Wednesday, March 30, 2011


"For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh." Romans 7:18
"There is no one who does good, there is not even one." Romans 3:12
Have you ever felt like this about yourself? Like you just can't seem to get things right? You keep falling into the same trap of temptation. You can't seem to do one thing good.
In this season of my life, I am on a mission to understand and possess the fruits of the Spirit. I don't want to react out of my flesh as much as I do. I know it's not only destructive to me, but there will be lasting bad fruit in my kids' lives. Of course I will not be 100% "Spirit reacting" all of the time, but if I focus on it, making it my main aim, I will do much more good than if I give up and believe it's pointless.
One of the first steps in cultivating the fruit of the Spirit is abiding in Christ. In John 15, Jesus calls himself "the true vine" and only as we "abide in him" are we able to bear spiritual fruit.
It is only as we walk by the Spirit that we are able to show forth Christ in our lives, and God gives us the grace to do this AS WE ABIDE in Christ.
Abiding is defined as continued fellowship with the Lord and being submissive to his will. It is a constant contact with Jesus.
How can we abide?
1. Spending time in God's Word. The words of Christ should have a reigning position in our heart. We don't go to our logic, opinions, or experience to make decisions or draw conclusions. We plant God's word in our heart and it becomes our pattern of thinking.
2. Spending time in prayer. One believer explained it as "regular, daily, unhurried, secret lingerings in prayer." This is hard to do because it is such a time consuming commitment, but something that is so worth it. It is a goal to continue to reach for. For me, I'm not nearly where I want to be in my prayer life, but I'm on a path to grow. I read books about it, I practice, I remember that every day is different, I try new ways to pray. Overall, my heart desires to be completely connected with the Holy Spirit through prayer. I will keep learning, growing, and reaching for this connection probably for the rest of my life. It is not a logical or legalistic motive, but a heart longing in my spirit.
3. Obeying God's commands. Making choices that honor God and his word. "If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10). In keeping his Father's commands and desires, Jesus stayed close to his father's heart. When we stay close to God's heart, it is easy to walk in obedience because we know him and his love and we want to obey his will over our own. Spiritual fruit can never be produced except by yielding to the Holy Spirit.
How do you know when you are walking by the flesh or by the Spirit? When we walk by the Spirit, we will not carry out the deeds of the flesh and we can have victory over it, meaning we don't give into our fleshly desires.
It is as we walk by the Spirit - abiding in Christ through consistant time in his word and prayer, and obeying God's commands - that the Holy Spirit produces His fruit in our lives.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Best Self-Help Advice

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8.
There are seasons that seem like a breeze. Things just go right. You feel good, you have energy, you have lots of friends, there is something to be excited about. Then there are the more difficult seasons of life where things just plain ol' suck. When things don't go my way. When I'm in physical or emotional pain. When I can't see the end to this season.
I'd always wondered about the above scripture. What "things" was Paul talking about? What in my life or things going on in the world are right? Pure? Excellent? In the hard seasons of life, it's hard to see those kinds of "things." But I think this scripture finally makes sense to me. In general he's saying to keep your mind on the positive. It's not as easy as it sounds, especially when you really are in some kind of pain or circumstances really are bad. It takes courage. It takes a choice of your will. It takes discipline.
My mom is famous for telling us, "When you're feeling down, just start saying what you are thankful for." I used to roll my eyes and doubt that it would ever help, but the more I do it, the easier it gets and it really does work! There have been a few seeds planted in my heart like this over time of people sharing their stories and saying how thankfulness and a greatful attitude has gotten them through the hard times.
So I am here to say do it. Attitude is always a choice no matter what the circumstance. There is always something to be thankful to God for, even if you have to dig deep down inside of yourself to find it. It's there.
There are so many things I am truly thankful for. I will fight to keep my mind on the positive and not dwell on the negative. Lord help me!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pleasing To Who?

