Monday, November 25, 2013

Live Beyond your Feelings

I have to say that throughout this month seeing all the post on what everyone is thankful for is really cool to see. It also got me thinking about how acknowledging what we can be thankful for keeps us focused on our blessings and not our struggles. It also seemed to make the negative post complaining about circumstances stand out even more. Clearly we are all guilty of complaining and I think that social media tends to become an outlet for some people to vent. Unfortunately this is a tool that Satan can use to distract us from our faith. Yesterday our pastor really struck home with his sermon. He laid out the journey to righteousness and what exactly that means. The entire chapter of Romans 4 is packed full of how to be righteous and live as a Godly example to those around us. So many times we are guilty of trying to earn approval by our actions. And part of that approval runs deep into impressing others, being envious of others and judging others.

The last few months I have really been working to reach a huge goal that will have a big positive impact on our little family. Just like anything it can become an emotional roller coaster but sitting in church yesterday I realized that regardless of circumstances and time frame, which is even more minor, I have to give it to God. That is a very difficult thing to do with anything but if I am not God focused nothing will be as good as it could be. I have so much to be thankful for. I have an incredible Godly man as a husband and father to my children. He loves me unconditionally and supports me always. He is a constant uplifting voice in my life that always remembers to focus on Gods favor in our lives. What a blessing he is to me. I have a beautiful, hilarious and snugly baby girl that literally makes me smile first thing every morning. I have a precious baby boy on the way that I can not wait to meet. I have a very supportive family in all aspects. My parents would do anything at the drop of a hat if I needed them. My siblings have always been my best friends and supported me and reminded me even when people I am close to have let me down I still have them and their relationship that will forever be secure and loving. And those blessings are just in my immediate family. Once I start there I can then go into my incredible friends and all they have done and been there for me throughout my life. Its amazing when you sit there and start naming one blessing it leads to another and another and another. All of the sudden the "circumstances", the "un-met" goals, the little annoyances and mood swings that Satan tries to build into strong holds in our life begin to shrink. They become less and less important.

I also learned when I stay in thankfulness I tend to separate myself from those that are negative. Not because I do not love and care about them but because misery loves company. I know when I am being "miserable" I want to hear others complain and talk about how many things are wrong in their life so I feel better. But the thing is, I do not feel better, I feel worse, I feel depressed and I do not feel righteous. Everyone has issues and problems to face daily. Regardless of how amazing their life may appear on the outside. Its an incredible thing that if we laid out all of our problems on a table and had to trade with someone else, we would want our own back pretty quickly. Isn't that something? We only compare our problems to others blessings? Why do we do that? As Christians it is vital to not lose sight of what matters. To pursue peace not judgement. Not to look at others and think well at least I am not doing that. This week I looked at a few of those negative post and thought "well at least I am not complaining like they are". But if I am thinking the same thoughts and not being an encouragement to them then I am just as guilty. When people are weak in their faith we must build them up so we can all grow in faith and bring others to Christ. This is our earthly example. As Christians we must show Gods love always even on our cloudy days, And for crying out loud we must stop complaining!! We must pursue faith not feelings! If our circumstances are bringing us down, how about we change them. We may not be able to change them as quickly as we want but we can be proactive and allow God to lead us in our journey.

When we moved to New Orleans a couple years ago I was convinced it was "short term". I did not allow myself to ever feel like this is my home. And to be honest, it is not going to be for much longer. But it has been my home for far longer than I anticipated. I have done a lot of gripping, complaining and worrying that my friends will not understand when I am not able to attend certain events. I have missed weddings, baby showers and even funerals because living several states away is part of the sacrifice. Not one that I am happy about but this is my current circumstance. The entire time we have lived here I told my husband "things will be really great when we relocate and get closer to home because..." and time and time again he has responded "things are great now." He is right, they are really great. Looking back on the last few years our lives have changed a lot and it has changed for the better. It is time I let go of how I want to plan things and what time frame I want them to fall under. And a long the way Satan will try to distract me with the friends that maybe do not understand or support me, or doors being closed and our next station may not be the exact place I want to live. However, I have to trust that wherever God leads us is where he wants us. I need to learn to look at the faithfulness God shows me daily. I must live beyond my feelings! If I can manage to do this and be thankful, stop complaining and learn to be righteous in Christ I can have a tremendous impact for God. That is something I can no longer take lightly. Declaring I am a Christ follower means I am opening the door for people to watch my life. How do I respond to life? I pray I will start living by conviction and not convenience. I believe that starts with putting a stop to complaining about stuff that does not matter. After all I want my children to learn Christ like behaviors. Complaining is not of God. There were six questions my pastor asked yesterday and I want to live a life that answers these correctly.

