8 Years Married: 8 Lessons I’ve Learned

Jose and I are celebrating 8 years of marriage! I am kind of in awe of that. I’m not surprised that we’re still married, but I can’t believe it’s been 8 years already.


It feels like just yesterday I was floating down the aisle towards my high school sweetheart, a bundle of nerves in my stomach but so sure in my heart. Eight years later, I am still so sure and so in love. In a culture that minimizes the importance of marriage and practically scoffs at commitment, where divorce runs rampant and marriages apparently face some kind of ‘7-year itch’ I can shout from the rooftops that MARRIAGE IS BEAUTIFUL. I still love it!

8 Lessons I’ve learned in 8 years of marriage:

1. Teamwork really does make the dream work.

I think part of what has helped our relationship flourish so much is the fact that we are a team. We team up on pretty much every single thing in life. His dreams are my dreams. My goals are his goals. We do what we can to support one another. I found that this is especially critical when it comes to parenting. We have always parented and continue to parent as a team. There is nothing that is deemed something that only mom does or dad does [okay, except maybe wrestling but I’m just not a wrestler!] We support each other. If he’s had a busy day with clients and has been out all day, I know I may have to step up when it comes to cooking, cleaning, or getting school things together for the boys. If I’ve had a challenging day and his day is slow, it’s nothing for him to cook dinner, do laundry, and pick up the kids from school. He is always willing to help me and vice versa. This is so integral to any relationship, in my opinion.

2. You reap what you sow.

You have heard this a thousand times. Why is that? BECAUSE IT’S TRUE. You will get out of a marriage what you put into it. If you treat your marriage like a piece of garbage, that’s what your marriage will eventually become. If you don’t prioritize your relationship or each other, it will reflect, I can promise that. Something that’s big for us is quality time. We can live in the same household and be two ships passing in the night if we don’t prioritize spending time together and having conversation. Because this is essential for the both of us, we make sure we pour a lot of that into our relationship, even if it means turning down other engagements [sorry family and friends – I still love you!]. I always want to sow into my relationship so that we can see the benefits of that.

3. for better or for worse truly means for better or for worse.

Life isn’t a fairytale and sometimes crap hits the fan. Life gets SUPER REAL all of a sudden. For Jose and I, three years into our marriage we faced the challenge of infertility. When our boys were born, they faced quite a few medical issues. The first year of their lives was SO hard! After that, one of the boys had a medical diagnosis that presented more challenges. And the list goes on and on. The point I’m making is that for all of the mountaintops we had, we had a ton of valleys. Our vows were tested repeatedly. Don’t go into marriage with the false assumption that you will ride off into the sunset and it will always be a fairytale. Yet, know that when you hit the hard times, these challenges will be a catalyst for growth if you allow them to be.

4. There’s no room for selfishness.

Marriage for me was a reality check that the entire world didn’t revolve around me. Growing up as a middle child but the only girl out of two brothers meant that I was the apple of my family’s eyes, especially on my dad’s side. I usually got what I wanted. I scoffed at the idea of cooking and cleaning because it wasn’t “fun” and I “didn’t like it.” I stood firm all the way up to the wedding day that I wouldn’t cook or clean and I shouldn’t have to because it was a gender stereotype that I was supposed to. A whole lot of words to sum up me being selfishness. Guess what? When I got back from the honeymoon and realized my new husband and I had to eat food, I learned to cook pretty quickly.

5. The Words you speak to each other matter.

I wrote a post already about this one, so I won’t repeat myself too much except to say this: you can’t take back words. Words have the power to bring life to your spouse or to destroy their spirit. Choose wisely and recognize that many marriages are destroyed over words.

6. romance and intimacy are important.

Sometimes couples get really comfortable and start to think this doesn’t matter or start treating their spouse like more of a live-in roommate. Don’t fall into that trap! Go on dates. Get creative. Try new adventures together. Protect your marriage and recognize that a little romance goes a long way! If you haven’t read the 5 Love Languages, I recommend that for any married couple. Find out your spouse’s love language and start speaking it. For me, whenever Jose gives me a handwritten card my heart just melts into a giant sappy puddle on the floor. Written words from him always make me cry for some reason. He can get me an amazing gift, but the card and his note to me is what always gets to me! It’s the little things!

