Thursday, December 31, 2009

Building a Heritage of Prayer

Spiritual legacies are so important. That thought really drilled into my heart when my grandpa passed away in 2009. I realized how blessed I was to have a Godly man as a grandparent and someone whom left me a great legacy and heritage. I saw (and heard) how he came to know Christ and was amazed at how one choice affected several generations. You see, the fact that he accepted Christ and decided to live a life for the Lord affected my father. The same thing happened on my mother’s side of the family. Her father was also a Godly man whom I lost far too soon when I was only in the 5th grade. But again, his decisions and choices to walk for the Lord affected my mom. Both of my parent’s faith in turn affected me. Now, I am trying to “live it out” and instill a strong sense of faith in my own children. Generation to generation to generation.

Sometimes we see life so much in the “now.” We forget to look into the past to see maybe why we are the way we are and we also forget to look into the future.

I pray for my children and my spouse. And of course I pray for the spouses who will one day enter their lives. But do I pray for my future grandchildren or my great grandchildren? That’s something I’m giving more thought and intention to these days.

My grandparents told me shortly before the passing of my grandpa that they prayed for me every day. EVERY DAY. You know what? I don’t even know now what they prayed or how they prayed but it’s enough to touch my heart that they prayed. And who knows how God is continuing to answer those prayers even now? We look for such immediate responses that we can often forget that some answers may take years or even generations to unfold!

God made promises in the Bible that some generations never saw the answers to. But that didn’t mean He didn’t answer. In fact, He did. He always kept His word. For ours is a faithful God. So I can know that if I pray for a grandchild or a great grandchild that God hears my prayers – especially if those prayers are aligned with His heart and His will.

I may not be around to see my great grandchildren or my great great grandchildren. But they will come from me and will be a part of me. And I want to leave a mark and an impression that long outlasts my life. I want them to be men and women of integrity and great faith. What a gift I can give them if I would dedicate myself to praying for them!

Our prayers are powerful. We can build such a heritage if we will only call upon the name of the Lord. What a simple thing to do for those we claim to love so deeply.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To Beautize, Make Mom Happy, and a Rendition of Beth Moore

I just want to brag on my youngest today - she is 10 and just so sweet.

For Christmas her big sister got her a white board. She’d been wanting one for over a year so big sister finally got her one. It was so cute. Once we got it hung this week she was writing little lists for herself – just like big sister. And she put a scripture verse on her white board – just like big sister. I told my oldest daughter that she was being such a great example!

Well the day before yesterday, my oldest came in to my room and asked me if I’d seen my youngest daughter’s white board that day. I hadn’t. She told me a few things it said and I just had to take a picture of it.

It says –

*Call Riley (Her bff)

*Beautize myself

*See how Kamica’s neck is doing (big sister hurt her neck badly the day prior)

*Make Mom Happy

Now is that not the most precious thing you’ve ever seen? At the bottom there she has her scripture verse and it says “I love my family and my family loves me.” I’m just thinking – why did we not get this child a white board a year earlier???

I have to add onto that this child gave me the sweetest gift for Christmas. She preordered (with help from daddy) Beth Moore’s new book – “So Long Insecurity.” (OUT Feb 1st!) She drew a picture of Beth Moore on my card….

I absolutely loved her rendition!

Kayla – you are truly a delight to my heart. I love you so very much. What a blessing you are.

Monday, December 28, 2009

LuShae Jewelry

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from Sarah over at LuShae Jewelry. She wanted to give me a complimentary jewelry item from her shop in return for a review on it. Her guessture was so extremely kind - I took her up on it.
I went to her shop and I picked out this necklace ~

I liked the circles and elegance of it and when it arrived it did not dissapoint. I wasn't sure as to what kind of quality piece I would get but it's very nice. It's on a nice chain and the pendant itself is very pretty and not cheaply made which delighted me.