1.What does the Bible say?
2. What is the example of Jesus?
3.Have I surrendered this matter in prayer?
4. Is my faith being strengthened?
5.Am I building up my family?
6. Am I reaching anyone for Christ?

Thank you Lord for placing that sermon on the heart of my pastor yesterday. Thank you for reminding me in this season of thankfulness to always be thankful regardless of circumstances. I pray I will be part of the legacy to reach the world, and to recognize that unshaken faith in the Lord transforms lives.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Power of a Smile

Have you seen the Volkswagen commercial where it just shows clips of people laughing? I don't care who you are you have to smile when you watch that. I remember riding in the car with my mom when I was pretty young. The thought came into my mind that I was a pretty happy kid. I know this sounds funny but in the mind of a child this was a very deep thought. I then began to think if there had ever been a day that I had not smiled. It is funny that I remember this but I think what made this memory stick is I looked at my mom and said “I think I have smiled every day of my life”. She looked down at me with a smile and said “you should make sure you continue to do that for the rest of your life.” Any command a parent gives you at this age is taken very seriously so I thought well I better keep this up!

I had a flashback of this memory when my three month woke me up this morning. In my groggy state, I rubbed my eyes and stumbled out of bed thinking to myself, I sure hope she wants to go back to sleep after she eats. When I walked up to her and looked down she gave me a huge open mouth, no teeth smile. I immediately woke up and realized how special and precious this time is with her. I have never been a morning person but when you have a baby you learn quickly that you no longer call the shots in your morning routine. My daughter Landry, is a morning baby. Although this may change once she recognizes the difference between night and day but as of now she loves waking up. I am reminded every morning how blessed I am and she reminds me of this by simply smiling at me. It is incredible what a smile does.
I began to further analyze this during my devotion time. Instead of going back to sleep I began my day. Just Landry smiling back at me gave me just the boost I needed to start my day off right.  I then transitioned into laughter and how powerful laughing can be when it comes to one’s emotional state. I feel laughter is a cure for a bad day. Isn't it amazing how God created something that seems so minor to have this much affect on your mood? An infamous quote from a classic movie has always been one of my favorites because it is so true…

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion” –Steel Magnolias

I think so many people relate to this quote because they know that is the only thing that can transition your heart to focus on the positive. That even during the darkest moments if you find something you can laugh or smile about you feel a sense of hope. You feel that life still does have joy in it even when you are broken. I believe happiness is a choice. It is a big choice and sometimes it is very difficult to choose to be happy.
I realize more and more how important laughter is in relationships. It does not matter what kind. Not everyone is a comedian but if there is laughter in the relationship there is joy. As annoyed and irritated as I can get with my husband he can always make me laugh. It is such a powerful aspect of our relationship because it brings me back to the reality of the situation every time. That at the heart of anything that we experience there is still joy and there is still love for one another. It is an important aspect to keep a relationship going. It is a common ground that people can relate to one another regardless of circumstance. But most importantly the reason for laughter must be pure. 