Everyone has their little trap that they somehow fall back into from time to time. I'm not talking about obvious sin, but areas of weakness or insecurity that sneak back in after you think you've dealt with them. For some, it might be negativity, critical thinking, bad attitudes, laziness, people pleasing, feelings of unworthiness, etc.
Mine is, as Joyce Meyer calls it, is performance and approval addiction. I don't know exactly where it came from or if I was like this as a child, but several years ago I realized I was living for the unspoken or assumed expectations of others. I was spinning my wheels going and doing everything I thought I was "supposed" to be doing and completely lost track of what I believed God wanted me to do. I was performing. For who? Mainly my spiritual leaders and women I looked up to in our church. Why? I didn't like myself enough to be content with who God made me, so I was trying to be someone else (the person I thought I should be or wanted to be). God did a major inner work of healing in me that took about two years to make me aware of it and set me free. Somehow over this last year it crept back in unnoticed. The only difference this time was the "who."
Over the past three years, I have gone from one extreme to another in my domestic duties as a wife/mother, but mainly as a mother. After I had Isaiah, I realized how lazy and apathetic I was as far as my role and responsibilities in the home. I was not a hard worker. Not that our house was a mess, but my attitude was apathetic about what needed to get done. I didn't care about being on time or going the extra mile in preparation.
Last year, I went through a book with the youth girls about being a godly woman, wife, and mother, and it kicked me in the butt! Everything changed and I wanted to work hard. I wanted to care. I wanted to be the best mom I could be. I wanted to go the extra mile, and I did. I began working hard and I really enjoyed it. Then I got pregnant. Pregnancy has a way of forcing you to slow down and when you do, you start to see things you didn't know were there, still lurking in the shadows.
I had an emotional breakdown recently that made me begin to look a little deeper. Why was I spinning my wheels? Why was I working so hard? Why did I think I "had" to do all these things when everyone kept telling me to slow down and just relax? Partially because I have three kids and a hard working husband and there is a lot of work to be done. I really do believe that I am the manager of this home and I want to be found a good steward of what I have been given. But there is the other side of my heart that was trying to prove to myself, my husband, and my boys that I AM an excellent mom. It's the same reason a little girl in a twirly skirt will spin for her daddy. She is saying, "Look at me. Do you see me? I want to be noticed. I want to be told I am beautiful." In this case, I was looking for a sense of pride and accomplishment. I want to be noticed by my family and I want them to really believe that they have the best wife/mommy in the world. But when I was falling short in their little tiny perspectives (meaning my boys), I was feeling guilty and I would go to work even harder. I finally thought, "Wait! Who am I doing all of this for? Who does see the bigger picture? Who does see how hard I'm working and understands my motives?" Not my boys. God and God alone. I cannot perform for my boys hoping one day to get "The Best Mom" award from them. I can't perform for God who sees all and knows all. I can't preform for others or even myself, trying to prove that I am a good mom. That would result in pride. All I can do is live with this prayer in my heart from Psalm 19:14, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." The goal is not to be the best for best sake, but that my inner man is pleasing to God, the watcher and lover of my soul.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Martha Mom

There is a little book I just finished reading called "Confessions of a Mother Inferior." The title is a play on "Mother Superior" in the Catholic religion who is head nun over the other nuns living in the same convent (house) together. You don't seek to become Mother Superior, you trust that if God and others see you are worthy enough, you will be voted in. But who feels like this as a mom? No one thinks, "God saw I was ready and worthy enough to be a mom, so he gave me kids." It just doesn't happen that way. You have no idea what you are doing or why you even wanted kids, you just did. So you start at ground zero and the older your kids get, the more unworthy you feel as a mom. Of course there are moments when you feel good about your mothering skills, but then another one comes along who is completely different than the others, or the older ones go through a new phase and you are thrown for another loop. So when it comes to mothering and the way most moms feel about themselves as a mom, I think Mother Inferior is perfectly appropriate. Even the way I got the book was in an inferior way. I won it at a MOPS meeting for loosing the most points at a Bonko game. I feel like mother inferior most of the time and I know I'm not alone. It's easy to see your weaknesses and carry guilt for the things you didn't do or should have done, or maybe should not have done. We have to be shown and reminded that we actually are doing a great job. But most of the time those praises don't come often or you have to wait 30 years until your kids are parents and they finally tell you what a great mom you really were.
Anyway, back to the book. I loooooved the book. It is a collection of short stories and lessons learned from a fellow mom. But when I got it, I wasn't excited. I would have rathered a candle or small bottle of lotion from Bath and Body Works, or so I thought. This particular book made me laugh, cry, think, pray, and now blog.
In one of the chapters, the author talks about the story in the Bible of Mary and Martha from Luke 10. Basically Martha was running around like a chicken with her head cut off to prepare a meal (that had to be prepared) while her sister Mary just sat and relaxed, listening to Jesus talk. Naturally, Martha got mad about it and in her frustration told Jesus to kick her sister in the butt to get her up and help. Jesus responded in a surprisingly different way than Martha expected. He told her that Mary was actually doing to better thing and basically that Martha should consider chilling out, sitting down, and listening to Jesus as well.
So how does this relate to motherhood? It happens to us as mothers all of the time. When it comes to organizing my family and house, I am driven, serious, all work and no play. If I don't take time to slow down, I have the tendency to push everyone aside. Sometimes my actions say, "Get out of my way! I'm working hard right now!" We think we are doing it for them, but it's really for us. We miss out on sitting with them, playing with them, looking them right in the face and showing them that there is no place we'd rather be. It changes everything and most of the time we have to make ourselves do it. No matter how much we love our kids, it's easy to get distracted and forget about sitting at Jesus' feet and letting our kids sit in our laps.
I say it changes everything because I think when we spend time with our kids they forget about the weaknesses we think are so obvious. Because of the pain my body is experiencing in these last few weeks of pregnancy, I am more edgy than normal. Gabe is going through an arguing stage, so lately it doesn't feel like our relationship is at an enjoyable place. Yesterday I reluctantly took Gabe by himself to buy some crocks for the summer. We argued a little on the way there and a lot in the store. I was forcing myself to stay calm and to hold his hand while we walked. I still had a little time left and some money on a Starbucks card, so we had a little date. I got my drink and he had a cookie. We sat outside in perfect weather and small-talked. We went to Dollar General after and I bought him a bug house. At some point I told him that I was sorry for yelling so much. His response shocked me. He said, "What? You never yell mommy! I don't even know what you are talking about!" WOW! Taking a little time with him erased my sin. It felt good and I'm going to work harder at being more of a Mary Mom (taking time to hear the words of Jesus so I have his love and fruit to draw from and taking time to sit and play with my kids). The chores can wait. They don't care about a clean house. They want mommy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Steps to Overcome Temptation