I am a jewelry lover but don't normally spend a lot on myself. There was a lot over at LuShae Jewelry to fall in love with. They have some very nice necklaces, rings, and earrings. They are a bit spendy - most in the $65-$70 range. But Valentines Day IS coming up! :)

From what I've found - the folks at LuShae jewelry are extremely kind and quick to answer your questions. I'm sure it's hard to find online reputable jewelry sites so if you're looking for one - you just might give them a try.

And from me to LuShae personally - thank you so very much for my new necklace. I will enjoy wearing it at many classy events and functions for years to come!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Take My Faith Seriously

From the day I accepted Jesus into my heart at the tender age of 5 - till now - I have taken my faith in the Lord seriously. It's something I've never toyed around with or played with. You don't "toy" with God. At least, I had the fear of Him built into me that I knew that fact early on. It was quite apparent to me that my God was a MIGHTY God. After all, He could crush soldiers in the sea, bring forth horrible plagues, and cause a fierce storm to stop simply by speaking. He could drive out demons, heal someone with a touch, and shut lions' mouths. Yes, I knew that my God was extremely powerful.

I took that knowledge of His power and I held it close to my heart from very early on. My fear of His anger against me helped me stay on the straight and narrow path instead of veering off onto other ones.

I don't know what it was, but from very early on I felt a "calling" on my life. I had this internal feeling and leading that drove me to be different. I felt special in an "outsider" kind of way. I knew instinctively that my life had purpose, vision, and direction that came straight from God. It always helped me stay focused. Whatever came my way in life, I would use God as my moral compass. It protected me.

As a child, I was very charming, lighthearted and let a lot of things roll off of my back. But never my faith. As an adult, I rubbed shoulders with heartache, pain, and strife. Yet still this didn't pull me from my faith but only drove me deeper to it. I often ask myself why. Why do some people find it so easy to get angry at God and I don't? Why is it easy for some to abandon His truths and I cling to them? Maybe it's that same fear of the Lord that's inside of me. Maybe it's that inner drive I have to please Him with all of my heart. Sure - I question God at times. I wonder why He chooses the people He chooses for certain things. But I've always come back to the fact that there must be a reason. And that has always given my heart some kind of peace.

There are so many things in life that are worth laughing at. Life is fun, joyous, full of life and love. I love to smile, laugh, and be happy. I love to tease and be playful. God can be in the midst of great joy and blessing and I've found Him there with me many times. Yet, I still take my faith seriously. I can have good times without being "casual" about my faith. Meaning - I don't compromise my values in the name of "fun." I don't compromise my beliefs in the name of being accepted or deemed "worthy" by someone else. It's not worth it to me - because I take my faith very seriously.

I wish more people would take their faith seriously. I wish more people would think seriously of their faith when they throw the name of my precious God around in their vocabulary. I wish more people would take the faith they claim they have, seriously, when they dress each day or when they turn their heads away from someone who is new or a little "different" than they are. To be honest - Christians are some of the most "click-ey" people I know! And it breaks my heart. I wish more people would take their faith seriously when deciding what to spend their money on, or how to invest their time.

I'm not perfect in all of these areas. Far from it. But I do have an internal moral compass that guides me every time I speak, watch a program, or listen to music. I do have inner conviction that reminds me to be honest in the exact moment that it is the hardest, or to turn away from something that I would be too casual about and could lead me to blur Godly values and standards. Because I love the Lord my God with all my HEART, with all my SOUL, and with all my MIND. It is HE who direct my paths - not the current trends, not the "in" crowd, and certainly not Hollywood or the media. It is the Lord. He has never let me down. Not once. Even when I wondered at His methods. He is the best friend I have ever had.

Oh - if only more "Christians" would take their faith seriously. That is my wish and desire.

That is my prayer.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tacos for Christmas

I am not a fussy person. I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I don’t mind cooking shorter, easier fare – but anything over 45 minutes just wipes me out. I especially don’t enjoy spending a holiday in the kitchen when my girls aren’t into the big gourmet meal and everyone else gets to spend time together while I’m cooking and cleaning up dishes. Not fun to me.

A few years ago an online friend shared with me that her family made a big pot of homemade chicken noodle soup for their Christmas dinner. It was a humble meal to remember Christ’s humble beginnings. I LOVED this. I adored it so much we adopted it as our own tradition.