I jumped to this thought because on my jog the other day I saw some kids playing outside. There were a few kids on one side of the street laughing and I did not put much thought into it until I saw one kid that looked broken looking over at the group of laughing kids. I realized they were laughing at him.  I stopped and pretended to tie my shoe so I could hear the conversation and it was not one I ever want to hear my children take part in.  My blood began to boil and I immediately wanted to jump down the kids throats but I know that that would only add to the embarrassment of the other child. So instead I just smiled at the kid being left out, he smiled and then took off on his skateboard. As I watched him skate away I wondered what I should do in that situation, I looked at the other children and said “you know at some point in this life you may be the one being laughed at, you may want to think about that”. I know they do not care about what some lady has to say, it is far more important what their peers think of them. However, I hope that at least for a moment the smile took the kid away from the hurt he was feeling. I know there have been a lot of campaigns about bullying and it is a timeless issue that I agree should be approached. But I think it starts with what they are taught and what children see. It hit me that as a parent I have to be so aware of my reactions so that my children understand how important it is to treat one another. It can never be at another’s expense. I still happens when you are an adult. I got my feelings hurt the other day when a friend said I made her laugh in a very condescending way. I do not believe her intention was to hurt me but her laughing at my expense caught me off guard. It was even through text and I could not even see or hear the laughter but it still hurt my feelings.It is a powerful thing and most of the time we take it so lightly. Do not turn laughter ,which is a gift, into a weapon. 

Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. — Mark Twain

 During my devotion it hit me that this is going to be something I want my children to learn about laughter. I want them to enjoy life, I want them to smile every day and I want them to be able to laugh through tears. But at the heart of their laughter I want it to be pure. I want to teach them that they should NEVER laugh at someone. That they should never take something God intended for good and turn it into something bad. And when they do see someone abusing the gift of laughter that they separate themselves and react in a way that shows they do not laugh at anyone. I pray they never join into a group just to feel part of it because they will always regret settling for temporary acceptance over doing the right thing. I felt convicted anytime I have ever stood there and allowed someone to be hurt. It is never worth the temporary acceptance.

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
Proverbs 15:13

I love laughter. I love smiling. We all do. I want my children to have such a joyful and happy life full of laughter. But most importantly I want it to be pure joy. I want it to be because they see the good in a situation. I am thankful for my joy and my smiling baby today. I do not want my children to ever think it is okay to take something pure and turn it into something ugly. This is a heart issue and a pure smile will come from a glad heart.  I vowed today to make sure my smile is always pure.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A very Merry CHRISTmas

I love a good commercial, especially the ones that really tug at your heart. The hormones a woman experiences right after having a child really ignite the emotion. Just watching a carters commercial on TV brought me into a complete meltdown. All the moms know the one I am referring to, with the quote at the end that gets you right in heart. “Because the day I became yours, you became mine”. This commercial truly moves me every time I see it. Mainly because it is the best description I have heard to describe the feeling as a new mom.

 It is hard to put into words the feeling you have when you know you are experiencing something you have dreamed of your entire life. Ever since my daughter was born I have been in awe of the amount of love I am filled with. I truly enjoyed being pregnant, well until the very end.  I loved feeling the kicks and all the movements. The positive test results, ultrasounds and the amazing sound of their heartbeat are all part of the most amazing experience of my life. But nothing compares to the moment when you see your child for the first time. It is rare that I am speechless but in that moment I could not utter a word.  All I could do was just stare into her precious eyes.

Motherhood is certainly an experience that is filled with all sorts of emotions.  Fear, exhaustion, joy and pure happiness all mixed in at the same time. Learning sleeping patterns, feeding schedules and understanding the tiny cries are all part of the daily learning curve. Experiencing parenthood with Byron has also brought in a whole new dynamic into our marriage. After delivery Byron went with Landry to the nursery because we both decided beforehand that we wanted one of us to be with her at all times because we did not want to miss a moment.  The nurse, Byron and Landry came back into the delivery room after she had her bath and all the necessary treatments. I was still in a state of exhaustion but I immediately noticed the huge smile on the nurse’s face.  She looked over at me and said “This daddy is in love, I do not think you will have trouble asking him for help”.  She was not wrong. Byron jumps at the chance to change her diaper, which is funny considering he had never changed one before. We have loved doing this “parenting thing” together. It is crazy how much of your day is spent just staring at your child.  I have officially become one of those mothers constantly taking pictures and completely consumed with thoughts of my child. Of course I know it cannot always be like this. Children grow up and our lives will not always be focused on every movement our child makes. However, like a wise friend told me right before I had her, from the day she is born until your last day on earth you will worry.  I know that is the full truth.  Anyone who has children can relate, regardless if you gave birth to them or not, there is no greater love than the love you have for your child.

