Life Lesson: You Can’t Have It All Without Christ

CHRIST IS ALL.jpgIt’s officially crazy holiday shopping season. Thanksgiving has come and gone and the spirit of spend, spend, spend is upon us. My email inbox is flooded with deals, deals, and more deals. Each email I get is tugging me to go shop here and spend this. Each offer is nice and inviting but once I really take a moment away from the rustling and bustling of holiday hustle I realize how much of a black hole the holiday season can be. I also realize I need to start unsubscribing from some emails…

Growing up my parents never place great emphasis on the typical Christmas celebration of Santa Claus, elves, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Though we entertained ourselves on those snowy days with wonderful Hallmark and family movies about spreading cheer and giving, their primary goal was to give us the true gift that Christ gave us.

I’m pretty confident that everyone knows the Birth of Jesus Christ. It’s a story that never gets old. Mary and Joseph do the unthinkable and start on a journey leading them to the King of Kings. Most people probably thought they were crazy! I for one can’t imagine trying to spend the first year of my marriage preparing for a baby. Most newlyweds are still trying to get situated and pick a family toothpaste. All of their sacrifices allowed them to be honored as the parents of the King of the World. They didn’t have much, in fact, when he was born he was in kind of a bind. Mary had to deliver Jesus in a barn filled with random smells, various animals, and not a single Christmas tree or decorated stocking.

Yet, what they lacked in careers, home, lifestyle, and finances, Jesus Christ made up for it. It’s not Christmas because the wise man came with gifts, the shepherds came to awe, and the drummer boy played. It’s Christmas because of Jesus Christ being born.

So, this holiday season I’m unsure of which direction I should go in regards to gift shopping. I started this post thinking I couldn’t have it all. I thought after scrolling through my favorite stores online, seeing all the great sales, discounts and realizing that everything my eyes sees and wants my pockets can’t guarantee. But now, after reminiscing about Jesus’s birth my eyes are opened and I know that I can have it all!

I have it all the moment I gave my life to Jesus Christ. The moment he was born in a manager by a virgin was when I could have it all. I could have joy, peace, freedom, love, victory, life abundantly. So, though I might only buy a couple of items from a store or two, I refuse to let that change how I view how blessed I am.

 

Moment of Truth: Forever In Debt, Paying It With Praise

My most recent moment of truth left me with massive bags under my eyes. I’ve been frozen for a while now and I am finally beginning to thaw out. The past couple of months has been filled with glorious ups and dramatic downs. It’s been difficult keeping up with the exciting new changes in my life. Personally, I feel like I’m not doing this blog post justice because of all that has happened for us can only be expressed through tears of joy.

My husband is finally home from basic training. I’m so proud that he endured, sacrificed, and worked tirelessly to provide a future for us. While he was away, my daughter and I moved into our first apartment. It was a scary, yet exhilarating change. We endured being confined in my parent’s house for nearly two years and after what felt like forever, God finally gave us the green light to move forward. We spent the end of our summer moving in and getting settled. I made constant trips back and forth from stores trying to decorate my blessing with a passion I thought I would never have again. We love our new home and appreciate it because of how long we had to wait to get it.  Sometimes it feels to good to be true but every day I fight off the past of having nothing and embrace having something of our own.overnight

We managed to accomplish three years worth of dreams, desires, and goals in one summer. For a long time, I was worried if I would ever get to the day where my life was filled with accomplishment, prosperity, and peace. With all the sweat, tears, and pain we went through to get it I’m still learning that success comes through Christ, through faith, and hard work.

My life has felt pretty intense with all that has happened. All my prayers and cries to God were answered and I’m living with my husband and child happily. Hearing Elizabeth laugh uncontrollably because daddy is acting silly brings me to tears. I’m reminded of the past three years where nothing was going right for us, everything was turned against us and our endeavors for a better life. Door after door was closed in our faces followed by betrayals, lies, disappointments, and sorrow. Yet, I’m here, sitting on my living room floor experiencing a day I’ve been begging for since forever.

