

The definition of patience is as follows: the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. I’ve become so accustomed to instant gratification that the heart of patience has gone out the window. Sure I’m waiting for things to happen in my life but not without lack of complaint, serenity or fortitude. Patience is a discipline that I have not mastered but that has such a great purpose if done the right way. When I let my mind entertain thoughts of how I can find a solution quickly for the things I ache for I lose sight of God. But realizing how important enduring can be makes it easier to do because I know there is a purpose for it. I’ve come across this verse before but read it again today and it resonates in my heart so much right now:

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?  If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

I love that last verse because it gives me the reason to endure well- to not give up, to wait on God, to seek his guidance. To know that when God is silent even when it feels like I have had enough he telling me that something is being created through the hardship I’m enduring. In the muck and the mire I can endure even when I’ve reached the brink because in that place I can develop the character of Christ in a deeper and richer way by being dependent on the truth that everything he does is for my good.  Jesus is preparing me for what is to come in what I do today. And I don’t think he is preparing me for something easy, quick or futile. I think he is preparing me for something grandeur than I ever expected. As I learn how to discipline myself to endure well living in the heart of patience I start to feel peace and believe that what Jesus has for me is worth the wait.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Waiting

My life seemed to be continuing a sequence of defeat. I was living for him, for this man that I loved to love me back. As he sway back in forth in his nonchalant universe my stomach was in knots as I waited for his final answer. Days came and went, some sunny, others rainy, and some days like droughts and I was a parched soul searching for something to give me hope. This was becoming my reality, waiting for him, waiting on an answer.

It was in the night as I breathed in the silence around me that I wondered how things had turned out this way. I never imagined I would be waiting for someone to tell me that I was enough for them to settle down with. But here I was, this was my reality. My alluring sex appeal as a woman was fading into darkness as I started to feel like a skipping stone easily tossed into the abyss of some river in which people use to sit by to breath in the sweet scents of the new coming season. I now was a dead weight sinking with little hope of being discovered again.

How could one person make me feel so small and dictate the outcome of my day? Oh but to me he wasn’t just any person. He was my sun and my moon and my stars all rolled into one perfect package that I so longed to be mine. But regardless of what I thought of him, there was still me hopelessly waiting for him to knock at the door or call in the night that he wanted me back. But silence remained and everything collided into one big tomb of nothingness. As I looked at myself in the mirror I looked older and tired. As I looked at others around making an adventure out of life envy welled up within me creating an ugly attitude and a recipe for disaster.

Before I turned eighty, gaining 500 wrinkles and 1,000 gray hairs I knew I had to get a grip and fast. I had to take control of my life again. I was waiting on someone else’s watch that was ticking on a different time zone. I decided that it was time to pick up my slobbering mess of a self and get a move on. It was time to start living like I mattered. So each day I would start with a prayer, thanking God for my life and the blessings he gave me. Next I would pray for my husband. I never ever have prayed for a husband but it took my focus off the man I was waiting for and put it on God and his will for me.

As the days passed and I kept saying this prayer something in me changed very suddenly. I began to be graciously aware of who I was as a woman again. I was still sexy, I was still captivating and there was a light in me that wanted to shine that was all mine. I simply had to be brave enough to turn it on amidst an unknown future. What started as a mediocre half-hearted attempt at moving forward slowly turned into an all out freedom song of a rejuvenated life.

Before I was allowing pain but slowly I was learning to have the courage to walk away from it. Because I was made for more than the back burner. I was made for more than another excuse. I was made for more than the sidelines. It was the most freeing thing in the world to be fully aware of my feminine heart and desires. Its freeing because we are designed to be pursued and God is fully on top of this. As I learned to let him lead me each day, I learned to let go of what I wanted. I began to learn to be confident in God’s timing instead of someone else’s or even my own timing.

Right now I’m building a life on a new road, in a new place. My physical location has remained the same but my heart has taken on a new design. My heart is building a space for someone who wants to cherish it and that first starts with the maker of it, Jesus. He has taken residence in a heart that yearns to know the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. He is showing me more about myself and how to live a fuller life by being patient, compassionate, and joyful in trials and suffering. He doesn’t ever let me down or leave my side.

As I release what I was waiting on, I find I’m able to embrace today. I find that my desires don’t go unnoticed as day by day I receive the love I need when I give my life to Jesus. Life has become an adventure for me as I find that I’m no longer lost in the abyss but rather held close even when I can’t see.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dating Sucks.

Everything was going great, I felt I could see a light through the darkness from the trenches of my past dating life. I had hope that this time God had sent me the golden ticket to settling down, being madly in love and just letting go of all my past disappointments. Oh but I soon found out how wrong I was when the cloud I was floating on dissipated into thin air and I came tumbling down into reality only to find myself hurting, confused, and disappointed all over again. Dating Sucks. The way people can waltz in and out of our lives is truly amazing- can you catch the bitterness through the bashing of my keyboard?

