A Matter Of Perspective

Faith, Uncategorized

Oh 2016, I can’t say that I will miss you. I am honestly so glad you’re over. You were the toughest, hardest, most stressful, emotional…well, you get the point. Im glad you’re coming to an end. But, even though you were in so many ways miserable, I am thankful for what you taught me. I am proud of the things you brought out of me and the perspective that I gained through it all. You actually taught me more about Jesus and myself than I had ever known. I now know that my character and faith can not be shaken. Thank you for confirming Jesus’ goodness.

“That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,.” 1 Peter 1:7

And to you 2017, I cannot wait to meet you. You hold promise, answered prayer, growth, expansion, blessings and another step in the journey Jesus has for my life and those around me. I know that I have been refined and made ready for what you have in store. I am expectant.

As far as resolutions and purpose, I’m really not too worried about those. My main purpose is to follow hard after Jesus and to know him more.

After all, He can make things happen that we never could in our own strength or natural talent.

He makes all thing work together for good.

He guides. He blesses. He makes a way. He provides. He inspires. He gives. He is all things.

So lets make knowing Him more our main thing in 2017.

We can never go wrong by putting all of our hope, time and love towards Jesus.

And now, to share some of the sweet moments of 2016. In the midst of the hardest season, I am reminded of just how blessed we were through it all. I am so thankful for my two super cute, sweet babies, husband and amazing family! When I look through all of the photos from 2016, I am proud and I am reminded that through it all we never lost hope, we kept pushing through and we always looked for Jesus in the midst of it all.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.1 Corinthians 15:54-58

 

 

 

Signs and Wonders

Faith, Uncategorized

Signs and Wonders, what are they really? How would you define or describe them in today’s language? Most of us may be able to tell stories from the Bible about all of the amazing miracles that took place in that time, but if asked if signs and wonders were evident in their lives today, I would guess that most people wouldn’t have a solid answer on the spot.

Looking at some of the various Greek and Hebrew definitions for “Sign and Wonder” will help to get a better understanding.

Wonder –Something so strange or fascinating as to cause to be “observed or watched”. A miracle, a portent, a prodigy (an amazing or unusual thing, especially out of the ordinary course of nature). God makes people into prodigies!

Sign – A mark or token that distinguishes a person or thing from others.

After reading and thinking on these definitions, I immediately thought of how we, as Christians, should be a “sign and wonder” to everyone around us. Our lives should be so remarkable, so full of love, joy, freedom and solid faith that others can’t help but to “observe or watch” our lives. We should be “a token that distinguishes a person from others”.

If we really examine our lives, would there be anything that as a Christian sets us apart? Are we ok with possibly being viewed as ‘an unusual person, or out of the ordinary” by others? When tragedy or extremely hard times come, do we react like someone who isn’t in relationship with the Lord? Or do we stand firm in our faith, never wavering from the truth and love we have in Him?

But, besides us as Christians being a “sign and wonder” to the world around us, there is also the fact that in order to really come alive, we ourselves should be experiencing signs and wonders!

“We can live our entire lives being great people who do great things, but if we aren’t experiencing His presence and His power, we really never were living out His full potential for our lives.”

Being afraid of stepping out and getting everything He has for us, is no way to live. That may some times mean stepping out of our comfort zone and forgetting about what people may think. That may look like reckless abandonment. It requires having the mindset of “what ever it looks like Lord, I’m in”. You see, I believe in the Holy Spirit and miracles and His tangible presence! Not just the, “worship experience high” every Sunday, but the “I cant stand in His presence because it’s so powerful”!

Lives are radically changed by His presence and power. I have seen it countless times. When people are given a prophetic word, receive a miracle, or get their prayer language they are never the same. Signs and wonders are ultimately designed to produce a hunger that causes a response in us and others! They have a very unique purpose in bringing people to a place of fascination, contemplation, and decision. They are designed to demonstrate His greatness, His goodness, His glory, and His power ! The end-goal is for all to respond in surrender, worship, adoration, freedom and love.

How great are His signs,

And how mighty His wonders!

His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

And His dominion is from generation to generation.

Daniel 4:3

Do you ever ask yourself, “where are the signs and wonders I read about in the Bible or hear about in other countries? Or, why aren’t I experiencing more signs and wonders in my own life?”