 

7. The Two C’s: Compromising and Communication

Being married to my husband has taught me a lot about compromise! We have completely opposite tastes in a lot of areas. We enjoy doing different things. We don’t like the same kinds of movies. We have varying tastes in music. BUT the fun part is compromising with each other and as a result, stepping out of our comfort zones and tastes to do what the other loves! Communication is an obvious one, but it’s essential! I’m not a mind reader and neither is my husband. We have to communicate our struggles, desires, dreams, the bad days, good days, and everything inbetween. Also, just to talk. Unplug. Put phones away and have solid conversation.

8. No marriage should be an island.

Support and community matter. For our relationship, the wisdom of people we respect and admire has strengthened us during the hard times of life. There’s something powerful about knowing that people have your back and that you have people you can trust and talk to. I especially love talking to people who have a marriage I admire, have been married a long time, and are filled with wisdom and experience! They’ve been there! They get it! Go find those people, talk to them, hang out with them.

In eight years, I can still say marriage is beautiful. It’s what you make it. We aren’t perfect people. Far from it! Yet I’m so happy I married this guy and am looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him. Here’s to growing old together.

  

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos.

My Pastor has been bringing some really powerful truths to our church. For the past month, he’s been doing this awesome series called, “First Things First.” We are on week two of the series and some of the words he spoke felt like a big slap on the face. Not in a bad way, but in a way that shouts: HEY YOU! FIX THIS AREA OF YOUR LIFE.

As I thought this message over, I felt really convicted and challenged as I wrestled with the question of whether or not I’ve been prioritizing God in my life.

  1. Is the Bible the first thing I read?

  2. Is He the first one I talk to (prayer?)

  3. Is He first in every area of my life?

When I answered these questions truthfully and also somewhat begrudgingly, “Well, mostly…” I didn’t like what I saw.

This morning when I felt like stress was trying to strangle me before I even hopped out of the bed, I thought of Psalm 23. I decided to read it.

 “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalms 23:1-6

As I read the words, I felt stress release its ugly grip. I felt peace as I reminded myself of some powerful truths from this Psalm:

  1. God’s got me. I have everything I need.

  2. I can rest in Him. He is my peace.

  3. God gives me new strength on the daily.

  4. He shows me where I need to go and what I need to do.

  5. When everything goes to hell and I can’t see the light, fear has no place. He is with me.

  6. God has my back. I can cry to him and He’ll comfort me.

  7. He pours out His blessings over me in the face of people who hate me or don’t want me to do well (hint – these are not always clearly seen enemies).

  8. My life OVERFLOWS with blessing.

  9. His goodness and love literally chase after me and will continue to do so as long as I’m alive.

  10. I have eternity with Him.

If you are going through what feels like a trial or just a really tough spot in life, I encourage you to read Psalm 23. This is a Psalm you have heard a million times. You have probably read it so many times, BUT I challenge you to read it with fresh eyes, a fresh heart. Read it out loud. Feel His peace calm you in the middle of a torrent and remind yourself of the promised rest that comes with knowing Christ.

xo – Until Next Time

 

Marriage Mondays – If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

You’ve heard the saying before:

If you don’t have anything nice to say….don’t say it all!

I don’t know about you, but I KNOW what my weakness is. I’ve always known it, even at a young age. It’s my tongue. My mouth. The words I speak.

When I was in middle school, I once got out of a situation where a girl wanted to fight me. She was taller than me, bigger than me, and would undoubtedly beat the tar out of me EXCEPT, I had a secret weapon. My mouth. So I hurled insults her way (not something I’m proud of as an adult!) and when it was time to “fight” she was nowhere to be found because I embarrassed her. I don’t say this as something to be proud of, but to emphasize the fact, that even at a young age I knew I could use words to hurt people.

As an adult, the more I learned about words and the power of the words we speak, the more I realized the words I spoke had weight, power, and could affect a situation or a person positively or negatively.

Now picture a girl whose weakness is her mouth in a relationship with a person who is hot headed and is also known for his mouth. Guys, it wasn’t a good combination. Jose and I spent the first few years of our relationship arguing a lot and using our words to hurt each other. The thing with the words you speak is that once you say them you can’t take them back and hurtful words are so painful and wound so deeply. If I asked you right now to tell me something someone said that hurt you, you could distinctly give me a specific incident and person. We remember these things.

This is why I want to tell you something I’ve had to learn myself in marriage.