But this year my husband was ready for something different. When I asked him if he still wanted to do the soup – he had another idea in mind. He offered up the idea of taco’s.

Go ahead and laugh at us. Taco’s isn’t exactly a grand Christmas dinner is it? But it’s US. It’s not fussy; it represents who we are “the Sanchez Family” – and part of my husband’s ancestry. It also represents who we are as people. We are not glitzy or glamorous. We’re … “comfortable.”

I love a big meal like the next person. I love the look of a table done beautifully and the many arrays of dishes to choose from. I love that a holiday meal like a turkey or ham is different. It stands out and makes the day special in its own way. And I’ve made a turkey and ham in the past. But for now – it doesn’t make sense to do that for our family. Why go to all of that trouble when my girls will pick at their food and would much rather have something else?

Taco’s – still a simple meal to remind us of Christ’s simple beginnings.

I find it fascinating that when God came to earth He did things so humbly all of the time. He was born in a manger. Learned to be a carpenter. Was low-key most of the time and gentle in how He spoke. And yet we feel we have to do things HUGE. Go ALL OUT.

If I start to feel guilty about not pampering my family with a big holiday meal, I’m reminded of Mary and Martha and how fussy Martha was about serving the right things and making sure everything was just “so” for her guest. And yet Mary just enjoyed the guest. That’s who I want to be. The person who enjoys the moment and relishes in the people who grace her life and home. What better way to show my family love than to serve up a meal they truly love? Nothing says love like comfort food!

I’ve been delighted to find some different Christmas traditions over the Internet the past few days. I see some people traditionally order out for Chinese food or pizza. Some people have a certain soup – and yes some – have the traditional big Christmas meal. I don’t think any one way is wrong or right; if it’s done with love and enjoyed by both the person making it and the people eating it. For us at this time in our lives, we are just simple people making the most of our time together. So, on Christmas day our family will be indulging in tacos. We will have lots of Christmas goodies about and lots of smiles and laughs as we enjoy the day of celebrating and loving on each other with gifts.

And it will be comfortable and happy.

I can’t think of a more perfect Christmas than that.

Merry Christmas ~

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It’s Not a Wonderful Christmas For Everyone

A few short days till Christmas. It’s just around the corner. I’m feeling very blessed and thankful. My family is happily tucked in the warmth of our home and our pantry is stocked full. Yet my heart can’t help but drift to the many out there who may not be celebrating a wonderful Christmas this year. I know there are those who live on the streets and are lucky enough to be one of the few who get into a shelter.

There are those who do have homes but not enough money to give gifts to one another or their kids.

There are those who have recently lost a dear loved one and this Christmas just rubs their heart raw with the empty space left behind. They are feeling sad and broken.

There are those who for whatever reasons get really depressed this time of year. They just can’t seem to shake that cloud that hangs over their head and heart.

There are those who are lonely. They don’t have anyone who is reaching out to them – to love them, hug them, or give them a gift to show they are valued and matter.

I’m thinking of all of these people this Christmas – as I know the Lord is too. I wish each one of them much love and joy this coming year. I pray that someone will reach out to them and encourage their hearts, giving them hope. I pray that they will find something to smile about – something to love – and something to live for.

For a moment – I just wanted to speak up for those who feel left out, abandoned, hopeless, forgotten, or thrown out. They are not.

At least not to me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Givers and Takers: Which One Are You?

Are you a giver or a taker? Generally speaking, I think most people fit into one of those categories. You have the “givers” who are always ready to serve, minister, give of their time, open their home, and help out. You have the “takers” who whether by circumstance or habit are always the recipients of blessings, gifts, help, or ministry from someone else.

The problem is that if you are a “giver” you never seem to be able to be on the “take” side because all the “takers” are too busy benefiting from your “giving!” It’s a cycle that can be unhealthy.

If you have a giving heart, God gave you that. And He can really bless you and use you. But, you also need to step back sometimes and let someone else step up to the plate so that they can receive the benefit of giving as well. And maybe you will get the opportunity to be a “taker” and learn how it feels to be a recipient and the blessing that comes with allowing someone else to love you like that.