This is the last blog entry on temptation and I hope you've learned a few tricks to help you better understand it and how it works. Here are three steps to overcoming temptation that have also helped me.
1. Refuse to be intimidated by temptation or demoralized that you keep facing the same one. I mentioned this in an earlier entry. I kept feeling like I was personally failing because the same temptations still bothered me. I was and still do occasionally give in, but I can't let that get me down. Temptation will always follow me. I just have to know myself enough to recognize the patterns and continuously walk in the Spirit, not my flesh so I have the power to overcome. If the presence of temptation gets me down, then I'm already defeated. It's ok to fight and I must not give up.
2. Recognize your personal pattern of temptation and be prepared for it. Certain situations make me more vulnerable to temptation than any others. Some circumstances will cause me to stumble almost immediately every time, while others won't bother me. Satan knows my triggers and so should I.
3. Ask for God's help. The Bible says, "Call on me in times of trouble and I will rescue you and you will honor me." God wants me to call on him for help and he wants to help me. Then I will give him the credit for helping me overcome and he will be honored through my temptation. Jesus understands all of our weaknesses because he personally experienced the same temptations that we face, yet he did not sin. This gives us the hope that we can also overcome any temptation we face. With God's help, we don't have to sin.
God doesn't get tired of us crying out over and over again. He doesn't get tired of us asking for help. He doesn't roll his eyes thinking, "When are you going get over this?" He made us and remembers we were made of dust. God's love is unfailing and unlike humans, he is patient and understanding. The Bible also says, "Let us approach the throne of God boldly where there is grace and mercy just when we need it." Temptation keeps us dependent on God and that's just where I want to stay.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Something to Celebrate

I did say that my next blog was going to be on overcoming temptation, but I wanted to break it up a little to tell you something I'm excited about. When I was 15, a woman in my church decided to personally disciple me by bringing me into her home every Friday afternoon. For the first 30 minutes we would read and talk about different women in the Bible from a book we were going through. Then she would teach me something practical that had to do with homemaking. She taught me how to make a weekly food menu for a family, how to make an ingredients list to take to the grocery store, how to go grocery shopping, how to notice prices, how to choose healthy options, and how to keep a food budget. But two things that impacted me the most were things that I observed from her life by watching her. They may seem small and insignificant to most people, but in my young heart I made them personal goals to one day accomplish as a mother.
Every morning she was up at 5:00am, sitting in her rocking chair in their living room, reading her Bible for at least an hour.
After her morning reading, she would make a fresh breakfast for her family everyday! Now of course they were usually the same four or five things repeated, but each morning when her family awoke, they woke up to the smell of bacon, french toast, biscuits, etc.
I haven't made it to 5:00am yet, but I started with 6:00 and now I realize if I'm going to get adequate time in my Word before Isaiah wakes up and get breakfast on the table without rushing, it's gonna have to be 5:30 and I'm actually excited about it. I used to dread even the thought of these goals, but through a very slow process, I'm making my way there.
I've been making weekly dinner menus for a while now and doing pretty good with having dinner on the table most nights. It's been a lot easier since I discovered crockpot cooking. But this past week I've ventured out and have made several different breakfast items from a book I got for Christmas called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. They are easy and healthy recipes. I've only done the breakfast section so far but they've all been hits! We've had french toast, applesauce muffins made with oatmeal, green eggs and ham made with spinach, banana bread, and blueberry lemon muffins. Everything has been so good and there is more to come. I feel like I'm on my way to accomplishing two of my life goals and that is something to celebrate!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pattern of Temptation

