Monday, September 3, 2018


I met the sweetest young lady in the checkout line at a local store the other day.  She welcomed me through her line with, "Hey honey, how ya doin' today?"  As we chatted briefly while she rang up my purchases,  I noticed her tattoos on her arms.  Now, this may be odd to some, but I love to ask people what their tattoos represent.  I have found that there are usually pretty cool stories behind them.

As I chatted with her about her ink, she pointed to the one on her bicep, which was mostly covered up by her shirt, and said, "Well, I designed this one myself.  It says, 'Life is a beautiful struggle.'"  I thoughtfully considered that message and shook my head in agreement as I responded, "Amen, love.  I know that's true."  She then went on to tell me how she's overcome cancer and struggles daily with an incurable disease. 

I'd say that she knows life is a struggle.  But it was her wording of a beautiful struggle that I could not get out of my head.  It's been swimming in there ever since. She was a beautiful representation of realness and rawness that I believe we all crave in other human beings.  And her acknowledgment of struggles being beautiful completely resonated with me.

I've been studying the book of Job for several months now and one of the lessons I am gleaning is that life is filled with trials and struggles.  But they are beautiful in a Holy kind of way.  And we need to acknowledge them.  There is beauty in the breakdown.  Facades fade, glitz and glamour are gone, only realness and rawness remain because when you are facing a struggle, you don't have time or energy to care about the image of perfection anymore. 

And this is exactly when Jesus shines brightest in us.  Humility becomes beauty.  Through the cracks of our brokenness, His Holy light shines through, penetrating the darkness that threatens to scar us more.  He bends to pick up His children who have fallen, bruised and skinned up.  He dusts them off and puts them back on solid ground.  And then He tells us to proudly display our scars.  They were not all for naught (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). 

The Cross points us to the beauty of scars; to the truth that life is a beautiful struggle.  But it's all worth it.  The scarring of his hands and feet are proof that you are worth it.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Perspective

Several weeks ago, I laid my son down for his morning nap and went to turn on his video monitor.  As the monitor powered on, the picture on the screen was so dark that I could not even make out his image.  I was a little irritated because what's the point of a video monitor if I can't even see the video, right?!  How am I supposed to make sure he's breathing if I can't even see him?

I started thinking about possible causes for the picture to be so dark.  Was his room too light?  No, his room was as dark as could be without any lights on, his blinds shut, and blackout curtains pulled closed to keep out extra light.  That wasn't it.  Then it occurred to me...maybe if I changed the perspective of the camera, I could see the imagine on the monitor.  So, I quietly crept into his room and shifted the camera from one corner of his crib to the other.  When I came back out and looked at the monitor, lo and behold, I could see the image perfectly clear.

Don't worry, it's not really 76 in his room.  The temperature gauge has never worked correctly.

Problem solved!  Now I could keep an eye on him and go about my business.  But as I went about my morning chores, a simple thought occurred to me.  Perspective is everything.

Nothing about the situation of my son's video monitor had changed other than the perspective of the camera.  His blinds remained closed in the same way they were before, I hadn't touched his curtains, I didn't turn off any lights.  Literally the only thing I had done differently was move the camera so that the image would be seen from a different direction.

This is Jesus in the mundane and ordinary of everyday life.  It's a moment when Heavens whispers that He's not far away from us at all if only we'd stop to see Him.  Everything that happens to us, everything that we are engaged in can be seen from one of two perspectives; the light or the dark.  And being intentional about our way of thinking is life or death to our state of mind. 

The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 that, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." (emphasis mine)

 Training our minds to focus on the positive gives us life.  

On the flip side, if we choose to look at things through a negative lens, that brings about grief and destruction and increases anxiety and fear.  As Jesus so wisely described on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:22-23, "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

This means that how and what we see affects our whole being.

I am reminded that I am in charge of my own thoughts.  I cannot control what happens to me, but I can control how I respond to what happens.  I must choose to see situations through the positive perspective.  And to be honest, I stink at doing this in my own strength.  I must ask God constantly to help me see the good, help me be thankful.  Choosing otherwise leads me to darkness in my thoughts, in my heart, and then ultimately my words or actions.  I must guard my heart, for everything I do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).

This reminder came at the perfect time for me.  And maybe you need this reminder too.  Maybe you have been consumed with negative thoughts or are facing a really difficult situation or trial in life.  Your grief overwhelms you.  You just cannot seem to catch a break.  But there is a way out.  It's through the power of your thinking.  And oh, is it ever powerful.  The Lord gave us a brain for a reason.  Let us use it to shine light in our own lives which will then overflow into others.