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. There is a “magic” in the air. Now more than ever I feel so blessed with my precious family.  I realize even more how much Christ truly loves us. Being a parent you immediately know that you would do anything for your child. This experience has taught me so much and has been a reminder of just how much God loves me. I think the love for your child is the closest thing to God's love we can experience. I have also been thinking a lot about all the people in my life that have already gone to be with the Lord. So many of the Christmas traditions I cannot wait to share with Landry were passed down to me by my grandparents. My grandmother always said I should have been born in a different time. I am so old fashioned at heart and at Christmas time it is really brought out in me. But I think Christmas does that to everyone in a way. It is the only time of year when all traditions are brought to life and it is not cheesy or too mushy because it is “the most wonderful time of the year”. It brings out the kid in all of us. But more than anything it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is so important to teach my children to remember it is CHRISTmas. I was so fortunate to grow up in a home where this has always been the focus and it has truly molded my life in a way that I will be forever grateful for. I know Christ is in my heart and no matter what life throws at me God is on my side and his plan is in the works.  I want this for my children. I want to guide them in the same way my parents guided me.  And Christmas is such an opportunity to show your children what life is all about and what their focus should be.  Of course Landry is too small to experience the joy of Christmas this year but having her  here with us has definitely reminded me to be forever grateful for my parents and grandparents that taught me some amazing traditions to pass down to my children. I hope for my children’s sake they learn to appreciate them like I have.  I hope to teach them Jesus is the reason for the season. And the joy you fill at Christmas should be felt year round.  I plan to have a very Merry Christmas this year and I hope to remember to carry this joy with me for the rest of my life. I pray I can be an example of God’s love to my children so they can live filled with the love of Christ.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Perfect Timing

I have always been one to try to map out a "plan" and sometimes that plan changes but I give myself a time frame and decide I have to complete this "plan" by this date. Rarely does my timing line up with God's timing. Yet every time things do not go as "planned" I get upset. This week I had a professional goal I wanted to hit before our child arrives this month. At one point I thought I had gotten there and even began to celebrate but as it turns out I have a little further to go. This is okay and I know I will get there but it is going to be in God's timing, not mine. However, I did not feel this way immediately. I was angry, disappointed and even stressed. I reached out to my encouragers that I always call during a crisis in my life, had a long talk with my husband and most importantly finally allowed myself some quiet time with God. By the end of the day I realized that I set myself up for disappointment. I did this by not allowing myself to let go and let God. My life is in his hands and his plans for my life are far greater than anything I can map out for myself. I also realized satan wants to take our joy. 

This is by far one of the most exciting months of my life. I am going to become a mother. That means more to me than any professional goal ever could. And focusing on anything but that at this time seems so small and unimportant. I began to realize I need to be thankful for this reminder to rely on God. I also learned that I will not give up on my goals. A verse that really had an impact on me is...

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Pretty powerful verse. I decided to start planting more seeds and continuing to put in the work because I do believe I will surpass my goals if I can remember to follow Gods plan for my life. God revealed to me that the largest growth takes place when things are not going your way. It is when you are down that you are able to see what you need to do and how you need to trust in him. A quote a friend sent to me was "You do not determine a mans greatness by his talent or wealth as the world does, but what it takes to discourage him". By letting this disappointment discourage me so much so that I would give up would be such a loss for my future and for my families future. This is a situation where I have to rise above even if I do not really feel like it. It has also been a huge lesson for me that I want to teach to my daughter. Life does not always go the way you want it to, especially when you want it to. But if we live for God and continue to trust in him it will go the way it should. 