When I don’t have anything to say that’s going to produce fruit in my marriage, sometimes the best thing to do is to BE QUIET.

As in literally, zip it and not say anything at all.

Here’s the thing – I know there are times where you will have to have difficult conversations within a marriage. This is a reality that’s inescapable and healthy. What I AM saying is this – if what you are going to say is not going to produce positive fruit in your marriage, don’t say it.

In this post, I’m talking specifically about those low blow moments. You know what I’m talking about. Those moments where you have something you can say that will really hit your spouse where it hurts. Maybe it’s a weakness, a vulnerability that’s been shared. You are so angry or mad and you just want your spouse to know it, so you prep your ammunition and are ready to aim. My plea to you – don’t.

 

Our first year of marriage, in the middle of an argument, Jose used to simply stop speaking and leave the room. At first, I was even more livid, “I’m talking to you! I’m trying to have a conversation with you! What are you doing?!” I would call after him. He would later explain that he just needed to step away from the situation until we could talk calmly about it. Oh, it would make me so irate because I wanted to talk about things RIGHT NOW and resolve it RIGHT AWAY. As time has gone on, I’ve appreciated how much it has saved us from a lot of pain! Eight years in, we don’t walk away from each other in the midst of hard conversations, but we have learned to guard the words that we speak to each other.

I love what James has to say about the words we speak:

“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:5-6

I love how it keeps mentioning “fire.” One terrible word or conversation can cause a world of pain and destruction. This can be avoided if we guard our speech and the words that we speak to our spouse.

I’m not telling you that anytime you get into an argument you need to physically run away from each other! When we were newlyweds,  we were learning how to fight fair.  We had to actually give each other some physical space for a few minutes or a half hour or so, then reconvene when we were calm. I’m glad that being married almost 8 years; we’ve come such a long way and don’t have to do this every time there’s a disagreement. We’ve learned that we respect and love each other enough to protect each other from words we might regret.

So if I could share anything that has helped me:

  1. If you’re ticked off, don’t try to force a conversation in that moment.
  2. If you have to give each other a few minutes, do it. Don’t force it in that exact moment, BUT…
  3. Refuse to go to bed angry with each other (Ephesians 4:26).
  4. DON’T SAY INSULTING THINGS YOU WILL REGRET.
  5. Talk to your spouse when emotions have calmed down and you can be reasonable.
  6. Your words matter and will be remembered. They also can HURT and create a deep wound so PROTECT each other by refusing to engage in trading insults.

Here’s the thing – all couples have disagreements at one point or another. If you’ve never argued with your spouse, you are a magical unicorn and can I please have your autograph? The point is this – when you know you are on the verge of saying something destructive and life killing, ask yourself if it’s going to produce positive fruit in your relationship in the long run.

“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27

xoxo

Marriage Mondays – 20 Fun Facts About the Mr. and Mrs.

So I thought it would be fun to try to do Marriage Monday posts and dedicate a post each week to married life! Hubs and I have been married for almost eight years (in July) and often field a lot of questions from other couples, especially younger couples! We are non-experts and don’t know what we’re doing – but I can say that I honestly love being married and I love my husband. It has taught me so much about him and myself. I learn something new probably EVERY DAY. To start, I thought I would start off with twenty basics about the hubster and I!

