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It all comes down to character. Our true heart is shown in the storms of life.
Join with me as we seek to find the
beauty in our storms along with maintaining our character through them. And let us listen for God's voice when it comes - whether a whisper on the breeze or a shout through the hurricane.....

Monday, September 22, 2014

Finding Our Identity In God



As a parent raising two daughters, it is important to me that my girls have a strong sense of who they are. The world can put so much pressure on young ladies to look and act a certain way, that I want them to find their identity in God and things that last.

Beauty is so fleeting. Materialism so empty. Yet these are the things our world values.

“It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for … part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” Ephesians 1:11


Our children need to feel valued and valuable. They need to know they are loved and worthy – not because of what they do or accomplish in life and certainly not for how they look. But because of who they are. They will only discover the hidden treasures and jewels of their heart if they look to the Lord. He is the only One who can give them the value, worth, and success they seek. He is the only One who can make them feel beautiful even if the rest of the world would say otherwise – for beauty truly does come from the inside and from the heart.

If I can get these points across to my girls and they can discover and find the things they seek by simply looking to the Lord and believing what He says about them in His Word; I know they will not be as prone to falling for the lies that the world tries to sell them about their beauty and value.

Even as a mom and wife – I, too, can look to this verse to remind myself of where I find my value. Sometimes you can feel so lost in the role of parenting that it’s important to remember that you are also an individual and that you have a purpose – just as you seek to guide your children to their purpose in life.


It is only in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. He is still working in and on us – so look to Him for all that your heart longs for. And teach that principle to your precious children as well.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Not a Fair Fight


We know there is good and evil in this world. It is so evident. We can see it clearly all around us.

We know there is BAD. And there is GOOD.

Yet sometimes I think we get a little lost and confused in our spiritual battles. I think we think it’s a fair fight. An equal fight.

But it’s not.

God is ruler over ALL. He rules over Satan. He rules over the demons. He rules over earth.

Satan is not equal to God. Not in power. Not in glory. Not in might.

Yes, he has a lot of influence. He’s cunning. He watches us and knows just where to hit us and when. But anything he does – is under God’s authority. God allows it.

Why?

I wish that bad things didn’t happen to me. I wish they didn’t happen to those I love. But they happen not because God caused them to happen. He didn’t. He might have allowed them to happen for reasons unknown to us, but He didn’t cause them.

Sometimes it’s my own prideful and sinful choices that end up causing bad circumstances. So it’s a natural effect of choices I, myself, made.

Other times, maybe God is allowing me to be sifted and molded. He sees what satan is doing in my life and chooses not to intervene, because I need some heart work done.

And other times, maybe my pain is for the greater good. To bring more to follow Him.

I just don’t always know.

But I do know that I often give satan more power than he deserves. And he loves that – for it allows him more freedom in my life.

So I am reminding myself today… and I am reminding you. It is not a fair fight. Satan is not equal to God.


Not even close.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Some Days My Heart Just Needs To Spill a Little





There are days that I just feel like crying. My soul hungers for answers and I groan before God. These are the times where I don’t understand His ways – even if I still trust in His heart.

May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.  Psalm 119:169

Sometimes it’s enough for me to simply cry to the Lord. To vent to Him. To have Him there to listen. It’s reassuring for me to unleash my heart on His shoulders; knowing that He carries all my concerns with such great care.

I seek understanding…often. I seek relief from my doubts, fears, and concerns. But it’s almost more important to me to be heard.  I need to know that I matter. That my thoughts, heart, and voice…matter. I need to know and feel like God sees me.

Yes, sometimes that’s more important to me.

He DOES see me. He DOES hear me and I DO matter to him. He provides me a way for my cry to come before Him and to rest at His feet.

Some days my heart just wants to pour out. It doesn’t want advice or direction – although it might the next day or the day after that. It simply wants to spill. It wants to unleash all that lies within it – the emotion, the feeling, and the questions.

I’m so thankful that my cry can come before the Lord in those moments and on those days. I’m so thankful that He never gets tired of me and that I’m not a burden. 