Let’s just say I’m let down. I’m emotionally bruised and becoming more callused. I don’t want to feel this way but it’s the only way to protect myself anymore from the sting of things not working out. To just get used to it, to just let it become a part of me so I don’t have to prepare for it anymore. I have reached the point where dating even sounds horrible to me. The dressing up, the trying to impress, the waiting for that second date, and the constant pull of emotions that goes along with it.

When things don’t work out I’m good at pulling myself together, holding my head up high. I know who I am in Christ and that I’m valuable first and foremost to Jesus. But then there is that snitch in my hear that calls out to my pride that tries to convince me that I’m not worthy of a lasting and loving relationship. There is that snitch in my memory that re-runs all my past relationships and why they didn't work out. Regardless of it was my fault or their fault or mutual it all runs together in the same pot of misery. I’m just a big ole brewing pot of heartache.

Yet even though dating sucks and I want to put on a boy bashing party I have decided to stop replaying the same old theme in my life. Instead I've decided to pray. I pray for these broken relationships, each and every one that I've been in and it didn't work out. I pray to have the eyes and heart of Jesus because men are also callused, bruised and emotionally spent in their own way through their own hard lessons. 

As I pray over my past, my heart opens up and it feels like I’m releasing the hurt to Jesus. I find I’m doing the best thing I can for myself and for the other person- I’m giving it to God. Ultimately I’m refusing to let this pain build up in me anymore and I’m choosing to let God work. I’m choosing to bash the snitch in my heart and the snitch in my mind with love, forgiveness, and release. Because I know if I let these things hold me captive I will be a lonely old lady stewing at the end of a bar someplace sneering and accusing men of being nothing more than pond scum. 

The truth is we all go through this process of finding love, some find it quicker than others and some have to learn the hard way…like me. And I’m finding that it’s okay and that I can become better through it and I can decide to not feel sorry for myself and instead expand myself. I  make more room in my heart for understanding in the future, I make more room for forgiveness when I’m disappointed, I make more room to let others in.

This is the heart of Jesus, to make more room when we don’t want to.  To love even when it hurts, to never give up, to endure, trust and hope. My fingers brush the keyboard lightly now and the burdens fall off my shoulders. My beauty and faith is restored that I have a love story and that when its finally right I know I will be capable of letting it in.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pursuing Peace

I always thought that peace was supposed to just come naturally. Yet it doesnt. At least not for me, if I had more peace I would feel more content or at least like I was on the right track. But the more I felt I should have peace the more anxious I became as I searched for answers or my lack thereof. Is this the right relationship? Is this the right job? Why do I feel so discontent? And the questions swarmed around in my head. As usual I was questioning myself instead of asking God for the answers. I was relying on my fickle heart to provide me with some keen insight which would be absolutely confident one second and completely insecure the next. I wonder why I waste my time on my fleshy thoughts and don't spend more time in the word.

"I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4.

I recently discovered this passage and have been addicted. There is so much good stuff packed into this Psalm especially regarding peace. "Turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 24:14. So God is telling me to seek and pursue peace. Its not going to be a natural feeling that I wake up with in the morning. I have to actually put some work in to develop peace. I have to daily lay down my fear, doubt, and anxiety and pursue peace with intention.

This whole idea has been really reassuring to me because I now know for one I'm not insane for feeling like a crazy mess of emotions sometimes and secondly excited to know that peace is actually ottainable if I do seek it and don't expect it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Natural Beauty

For so long I was just plain jane


I always wished I was exoctic with olive skin and sultry eyes

growing up I was a frizzy haired, big eyed, moused colored brown hair babe

Little did I know that it could be beautiful

I  always looked elsewhere for beauty

No, it didn't exist in me

I found beauty in magazines, on tv shows, and models walking the runway

I tried to replicate what I saw, but I was still just so so

Until I surrendered my life to Jesus and got to know his character

it was then that the view of myself slowly changed

little by little he revealed to me what beauty was intended to look like

It was a radiant glow from within

It was what he already had given me, I didn't have to look for it

I was so easily swept into others perceptions

I refused to see beauty in my own reflection

Oh but Jesus reminded me

Every day he did

That he loves me, that he made me

He knows me down to each hair on my head


Embrace yourself and every seemingly flaw

Because they are uniquely yours and wonderfully made

Its exciting to be in on such a secret

If only others would listen

So they would know it too

That there is natural beauty in me and in you




Sunday, July 21, 2013

Strong God

Uneasiness has been taking over my life for the past two weeks. I'm going through alot of changes, mostly good but in the midst of the changes I have been flooded with anxiety. The anxiety has been different than I have experienced in the past, it felt more like a wall. Something in me was paralyzed to fully embrace and love the way I know the way I'm suppoed to with an open heart. Like in my last post I felt that lastely God has been stretching me spiritually but it was getting to the point where I was going to break if he didn't let up a little.