Perspective is everything.  It's through how we choose to see that affects our thoughts, words, and actions. Ask God for help every step of the way.  Let us remember that a shift in perspective can suddenly bring everything to light.  And let us choose to see situations that way instead of focusing on the negative and dark way of thinking.  Light gives life. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Run Through Sprinklers

There are sobering moments in life when everything shifts into its proper perspective.  It's easy to get caught up in our everyday hustle and bustle, our self centered-ness, our "woe is me" mentality when in reality, life is pretty sweet.  We feel lonely, depressed, hopeless.  And I am learning that often times it is self inflicted. We can't see past the end of our own noses.  The enemy puts blinders on us, distracting us from seeing all that's good and important and wholesome.  And the result?  A life that never meets its full potential.

I am seeing more and more how life is a vapor, a quick moment in time.  It's a precious gift that can be gone in an instant.  Our local community was rocked with a terrible fatal accident yesterday that claimed the lives of two innocent, precious, beautiful girls; one seven, one seventeen.  It makes you stop and think...that could have been me and my family. 

So what is one to do?  Do you go about like nothing ever happened?  You could.  Do you live in fear?  You could do that too, (But take it from someone who has learned from experience; it is crippling.)  Or you could decide right here and right now to really start living; to make your days count.

Run through the sprinklers.

Bury the hatchet.

Read one more story before bedtime.

Hug your mom and dad.

Spend quality time with your family.

Put the cell phone down.

Look to Jesus.  He is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Do something kind for your spouse.

Make everyday truly count.

Realize that the small things are actually the big things.

Focus on what is true, what is lovely, what is good.

 Walking with Purpose - Keeping in Balance 2 - Philippians 4:8 lock screen
Our days are limited.  Let's not spend them wasting precious time on ideals that don't really matter in the end.  Sometimes we need a reality check to remember what is truly important.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Tearing Down Strongholds

It's hard to live this and it's even harder to write this.  Oh how my soul has been in despair for months now.  As I have been preparing to share this part of my story, the enemy continues to whisper in my mind that I'll be judged, I'll be ridiculed, people will think less of me.  Oh well, here it goes anyways.  I'm not letting him continue to have this power over me.

We recently had a health scare with our daughter that brought all of this to a head.  Praise God everything seems to be fine, but it was a scary week with so many uncertainties, questions, and thoughts running wild.  It gave us a small, small glimpse into the lives of parents of children fighting terrible illnesses.  My prayer life in this area will be forever changed.

On our way home from the hospital yesterday, Jared and I began to talk about what God showed us through all of this.  I feel like I could write a book on the many lessons I learned in a short amount of time, but one glaring theme that I've had to address in my own life is spiritual strongholds that I have let the devil have on me for far too long.  This is a message that's not only hard to write, but hard to receive too.  Lord, let their hearts be softened.

My struggle with anxiety began when I was 14 years old.  I can take you to the exact moment.  It was like a switch flipped in my brain.  Since then, I've worked through managing and learning how to deal with it without medication.  But many people are not as fortunate.  And since knowing Christ, He has helped me overcome many obstacles.  It's a silent "disease", if you will.  A person can look completely normal and content on the outside, but inside is a different story.  And I almost feel as if anxiety is so flippantly used today because the feeling of anxiousness is so widespread and felt by so many people.  So let me be clear.  I'm talking about anxiety in the sense that it is crippling and paralyzing to the point where it affects your everyday life; not just a case of the butterflies from nervousness.  You can't leave your house some days because of this anxiety.  Your relationships suffer because some people do not understand.  This is real and it's a stronghold that I have let control my life for far too long.

God's Word tells us in James 1:17 that, "Every good and perfect gift is from above..."  If something is not good and perfect, frankly it is not of God.  And as a believer, that points me to who it is from - the devil.  That may sound like crazy talk, but it's true.  The devil is real and he is alive.  He seeks to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).  He wants to kill my confidence in Christ.  He wants to steal my joy with my family.  He wants to destroy my testimony, my character, my relationships, fill in the blank. He has bound me in chains through the word "anxiety" so much so that he had convinced me that all of my fears would become a reality if I even so much as voiced them.  Do you know how crippling this is?  I couldn't even talk about worries I had because I was afraid if I even spoke the words, it would happen.  I know that sounds crazy, but I also know I am not alone in feeling this way.  That is why I feel so compelled to share.