May my cry come before you, Lord. Today – and always.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

There Is Strength In Joy



There is strength in joy. I’ve tapped into it. I’ve discovered it. I’ve relished in the knowing that joy is what gives me my courage and my strength in times when I should otherwise feel so weak.

I love knowing that I’m feeling peaceful and strong despite trying circumstances because of joy that comes only from relying on and having true faith in my Savior.

It’s freeing.

I’m not always there. I don’t always sit in that knowledge or feel that joy. There are times when I try to rely on my own strength, my own control, and my own direction. I never feel as strong in those moments as I do when I know God’s strength is being funneled through me. No, my own strength never feels quite as solid.

There is an old song that starts, ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength.” And that song runs round and round in my head from time to time. The words – so simple – yet so powerful and true.

I see joy in the person who has cancer and yet glows. I know that they have tapped into that strength.

I see joy in the person who has little in the way of monetary possessions, and yet smiles as if they have the world.

Joy.

It is something so elusive to people nowadays. Stern faces, frowns, and heartache abounds. It’s no wonder. Loneliness, depression, hurts, and trials know no bounds in our lives. They exist daily. And people are weary. Broken down. Discouraged.

And yet there it pops up in someone’s life from time to time. We glimpse it. That charming quality of joy. We wonder how we can gain a little bit of it for ourselves. How can we find that peace and strength that comes out in joy like the one we see before us?

I’m here to tell you. It’s God. ALL God.


And it’s yours for the asking.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Struggle



It can be so hard to let God fight for me. There are days where I just want to control things in my life. And there are days where things are so – uncontrollable.

It’s hard to sit still. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to wait.

It’s hard to trust.

And yet those are the very things that God asks of me. He asks me to “be still.” He asks me to “wait on the Lord.” And He asks me to be patient for His answer. Most of all? He asks me to trust in Him.

God tells me that He works for my good, if I’m following Him and obeying His commands. He tells me that He wants to bless me. That He’s faithful. Loving. Wise.

Yet, still, I struggle.

Sometimes I struggle against myself. Sometimes, it’s others. But mostly, it’s a struggle for control. I try so hard to get things to go the way I think they should go. I hurry them on. I stop them altogether. I maneuver. Whisper. Orchestrate. Plan.

Sometimes I think I just get in God’s way.

Sometimes I think maybe the wait is there because I interfered, not because my God was slow.

If only I’d have listened. If only I’d have trusted. Been patient. Been still.

I’m just not very good at that.

I know I can learn things in these times. I know there are things God wants to teach me. Work through me. Show me. I wish I’d welcome those gifts of knowledge more often! I wish I’d cherish the personal delivery of messages that can only come from Him – to – me.

I hate that I fight against Him. I hate that I don’t always know that I’m fighting against Him. But that I’m just simply lost in my humanness.

I KNOW that my God is for me. I KNOW that His will (and timing) is best. I KNOW that my life in HIS hands instead of my own – is best.

And so I keep trying to do better. I keep trying to learn from my mistakes. I keep trying to “be still.” “Be patient.” And “trust.”


I just wish it weren’t so much of a struggle.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Because Of Me

I had a doctor appointment one day over a year ago. I was nervous about it and on this particular day, I was stuck waiting for a really long time. So long that a nurse came in and apologized and promised they would be with me shortly.

Isn’t that the way it goes? I sat there, and I thought…why, when I’m so nervous do I have to sit here alone with my thoughts? They were making me crazy. I didn’t want time alone to sift through my own head! I didn’t want to think.

I knew I might be nervous ahead of time for this appointment. So I had copied some Bible verses on fear and put them where I could access them from my phone. I recalled this, leaned over into my purse, and grabbed my phone. I read the verses and found myself calm. I found my thoughts clear.

And I found myself wondering if everything in life truly does have purpose. I mean, how could being delayed at a doctor’s office have purpose?  And then God spoke to my heart. He said, “Because of me.”

Because of me.

He wanted my attention. He wanted me to spend that time with Him. Alone.

Sometimes you just want to hit yourself on the side of the head, don’t you? When you realize something that you think should have been so apparent?