In The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, he talks about a pattern of temptation that involves a four step process. If you can recognize this pattern, you are that much closer to defeating it.
1. Desire.
Satan identifies a desire within, suggesting through a thought that I give into it. It could be a legitimate desire like the desire to be loved or accepted, or an illegitimate desire like the desire to satisfy lust.
2. Doubt.
You doubt that your desire really is a sin. You think it's not really that big of a deal if you give in to it. You question if God cares or even knows about your desire. The Bible says, "Watch out! Don't let any evil thoughts or doubts make you turn from the living God."
3. Deception.
Satan will offer his lie to replace God's truth from his Word. Now you are convinced that your desire is ok and needs to be fulfilled. You believe that you deserve to act out your desire in a particular way.
4. Disobedience.
Now you have finally acted on the thought you've been toying with in your mind. Perhaps you've done it enough times that your heart has hardened and it becomes a part of you.
I hope this helps you identify the pattern temptation has taken in your life and I hope you can clearly see what step you are on. Next blog I will share steps to overcoming temptation so we can be free from the sins that so easily entangle and deceive us.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Growing Through Temptation

I have always hated temptation. Wanna know why? Because I've always seen it as the pathway to my downfall instead of an opportunity to grow and make the right choices. Temptation actually is a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block. It simply provides a "choice" and every time I choose to do the right thing instead of choosing to sin, I am growing in the character of Christ.
I've been asking myself a lot lately about the fruits of the Spirit (how to really get them and what that would look like if I had them). Every time temptation would come knocking, I would feel like I was still weak and failing because this thing is still hanging around in my life. But then I realized that there were plenty of times when I did make the right choice instead of sinning and that was a gold star on my chart. I was focusing so much on my mistakes, convincing myself that I was still stuck in the same ol' pit. I didn't see that I was actually learning how to climb out through the temptations I faced.
God does want me to develop his fruit, so he's going to allow me to experience circumstances where I am tempted to do the exact opposite quality that he is producing in my life. For example, a person can't say they are loving if they've only been around easy to love people. A person can't say they are patient if everything is always going their way. Character development happens in the trials of life, where you have to make tough (right) choices. Once you've made tough choices while being tempted enough times, your character has been developed to be like Christ and you have finally changed (at least until the next trial)!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

8th Year Anniversary

Yesterday was Aaron and my 8th wedding anniversary. What I really wanted most was to stay home, sleep in, and do whatever I wanted, particularly in the morning and at night (no early risers to beg me to get out of bed, no getting breakfast a million times, no early arguments over toys or what cartoons to watch or who sits where, no interruptions in my morning reading, no having to re-heat and re-heat and re-heat my coffee, no picking up the same toys over and over again, no dinners, baths, or bed times for anyone accept me) and I got my wish. The boys went to my in-laws for two days and two nights. It was bliss.
Then last night I got to spend the afternoon with my wonderful hubby. This season has been a hard one for me and I just love going on dates with Aaron where he helps me navigate my way through my emotions and personal situations. I always feel refreshed every time we have good heart to heart talks. He listens to me, he encourages me, and he always has great insight on doing things a little bit different to help me grow. He's my pastor, my love, and my best friend. We laugh and we flirt. We share our lives together. We grow together. And there's no one else I'd rather do this thing called "life" with. I am confident in his leadership and his character. I trust him with my whole heart. I am so blessed to have him as my own and I look forward to all that God has in store for us.
And a bonus for the night - he took me shopping!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Deluge VIII

It's Deluge time again! A few of our youth went to Bethany World
Prayer Center in Baton Rouge to encounter the Holy Spirit with a few
hundred other local teens. I'm hungry to go deeper in Jesus' presence
and in the dry seasons when I'm not, I ask him to rekindle my flame.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I found these cute little pinwheels at the dollar store. I got one for
each of the boys. They were so excited to get them in the garden and
they look great! We love driving up to the house watching them spin.
It gives me such a happy spring feeling! I can't wait to tackle my
garden next!!