A Matter Of Perspective

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

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

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

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!

Christmas Fun For Littles

I believe it is important to begin teaching the true meaning and reason we celebrate Christmas at a young age. I thought I would share a few traditions we started with our two littles. Our kids are two and four, so for now we keep things fairly simple and fun!

These Advent ornaments come in natural wood that you can hand paint, or you can purchase them pre-painted. I chose to get the natural wood and let my daughter help me paint them. She loves crafting, so this was a fun thing we got to do together.

 

Each day, starting on December 1st, we read and talk about what each ornament represents from the book provided, and then we hang the ornament on our tree. I chose to have a separate small tree in their play room to do this. That way the kids can focus on only the advent ornaments and not get distracted with other ornaments.

The kids look forward to taking turns getting to be the one to hang the ornament each day.

We also love to read! Over the years I have collected various Christmas books. I keep them in a basket in the living room so that the kids can see them and we read them throughout December.

Another tradition for us is the “4 Gift Rule”, well at least 4 gifts from us! Of course their family will get them gifts as well. As parents we buy them 4 gifts each. I love the simplicity of this. It helps to not make Christmas shopping overwhelming and helps children to focus on the true reason for celebrating Christmas.

Gift #1: SOMETHING THEY WANT
Bible Verse: Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Gift #2: SOMETHING THEY NEED
Bible Verse: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Gift #3: SOMETHING TO WEAR
Bible Verse: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

Gift #4: SOMETHING TO READ
Bible Verse: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

(Click Here for more details on the 4 gift rule and to download the tags to use for wrapping!)

 

 

Besides Advent ornaments and Christmas books, we look foward to creating gingerbread houses, making smores in our fireplace, watching Christmas movies, singing christmas songs, and making various Christmas crafts.

It really is my favorite time of the year!

 

Wonder and Delight

God wants us to have wonder. But what does that really mean? Well, to “wonder” means: to think or speculate curiously and to be filled with admiration, amazement and awe. Ultimately, He wants to be wanted.

I see wonder when I watch my two children discover anything new. They are in awe of things that we, as adults, have grown accustomed to. The way our kids react when we take them to the beach is wonder defined. They run and laugh with such excitement while they discover how the water tastes and the sand feels between their toes. This is the type of excitement we should have for the Lord. The process of discovering His ways is exciting!

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

When you think of the Lord, do you marvel at the wondrous works of His hands or at His incredible love for you? He wants us to be excited, full of passion, and even surprised when we discover things that once puzzled us! This is daily wonder.

Psalm 37:4 says,

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

So, we can rephrase Psalm 37:4 to say,

“I choose to be incredibly particular about my time with God. I long for Him before anyone and anything else, and I won’t be satisfied without Him. I know that I am frail, delicate, and soft before Him. But, I am also gracefully built to move with Him in power! I’m hungry for Him always, and I choose to pamper myself with exquisite delight in the very nature and character of who God IS more than what He DOES. And I couldn’t be happier.”

When we delight ourselves in the Lord, something incredible happens to us! We start to receive empowerment and reward from God. And these inner-rewards cause, or entice, us to want to work. We suddenly find ourselves entrusted with new things. Our emotions become stable, our spiritual appetite is strong, our moral character is in line, and our inner-man is renewed day-by-day!

It is God who gives! All you have to do is delight in Him, and He gives the rest!

You won’t “feel” delightful all of the time. And even if you live in a place of wonder and delight in the Lord, you will still have hard times or seasons. I’m in a extremely hard season right now, but my feelings do not rule me. I still remain solid in my faith, and because I chose Him before the tough season and choose Him during it, He gives me the grace and supernatural strength to overcome.

This is how we are destined to live, and it’s the ultimate source of daily wonder! When we live in this place of wonder, we are hearing God’s voice, truly living–having a satisfied soul, abundance of His promises, and supernatural strength to overcome every situation in our daily lives!!!

Keep you wonder hot, and you will always stay hungry! Allow God to truly satisfy.

 

Wonder + Hunger

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!”