I was delayed that morning so that God could speak to me. So that I could listen. And I could be still with only my Lord.

That time sitting there alone in the room stands out for me. I remember it. It’s not like all the other doctor visits where I sat in a crowded waiting room. No. I remember that morning as one where God shone through in a moment and reached out personally to me to grab my attention.

The wait? It was so worth it.



Friday, September 5, 2014

Problems Are Tougher Today Than They Used To Be

It’s true. We live in an age where new problems, challenges, and hurdles present themselves to parents. Tough problems and challenges. Issues that our parents and grandparents never faced. Things that haven’t even been written about in “self-help” books yet.

We live in an exciting time. Yet, a time where we can’t always refer to the past to help us out with a problem. Sometimes we have to forge our way through it…. Alone.

Schools are different than when we were young. Cell phones are allowed in a lot of them, and rules have changed. Curriculum has changed and the students and teachers themselves, have changed.

Kids socialize through their phones or online in great part, now. They don’t stand in the living room talking on the landline phone where you can snoop from the other room. No, they can text, message, or snapchat in quiet – while you’re in the room.

We have cyberbullying now. Sexting. Cutting. Selfies. Online dating. None of these things were issues when I was a girl. Not all of technology is bad. Just like not all of life is bad. But with everything new that evolves or changes in our life, there can be hurdles to overcome as a parent.  How do you protect your child? How do you give them space without letting them run amok? How do you give them self esteem without indulging them? How do you stay close, without smothering?

So many questions.

So much information to take in and digest! So much time involved in trying to keep the pace.

For caring parents, just because they have a problem, doesn’t mean it’s a life-altering one. It doesn’t matter. Being a parent is still tough. It’s tough to instill guidelines and boundaries in a world that doesn’t have them. It’s tough to help your kids and teens feel ‘accepted’ without being ‘corrupted.’

So, do what you can do. Research what you can research. Set those guidelines and boundaries that are in the best interest of your child and your family. Talk often – even if your kids are annoyed with you. Because that’s what a loving parent does. It loves, protects, and sees the big picture – even when no one else can see it.

Parenting may be tougher today than a few generations ago – but we were called to parent these kids in THESE times. You have what it takes, even if you are on bended knee in prayer and tears some nights.


Hang in there. Keep loving. Keep believing in your family.  For they are irreplaceable.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When You Don't Have Someone To Do Something Special For You



Not everyone is blessed with close girlfriends. Not everyone has family in town that stands in the gap for you when you’re sick or hurting. Not everyone has a spouse who thinks ahead to do thoughtful things for them.

Today, I’m thinking of these people. These precious souls who sometimes feel so lonely. These tender hearts who long for someone to do something out of the blue for them – just because.

Not everyone has someone in their life who makes them feel special. I wish we all did, but we don’t.  Some are left wanting, wishing, hoping, and longing for those gestures of value, love, and recognition in their lives.

I know it must be so hard to get online and see pictures of other women celebrating with their girlfriends on their birthdays. I know it may seem like everyone else has a close network of love and support….but you.  But I promise you, that’s not the case. In fact, I’d bet that those of you who are lonely and wanting special friends in your life, are in the majority – not the minority.

Everyone needs someone. Everyone wants someone in their lives whom their heart can feel safe with and who they can call up in the middle of the night, when an emergency rises. Or even if there IS no emergency; it’s nice to know that someone is there in case you needed to call!

I’ve been in seasons of feeling like I didn’t have someone. I’m sure most people have. Luckily for me, they were short-lived. But here is what I did to survive it and what you can do too.

1) Pray, and grow closer to God. God is the ONE friend who will never leave your side. He longs to do special things for you on a daily basis and He longs for you to feel your value! Look for Him. Bare your heart and soul to HIM. And find that hole in your heart close, as He fills it with His love and His presence, while you wait for someone else to draw near to you.

2) Reach out – instead of in.  Every time I give to others and give of my time to others, I feel better about myself. I feel more loved and I have more love to give. There is always someone out there who has a need, and always someone who needs what you have to give them. Offer it. We always have love to give.