But then today I had a break through, in church we sang "Manifesto" and we reached the part in the song where we sing the Lords prayer....Thy kingdom come, they will be done, give us our daily bread, forgive us our trespasses, lead us not into temptation...deliver us from evil. As I spoke those words...Deliver us from evil, I found relief from the suffocating anxiety I was feeling. It was in that verse I was reminded that there is more than one thing vying for my attention and the devil is on the prowl. He knows when I'm soaring high and being obedient and he wants to distract me from receiving joy, peace and love. He so easily wants me to doubt how strong our God is and that God can do all things. So after that song as I digested this thought it was nn that moment I called out to Jesus. I kept calling out his name and told the negative thoughts that were plaguing my thoughts to flee. When I was done with my prayer I knew Jesus rescued me when peace, truth, and love renewed in my spirit.

I don't want to get extreme here but I do believe that the devil knows when we are upon greatness and when we are on fire for good things. Nothing pisses upsets him more than to see us bearing fruit in the name of Jesus. I was trying to figure out what was wrong with me, why I was feeling so heavy, distressed and weary. I was focusing so much on trying to figure out the cause that I became withdrawn, self-centered, and confused exaclty where the bad guy wants me.

Our God is strong and he is our protector, I'm so thankful for a loving God I can call on in the midst of fear, darkness and chaos. Call out to him in the midst of your struggle, he is your Savior.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Been a While



God is stretching me these days mostly in the empty spaces between my heart and heaven.  I’m searching for that ray of light that connects us, I’m searching for the answers but my questions are left lingering as I learn to trust. I have a confession more to myself than anything but I have lived my life so superficially. I have focused on the surface- when the going gets tough I distance myself and find the next petty thing to fulfill me. When God asks too much of me I turn away and pretend I didn’t hear his sweet whisper that wants so badly what is GOOD for me.

But my friends not this time, I have been through enough to know that it’s time to fully embrace Jesus like I have always wanted to but have been too chicken to do in all spheres of my life.  I’m so tired of being led by flesh, my need, and especially my feelings. The fleeting part of myself that is hot and cold, high and low. I don’t want to be deceived by my mood and let it determine the choices I make. Instead I want to choose to love or choose to live fully regardless of how I feel.  If I chose to live by how I feel I will be isolated because no one can meet my expectation,  if I choose to live by how I feel I will never get married because I’m afraid of getting hurt, if I choose to live how I feel than I will not be the mom I need to be because I will feel tired and weary.

My fuel, my decisions, my trust needs to fully rely on where God is leading me. The truth in the word, the silence in the night, the patience in the waiting room of life. If God is not moving I will wait, if God is nudging I will move, if God is opening up doors I will walk through them. Even when I’m terrified I will choose to rely on God and his goodness. I won’t turn to superficial desires to fill up my feelings, I will turn to the Lord to fill up my spirit.

God is teaching me to be discontent with the superficial and content with the spiritual and growing me out of my immaturity and I can’t wait to see what he has in store.

I've been MIA for far too long but God has had me in a season of growing that I can't wait to share!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Spark!

It was one of those events I was having mixed feelings about…the feeling of excitement mixed with dread. I was about to put myself back out into the world, away from my “safe” people, my rocks, my goto friends with whom I have established amazing relationships. Even though I had these rocks I needed something to get my adrenaline pumping again, I needed to tap into the sleeping giants resting too long in places of familiarity. The event was called “Spark”, I really had no idea what to expect nor if I would come equipped with what I needed. Despite my doubts off I went with Bible in hand, slouchy purse over shoulder, and my feet in case I needed to bolt. It’s not the first time that I have been to a new event with new people but it was the first time in a looong time and I felt like a new student walking into the dreaded lunch room not knowing if I would be welcomed with open arms or if I would quietly shuffle to a corner spot and claim my space as a loner as people stared me down. Okay, so maybe I’m being a little over dramatic but as a single mom that has become a hermit with a handful of handpicked friends I felt just a little naked.

As I learned more about Spark and more about the people in the group a hope restored in me as I realized Spark is just what I needed.  So you may be wondering what Spark is so I’m going to give you the bottom line. Its going from inaction to action to make an impact- even if it’s one baby step at a time. As I was listening to people tell their stories two things struck me. 1.) I’m not the only one with lofty, grandiose ideas 2.) I’m not the only one afraid of carrying them out. This was reassuring and rejuvenating to me as I love that God created us so alike yet so different. To the core of our beings we all want to have a purpose, we all want to mean something in this life yet we all have different ideas of what that looks like and how we can carry those things out which makes everything a God thing.