If you are a “taker,” maybe it’s been unavoidable. Maybe you’ve been the victim of circumstances and being a “taker” is the only way you’ve been able to get by. But you have to be careful because sometimes being a “taker” becomes habit. You get used to it. Of course it’s nice to have others “do” for you – but it’s an even nicer reward to do for yourself. Trust me. It feels so freeing. And there ARE things anyone can do to learn the blessings of being a “giver.” There are simple things you can do to help a friend or family member out, inexpensive ways you can share your home, apartment, condo, or trailer with someone for an evening, or even just sending a note giving someone else your love and encouragement. Everyone needs that!

I think that both sides of the coin can be dangerous if they are unbalanced. A “giver” can become too self-righteous and their pride can swell simply by KNOWING that everyone knows they are a giver. It can almost become a pride-filled label if we aren’t careful. But if you can be a “taker” at times, I think the mercy, grace, and humility that comes with that will help balance out the “giver” in you.

As for our “takers” – you too sit on obviously dangerous ground. But more than that, you need to be careful of losing out on a rich blessing, depth, and meaning that comes with being able to “give” to others. You are in danger of never standing on your own two feet and never knowing what it feels like to be appreciated, valued, and cherished because of the love you have bestowed on others. That can become a lonely place to sit.

Sometimes there are seasons in our lives that necessitate our being givers or takers for extended periods of time. And that’s okay as long as we realize and are aware that we only want it to be for a season. If we can have a goal or focus on a point in time where we want to switch that label, it will help us work towards moving out of our current situation. (Obviously illnesses, tragedies, and other such situations are exempt from this).

Take a good look at what your label might be. What you would call yourself and what others would see you as. Maybe it’s time to take that label off and change it for awhile – receiving the blessing of the new label in the process.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My 5 Favorite Things From This Week

I love Fridays. It is my favorite day of the week. I love the mood and excitement of a Friday. Today especially, I’m looking forward to Christmas vacation with my girls. They will be home for 2 whole weeks! I love that.

As I sit here and reminisce on my week – I think how blessed I am. I had a really great week to which I give the Lord all the credit. He brought some real blessings my way this week and my heart feels full. Here are just a few of my favorite things from this week….

1. Telling my daughter that she FINALLY can have a cell phone. (It was her 13th birthday.) Reminiscing on her 13 years and feeling so much joy and thankfulness in my heart for her.

2. Winning a $50 gift card.

3. Getting a “love gift” from my sister in the mail – just because.

4. The hugs. The hugs I get and give with my girls. They never grow old and my arms never tire of them. In addition, dreaming of the hugs I will get from my "grandson" due in the Spring.

5. Getting Christmas Cards in the mail. I love opening up each one and seeing faces that are dear to my heart and reading about lives that mean a great deal to me.

What are your 5 Favorite things from this week??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holidays Help Us Focus on Family

Have you ever noticed how almost every holiday centers around the family? Christmas is a time for family to give to one another and celebrate together around the tree.
Thanksgiving is notorious for bringing family together around a big meal. Easter usually involves family going to church together and having a nice brunch or Easter meal. Then you have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – about giving to our parents and celebrating them.

I find it ironic that the world seems to love to diminish the importance and value of the family and yet almost every major holiday is about being with family, enjoying family, and loving on each other as a family. As it should be.

Family is the foundation of our world. Without a stable family unit, it can be tough to navigate one’s way through the world feeling confidant, whole, loved, and inspired.

We can watch show after show laugh at the family. They belittle the parental authority in the home and portray mom and dad as ignorant, stupid, naïve, and clueless parents. We can allow media influence after media influence seep into our homes and steal away our children’s hearts and time – whether it’s the computer, video games, texting on cell phones, or television. But when it comes down to it, nothing can replace the importance, the necessity, the value, or the ties of a family.