  1. We met through a mutual friend when I was 16. The first time I met him, he actually had another girlfriend. I started to really pay attention to him when he started coming to church.
  2. I made the first move by calling him (which I NEVER did before – I was the shy type).
  3. We were high school sweethearts. Kind of – does it count if we didn’t go to the same high school?
  4. We have a lot in common, but pretty much zero in common when it comes to hobbies. He’s into outdoor/active types of situations, I’d rather snuggle up with a book and do something quiet/completely relaxed.
  5. We were 22 when we got married on July 11, 2009.
  6. I didn’t realize how much of a fear of heights my husband had until our first vacation as a married couple to Virginia. He was in complete hysterics at the top of the rollercoaster, I literally thought he was going to have a heart attack. I haven’t made him get on a rollercoaster since.
  7. He thinks I’m really rude because around the house I never say excuse me and typically nudge him out of the way.
  8. We’re both huge homebodies!
  9. When he proposed to me the day after Valentine’s Day in 2008, the ring got stuck in his pocket and he spent a minute trying to get it out.
  10. Before we found out we were having twins, Jose always wanted twins and looked up both of our family histories to see if twins ran in the family and what our chances would be. This was years before we even had babies on the brain.
  11. Parenting has turned us into huge saps, especially my husband. Movies, shows, and even some commercials make him cry.
  12. Our favorite beach is Ocean City.
  13. Our favorite city to visit is Chicago.
  14. The furthest we’ve driven together is Texas (with the twins in tow)!
  15. We always run into the weirdest experiences/people when we’re together. We once had a cashier at Walmart who insisted on sniffing every item we purchased before he rang it up.
  16. The most ridiculous argument we’ve ever had was over the wrong pizza order when we were watching “The Green Lantern.” I was so angry I refused to watch the rest of the movie with him (#earlyYearsofmarriage).
  17. We like to read books together – fave place to read together is during a car ride! We read through The Hunger Games and Divergent series this way.
  18. We didn’t settle on names for the boys until maybe an hour or so before they were born!
  19. I once cried because he put food in the sink.
  20. We are committed to loving each other for a LIFETIME.

First Valentine’s Day together! Take note of Jose’s awful shirt and the paper flower.

 

Thanks for checking out the first installent – if you have any suggestions, topics, questions, suggestions, let me know!

Expectation vs. Reality – Christmas Pics 2016

Christmas pictures. When some people hear this phrase they feel excited as they anticipate taking family pictures and choosing from a variety of lovely photos. When I hear this phrase, I feel…slight dread. You see, I am a twin mom of two toddler boys. Getting two energetic little guys to stay still, smile, and pose for an indefinite amount of time is nothing short of mission impossible.

Still, I put my best foot forward and decided to do a portrait studio this year if only for time’s sake. My favorite picture takers are my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who typically take our Christmas pics but I decided to give them a break since my SIL is preggers. So, off we went.

On the way up, JoJo was in a bit of a mood. “This was a bad idea, wasn’t it?” I asked my husband as we drove along, regret lacing my tone. He shrugged in resignation and sighed, “We’ll see.” When we got to the place, all was going well it seemed. Both boys were playing with some of the toys left out and having a good time. TOO good of a time, I started to notice.

“Um, do you think it’s going to be easy to get them out of this section to take pics?” I asked my husband nervously.

“I don’t know…” his voice trailed off unsure. Uh-oh.

So off I went in search of reinforcements. I.E. bribery tools, I.E. candy. After I purchased some favorites, it was our turn. Immediately, Josiah wasn’t having it. He started to cry and my hopes of an easy picture session were dashed. The more we tried to get him to smile, the worse it became. I went in for the reinforcements, grabbing the jelly beans and offering them up as a token of peace in exchange for pictures. Here’s the thing – Josiah didn’t want to let go of the jelly beans. So he didn’t. So they were in literally the majority of our pictures because we’ve learned early what battles to fight and knew this wasn’t one of them.

Josiah – One.

Parents – Zero.

Meanwhile, Micah was striking a pose like he was David Beckham, being a complete ham for the camera.

Nonetheless, the pictures appropriately captured what being a twin parent of three years old is like and overall, I’m happy.  We did get some pretty good ones! But I had to laugh because of expectations vs. reality. Here’s what I expected….

Here’s what actually happened:

Here were my expectations…

Here’s what reality delivered.

Thank goodness we can laugh about it! Here’s to another Christmas session checked off the list.

And here are some of the solid ones:

Until we meet again, photographers.

Why Giving is SO Important

livinggenerouslygraphicLately, God has been teaching me about giving. Through different people, through His word, through different sermons, through hard life lessons.

The conclusion that I’ve come to is – GIVING IS ALWAYS GOOD. GIVING IS RIGHT. BE GENEROUS.

We reap what we sow. It’s a biblical principle. Check it out:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Why should we give? Why should we live lives of generosity?

  1. The bible tells us to.
  2. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.
  3. God is able to bless us and make sure we have all we need. *Note that needs and wants are different!*

We DO NOT give because…

  1. We want something in return.
  2. We feel forced and want to check it off the list.
  3. We want the pride, affirmation, accolades that come with giving.