We can’t simply wait around for signs and wonders to happen; but rather, we have to make something happen by actually becoming a sign and wonder to those around us. I can assure you that signs and wonders are happening all around us daily. We aren’t waiting on God, but rather, He is waiting on us to get up and GO! Trust me, you will find the miraculous in the going, the trusting, and the doing.

If I could leave you with anything to consider, consider going all in, no matter what it looks like. He is real, He loves us and wants to reveal Himself to us….and we all need it! Let’s all go for it! Lets live out our FULL potential and destiny, and have fun doing it!

 

Shopkin Party

Birthday Parties, Uncategorized

I think this was the easiest and most fun out of all of the parties I have planned. I mean, Shopkins are just SO cute, bright and fun! My daughter loved every bit of it! Oh, and this was my first time ever making a piñata! I love the taco Shopkin and couldn’t find one to purchase, so I gave it a try. I will post a separate tutorial for that soon!

I decided to turn their playroom into the PARTY ROOM! This worked out great, giving all of the kids somewhere to eat, craft and play!

Here’s a break down of this fun party!

Activities: A station for candy necklace making and Shopkin coloring, jump house and trampoline fun outside, piñata, “pin the chocolate chip on the cookie” game, and of course cake time and gift opening!

Food: Tortilla soup, beans, nachos, fruit cups with chili (thats how we do things in South Texas). There was no shortage of sweets at this party, including cake, cupcakes, and cookies, and lots of candy!

I would have to say that the cake and cookies totally stole the show. They were beyond amazing. So cute and yummy too!

My amazing friend Lauren Haines created the Happy Birthday Cookie poster for me. For the game we blindfolded the kiddos and let them try putting the chocolate chips on the cookie. It was super cute.

All sources are listed at the bottom 🙂

Shopkin Masks

Shopkin Dress

Name Banner

Bright Paper Straws

Cake/cookies/cupcakes: My amazing friend Lacie Panknin

Shopkin Party/treat bags

Shopkin Personalized Coloring Sheets

Shopkin Cookie Cutters

 

 

 

Subtle Ways

Faith, Uncategorized

Most of us in the Christian realm have heard the scripture and phrase, “the devil is out to kill, steal and destroy”. Most would agree that it’s a pretty intense verse and because of the strong words within the verse, some may not relate or feel like it pertains to them. Much like when we see storms, shootings and various other horrible things on the news. We subtly think “that would never happen to me”.

However, most have experienced some form of trauma in their lives and they would most likely agree with the idea that the devil was to blame.

But, lets consider the not so obvious attacks, because the truth is, the devil doesn’t always strike with intense, harsh blows. He isn’t always so obvious. People do not “all of the sudden” want to commit suicide, get addicted to drugs, or live a life void of passion and joy.

The Devil starts by first stealing our wonder and fascination with the Lord by persuading us away from God and all He stands for. The Devil is a deceiver who is out to distract us into false beliefs, division, and a loss of appetite for the things of God. This results in lack of passion in our faith, as well as people walking in dumbed down Christianity. He would love nothing more, but for Christians to continue going to church, but never growing spiritually and instead just going through the motions.

It’s important to remember,

“The Lord doesn’t want us to be “good”, He wants us to be spiritual.”

You see, if He can get you in a place of believing lies, such as you aren’t good enough, you will never be able to have something or do something, then you wont even try. And if you never even try, you’ll never make a difference and he wins. I’m convinced that if we as Christians would take an hour-by-hour stand against the enemy we would all be so much further by now.

“The enemy will constantly put a question mark on everything God says”

And it really is an hour-by-hour battle! He is working by the minute to get you in a place of stagnation. He works on over time to deceive & accuse us. For some he doesn’t have to work so hard. For others, He has to work on overtime, especially for Christians who determine to fully accomplish all God has in store for their lives.

For me, even now, knowing the truth, I have to continue to fill my heart and renew my mind with His truth. I consistently need to get alone with Him, read His word and hear Him speak to me. These days, I am stronger and wiser, but the enemy still tries.

Being in ministry for so many years, I have witnessed many people have these amazing experiences with the Lord. They are set free of an addiction and given profound words from the Lord. They come so alive and leave church that day on cloud nine. They are totally on fire and usually can’t wait to tell everyone about their transformation. I’m sure their intentions at the time are to stay the course and to continue growing in their faith.