Before yesterday I was walking around with many ideas in my head but when getting down to the nitty gritty I didn’t want to carry them out because I was too afraid. I’ve been chilling at the shoreline, letting the ideas touch my toes and then walking away. They are put on the back-burner of my brain waiting for a better day. I’m telling myself I will be able when I’m more capable or when I  dissect my ideas a little more. I keep thinking the idea has to sink a little deeper until it can become reality. But spark really ignited a  fire beneath my buttocks to get me moving again. I don’t want to sit on my ideas, to do that would be like sitting on my hands pretending they are not there. I just need to be willing to move, to put my thoughts into action. So with the help of others who are bold enough to share not only their ideas but their baby steps to achieve those ideas I think I’m ready to use what has already been given to me- a God given desire and passion to not only dream up but carry out grandiose ideas for his Glory.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Restore


 For the longest time I have tried to fit into perfection, I wanted to be the woman who encompassed it all. I wanted to be that girl who never let anyone down and fit into the ideals of what a great friend, daughter, girlfriend, and mother looked like. But there is always a letdown, there is always disappointment, and there is always more we have to give because life is relentless in its pursuit to distract us, erode at us, and psssst us away from things about ourselves we need to embrace for a while.

Lately I'm figuring out the importance of allowing myself to grieve the wounded parts of myself that are calling for renewal. Instead of running back into the wilderness parched I need to sit for a while in the healing rain. Experiencing the fullness of grace means that God is enough, the daily duties can wait a while as I draw near to the only one that can see how much I want to get it right but when I don't its okay. Jesus paid the price so I wouldn't have to be perfect but that I could be restored and made new.

I will restore to you the years the locust have eaten Joel 2:25

This verse gives me such joy because God can truly see our brokenness, emptiness, the hard times, the way we want to fit in, the way we want to please everyone. While life remains demanding, Jesus says I will restore you.  We are meant to experience the grace of Jesus through our imperfections that is offered to us every day- take time to wash the wounds,weariness and distractions away and be restored.



Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dreams

It’s been a long time since my keyboard has graced my fingers and I have missed it. I have officially moved into my very own house! While it has been exhilarating, exhausting, nerve wracking, and a relief I'm so glad I finally took a risk but now ready to get back to what I love which would be writing and dreaming with all my fellow blogger friends.

Speaking of dreams, I'm learning the importance of taking a single step towards them each day so I don't become stagnant and drained. After all, if I'm not taking even a mini step towards what makes my heart beat than I will become frustrated and melancholy. I will get wrinkles and gray hairs more abundantly because I will feel that life is just passing me by and I'm staying the same.

Growing up I would dream up all sorts of concoctions about what I would be or do with my life and to me my ideas were sooooo grand. Often times I would be elated with this new idea I dreamt up but when I took that brave step and announced it to those I loved there would be a list of reasons that literally dropped me off cloud nine and landed me smack back into reality.

There are some important things I have learned about dreams/hopes/desires.
  1. You have to have a back bone- cause alot of people will tell you why they are unrealistic or won't work out
  2. You have to be willing to invest- time is off the essence, if you want to make something grand come true you’re not going to get an "easy" button
  3. You have to be willing to risk- what are you willing to put on the back burner or sacrifice to work towards your dreams or are you willing to give it your all no matter what negative voices you hear
  4. As a  believer I ask myself is this dream self serving or will my dreams bring glory to Jesus?
  5. The opportunity is now- if you messed up yesterday, or if in the past you didn't finish something don't dwell on that fear of failure. Think of the time you took a small step, think of the time you worked hard at something and you saw the fruit. Dwell on the positive!
  6. Believe- Your never too old to start again, it’s never too late to dream up a new dream and go after it, we serve a God that dreams big- I mean just look around at the wonders.
  7. Unexpected- Sometimes dreams change along the way or turn out better than we dreamt up:)
I grew up scared of following through with dreams because I felt it was too much to handle once I figured out all the details. But as I have grown in my faith I have found that God opens doors for a willing heart that wants to glorify him. Yes there will be obstacles and days we just want to give up but seriously God gave us such passion and fire in our hearts to pursue things! He gave us fire and passion to do works, good works. There is a dreamer in all of us, we just need to hold onto the believer in all of us too.




Sunday, April 21, 2013

Desires of your Heart


"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

When I read that verse in the past I struggled to understand the meaning of it. I used to think that if I was super obedient he will bless me, however as time passed I thought that doesn't seem like truth, thinking that if I am obedient I should get whatever I want or will get whatever I want. Today at church I was reminded that by delighting in the Lord and who he is with all our hearts we will find he is the desire of our hearts and he is the one we are longing for. 