We don’t give with an attitude either. “Okay, God. I’ve given so this is what I want…” God is not a genie. If you want a genie, check out Aladdin. We give to others because God has given to us so freely. First, we have salvation and it’s something completely FREE. God loves us and we don’t have to earn His love. We can’t buy our way into heaven or into His promises. But when we give, we are so richly blessed.

We should give AT ALL TIMES, even when it’s really hard!

But my spouse lost his job. We are really tight right now.

GIVE.

But I am single parent struggling to make ends meet.

GIVE.

But I’m going through a really hard time in life right now.

GIVE.

I’m speaking to this because I have been there. We have been in situations where we have been on one income. We have been in situations where we have watched the lives of our children flash before our eyes. We have been in situations where people have hurt us. Nonetheless, I have experienced the overflow of God’s blessings every single time without fail when we have been consistent in giving. We have always experienced his provision. We have never been without what we have needed.

Giving should flow from a heart that is willing and pure. If you are ever in a place or even a church where people are guilting/coercing/begging you into giving, RUN! It needs to come from a heart that wants to be generous because in the end, YOUR HEART IS WHAT MATTERS THE MOST. If you give with a crappy attitude, you might as well not give. I think motive matters greatly.

Can I give you examples of how God has provided for us through challenging times?

  1. When the boys were sick as preemies and I had to take a longer maternity leave without any disability, God used a blogger friend to supply a case of expensive formula Micah needed just when we ran out. Formula landed on my doorstep from TEXAS. During that time we also received random checks in the mail, hand me downs from others, even a check from the mortgage company. God took care of us.
  2. At the end of my school year, after my long maternity leave, I had a crazy check come in (by the thousands) that was completely unexpected to the point where I e-mailed my HR director asking her about it. She explained how it was rightfully mine, even though I couldn’t believe it! I don’t even remember her explanation, all I remember is being so grateful.
  3. When my husband left the only job he ever had for over ten years, God opened up a door for him with a job where he eventually became a real estate agent, which has been a huge blessing for our family.
  4. When my husband was in a sudden transition between brokerages, God used someone anonymous to supply us with a $500 grocery gift card and $250. This is all without us asking or even announcing it (our Pastor mentioned it at the end of a Sunday service, our church responded by being generous…anonymously! We are grateful to be part of this kind of church.)

HE HAS ALWAYS TAKEN CARE OF US WITHOUT FAIL. Everything I have I owe to Him. Therefore, I can give to others and live generously!

The Bible tells us this story of Jesus sitting down in the temple watching everyone give. All these rich people are throwing in tons of money. Then, all of a sudden, this widow comes up and she drops in two coins only worth a few cents. Jesus points her out and says, Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

This tells us Jesus isn’t impressed by a monetary amount. You can’t buy your way in. This woman gave from the depths of her heart because she literally gave all that she had. Jesus essentially says, “Hey guys! This widow here? She nailed it. She gets what it means to give.”

I want to be like her. I haven’t always lived generously, but I have come a long way and want to continue to grow in this.

Look out for part 2 – What Giving Looks Like, where you’ll find practical applications and ideas/thoughts on how to give. 

 

 

Potty Training Struggles are Real. Part 1.

My husband and I have a goal of trying to get the boys potty trained over the summer. How is it going, you ask? Well, it’s not really going at all. I “tried” to potty train them once before and it didn’t get anywhere. I think our trying efforts need to be stepped up.

We have one who is willing to sit on the potty for a few minutes at most. Meanwhile, the other has literally ZERO interest. Zero as in refuses to sit on it at all. To get him to sit on it, would be to force him with tears and crying. I keep reading that that particular method isn’t effective and it’s the last thing a parent should do.

The hubs and I decided we would absolutely go for it full fledged on the fourth of July. He had off from work, and we could do it as a team effort. We were determined. Game faces? On. So we get up, and we are pumping each other up equivalent to football players pumping up their team players.

Me: “Are you ready to do this?”

Him: “YEAH!* [Insert fist in the air] We have this! We can do it!”

So we bring out the potties and attempt to try the naked method where you let them run around naked and have the potties on hand. This epically FAILS from the start. We have one crying because he doesn’t want to be naked. We have the other one loving the idea of being naked. Maybe TOO much? There are lots of tears involved. When Jose and I can finally stop crying (ha – just kidding, almost) I decide that I know what will do the trick. Buying two new Mickey Mouse potties. DUH, why didn’t I think about this before? This will CLEARLY solve the problem. So I shoot off to the store to buy one. After three stores, I locate them, bring them home joyfully and look at my husband knowingly. *Wink wink* Problem solved. Mickey Mouse potties will do the trick.