But, sadly, more times then not, I don’t see them at church anymore over the course of time. They find themselves back into complacency in their walk with the Lord. This doesn’t happen because their experience wasn’t real. This happens because after their experience, they allowed the enemy to deceive them into believing lies.

“A one-time experience cant replace Intimacy with the Lord.”

We can have numerous encounters with the Lord, but we will easily fall back to old ways, or stop growing it we allow other things come before knowing Him.

“1 John 2:15-17 – 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Once we start allowing anything else to come before seeking the Lord and being in wonder of who He is, we begin to lose our appetite for the real thing. Once, we lose our wonder in the Lord and His ways, we lose our hunger. It’s like eating junk food before dinner. Something has ruined your appetite for the real thing, and when you don’t have a hunger for the real thing, there is a problem with your spiritual health. One of the first signs of being physically sick is loss of hunger. No hunger is a sign.

“If you’re satisfied, then you’re not on fire! Because a fire is never satisfied!”

So say yes to God’s love today, and allow the wonder & beauty of who He really is to captivate your hearts more than the lies and deceit of this world!

Wonder + Hunger

Uncategorized

Sometimes it can seem unattainable to live our lives on this earth as a true disciple. That is, someone who truly denies themselves and takes up their cross daily. But, Jesus gave us clear expectations when it comes to being one of His disciples:

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

The steps to being a disciple are simple, but they are not formulaic. As soon as we lose sight of Jesus or remove ourselves from abiding with Him, we can all find ourselves drifting away from our faith and longing to be satisfied elsewhere.

Our soul is constantly looking for satisfaction and fulfillment. And because of the carnal nature, there is a daily war taking place between our flesh (or soul desires) and the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:17). And so, we must sow to the Spirit constantly, and in turn, this pleases God and positions us for intimate relationship and great reward (Romans 8:8, Galatians 6:8).

It’s only through finding our pleasure and delight in God that we can truly live the abundant life He has destined for us.

In the beginning God gave mankind their first job description; tending and keeping the garden.

Genesis 2:15 – 15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

God the Father creates and prepares everything for His children then puts them in position to enjoy and partake in the pleasure and delight of the garden as well as everything in it.

Eden: Pleasure and delight

‘In this place of “tending and keeping” we can find our fulfillment and fascination in all we do with and for the Lord.’

Who does not want to live a life full of wonder and excitement? Nobody desires to live a mundane life. We can live captivated by His wonder when we are experiencing His love, kindness, mercy, grace, and presence. Personally, I am simply fascinated by how much God constantly loves and pursues me.

Wonder defined:

To think or speculate curiously. To be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe. To marvel. Something strange or surprising, astonishment or admiration. The excited emotion of being surprised, or when you discover something that puzzled you. A miraculous deed or event. A remarkable phenomenon.

The Lord loves to surprise, amaze, and astonish us daily! And all of us should be somewhat puzzled by the incredible awesomeness of His existence and His creation. But it’s the discovery of who He is & what He does (and even how He does it), that brings incredible emotion and amazement to our lives.

Psalm 37:3 – Trust in the Lord, and do good;

Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

God wants you to be confident, bold, and secure in His love and faithfulness over your life.

In turn, this love and confidence will cause you to work hard at bringing that same love and light to others. The resulting work will make and prepare positive outcomes, even when you’re being pressed and squeezed from all sides. You will become an offering to God and others.

The result of all of this will be a Godly and content life that is settled and at peace, for we will be established in all things.

The garden of today is full of thorns, thistles, darkness, and an enemy that wants to completely destroy it. It’s been tainted with sin and deception. But God has an answer, and we are it! It’s time to tend, keep, trust, do, dwell, and feed. And all the while, there is still as much pleasure and delight as there ever was.

“Renew your wonder, and you will find your hunger.

Find your hunger, and you will never lose your wonder!”

A Place Of Rest

Faith, Uncategorized

 

 

 

 

 

Time. The thing nobody seems to have enough of. Most go through their lives busy and rushed, trying to get everything done. It’s so easy to live this way day in and day out, never stopping to think about the bigger purpose or reason for our existence here on earth.

Lately I’ve been thinking so much about time and how I spend mine. If I’m being honest, many days I am that person that goes nonstop, checking things off of my never ending to-do list and and having trouble just being still. I am often guilty of not being in a place of rest within.