The ways in which I've found the enemy to work in my life are through fear, isolation, and my introverted nature.  I buy into his lies that he feeds me, which then makes me fearful.  I'm already isolated as a mom of an infant and a toddler because I simply cannot go and do whatever I want whenever I want.  And because I'm a natural introvert, I will sometimes hole up and stay that way.

But...GOD.  He is greater and He is stronger than any of this.  And this week took me to my knees in ways I could never put into words.  And through this, I learned a few ways to break these strongholds.

1.  PRAYER.  I battled in prayer.  The more I talked to people, the more anxious I became.  Why did the doctor have that frown on her face?  Why didn't he say everything would be okay?  Even with the best of intentions, most people in their reassurance made my anxiety worse.  And it's not their fault, they were only trying to help.  The only one I could talk to and feel a sense of calm from was God.  When I spoke to Him, I knew He was listening.  I knew He was working. 
Also, the prayers of His people are more valuable than gold.  When someone asks you to pray, it is not because they do not trust God.  It is because these battles are won in prayer and prayer is a lifeline to God.  There are spiritual battles all around us.  Read 2 Kings chapter 6 to get a glimpse. 


2.  MEMORIZING SCRIPTURE.  His word came alive to me in ways I have not experienced before.  I have not done an excellent job in memorizing scripture.  I am much better than I was, but I still have a long way to go.  I cannot tell you how powerful it was to be talking to God and reciting His word back to Him saying, Lord, you told me in Philippians that Your peace would guard my heart and my mind (Phil 4:7).  I need that right now, Lord.  Thank You for bending to hear my prayers.  Because of that, I will pray as long as I have breath (Psalm 116:2)!  You've told me satan is a liar (John 8:44).  He wants to kill, to steal, and to destroy (John 10:10).  But You have overcome that!  He bruised your heel, but you crushed his head (Genesis 3:15).  The power I felt in these prayers was like the force of a bulldozer uprooting a tree.  I could feel the chains breaking.  Memorizing scripture is now something I will be diligently working toward.

3.  SPEAK OUT FEARS.  This was the hardest for me to learn.  Even through the power of prayer and calling out God's word, I still felt choked down by fear that if I even voiced my thoughts raging in my mind they would somehow come true.  But as I began to realize I was buying right into satan's snares, I opened up and spilled it all out to my husband.  I could almost hear the chains breaking then.  All of these worries I've been keeping bottled up inside me for months came pouring out.  I could breathe!  I could talk!  Someone would listen and not judge me, not ridicule me, not make me feel stupid.  Why had it taken me so long to figure this out?

The answer was strongholds.  I had let satan plant seeds of doubt in my mind that grew into fears and sprouted lies.  And the more I kept silent, the more I watered his poisonous plant to the point that its roots became chains on my life.

That sign                                                                                                                                                                                 More

But...GOD.  He is greater and He is stronger than any of this.  My chains are gone, I've been set free.  My God, my Savior has ransomed me.  And like a flood, His mercy rains.  Unending love, amazing grace.

I pray that any strongholds you have in your life will be uprooted, sawed in half.  It may not happen overnight, but God is faithful.  He is strong.  He is true.  Trust Him, lean on Him, learn from Him.  He will direct all of your paths and fill your heart with joy.  Even in the midst of struggles you can say, it is well with my soul.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Meal Plan Monday

Monday comes around all too quickly, doesn't it?  And's a doozy around here.  Mondays are always the hardest for my babies.  Maybe it's all of the fun we had over the weekend or missing their daddy, but we're riding the struggle bus most Mondays. 

We had a nice weekend at home complete with chores being checked off, visiting with some friends and meeting their new baby boy, and church on Sunday followed by some awesome Sunday afternoon naps.  Well, the kids took the naps.  J and I adulted; he fixed the garage door while I grocery shopped.

I absolutely loved your feedback from last week's post and I hope it helped you plan or stay accountable.  You also gave me some great ideas for new recipes to incorporate!  Here is what we will be eating this week.

Monday - Mississippi Pot Roast (Crockpot friendly) with steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, and salad.
Tuesday - Mexican Pulled Chicken Stuffed Peppers with black beans. (Crockpot friendly)
Wednesday - Eating at my parents' house
Thursday - Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. (Crockpot friendly)  I've seen this recipe a lot floating around on Pinterest and several of my friends have made it.  We're giving it a shot!
Friday - Green Chile Turkey Burgers with oven roasted sweet potato wedges.
Saturday - Grilled Pork Steaks with grilled squash, zucchini, asparagus, and baked beans.
Sunday - Panko Pesto Chicken with sauteed green beans and roasted parsnips.