He is the healing to a heart that can't mend, he is the second (or 100th)chance when everyone else says no, when we think no one understands our suffering, he is El Roi who sees, when we are tired and weary, he is our strength. When we think we are not enough, he says come as you are.

This truth melts into my heart and gives me joy, hope, and patience. Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart friend. He gives what no one else can, he fills us up when we are empty, he gives us wings like eagles. I am learning to center my heart on Jesus because that is where my heart is aligned with his righetousness being glorified.


Friday, April 19, 2013

This One Is For The Girls

I have been totally captivated by this woman's heart who writes not only beautifully but with such awe-inspiring truth and I felt lead to share the link to her new series. I truly feel that what she says is priceless and is a must read for all woman single or married. If you have time check out Diane's new series "Why He's Not Your Prince Charming", I promise you won't regret it.

Happy Friday Beautiful's!

Monday, April 15, 2013

High Tide

High Tide (for Kansas)

 Age 8- He has that MAN walk already


Always Inquisitive


I name his cute freckles...fred, jack, sam....


Cool Tree, Cool kid
 Sometimes I like to be a smarty pants.....

Amazing Blue Heron, I think I met my favorite bird EVER



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Entrusting

The past two years have been a whirlwind for me, working towards change and becoming whole. Most days were mundane and full of questions. Some days were holding back tears. Some days were filled with hope giving me the strength to keep becoming. But ultimately the getting through was me learning to rely on God in the unknown. I hope to find the courage to share more of my story on this blog but it wasn’t until recently that all the strife of becoming has made me more holy. When I say more holy I don’t mean it in a self-righteous way but I mean it in a raw, emptied, vulnerable way.

I’m finding I’m okay with the unknown of what the Lord has for me but thankful for the way he has changed me through the seemingly long drought I was going through. He didn’t answer all my prayers yet, and I don’t know if he will answer all my prayers but he is teaching me that if he doesn’t I will be okay. I’m learning to accept the things I cannot change not with sorrow and hopelessness but instead with gratitude that I don’t have to change things that are not his will.

Where there was once numbness in my heart I have found a new and alive purpose to encourage those around me. God has somehow taken my inwardness thinking and taught me that even though I don’t know his ways or where he is working behind the scenes in my life doesn’t mean I should wallow, beg, or give up. He teaches me to keep relying on him in the space between my heart and heaven because he is transforming me in each mundane season, unanswered pray, and long season that I entrust to him.

So now when things are not going great or my prayers seem to disappear into the air… I can ask myself am I entrusting my life to God in the droughts to not only be transformed by Christ but to give him the glory in all seasons?

Romans 5:3-5
 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop
endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 




Thursday, March 28, 2013

Free Will

Have you ever loved someone so much that didn’t love you back or couldn’t reciprocate your depth of love? You tried all you could, you pulled out all the stops, it’s as if you didn’t care if you got rejected you still kept giving more and more of yourself unrequited. It’s the worse type of love, the type that lingers just a moment longer hoping for a different ending. It’s the kind of love that holds onto the bread crumbs, those little bitty moments when you see a sign that that person might have a change of heart, they may eventually love you the same way you love them.

Sometimes we manipulate situations so that person we love will see us as amazing or that they can’t live without us. We even try to look better, that new hairstyle will turn his head, perhaps if I lost 20 more pounds he would think I’m too hot to pass up. The reality is if that person did turn out to love you because of those things, what kind of love would that be? I have asked myself that a lot but today I had this profound thought that maybe you have already had but I think that is part of the reason we have free will. God is the almighty, powerful, king of kings, Lord of Lord, so if he wanted to make us love him he certainly could, yet he gives us the choice to choose.

The profound part is he desires from us what we yearn for from someone else. He desires to be pursued daily, he desires an authentic relationship. He doesn’t want to have to manipulate us to love him, he doesn’t want to have to lure us in by making life look perfect. He wants us to go to him in all seasons because we deeply need him and desire to be close to him not for any other reason except that we are in love with him. As I think about that I find my heart both filled with joy and sadness. Sadness because of all the times I put things before God who longs for me and wants good for me. Joy because I know what that love looks like, I know how to love someone with all my heart only this time it gets reciprocated by the one who knows every single hair on my head and adores me.  

This encourages me because I’ve fought for love before and came up empty, but its teaching me about what Jesus longs for from me. I’m thankful for free will because without it I wouldn’t know the value or beauty of Jesus and maybe that is the point after all.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Planting Roots

We each have our foundation upon which we grow, where we choose to plant our roots. For a long time I was an overturned tree with roots hanging out, swaying in the breeze, I didn’t know where I wanted to belong. I wanted to be a rebel, I didn’t want anyone to tell me where I should invest my life or time. So I did what I wanted, paved my own way, and found myself at the end of myself and longing for more and more of something. My own ways were fun for a while but led to disappointment, pain and a constant thirst for more.