I’m so thankful for the holidays and how they bring back to surface the need to be with family. I value the time and the memories that are made over these celebrations. I welcome the occasion to celebrate those I love and the important part they play in my life and I place a high priority on bridging generations and forming bonds between those who are aging and those who are youthful. It creates a relationship that nothing else in the world can replicate.

When you come down to it – you can try as you might, but nothing will ever take the place of family. Nothing will ever grow or mold you quite the same. It’s never too late to start building healthier family relationships or stronger ties within a family. Whether it’s an upcoming holiday or simply another day of the week, you can always, always reach out to those family members God has placed in your life. They are there for a reason and you are who you are in part because of their presence in your life.

Family is and always will be a lifeline in our walk on this earth. Use it, build on it, and nurture it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fighting the Panic Mode as a Parent

Do you ever get scared of the things your kids want to discuss with you? How about the things they don’t want to discuss with you? I do. It’s kind of like when my daughter learned to climb the stairs when she was a toddler and I wasn’t ready to enter that phase with her! But enter it you have to!

I tend to be a worrier. A fretter. I mull things over and ponder them and chew on them in my mind and my heart. So imagine having that tendency and being a mother! Sometimes you can feel like the whole world is out to get your child.

I’ve learned I have to fight those panicky feelings. I have to fight the fear that wants to climb up my throat and yell “You’re never leaving this house without me again!” Because if I don’t, I might lose my children in a different way - a rebellious way.

I don’t want to be a parent who “parents” out of fear. Yes, I’m protective. You bet I am. Yes, I try and do my research and be knowledgeable about what is going on. But I don’t want to suffocate my children by my fears for their lives. I’d much rather talk and communicate with my children and have them come to me about subjects that I’d rather avoid – than them go to their friends with those subjects. And I’d much rather them be able to ask me questions about things than clam up and discover the answer on their own.

I love being a mom. But as my children grow, being a mom is tough. It’s scary to see your child pulling away from you and forming their own ideals, thoughts, and values. I mean, what if they choose the wrong ones? What will you do? But I’m slowly teaching myself to take those fears to God. To do my very best to encourage open conversation, trust, honesty, and respect and leave the rest to my child and the Lord. It’s the only way I can get through it.

Somewhere along the line I’ve got to trust that God loves and cares about my children’s well-being more than I do. I’ve got to be willing to be flexible with my children and with God’s plan for them as sometimes it may not go on the road I would choose for them. That scares me a lot but when you love someone deeply, you learn that you have to let them go and I’m making the daily choice to teach and instruct them; while also leaving them in God’s hands. It’s hard to do – but I’m giving it my best shot.

Our children need us. They need to be able to trust us with their feelings – the “unmentionables” and all the questions, curiosities, and hurts they deal with in their social lives. They need to know that we as their parents are strong, and we can handle it (even if at times we don’t think we can!)

Are you going to be there for them? Are you going to give them the freedom to come to you and to be able to talk about tough subjects? I know I want to be that kind of mom. And it all starts with swallowing my fears enough to listen and love. With God’s guidance and strength, I can survive these growing-up years and even learn to navigate them with grace.

So can you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Deviate From the Norm

My husband and I were reminiscing recently. We were talking about holidays and our favorite memories etc. And I found it ironic that when you do the same thing each year, you can’t seem to remember what your favorite one was! Nothing stands out. But when you do something different – even if it was unplanned, it suddenly becomes in the forefront of your mind.

For example, my favorite Christmas so far is the one where we moved into our house 2 days before Christmas. We had the smallest tree ever from when we were in the apartment and it stood in a bucket. We’d made paper ornaments and used a plastic crown for the treetop. We had boxes all over the house and my parents arrived and were there amidst the mess and thankfulness of it all. It stands out. It was a special time even though it was chaotic.

Just as with Christmas, I tend to remember birthdays, thanksgiving celebrations, and even Easter holidays that don’t resemble the rest.

Sometimes we can get so steeped in tradition that we forget to enjoy the interruptions that life can throw our way. We forget that the “unplanned” and the “didn’t go the way I wanted it to” things can often turn into the best times and the greatest memories. Allow your plans to be flexible and go with the flow in life when life gets super busy, super stressed, or just plain unpredictable.