Food makes me excited and I'm really excited about this week's menu.  These are all "clean eating" approved with the exception of Monday's pot roast and the panko used on Sunday's chicken. Let me know what recipes you'd like to try and I'll do my best to get them posted.  Watch for the Springtime Chicken recipe coming sometime this week.

Here's to good food and sweet family time together around the table.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Meal Plan Monday

Alright, y'all.  I'm going to bring back Meal Plan Monday with the hopes that it will keep you and I accountable in staying organized and creating healthy home cooked meals for our families.  If organization and planning were love languages, they would be mine.

I love to meal plan and I have ever since I lived on my own.  Now it is even more critical for my growing family.  We are on a tight budget (thanks, Dave Ramsey), and eating out is expensive!  I make my meal plan every Sunday, with input from my family, and usually do my grocery shopping on Monday.

Here are some helpful tips when making your weekly meal plan:
1.  Look for sales on meat at your local stores that week.  Plan meals around that (if your family eats meat).
2.  Buy produce that's in season.  It will be much more cost effective and in-season always tastes better.  This is a great resource to check if you're unsure about what is and what is not in season.
3.  Be realistic.  If you know you have a meeting that lasts until 6:00 on Tuesday night, chances are you need to prepare something ahead or pick something up on the way home.  Don't wait until you get home to decide.
4.  Be flexible.  If you have tacos planned for one night and your family is just not feeling it, switch it with another night.
5.  Don't be afraid to add variety.  Of course we all have our favorites, but branch out!  Cooking can be a lot of fun and the more you do it, the more comfortable you become with it.  I say try just one new recipe a week.
6.  Involve your family.  Ask for their input.  And then sit down at the table and eat together.

Here is what we will be eating this week:

Monday - Mushroom chicken with brown rice and steamed asparagus.
Tuesday - Tacos with refried beans (I usually plan a different Mexican dish for Tuesday nights).
Wednesday - Church/leftovers.
Thursday - Springtime Chicken with sauteed zucchini, squash, and carrots over brown rice.
Friday - Lumpia with fried rice.
Saturday - Pizza night!
Sunday - Greek chicken with sauteed green beans and baked sweet potatoes.  You can find the recipe here.  Shared by my sweet friend, Erica, this is fast, easy and healthy.

I make my own taco seasoning.  It's SO simple and I always have these spices on hand.

Homemade Taco Seasoning:
  1. 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder.
  2. 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder.
  3. 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder.
  4. 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes.
  5. 1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano.
  6. 1/2 tsp. Paprika.
  7. 1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin.
  8. 1 tsp. Sea Salt.

I'd love to hear what you're planning for this week!  Please leave me questions/comments and I'll be sure to respond.  Have a wonderful, blessed week.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year, New Goals

As another new year gets started, I always like to reflect back on the previous one and think of what I'd like to accomplish during this year.  For 2018, I have two major goals.  They are choosing joy and being intentional.

Choose Joy Printable Art Inspirational Print by PaperStormPrints
Joy is a beautiful word that has tremendous power behind it.  Joy is not about what happens to you, but how you choose to respond to what happens.  It's a mindset.  I feel like learning to practice joy is an ongoing life lesson and one I really want to focus on this coming year.

Our family will be growing any day now with the addition of our baby boy. I know and I've been told numerous times that two under two will not be easy.  But I don't want to see it that way.  I want to find so much joy in the hard days when all I've done is wipe booties, bathe babies, clean up various messes, and calm crying little ones.

But how do I do that?  I choose joy right here and right now.  I choose to look at trying circumstances as a blessing rather than a nuisance.  I choose to see that these babies of mine are only babies for such a teensy amount of time and the abundance of hugs and kisses I receive on a daily basis will soon be fewer and far between. I choose to remember that there was once a time that I didn't know if I'd ever get to experience motherhood and I keep that at the forefront of my mind.

Becoming intentional is something else that has really been on my heart for several months now and I know it needs to be a major focus of my life.  I want to be intentional in my relationship with Christ, with my husband, with my children, and with family and friends. In a world where I feel pulled in a thousand different directions with everything vying for my attention, I have simply realized that it's not possible to be involved and efficient at every single thing.  I am having to become intentional in what matters.  This will take work and a lot of prayer, but I know the Lord will lead me and help me as long as I seek Him during this journey.

I pray that 2018 will bring you tremendous blessings as you set out with your own goals in mind.