I became so thirsty I started to root parts of myself here and there hoping to be filled. Sometimes it was in fleeting relationships, vanity, department stores, long nights out on the town, and sometimes it was just in the sad places of my mind where I told myself I can’t be the person I want to be. Thankfully there were other parts of me that knew about Jesus and believed in him. There were people who shared the love of Jesus with me from a young age and never did my heart forget that. Little by little I yanked out the roots I misplaced and planted them to be built up in what I was taught because the yearning was always the same and I knew all I wanted was more of Jesus.

Silly me thought that living  a free life was doing as I pleased not being grounded in anything but that was nothing but a letdown. God created me to have a life that has meaning and to be rooted in good things. He has these amazing plans for us to flourish and branch out so others can know about the love he has for everyone. I’m finding more and more that being a Christ follower is brave and it allows me to hope for things greater than I can see. It also gives me courage to be there for others who were like me doing life on their own aching and thirsting for more.

My roots are being built up in him giving me the strength to keep growing towards a full life.



"Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" Colossians 2:7

"For he satisfies the thirsty, and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:9



Pitter Patters

There is something I have fallen in love with. Right now Jalen and I live downstairs in my parents’ house while we wait to move into our very own place. Each morning I take a shower, get my pink robe on and then go make Jalen’s breakfast and pack his lunch for school. Then I get him up and have him go eat while I finish getting ready.

And it never fails, each morning after he eats I hear this racing pitter patter of feet coming to see me. Those pitter patters dart across the floor upstairs and I know in a minute my little blonde hair surfer boy will be by my side in an instant. I don’t know the reason he comes racing down to see me, as he usually comes for a second only to race back upstairs to get his shoes and socks on like a good boy. But for some reason he just wants to be around his mom, if only for a second. Those little pitter patters make me feel so loved and reassure me that I’m needed.

Those pitter patters are treasured in my heart as I know someday he will be off to college somewhere pitter pattering over someone's dorm room, someday those little pitter patters will be tiptoes over to the love of his life, someday those pitter patters will be the clacking steps of a business man or sloshing sandal of an oceanographer. I love those little pitter patters- it’s the small things that remind me I’m just so blessed.

Have a Happy Pitter Patter Hump day;)




Friday, March 22, 2013

Worthy of Worship

Two rows in front of me at church I saw this adorable loving couple. As I watched them I could see that the guy was in his mid-twenties and genuinely loved the girl he was with as he attentively rubbed her back, and placed his arm around her with an occasional kiss. They both worshiped the Lord freely with hands lifted and hearts bent toward the heavens.  Looking at them I yearned not only for that affection and embrace from a man but also to have a relationship that glorified Jesus. As I continued to be memorized by this couple who seemed to be newly in love bitterness crept into my heart.

All the broken relationships I had been in clouded my thoughts and my heart grew heavy. I've tried to become a strong woman after Gods heart refining myself for my prince yet here I am still alone, nothing has worked out. I've had dreams of a Godly relationship but failed to find someone to lead, instead I find myself stranded in the “singles” world trying to be strong, confident and okay with just being me. As the band struck up the music and worship began I could feel unstoppable tears beginning to form in the back of my eyes. “Why does that girl  I don’t even know get her love story and why am I stranded out here Lord?”, “ Why do I try so hard to be who you desire to be left alone Lord?”, “Will anyone be able to love me and Jalen completely Lord?”

The last thing I wanted to do was worship. Turns out the whole sermon was going to be about worship that evening. Non-stop praising the Lord, and then the worship leader began to tell us “God is worthy of our worship”. As the first song played I was like a child, arms stuck in my pockets I didn’t utter a single lyric as I clung to my stranded heart. The next song started to play and I watched the young couple praising aglow with fire and passion, my heart softened as I took in the beauty of their love. As the band kept playing my heart lifted and the pastors words lingered in my mind, “God is worthy of our worship”.

As those words kept replaying in my head that evening my self doubting, coveting, woe is me thoughts changed and God had the victory over my defeat. I was reminded he is sovereign and there is not one thing that I am going through that is greater than him. Laying down my needs and desires to praise the Lord even in my darkest hour and deepest sadness is where God is glorified and I find rest. Its in that place of sweet surrender and trust in God that I'm reassured my love story is in the palm of his hand. In worship my brokenness is no more and all my love, faith, and hope is restored.
Yes pastor, you are correct, He is more than worthy of my worship.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Bible

If I spent as much time in the word as I do over-thinking I think my mind would stop racing

I think my fear would slip away into the thin wispy pages that I turn

I think the truth I find would erode away the bitterness that makes me callous

I think I would be sweeter because his promise would be at my fingertips each day

I think I would be able to tackle the things of life with better discernment and grace

I think I would be less distracted and keep my eyes on the eternal moments that are being fulfilled in what I do today

Last night I opened my leather bible and turned those wispy pages and felt connected to a fuller life. The chaos of my day, worries, expectations melted away as I studied about Jesus.