In my business you have to be self motivated and determined. A Vice President in my company once said "all VP stands for is that you refused to quit when everyone else did."  I need to remember why I am doing this and who I am doing this for. I have been blessed in so many ways. My dream of being a stay at home mother came true. That is one of the biggest blessings in my life. Why I do this is so much stronger than any goal or time frame I put on myself. God knows what he is doing and even if I do not understand it I have to remind myself daily to trust in him and his timing. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Sun Always Comes Back Up

When Byron came home and casually mentioned that a hurricane was headed in our direction the next week I did not really know what that meant. Being from the mountains of North Carolina I am best prepared for a snow storm. Any other kind of natural disaster seems foreign to me. Watching the news over the next few days we watched and waited on word on if we were evacuating or not. Byron left for work on that Monday and told me to pack a bag for a few days and get everything ready because we were probably going to be leaving that afternoon. I found this to be very inconvenient. However, Byron called me a few hours later and said it would only be a category one hurricane and we are going to stay put. So we head to the grocery store and stock up on food and round up our fellow coasties friends for dinner and wait for this "minor" hurricane to start.

When we woke up the next morning everything seemed so calm and I started to wonder if it was even going to become anything at all. Later that afternoon the winds started with the heavy rains and then our power went out. At this point I am still thinking just another tropical storm. I have learned every time it rains in New Orleans it floods. This is our new normal. However, when the power did not come back on and we were having to live by candle light in the smoldering heat without any cooked or refrigerated food for the next couple of days I decided Hurricanes are for the birds. How annoying is this? Being 32 weeks pregnant only added to my annoyance and I started to complain, a lot. By Thursday Byron decided we needed to go to the other base and stay there until we got power again. We had both had enough of living in the dark and sweating every ounce of bottled water we drank.

 Byron's work place quickly became the shelter for all the families stationed at the Comm Station. I looked around and saw all the kids sleeping in sleeping bags and laughing. I walked into the kitchen and saw all the wives combining resources and preparing meals for everyone. All of the men of course finally had TV again due to the generator and were able to catch up on the start of the football season and everyone there was smiling. Living so far away from home it is difficult to be away from family and friends and I don't believe until that moment did I realize how lucky Byron and I are down here. We have found a home away from home. We have found people with common ground, they too are away from family and are living the military life where at times the lack of flexibility tends to "annoy" you. I also realized how fortunate we are to be part of the military. I am so proud of these men and women who have volunteered to serve this country. They protect us from terrorist, yes, but also from natural disasters. They guard and keep this country safe. They go out there when no one else is able and save lives. We saw so much devastation throughout the week. It turns out although Hurricane Isaac was a category one it hung around for so long and kept spinning it caused damage of a category five in some places. So many families lost their homes. To them this was their Hurricane Katrina.

With just a few minor damages and a week of being placed out of our home we made it back safe and sound. The power came back on, along with our ac. We cleaned up the mess, went to the grocery store and went back to normal life pretty quickly. We were so fortunate and blessed to be able to do that. So many families just a few miles away no longer have a home to go to. When that really sinks in I feel guilty for thinking that I was a victim in any way. God showed me so much over the last couple of weeks. I am so proud to be part of the United States Coast Guard family. I am so glad God reminded me to focus on what really matters in life. I pray that I am able to stay positive and not let the inconvenient days distract me from seeing all the good in my life. Throughout the hurricane I still had food, shelter and people that care about me. I still got a paycheck, thanks to Arbonne, one of the biggest God sends in my life. I have so much and hope that I am able to remember this when my child comes into the world next month. I want to teach her that life does not always give you sunny days but eventually the sun always comes back up.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Small Town, Big Hearts

I am from a small town in North Carolina. I always say God kissed the earth and called it Boone, North Carolina. When you grow up in Boone a part of your heart stays there. It does not matter if you move away forever and you come back whenever you know your soul needs the fresh mountain air or you know raising a family anywhere else would be an injustice to your children. When Byron joined the Coast Guard we were so excited about the adventure, of the unknown. Yet at the same time,  we both knew there was going to be so much we would miss about “home”. Not only is Boone beautiful but it is full of beautiful people. When there is something to celebrate like weddings and babies the warmth and love you feel from the community is amazing. Even more, when tragedy strikes and the dark days come the entire community pulls together and helps you get through it as best you can.

It seems this year there has been a lot of tragedy in my small town. It seems that there is more tragedy there than normal. Then I realized I felt that because we all know everyone and we all hurt when a fellow Boone native hurts. We all cry and mourn the loss and we never forget. Life is so hard and when tragedy strikes it makes you latch on to your loved ones and hold on for dear life. But no one really understands unless you are the one that has lost someone. And losing someone when they are young and have so much life to live is so hard to understand. It is impossible to not ask God why? Why did they have to go so soon? Why am I still here without them?