3) Do something special for yourself!  I know one birthday where I was feeling sorry for myself and I decided to pamper and treat myself to a special day. You know what? It worked! You don’t have to wait for someone else to come along in your life to do something special for you. Yes, we need one another, but until that support system comes along – do things for yourself and love on yourself a little bit. Get a pedicure, buy a new pair of earrings, go to a movie you’ve been wanting to see. Indulge in your favorite ice cream, or take the day off and read all day instead of doing chores!  We don’t need other people to say we are valuable – God has already told us that. So treat yourself like it!



I truly hope and pray that someone comes into your life who will love you just as you are.  Someone who will do thoughtful things for you – just because. Someone who makes you feel the valued person whom you are.  But in the meantime, take the actions needed to remind yourself that you are special – even if no one else is around to tell you that.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Just Need Confirmation

Oh, the heart and head. They can run off in so many different directions – all at once.

A soul doesn’t always know exactly what to believe; what to feel. It can seek to pray the right ways, but doubt it’s own motives. It can want something that it feels is best – but question whether it’s God’s best.

It needs confirmation. Confirmation that the direction you are headed in, is the right one. Confirmation that the prayers uttered from your lips, are the right ones. Confirmation that the tears you shed, aren’t in vain. That the instincts you hold are on target, and the wishes you hold tightly to your heart, are God-given.

We all seek confirmation at times. We all look for that rainbow in the sky. We all want that blatant sign to tell us what to do, where to go, and how to pray.

Sometimes, there is simply silence.

I’ve learned that silence doesn’t mean God isn’t working. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear you. Oftentimes, He IS working. He is moving and setting things in motion for the right results. It’s just not always on our timetable.

And it can be hard. It can be so hard to seek and feel like you are lost. I know. I understand. I’ve been there so many times.

“I just need confirmation,” I’ve cried out to God. But the great thing about my God is that He always stretches and grows me during these times. He shows me how to rely on my faith instead of the “seen” things. He shows me how He was with me always during those times, and He reminds me gently, that He is always faithful. Always.

I still ask for confirmation, sometimes. But if it doesn’t come, I wait. I continue to pray and I continue to seek. For I know one day, His hand will appear before me in a most glorious way. In a personal and loving way.


And my heart and soul will have its answer.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The One I Wrote For You

I had the opportunity to go see a screening of a new family film last night, that is coming out in December. It is called, "The One I Wrote For You." 

This movie was filmed here in San Antonio, and is about a man who gave up his dream of going into music, until his daughter enters him into a songwriting contest. From there, the movie addresses the internal battle and struggle that takes place in compromising yourself - or sticking to your values and identity - no matter the cost.

It's a GREAT film. I love that it addresses the whole "image" thing, as that seems to be so important in today's society. I also like that this film had humor in it. So many family films seem to take a stab at the humor thing but 'miss' terribly. This one actually had some funny lines and both me and my 17 year old daughter, (who I brought in tow), were chuckling here and there.

 I thought the movie started out a little slow and dry, but once it got going - it was done pretty well. There was no sex, no bad language, and violence, so the movie is appropriate for the whole family.

I think parents and adults will like this movie because, let's face it, we all have dreams. For a lot of us, those dreams were cast aside or forgotten once we had children and families. This movie takes us on a journey of seeing that maybe, our dreams don't have to be lost. But in the process, we need to seriously question what the cost might be in pursuing them.

I think younger kids will like this movie, because it does talk about dreams. And all kids have them! If kids can learn early on not to compromise their morals and values - but to stick to their integrity and character - they will save themselves a great deal of heartache and pain.

So keep your eyes open for "The One I Wrote For You." It's coming to theaters this Winter.




*I was able to see a free screening of this movie - but all thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Needy


I watched a movie once about a family who farmed for a living and they were about to lose their home, their animals, and their land. Land that had been in their family for over 100 years. It was very hard on the head of the household because he felt like he could no longer provide for them and he took it very, very hard. So hard that he lost himself for awhile in his self-pity. The wife looked at him and said, “This is hard. But you’re a farmer. All your life has been hard!” What she meant was – you can do this. You’ve done it before and you’re stronger for it.