I don’t mean to get emotional, but I’m so thankful that God loved me so much to refuse me the option of failing. I was tempted way too many times to count to just quit and throw in the towel. It’s been a gritty, sweaty, disgusting, vulnerable three years for me and you have no idea how refreshingly good my days are. I wish I could paint a picture of how much bitterness, sadness, disappointment, and sorrow I was carrying inside. I was at a point where the gloves were off and it was either do or die.

purpose-behind-it-all

I realize now that God broke me down so low that I only had enough energy to wait on Him. During those three years, I wasted energy that should’ve been used to get closer to God rather than trying to solve my problems. Without no fight in me, that’s exactly what I finally did. I honestly, didn’t have a choice. It was either wait on God to swoop in right on his time and fix everything or risk ruining my situation, my family, and myself from bad to worse. I realized if my situation got any worse it wouldn’t be by my hand. I made a resolve to keep fighting but fighting with God in front of me, beside me, behind me, and in me. I didn’t know how or when but that I would get what I was asking for and God didn’t let me down.

Now that that season of testing is over (for now), I can see the purpose behind it all. What comes to my mind is when Jesus gave us the ultimate gift of dying on the cross (Matthew 27:32-56). He too had to get gritty, sweaty, disgusting and vulnerable before the World could get better. Before any of us could have a shot at redemption, freedom, victory, salvation, and a better life he had to set us free from the eternal consequences of sin. The task required him to get his hands dirty, his feet dirty, his face smudged with countless tears and sorrow. He had to walk amongst dead things, things that showed no hope for life or growth. Every day through his walk closer to the cross he had to die daily to finally be awakened with freedom. Through his painful, bloody season he overcame the darkness with light so we can have a better life. So I can have a normal Tuesday where I can sit calmly and watch my husband and child laugh with contagious joy.moment-of-truth

No pain, no gain is more than a cute saying for motivation. It’s a guarantee that dreams and goals can be received only with the equal amount of hard and painful work. I believe the bigger the dream, the heavier the workload load. The bigger the prayer, the longer I need to stay on my knees, stay in His Word, and dwell in His Spirit. The price of my dreams coming true cost me three years of struggle, of setbacks, and tears so that I can one day afford it. The only way I could afford it is because of Jesus Christ. The cost of Jesus Christ dying on the cross to save mankind involved a heavy debt that no one could afford to pay but Him. He covered the worst possible, highly unimaginable bill that could never be accomplished by me or you.

So in this moment, after reflecting back on every gray morning, every dark night, all I need to be doing, should’ve have been doing from the beginning, in the midst of it all is belch out, “Thank you, Lord!” All this struggle, all the waiting, the fight for my blessing birthed in me a grateful heart. Life isn’t going to always be fair, but despite it all, good or bad I constantly owe God a praise. The storm and rain fostered a real appreciation for all that God has done.

Most importantly, it shows me that Christ understands it all. Three years of struggle have changed me to have a heart filled with thanksgiving and understanding. If I only had good days, I would never appreciate them. I would never understand what Christ did for me, nor would I have a tenderness for someone else who is going through tough times. Bad days challenge me to focus off myself so I can be in a place to help someone else. I can be in a place where I’m leaning on Christ instead of my resources. It might sound crazy but going through bad days are the sure way to get to your good ones.

 

 

Moment of Truth: A Letter To Myself 2016

 

Dear Victoria,

It’s the New Year so quit playing around. There are some things we need to address before you become successful. I love you too much to make the same mistakes from last year. I especially will not tolerate another second of you second-guessing us. Don’t worry, I’ve brought a hefty insurance policy on you in case you bail on me.

One thing you need to keep in this year is your love and passion for God. Don’t EVER let your responsibilities and privileges push Jesus Christ aside. No more, “In a minute God” or “I’ll do it later, Lord.” God loves us too much for you to keep pushing him away. Without him, you have nothing! Remember that!