We’ve all heard the passages in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven, A time to be born, And a time to die…”

It’s important to take note of what the word “season means- “appointed time”. That means, in whatever season we are in, we are in His appointed time. That is of course, if we are following after Him. Whether it’s tough, sad, amazing, or easy… however the season “feels”, He is in it. He has appointed us and provided the grace for us to fulfill what we are called to.

Ecclesiastes 3: 9-11 

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?  I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

We all have so much going on, and of course, it is important and necessary to work hard. However, I am addressing our heart condition through it all. Are we walking in a position of rest and contentment, fully trusting Him with our lives?  I often ask myself, “Why are you stressed and anxious today?” This is just a way to “assess” myself and my heart. Then,  I break it down, process it, and eventually realize my reasons for being this way are usually vain and not worth being unsettled over.

It’s also important to be intentional about being present. Are you taking in the detailed beauty of your children, husband, friends? Are you really hearing them? Our lives here on earth are but a vapor, gone just like that. What will we leave behind? Are our intentions vain, or are we making our lives count for eternity? 

May I inspire you today to take time to be with Him and find your place of rest in Him.

 

 

 

The Comparison + Self Conceit Trap

Uncategorized

 So often, we compare our lives with others- placing ourselves higher or lower in our own personal mindset. In today’s society of social media, the desire to display the best version of ourselves only adds to chances of falling prey to the comparison and self-conceit trap.  After all, the more attention gained, the better one may feel about theirselves, which adds fuel to the fire. My hope is that within the following message you are reminded of the mindset and heart posture our Father longs for us to have as His sons and daughters.

Luke 18:9-14
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Here are a few points to take note of regarding the Pharisee’s misguided agenda:

  1. He stood and looked around which represents his pride, self-righteousness, egocentric nature.

  2. The Pharisee prays with himself vs. praying with God from a sincere heart.

  3. He says “I” five times and brags on his own ability.

  4. He uses the comparison phrase: “Not like other men…”

  5. He lists his religious duties: I am good & I am religious, I fast, I tithe, I pray, I adhere to oral tradition and the law, I have piety, I adhere & believe the law, I have national pride, I hate our enemies, etc.

From these points, we are made aware that comparison and judgmental prayers are always misguided. Jesus never taught us to pray or live our lives this way. This is pride and arrogance at its finest. Thinking you’re “good” to the point of having full confidence in yourself, so much so, that anyone or anything that doesn’t compare or “match-up” to your life is less than, and therefore becomes a disdain to you. And to top it off, this type of person truly believes they’re justified and has God on their side. The comparison trap: measuring your success and ability based on the success and abilities of others.

Now lets look at some points regarding the Tax Collector’s Agenda:

  1. The posture of his heart is “I’m not good enough”.

  2. His posture: Standing afar off with head bowed low, representing a picture of humility, shame, sorrow & brokenness.

  3. He beats his chest.

  4. He makes the confession: “I am a sinner”.

His posture and humility are the sacrifices that pleases God. (Psalm 51:17).  We have two choices when evaluating ourself. We can compare ourselves to others and the notion of being good, or we can compare ourself with God’s word and what He says to be true. We should all be aware of our desperate need of God’s mercy in our lives just as the tax collector was. This is a great representation of the posture & position of humility that brings us to justification in God’s eyes. The tax collector beating his chest is a picture of the hatred of self and his willingness to decrease, so that God could increase in His life. Again, humility at it’s finest.

Jesus’ final reminder to humble ourselves:

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

As I meditate and reflect on this passage of scripture I am reminded of a few things.

We must live at the cross.

Living at the cross means that we are dependent on Him.

As true disciples we must “die daily” meaning it becomes a little less about us and a little more about Him each day.

It is not about being good, measuring up, or fulfilling our religious duty as a Christian.

Growing up, I always had such a guilty conscience and only wanted to do the right thing at all times. In fact, if I knew of anything my sister was up to that was no good, I would lay awake all night until I eventually woke my parents to tell them. Yes, I was that kid. But, I never knew the importance of true relationship with Him, only the importance of doing good and saying a prayer at night. But, God doesn’t want us to be good and complete our religious duties, He wants us to be spiritual. He wants an authentic relationship with us.

In Galatians 6:8 we are reminded to sow to the Spirit instead of the flesh.
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

In Galatians 5:22-23 the fruits of the Spirit are listed.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

For me, the list of the fruits are a way for me to check myself. If the majority of the fruits aren’t evident in my daily life, I know I need to sow to the Spirit. I am reminded of my need to make time for Him, to spend time alone with him, praying, listening and reading His word.