Um. It didn’t work. Not even a little bit. The boys were excited about these “toys.” Excited about taking them apart, standing on them, and flushing them but sitting on them? NO. One tried for a few minutes, then was completely over it. The other? Nope, not interested at all. After two hours of pleading, trying to convince, bribing, and coming up with nothing – we looked at each other.

Me: “Do you want to go to the beach?”

Husband: “Yeah.”

The end. And the potty training saga continues. Stay tuned for more updates.

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Pants DOWN, diapers on.

 

talesmicahpottytraining

God’s Grace in parenting.

 

God'sgrace

Some days I feel like  I need an extra dose of God’s grace when it comes to parenting.

Do you ever have moments where you are impatient with your little ones? Annoyed? Frustrated? Visualize me answering this question with my hands up, jumping up and down, all while shouting, “oooohhhh MEEEEE! YES! YES!” Am I alone in this?

Do you ever have days where sometimes your impatience or annoyance shines through? Or when you want to shout back, “NO, I DON’T WANT TO SHARE!” and throw an adult tantrum towards your toddler? Or maybe even a time where you have snapped, blown a fuse, or had a melt down? I have a feeling I’m not alone. Because after all, we are parents. And if you are a parent of multiples, you probably feel this even more so.

Right now the boys are at an age that I actually LOVE, but there are also some things that I don’t love. For example:

  • Tantrums – I get it. You don’t want it. Geeze.
  • The word no on speed dial and repeat – I’m convinced one of my boys has selected that word as his favorite in spite of his rich vocabulary of other words that are more magical and wonderful than the dreaded “no.” YES. How about that kid?!
  • Pickiness – grilled cheese, pizza, eggs. All of the ingredients for a well-rounded diet in the eyes of my toddlers. One of my guys will actually smell it, stick it in his mouth very briefly, and then say “No. I don’t want it.”

And in these moments where I want to scream, pull out my hair, or curl up in a corner and cry. I need His grace. Outside of these moments, I still need His grace. Parenting my boys is TOO PRECIOUS of a job to do without it. I need it daily.

Every day I reflect and think – “Wow. God chose ME to be the momma of these two precious guys. He knew that I would have what it takes. That I would have what these boys needed from a mom.”

I am overwhelmed by the privilege and honor it is to be a mother and to have a job that is so important: molding and shaping these guys into men of God who love Him relentlessly. And I am thankful for God’s grace to do it.

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. – Ephesians 4:7

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – 1 Corinthians 12:9

Faith – Remaining Unshakable.

Unshakable

Lately God has been pressing the same message into my heart.

Be unshakable.

and…

Be immovable.

and…

STAND FIRM.

Though the cares of this world come to destroy us and to rob us our joy and faith, Jesus tells us to be unshakable in Him. It’s inevitable that trials will come our way. It’s a guarantee that at some point in our life, we’re going to face problems. Bad things WILL happen. Jesus himself guaranteed it when he said,

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:13

But here’s the thing. As followers of Jesus, we are ALWAYS on the winning side. We always win! That’s the thing in living a life of complete freedom, free of fear, free of anxiety, free of doubt, free of stress. We win. We have a hope. We have a promise of a life with Jesus FOREVER. Does it get any better than that? That’s enough to fill me with peace. That’s enough to kick fear right in the face. That’s enough to silence any doubts and starve any anxious thoughts that try to make a home in my mind. The Bible spells it out for me quite clearly,

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:3

When I decided to live for Jesus, I died to this life in the sense that the things of this world didn’t have a hold on me anymore. My real life is found hidden in Jesus.

“But the Lord is my fortress;my God is the mighty rock where I hide.” – Psalm 94:22

When our lives are hidden in Jesus, we find peace. We find shelter in His promises. We find a place of complete safety. This doesn’t mean that we hide from the world and bury our heads in the sand when awful things come our way. No, this means that we are NOT MOVED when these things happen because we are found in Jesus! Our life is hidden in Him and therefore, nothing that happens on this earth can shake us. We are founded on the Rock of our salvation. When you build something that’s on a rock, it has a strong foundation. It can’t be moved around when storms hit it. It’s consistent, steady, and will remain even after the storm has passed.