I think some of us have (without realizing it) found that being a victim, helpless, unloved, not cared for enough – whatever it is they “label” it – I think that that “vice” has become a friend to us in a strange way. I don’t think everyone knows how to truly live free. I’ve found that most people who act needy always have the choice of a different attitude and course of action. They just seem to find that course of action is too inconvenient, hard, or out of reach (by their standards.) They don’t truly want it. They would much rather have the love and attention of good natured, compassionate folks doting on them and telling them how sorry they are for the rotten dose of luck they’ve had in their life, than they are at reaching up and outward to become a strong person, themselves.

It’s easier.

Life can make us stronger or weaker depending on how we choose to react to it. We can choose to get love and attention based on others feeling sorry for us all of the time, or we can get it by healthy respect instead.

Most people who come across as needy, probably don’t view themselves that way. They probably think they are very strong, courageous people for going through whatever it is they are going through. But in reality, they whine, complain, utter hints, and cling to those around them…quite often and quite regularly.  No one can seem to appease them or give them that sense of self esteem and inner joy that they seek – at least not permanently.

They say some children act out in order to get attention from their parents when they’ve felt neglected. I think the same is true for adults who are needy. They want attention. The thing is, they can get hooked on bad attention and then that becomes a way of life without them even realizing it. They may not realize how often they feel that everyone should hear how they had a bad day or how something hurt them. They act as if they have been singled out to experience this. The thing is? We ALL experience bad days and hurt feelings. We ALL cry and feel left out or neglected at times.  We ALL get a raw deal at times. No one is more special than anyone else to feel these things.

I don’t know what the secret is to help needy people. I think it just might be to get them to help other needy people. Because then they will stop thinking about themselves and their own pity party and after awhile – they will form new healthier patterns of living. Patterns of giving, loving, and offering up their lives to help others.

I’ve seen truly needy people in my lifetime. People who have deep hurts, real concerns and visible problems. I’ve seen these same people show courage, independence, deep faith, and joy amidst those problems and I admire them for it. They made the choice to live and love fully without thought to themselves - despite their trials.

They were physically needy, but not emotionally. They persevered, loved, laughed, and grew – despite the obstacles and challenges in their life.


The question is – will you?

Monday, August 25, 2014

It Was More Than I Thought It Would Be



When I was a young girl, I’d often dream and envision what life would be like when I became an adult. Of course as any young child does, I dreamed of being able to stay up as late as I wanted, eat whenever I wanted, and do what I wanted, when I wanted.

Children think adult life is so much easier and more fun.

Now as I look back, I can see how everything about being an adult and going through life is MORE than I thought it would be.

I have loved more than I thought I would. I have hurt more than I thought I would.

I have travelled more and gone to places I never thought I’d ever go to.

I have been blessed more than I ever could have thought I’d be.  And I have gone through harder lessons more than I ever thought I’d have to go through.

Everything has been “more.”

It’s all been more than I could have asked or dreamed of, and more than I wanted at times.

How could I possibly ask God for more, when He’s already given me so much more than I deserve?

Yet on the other hand, how could I possibly handle more of life’s challenges, when I’ve already handled more than I ever thought I’d be able to face?

It’s all been more than I thought it would be. More blessings, more joy, more laughs. More difficulties, more heartaches, and more tears.

MORE.

It’s life. My life.  The ups, downs, peaks, and valleys. All of it. And I’m thankful to be living it and learning from it.

All the “more’s” make up my life. My story. My legacy. They are woven together in a beautiful fashion. The sad chapters as well as the happy endings are a part of what molds and makes me unique. They are what make me love stronger and deeper, mourn harder, and grow.

Each day is a gift in its own way. And I have so many more to come that will be MORE than I could have imagined or thought possible.

More to come. More of my Lord, more of my life, and more to give others. More to learn, more to give up, and more to embrace.

May I live each moment with more of me invested. For not everyone gets the gift of tomorrow…. The gift of “more” or the chance to live out more of their story.