At 26 weeks pregnant I feel my precious baby kicking. I feel movement and life and nothing in the world is more exciting to me than the life that will soon arrive. Byron and I feel blessed beyond measure. We are overjoyed with this blessing and I wake up every day with a new sense of excitement that I had never felt before. The moment you find out that you are expecting the world looks different. You see the world from a parents view point. You look at what you are bringing your child into. So much of this world is beautiful but at the same time there is so much evil and heartbreak as well. I would love to protect my child from anything that could ever harm her or cause her pain but that is impossible. All I can teach her is how to deal with it and where to put her faith. Everyone who is brought into this world will be taken out. Sometimes it is from sickness, sometimes from tragedy and even worse sometimes by another’s hands that derives from pure evil.

We are all born with a good and evil in our hearts and we have to choose which path we will follow. We have to choose how we value life. In all honesty it is a simple choice. It is not always easy but it is simple. And for those who choose good and choose life truly break when a life is chattered.  There is sincere compassion for another human being. I want to teach my children how sacred and special life is. How to value it and take care of it. How to guard their hearts. When tragedy strikes there is one verse that always consumes my thoughts and they are the only words I know to speak to those suffering from a loss…

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

A peace that passes all understanding. Only through Christ can we find that kind of peace. Without Christ there is no peace. There is no hope. There are no bright days. Without him your heart can turn very dark, very quickly. Life will beat you down, Satan comes in to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). He wants to break you down so much that you will not recover that you will turn from Christ or never really find him in the first place. He wants you to focus on the anger and the hole in your heart. As Christians it is normal to ask “why?” but we have to trust in him. God does not want us to go through dark days. When we are broken so is Christ. But this world is full of evil and at times it seems that evil is winning. At the end of our lives is when we look back and see all that we have gone through good and bad. It is when we can see where God was able to get us through the dark days and bring us bright ones again. But as a Christian it will not be until we get to heaven will we see the full work of God in our lives and the love, grace and mercy that Christ is. Until that day when we see all the loved ones we have lost, until we see Christ we have to survive on faith. We have to trust in him fully. And even more we have to show that love and faith to the world. We need to bring others to Christ so they can have the peace that passes all understanding. So that we can all rejoice in heaven. So at the end of our lives we can see more bright days than dark ones. As long as we are in this world there will be tragedy and death. It is unavoidable. My prayer is for  peace for all the precious Boone families that are going through heart break and loss. I thank God for our community and for his grace and love shown through his followers. I pray through tragedy others are brought to Christ and in heaven we can all celebrate together. I love my Boone family and will always be praying. I pray for more bright days and for peace that will pass all understanding.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I do not care for politics. As a Christian to some it should be black and white which “side” you should choose. But when you look at the Bible it does not fall under a specific party. However, what the Bible says about sin is black and white. What am I? I am a Christian. Who do I vote for? The person who is the closest to believing in what I believe. There is only one thing that anyone should ever hate and that is sin. Because sin is what causes so much hurt and destruction in our society. And more importantly we are all guilty of it.

                                  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

I cringe when I hear Christians claim that others are greater sinners than they are. We are not the one to judge. We are here to witness and show God’s love. We need to live our lives the best we can and serve God. By serving God we love other people. No we do not support their sin, nor do we agree with it. But we should never approach the issue with anger and hate. We are to be Christ like. We are to show them with love how much God loves them. If we as Christians would do this can you imagine the impact it would have? I want my children to grow up in a society that knows Christ. I want my children to know the love of Christ. Not the impression that those that are not saved have of Christians, but most importantly of God. God is love. He loves us all. We can all have him in our hearts. We can all be saved. We can all feel the pure joy and peace when you have him living inside your heart. That is what we need to be passionate about.

So before you take a stand and say something and speak anger towards anyone. As a Christian think about it first, read your Bible, step back and ask yourself…What would Jesus do? We should always stand up for what we believe but we should also always do it in love.