If you can allow yourself to deviate from the norm sometimes, I bet you will find deep treasures, lessons, and bonding that can happen through those moments. I know I have.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tenderness Found in Trimming the Tree

I love decorating our Christmas tree every year. It means more to me than simply making a tree beautiful.

I’ve seen lots of trees. I love how some trees have themes. I’ve seen some with all the same color scheme, or all round beautiful glass balls. Some are all “westernized” with cowboy boots, horses, and antlers while still others have all santas or gingerbread men.

My tree has no certain theme. Well, I guess if I did give it a theme it would be “memories.” Our tree usually doesn’t look perfect. When our kids help decorate it, it can end up to be jumbled and I love it that way. Sometimes our tree will have a whole bunch of ornaments on a few branches right in the front. Other times it will have ornaments hanging in front of other ornaments. And I leave it that way because to me, our tree isn’t about perfection it’s about love and sharing and having fun. Our Christmas tree signifies “memories” to me in other ways as well. As we open up box after box, tears come quickly to my eyes at certain moments. I love remembering how my sister gave me a simple cat ornament to remember putting my cat to sleep after high school. I cherish the dove that I bought one year to signify God’s faithfulness to my husband and I after a spiritual battle we’d endured. I smile when I hang the paper lamb wrapped with black yarn that my stepson made or the paper ornaments my girls’ made the year we were in an apartment and didn’t have any of our regular Christmas décor with us.

Memories. I pull out of the box a few of my girls’ baby rattles to hang on the tree each year. We have ornaments from both my husband’s and I’s childhood. I have ornaments given to me by dear friends or family members and those made by sweet little loving hands.

My tree, I guess, symbolizes my life. My families’ life. It travels the years with us and adds to them sweet memories, tender tears, and joyful hearts. We laugh as we hang the ornaments, and we clamor to hang our favorite pieces. The tree ends up a hodge podge of pieces each year – some glass, some paper, plastic, some expensive ornaments, and some cheap. I remember getting the cheap ornaments in harder years where my wallet was really stretched. And I’m thankful for those ornaments to remind me that humbleness is needed in life. Still other years we were blessed with more and I was able to splurge a little on our families’ ornaments and I’m thankful for those as well.

What does your Christmas tree mean to you? Does it make you feel loved and warm inside with precious thoughts, reflections, and memories? Ours does. And I think decorating the tree is more fun and meaningful to me than putting out almost any other décor (save a few special pieces) during the Christmas season. It’s so neat to remember life’s moments and see the journey that God has taken us on through the years.

So as you trim your tree this year, remember that it doesn’t have to be decked out to perfection. It only has to be perfect to your heart.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Things" Don't Bring Happiness

Why do we need to have a lot of things? This thought crossed my mind when I was perusing some blogs on the web and ran across this quote….

“We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise anyone who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition. ~William James”

I was blown away. I was blown away because it was so apparent to me that this quote rings true. Think about it. We have this “stigma” associated with anyone who is not well-dressed, live in what we deem a suitable home, and/or making a satisfactory living in life. Why do we do that? Why do we equate money with value?

I have met people who are poor. I have touched them. And I will forever carry them with me. Each time I met someone who lived in what I would call “squalor” conditions, I was amazed at how the children were still so joyful. I’m guessing – but could it maybe be because they did not yet realize how little they had? If they had a parent, food, health, and love – what more could they want? Ahhh yess – let us as the world show them and destroy their inner happiness causing them to want and need more.

Are we afraid of those who don’t need “things” in life to make them happy? Do they make us uncomfortable? And if so, why is that? Is it maybe because they are forcing us to look at our own hearts – our own prejudices and we don’t like what we see? We are shallow, shallow people. We have to have “things” to make us happy, acceptable, loved. No wonder they don’t satisfy us. For things will never bring us those things.

Some people are born into poverty and others choose to give away what they make out of love for the rest. I think maybe it is those very people who truly have tapped into what real living is all about.


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