When I read the last verse and closed my bible for the night I was renewed and found a piece of me that had been missing.

A relationship

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Bachelor

There are only two shows I watch per year that suck me into their black hole The Bachelor and American Idol. I have watched The Bachelor since the first time Chris Harrison announced, “Ladies, it’s the final rose, if you don’t get a rose say your goodbyes”. What he doesn’t mention is: pack your burdens, heartbreaks, unanswered questions and take a hike. Then we watch the latest damsel in distress get into the limo with the camera about a quarter inch from her splotchy face taking in every last teary (sometimes dreadful) detail. Another girls hope crushed by an over romaticized relationship on national TV. As I click off The Bachelor I find myself whirling in that idea of a romantic fairytale land where my dream man chooses me, “And the final rose goes to…”

 meanwhile back to reality….

What really matters?
Even though I thoroughly enjoy watching The Bachelor, I have come to the realization that I have romanticized dating since before the dawning of reality shows. I’ve always been drawn to what is handsome, charming, and personable because I was seeking out excitement. However, that way of thinking has gotten old along with the heartbreaks that follow that way of doing things.  Over the last couple years I have began to redefine the maps to my heart and not until recently did they start to lead me somewhere positive. Instead of looking towards the “handsome, alluring package” my focus is on the heart of things- the deeper matters. I crave for a connection that can’t be found frolicking on the shores of Maui or Cabo San Lucas. I want to see the heart of Jesus in the man I’m with. I want to see compassion for the broken, lonely and despaired. I want a man to stand beside me and desire to lead me especially when temptations are too much to bear or I am weak in my own faith. I want to reach out and be found with the ability to be completely vulnerable whether it’s with my heart or how I look.

The more I discover my beauty and wholeness in Jesus the more my heart changes and grows. That fantasy or ideal relationship looks so different than before. It’s starting to look more like worship, prayer, compassion, empathy, and devotion. I’m starting to believe that the attraction that lasts forever is the wholeness of another person- that they know who they are to Jesus and how much they mean to Jesus. The longing for lustful things is losing its grip on my soul, in its place is the value of a man, the value of an authentic relationship, and the hope that I can find someone who will meet me on a path less traveled towards the throne of Jesus.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Feeling Bold and Beautiful Today!

One of the many nicknames my lovely best friend bestowed upon me growing up was “Marge Simpson Eyes” which we mutually found hilarious because I have these huge hazel eyes. There is no hiding anything with eyes like mine they are so big when I roll my eyes I don't even know it, I guess they get lost in that big socket of mine leaving me completely oblivious (seriously I’m not rude;)). To top it off I have a Roman Italian nose which I do talk about quite a bit because it’s been one of the biggest insecurities I've had about myself growing up. Thank goodness for people like Beth Moore who can poke fun at their noses and wear big ole hair and stuff to diminish the protruding mogul that is just about impossible to disguise or make look smaller. It’s all fun and games until you get inside my head and the hours I spend looking in the mirror at different angles trying to find which way would be the best way to stand if the man of my dreams happened to be checking me out. I know it’s completely ridiculous!

But in all seriousness we all have these things about ourselves that we struggle with.  I can look one of my best girlfriends in the eye when she is knee deep in Kleenex leaking endless tears filled with insecurity and doubt. I can tell her she is beautiful only to have her look at me like I’m crazy, how dare I tell her that she is beautiful! Why do we doubt our beauty and what we have to offer? I don't know completely but I do know I don't want to be someone else. I want to be the woman God created ME to be, I don't want to be a clone of Heidi Klum or whoever the hottest woman on the planet is right now according to Maxim.

I look at other bloggers that are stylishly adorable and I leave those pages feeling as if I’m out of their league of beauty or incapable of being hip. I leave those pages feeling down and out about who I am as a person, am I the whole package? The answer is YES! I don’t have to have long flowing beach blond waves to make an impact or a new edgy outfit to stand out from the crowd. I can have huge hazel “Marge Simpson Eyes” and a Roman Italian nose and still be beautiful because I can enjoy the way God designed me with perfect intention. Another thing I have learned is the ugly monster called envy makes me believe what someone else has is better but the truth is that is just a lie that keeps me from enjoying what God has given me. I love those stylishly adorable bloggers to pieces not to mention all the tips I get from them. The point is my mind twists things up, the fleshy spirit of envy and insecurity plants seeds of doubt into the heart of what makes me tick.