Jesus asks us to live a life that is solidly anchored on the rock so we are unshakeable, steadfast, and firm. We refuse to be moved because we know who we stand on.

How can you live this out in a practical way? Here are a few ideas:

  • Memorize key scriptures that will help you remain steadfast.
    • Bury yourself in the word. Maybe it’s a particular chapter that sticks out to you. Maybe it’s a certain verse. Read it to yourself again and again. Write it down in your prayer journal. Ask God to bring it to remembrance when you go through trials. Pray God’s word. Which brings me to the next point…
  • Pray God’s word.
    • When the trial comes, and it inevitable will, pray the promises of God over your life. The Bible says, “It is the same with my word.I send it out, and it always produces fruit.It will accomplish all I want it to,and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” – Isaiah 55:11.
    • When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, He withstood by declaring the word of the Lord.
  • Don’t react the way you might want to. Refuse to.
    • The flesh part of us wants to react in a very, well, fleshly way. It’s our natural inclination as a human to panic, freak out, and think of the worst things! Trust me, this is coming from a professional freak-er out-er (God is continuing to work with me in this area, thank the Lord!), but we need to react in a way that honors God.
  • Remember that as believers, WE ALWAYS WIN.
    • The Bible reminds us that “… our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all… – 2 Corinthians 4:17
    • What we go through on this earth is temporary, fleeting, momentary. The pain doesn’t last forever. That’s a promise. What we go through on this earth is nothing compared to the eternal life we have in Jesus. Simply incomparable!

I write this to encourage others and for myself! Who doesn’t walk through trials? The question is – how will you handle it? Will you be someone who is moved by every wind that blows your way? Or will you be rooted and firm in Jesus? I choose Jesus.

What 28 taught me. Hello 29.

bonnie & Carole

Yesterday I officially turned 29. One step closer to 30. Most women dread getting older, but I don’t have a fear of that. I do like to take time and reflect on what I learned over the past year though. What did 28 teach me?

1. To have  a voice. 

As I get older, I find that I’m much more confident in speaking up and voicing how I feel, even if it’s uncomfortable for others. Being a mom, teacher, wife, and leader in my church have all played a part in developing my voice.

2. To unplug and plug into what really matters.

For me this was literal. I think I saw how attached I was to my electronics and how I was missing out on actually being present.

3. Serving others makes me happy and fulfilled.

I found that I enjoy serving, hosting, and giving even when I feel like I don’t have much to offer. I think I have learned to serve with my heart and to serve without wanting or expecting anything in return.

4. The world doesn’t revolve around me.

Humility is a lesson I’ve continued to be taught. I think it’s because it’s not something I’ve quite mastered yet. It’s humbling to recognize that there are things so much bigger than ourselves. It puts things into perspective.

5. Making assumptions will make you look like a fool. Especially because my assumptions are typically wrong.

When I make assumptions about people or situations, I’m almost always proven wrong. Its better to deal with reality than assumptions.

6. I am an awesome mom.

I am proud of the mother I’ve become. I know that I love my boys well and my parental instincts have never failed me so far.

7. My possessions don’t define me.

I’ve come to a point where I’ve realized that stuff is just, well…stuff. I’m more than the car I drive, the clothes I wear, and the latest toys my kids have or don’t have. The end.

8. How to learn to love my small home and see it as a blessing and not a curse.

I think it’s easy to compare with what others have and allow yourself to feel jealous or resentful about it. I have a small home that I use to bemoan. “One day when we get a bigger house…” but I’ve learned to enjoy the here and now and look at the fact that I am a homeowner. I have a mortgage that is cheaper than any rent I’ve ever paid. I have a house where people feel at home in and welcomed in. That’s winning in my book.

9. Not to cave in on something I strongly believe in, no matter how much opposition I face.

I think this year I’ve been in positions that have at times, backed me up against the wall. The easiest thing would have been to cave in because fighting for my convictions was the hard thing to do. But I did it and am proud of that. It’s made me stronger.

10. Dreaming is everything.

I’ve been pushed to dream bigger than I have ever dreamed before. I have been challenged to place no limits or restrictions on the dreams of my heart. By who? God. Myself. My husband. It is everything.

When I look back at 28, I am not filled with regret. I’m filled with contentment. Goodbye 28, hello 29.