Swallow your pride and love your husband. Yes, I know he can be a bit “team too much” but you decided to marry him anyway, so deal with it. Laugh at his corny jokes, never stop forgiving him when he messes up and ALWAYS pray for him. I mean when he is good and bad! Pray when you have nothing else better to do. The man needs it! You both do! Keep your love for your husband high and your respect for him higher. I better not hear you being mean!

I don’t have to tell you, but love your daughter! She is spectacular. She is everything a mother could ask for. Trust me. Play with her and be an example that you want her to follow. Model Christ in front of her always. Teach her how to be the woman and wife you are still striving to be. Make sure she is a lady. Try not to spank her too much!

Lastly, smile. Don’t worry about what tomorrow will bring. Actually, enjoy the moment for a change. I’m serious, enjoy your 20s because you rarely do. Be strong, confident, and sweet. Make sure you always have enough pens in your purse. And never give up! I’ll be checking in on you so you better stay sober (1 Peter 5:8). Make sure you never, ever stop writing. There isn’t enough room in your head for another story, plot twist, or play.

Love Always,

The Tougher Side of Me

Life Lesson: Follow God’s Word

 

Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty”.

This year I don’t want to doubt, worry, or stress. I want to have complete confidence in God’s plan for my life. I want to wake up, pray and hustle. I want to busy myself with getting deeper in my relationship with God, my husband, and friends. I have spent far too long of my time living unsatisfied. I’ve pushed back passions and dreams long enough. I have ideas and plans that I want to glorify God with. I don’t even want to hear the word “limit” unless it refers to unlimited. My goals for this year is to live, eat, sleep the Word of God in all aspect of my life. I have so much I want to go and a God who can do it for me. Before I share my goals, here is a list of scriptures that will determine my success. I am laying the Word of God before me — before I make any concrete decisions, moves, or actions.

Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end, it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

James 4:13-15 says, “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

As many goals and dreams, I have locked  up inside me, submitting them to God is the most important. Humbly set goals and recognize that God controls our destiny.

Psalm 37:4-5 says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.

And realize that as amazing as you think your or my dreams are, they are nothing compared to how grand God’s plan for our lives are (Isaiah 55:8-11).

I don’t know about you, but I am excited. With these scriptures and words of wisdom, my dreams have no choice to submit and soar. I would love for you to share your goals, quotes, motivational phrases you have for this year. Even better, leave a link to your 2016 goals and I will feature them! Make them count!

Life Lesson: Don’t Waste Your Time…

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Don’t waste time! Not one minute. Easy and simple right? Psalms 90:10 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I hate to raise my hand, but I have spent time frivolously. Days where I could have spent more time with God, studying, staying out of trouble, laughing with friends. Instead of arguing, fighting, pouting, kicking and screaming against everything. This year learn to appreciate the time we are given. Be open to hearing wisdom more and ignore foolishness more. Every day you wait to accomplish a goal or dream is a day you won’t get back. I could even sit here and waste time thinking about the past. Pondering on hypotheticals only lead you to a mountain of regrettable. Don’t do it!

Get up, stretch and wash your hands of the past. Acknowledge that it’s done, over with and focus on moving on. If you went through a horrible breakup, cleanse yourself, learn your mistakes and move forward. If you didn’t make the best financial decisions, focus on starting new ones. Don’t ponder on what you could’ve or should’ve done because unless you know how to time travel; you or I can’t do anything about it.

Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because days are evil.” Keep excuses from your lips this year! Welcome opportunities to challenge yourself, especially if they lead you closer to your goals. Ask yourself,  “What am I doing today that gets me closer to my life goals?” Don’t get sidetracked or distracted. Don’t get caught up in family or friends trying to party late when you know you have to work or study tomorrow. Don’t get wrapped up in people who’s the main agenda is to keep you distracted. If you find yourself sidetracked, reflect over your resolution list and get your head in the game.