What I am learning is the art of enjoying who I am and how I was wonderfully and fearfully made. I’m learning to embrace my exotic eyes and prominent Italian nose which tells people I come from a long line of boisterous, talking with hands, bootylicious (is that even a word?), spaghetti and meatball lovers heritage. See how I can make something meaningful about what I used to call insecurities? There is something meaningful and truly special about each of us, there is no reason to feel defeated if you’re not the spitting image of the next woman plastered half naked on the magazine stand at the grocery store.

Enjoying the person we are right now, in this moment is the best thing we can do for ourselves and what I believe is the key to laughing our insecurities away because they no longer get the best of our thoughts since we love who we are. No one can mess with someone who knows who they are in Christ and is thankful for every single feature that is flawless in Gods eyes.

So I will leave you with this last thought………….YOUR BEAUTIFUL, get over it;)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Boldness and Freedom

The truth can be hard to accept alot of times, oddly enough when its good we often find its too good to be true. That is my experience with Jesus, he is perfect, unexplainable, if he was not perfect than the truth would lose its power, its majesty. In a place where most things are not what they seem and there always seems to be that fine print it causes us to fear being vulnerable. My friend and I are taking scripture from the bible and inwardly mediating upon the fine print written on our hearts. We are intentionally pulling out the deception we have grown accustomed to and we are learning to unharden our hearts to become like clay so we can mold our beliefs towards the promises that Jesus is truth and his word is alive.

The first verse I'm exploring is "I can approach the throne of God with boldness and freedom"
Ephesians 3:12

To me that means I can come as I am with questions, struggles, a heavy heart, frustrations, and I can tell him my desires, wants, and  needs. To me it means I can tell God all these things and find that I'm accepted, I'm loved, I'm wanted, I'm needed. There is nothing more freeing than being loved beyond rules and regulations, there is nothing more freeing than knowing Christ has given me a passion for life, for wanting more, for hoping, for dreaming and the perfection of Jesus lives in me. There is no limit or boundary on what God can do or who I become through him. That is bold and that is freeing and there is no fine print or exceptions on the love God has for a willing heart!

I don't want my own experiences that turned out to be too good to be true to diminish or blind my spirit to the fact that holiness and lovliness are still alive.  The truth no one can taint or destroy is the very heart and spirit of Jesus. Approach the throne of God with boldness and freedom with  your struggle, desire, and hope. Pray for a life renewed by the truth that Jesus gives and the life the word breaths.

Monday, February 25, 2013

TOTAL GOOFBALLS





Enough Said.





 

At the Alter

I wait for the answer to be so clear. I wait to know his will for my life. I say the same prayer over and over as I live life going through the motions. I expect a neon sign to present itself and make my path clear, yet I find myself frustrated because I'm left in the dark. There is silence for minutes, days, even years and I find myself stuck in a rut.

Have you ever waited for God to change your life but it remained the same? Have you been sitting in a heartbreak for years waiting for healing? Have you lost the hope that your life could ever change? Me too, that is me. The girl who writes of Gods love and believes she knows it only to be disappointed and dissatisfied through the seasons of life.

I walk through life with my hands clenched tightly shut. I only give away what is comfortable but I hold onto what I think I can't live without. It could be a relationship, it could be my fear, it could be my vanity, it could be my pride. Yet with my hands clasped and my arms crossed I'm on defense, there is no room for love to grow. There is no place to become who I need to be when I shelter those strongholds that have become deeply intertwined to my being.

How come it is that I'm so afraid to believe God has something amazing for me and all he is waiting for is my surrender. I sit here and wait for God to do a miraculous work in my life yet I don't even give him the instrument to work with. I forget that I'm the instrument, that I need fine tuning but I can't be tuned if he is not allowed to work on me completely.

So over the past few days I've decided to let go, I've decided to get uncomfortable, I'm terrified of the unknown but even more I'm terrified to feel the hurt of letting go because I'm comfortable with my strongholds. Yet to fully experience God's goodness I have to sacrifice my will for his will. I have to surrender my wants on the alter like Abraham did with his son Isaac. I have to surrender knowing that Abraham's story is a testament of God's faithfulness. I've never abandoned all I wanted for God because I want to know what to expect, I'm so afraid to be let down. I remember that Abraham walked up towards the alter to sacrifice his son not knowing a ram was on the other side. A ram that would turn out to be a blessing for the obedience of Abraham that was literally life saving.

I want God to show up in my life, I want him to change my life. I want him to take all the brokenness and all the fear and cultivate it into something greater than I can see. Here I am at the alter Lord,opening my hands.

I'm yours.