For that, I will always be thankful.



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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Time and Commitment Are the Only Way




I have been married to my husband for 20 years. 20 years. It doesn’t seem that long. I still constantly replay our dating days in my head – for they were so romantic. He really wooed me.  And our first few years of marriage were challenging due to circumstances out of our control.



We’ve made it through so much – he and I.




I see now, how my love for him was an immature love. How, over time, it has matured into something deeper and more meaningful than when it first began.  He is truly my best friend. The one I run to, to tell my hurts to, and the one I can’t wait to celebrate my joys with. The one who I still find very handsome and who can make my heart skip a beat.

He has different looks and I can read them – without him saying a word.  I know when something is wrong and I know when something is right.



I love that I can read his emotions in his eyes. That’s something that 20 years together gives you.


I don’t always understand my husband, as I know, he doesn’t always understand me. But we’re always committed to trying to learn. There is still so much to learn about each other, so much more to love.

In the first few years of marriage, the love we shared was magical. It was fresh and fun.  But I can honestly say that although love changes with time….it only gets better. I still have fun with my husband and he still makes me smile. Not everything is as new or fascinating as it once was, but the knowing and understanding only make what we have stronger and deeper.

The hurts we’ve been through as well as the joys, grow us. Bond us. And I’m indebted to each new day that we have together.



I will forever love holding his hand or having his arms wrap around me. I will always know his scent, and his presence in our home and in my heart, give me the joy and peace I need to navigate the rest of life’s difficulties – knowing I have that someone  standing with me and for me.

20 years. A true gift. Our love truly has grown, changed, and evolved.




Only time and commitment can allow that to happen.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hang On



God always supplies.


Just when I’m running out of articles to use on my blog, He gives me inspiration.  And just when I’m about to drop and crash, from being so tired of running so hard and fast for weeks at a time….He gives me rest.

Just when I’m at my wits end with a problem, He provides a solution.

He always supplies. He’s always faithful.

Sometimes we give up right before the answer is ready to come our way. We are ready to quit at the precise moment that the wave of change, relief, and blessing, are ready to descend on us.

If only we could hang on. Hang on to round that one last corner. That one last mountain to climb. That one last disappointment. Hang on.

Friend, I’ve been there. Many times. I’ve felt my strength would fail me. I didn’t know how I could go another day or minute facing whatever it was that I was facing. Whether it was simply being exhausted, hurt, frustrated, lonely, or sick. Whatever it was, I’ve had moments – just like you – where I didn’t think I could hang on.

But I did.

And let me tell you, that my God was faithful. He came through for me. He blessed me. He took care of me and protected me.

Every. Single. Time.

He wants to do the same for you.


Please let Him. Hang on.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Eshakti: A Fun Option for Clothes Buyers

I was contacted over a month ago by Eshakti, asking if I wouldn't mind reviewing one of their retail pieces.  I had never heard of them before, so I stopped by their website and took a look.

They sent me this cheerful turquoise blouse.


This blouse would be a perfect addition for someone's wardrobe as we head into the Fall season. I think the sleeves are adorable and unique. They were a tad big on me, but I have pretty small arms. I still loved them.

As for quality, I was very pleased to see this blouse was solidly made. Might have been a tiny bit stiff and I probably would prefer a more relaxed material, but overall, very well made.  I chose to dress it up in a bohemian, western kind of way - but the great thing about this blouse is that it can be dressed up or down. Either way, it's pretty cute.

I don't know about you, but I like having things that are a little unique. I don't want to show up in the same thing everyone else is wearing! Eshakti has a lot of unique pieces like this blouse.


I think Eshakti would be a great resource for a woman who needs some nice pieces for work. You can even customize your pieces for a little bit added extra cost. They allow you to change things such as neckline, dress length, and sleeve type. 

I do feel that a lot of their pieces have a retro/old fashioned look to them, but there are some cute feminine things in the mix that are more contemporary.

Check them out and give them a try. You can find Eshakti here:




*Thanks to Eshakti for giving me this piece in exchange for doing a review of one of their products!


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