Don’t panic! There were A LOT of things I couldn’t accomplish in 2015, it doesn’t mean in 2016 that I will go through the same results. Learn from this year and only carry with you the  tools that will bring you success. Absolutely don’t carry baggage. If you’re reading this post and you know you got baggage, let go. It slows you down and weighs you down. Baggage isn’t something you should accessorize with your outfits.

LETS GO.jpgMake your resolution list clear, specific and detailed. Appropriate the amount of time needed to accomplish day to day tasks. Schedule time for the Lord, family, others, and yourself. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells me that there is a time to laugh, cry, peace, fight, learn, grow, keep, lose. Learn those times. Use your time wisely this 2016. Pray and ask God to help you manage the time given to you and ask for strength to not get stressed or overwhelmed. Take this New Year a day at a time.

 

 

 

Life Lesson: Keep Jesus First

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him… Colossians 3:23

The New Year is almost here. A new month brings a new beginning. Prepare yourself for change. Make sure you carry a new mindset, focus, and attitude if you hope for great things. To start, don’t begin the New Year to please men, but God. Write down goals that give thanks to God first.

DON'T FORGET.jpgAs you organize your dreams, passions, and goals don’t forget to acknowledge God. He comforts us in Matthew 6 not to worry, that God considers the lilies and the well-being of birds. We have His guarantee that He will take care of us because He values us more. So, why not in return focus firstly on Him since He knows our end from our beginning. So, tackle writing and setting resolutions that honor Christ.

I am guilty of putting God below my number one on my to-do list. I have not always “seek first the kingdom of God” in my day-to-day decision making. More so, I have whined and complained about why I haven’t received “His righteousness and all things.” In the past, I too complained about not having the money, the status or fortune but I never really did what was needed to be done to receive it. You can only blame yourself if you didn’t get that promotion. There are things in life you are destined to receive but if you don’t do your part in life, don’t expect them. It’s not God’s fault if you didn’t put God first to be blessed. Growing up, I’ve learned that when I put Jesus Christ first that nothing good will be kept from me. You don’t believe me, then believe the spoken word:

Matthew 3:16-17 says that Jesus was baptized and as he came up from the water, the heavens opened to Him and the Spirit of God descended like a dove; and alighting upon him.”

If you hope for good things to happen then you need Jesus. If you desire a spouse, a family, employment, friends or accomplishments you must keep God and his son, Jesus Christ first. Anything you or I want or need must go through Jesus. In Romans 8:32 — “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

If God gave you his beloved Son, what makes you think he is going to refuse your request for financial security? God doesn’t value anything more than His Son. God gave us his most valuable gift, Jesus. Nothing is more valuable than Christ. The Bible says as long as the Father sees the son in your life he will not withhold all things (Psalms 84:11; Matthew 7:11; Psalm 34:10).

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it”(John 14:13)

As you plan your goals and resolutions for this New Year, keep Jesus Christ front and center. Do plan for riches, happiness, and success; don’t forget Jesus. Planning your goals is importantly, but having God is more important. So as you list your priorities, put your relationship with God first. Don’t plan next year to make others happy. “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). Place the absolute important things at the top of your list.  Don’t worry, I’m doing this as well. If you want to know my goals and resolutions, comment below. Share some of your techniques to goal success.

Life Moment: Christmas Eve

 

Christmas was always a conflicting time for me when I was younger. I struggled with celebrating Christmas because of Santa Claus. As a Christian, I loved celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, those classic entertaining stories of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Santa Claus” movies (the Tim Allen version is my favorite) and “Jack Frost” has always been a warm way of celebrating the winter season. I always felt like I was cheating on Jesus if I celebrated Santa, hung a decorated tree, and sung about grandma getting ran over by a reindeer. But no one wants to be the oddball not giving or receiving any shiny, decorative gifts. Maybe it’s just me but I felt like I was serving two masters.