Doing good is something that naturally flows from an authentic relationship with Him, not from striving to measure up or please Him. After all, we never come to a place where we “arrive.” So, lets not fall into the comparison trap of measuring our success and ability based on the success and abilities of others. God made no two people alike. We are all called to do things and do them in ways that are different than others. So, do what He is calling you to do without measuring it to another’s calling. It will look different for a reason.

For after all, Mercy always triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

To hear Pastor David’s weekly messages visit http://www.rockcitycorpus.com

 

The Struggle is Real: 2 under 2

mom life, Uncategorized

My children are 18 months apart. Though they were not both under two for long, they were both still very much in need of full time assistance for long enough. I’d like to say that I was never “merely surviving” and instead “always thriving” as a mother, but I would be lying. Ha! The struggle is real at times. However, things did get easier & I was able to find my rhythm & a balance to keep my sanity most of the time.

Here are the top 5 struggles I faced as a mother with two so close in age, along with some helpful suggestions as a gift from me to you! Happy parenting!

  1. Diapers! Double diapers full time. It always seemed like they took turns going poo, just to make sure you don’t get too comfortable.                                            

    —>Suggestions: Well, there really aren’t any! Besides repeating to yourself  “This is just a season. I’ve got this.” It is what it is.

  2. Potty training. Teaching the oldest to use the potty while you have an infant who cannot sit up is a challenge to say the least–especially while on-the-go. There were many times I would be at a store alone with both children and my oldest would need to use the potty. This required me to put the infant down to help the other get on the potty, wipe, flush & then wash hands. The problem is, there is nowhere clean to place the infant in order to do this.

    –>Suggestions: Wear your baby! Baby wearing frees up your hands to assist the other child. Also, some stores have large enough restrooms and you are able to bring the cart in. I was never the mom to carry my baby around in their carseat. That thing is heavy!

  3. Double crying. I think its pretty impossible to not feel somewhat anxious when both of your children are having a meltdown and you aren’t able to meet both of their needs at once. Over time, you do somewhat get used to it and are able to stay calm for the most part.

    –>Suggestions: Go to another place in your mind when they are both screaming at the top of their lungs. A happy place. Then just kind of hum to yourself, regain peace, and get busy. Start with the child in most need and work your way to the end of the issues until there is peace again.

  4. Lack of sleep. In the early days of two under two, you will be limited on sleep. If you’re are super blessed and your older child sleeps through the night, that is a plus. You still, however, have an infant who wakes every two hours at the beginning. By the time they are one, most sleep issues are resolved, and you can see the light again. But, lets talk about that first year. Lack of sleep makes the following day a challenge. I don’t know about you guys, but I MUST HAVE SLEEP. I am a cranky bear and lack motivation to ‘adult’ without it. Entertaining the children for what seems like eternity the following day is a struggle when functioning on minimal sleep.

    –>Suggestions: If possible, give your husband/significant other the task of putting the kids to bed so that you can go to bed super early. Or, if you’re super lucky and your husband has a flexible work schedule, have him do the morning duties, allowing you to get at least an extra hour of sleep in the morning. (If breastfeeding, make sure you have milk in the freezer!) Then of course if all else fails, try to nap when or if your babies ever miraculously nap at the same time. You can usually time it out to eventually have the infant taking their second nap at the same time as the older child’s once a day nap.

  5. Breast feeding/pumping. I decided to be an overachiever and pump in between feedings to up my supply and to have extra for times away. This added to my stress level. I wouldn’t suggest it. Breast feeding or pumping is a challenge when you have to sit still while the older child gets into who knows what, or is wanting your attention.

    –>Suggestions: Buy a hands free pump. Also, while pumping or feeding try to distract the older child by giving them something they really enjoy. In my case, it was the iPad, a sweet snack, favorite tv show, or a hands on activity that was sure to take time to complete. Once again, this is most challenging mainly in the first 6 months, as the baby eventually isn’t feeding as often. (Can you say FREEDOM?!!)

It really is worth it in the end. My children are now 2 and 3 1/2. Just as I had hoped for, my kids play together well (for the most part), like the same things, and nap and go to bed at the same times. It may be hard in the beginning, but the LOVE, CUTENESS & SWEETNESS factor of having two little people is out of this world.