I never could pick a side. At school, I was the Santa Claus loving, ho, ho, ho, and jingle bells girl. At church, I would sing hymns, learn about the meaning of the star and participate in Sunday School plays.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas music and the flashy decorations but I always knew that the real reason for Christmas was Jesus Christ being born. I don’t know about you but I always felt conflicted about celebrating Christmas the “Santa” way and the “Jesus” way. Have you? Not anymore!

I love the nativity story about Mary and Joseph having baby Jesus in the manager. It is dramatic and compelling and shows me that anything beautiful and good can come out of a bad situation. Mary’s integrity and reputation were on the line when she agreed to carry the Savior. Back then, having a baby out of wedlock was actually a bad thing! Not to mention, Joseph was probably feeling hurt and betrayed.

He assumed that Mary was cheating and was almost ready to get rid of her. It’s beautiful how Joseph looked past her current state and saw the promise of God in her life. He didn’t look at where she was, what others said, but had trust in God that everything will work out. They both started out with nothing and still loved and respected each other. Their character, reputation and marriage was tested. Mary and Joseph walked in total confidence in God. They had the entire world against and they didn’t let that stop them from being the best spouse and parent they could be.

Now how can Santa compete with that! I mean, yeah, he brings all the good children amazing toys and the bad children get coal. But Jesus’s gift is for everyone. Good or bad, right or wrong, everyone can get a gift from Jesus. Santa Claus is a nice guy and everything but at a certain age, unless you never grow up, he starts to become irrelevant. While as Jesus Christ never gets old. I mean he grows up to die for all mankind. Santa Claus mainly drinks cocoa and cookies. The most credit I will give Santa is he is an incredible entrepreneur. Makes me laugh because as loving and kindhearted as Santa can be, he is nothing compared to Jesus Christ.

Life Lesson: The Best Parts of Each Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Autumn

autumn-bridge-153798-high-quality-and.jpgI love it when the colors change. Fall colors are always warm and comforting. The trees change from green to red, orange, brown, and yellow. The weather is just good. The sun is shining and the winds blow.  The winds are so strong they can even move the trees to dance. They sway left to right, rustling their leaves to fall on the ground. Weather like this is perfect for fuzzy socks, soft sweaters, and boots! I look forward to shopping for fall clothes because they are snug. I love being warm and toasty, wrapped up in a blanket or sweater drinking hot tea and reading a book. During Fall, everything feels like home.

Winter

winter-01.jpgChristmas is a major holiday in wintertime. I love that this season brings families together. Everything shines in the twilight. From the Christmas lights to the jingling of bells, peace and good fortune are shared. I love the greeting cards you find in the store. Each card is different and beautiful in their words just like snow. I love giving cards to family and friends. When I get holiday cards I love placing them on the mantle. This season gives my husband and I more of a reason to keep close to one another. We usually don’t go out that much in the snow. We hide away in each other’s comfort.

Spring

spring-garden-bench.jpgI was born in the springtime (April 20). The weather feels great. I love the rain in spring. I love the way it smells, it feels, and the fact that it always brings life. When I was younger, I didn’t care about getting sick from running in the hardest of rain showers. My siblings would dart outside and run back in laughing, soaked in our clothes. The loudest of thunderstorms and the brightest of lightening makes me smile because I know great change is coming. The spring fashion is colorful, playful and bright. I love wearing bright colors and flowery prints. It’s the perfect time to have picnics but I usually wait for summer.

Summer

summer-morning-in-the-park-bench-trees-grass-sunlight-1080P-wallpaper-middle-size.jpgAs a child, I always looked forward to summer vacation from the school year. I love that I can sleep in and not worry about anything. Summer gives me the chance to be free. The heat may force me to slow down but I don’t care. I love running fast and riding my bike faster. It’s the perfect time to go to the pool or water fountains. Endless amounts of ice creams, water ices, and cheese pretzels. When I was a teenager, I was able to wear cute little shorts, pretty patterned dresses and sandals. I would wear my sunglasses to block the sun and sit in the park and read. Before I married my husband, we would go have picnics and fight off ants for our food. We would wander until the cool night breeze kicked in and then we would wander some more.