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0 In Grace

Texas, Tears and Timing

This may come as a surprise to many, but I dearly long to return to life in the Lone Star State. While getting married, moving halfway across the country 6 days later and then getting pregnant 3 months later was, to put it frankly, chaos, I deeply cherish the time my husband, daughter and I spent in Texas. I feel like a mad woman because when I was there I longed to be in California but once we got the call that my husband would be able to transfer his job to California, I wasn’t even sure if moving back was what I wanted to do. I had four days to pack our one bedroom apartment by myself  and I sobbed through each one.

My heart aches to return to life in the city and I’ve questioned over and over again why this is. Am I discontent? Possibly. Is my longing sinful? Maybe. . . I don’t know. I do know that ATX is where my husband and I arrived six days into our marriage. It’s where we fought, where we grew, where we had our baby, where we established our roots and had to figure out life just the two of us and the Lord. I’ve wondered if my hormonal hurricane postpartum is what led to us moving to California and I’ve regretted how much control the hormones seemed to have but what I’ve come to realize is that no matter how much “control” any outside (or inside) source may seem to have, they will never have the full, sovereign control of our good and gracious God who works all things together for the good of those who love Him. I learned that sinful or not, my choices can never thwart His will and in this knowledge I have realized His peace that passes all understanding.

I am thankful to be in California for now but am praying that one day, if the Lord sees fit, He would move us back to ATX. The Southern atmosphere is sweet and slow and holds a special place in my heart (apart from the humidity, naturally). I dearly miss the beauty of San Antonio in the midst of a sweltering storm, Cuvee Black and Blue, Lucy’s on the Lake, Harvest Bible Chapel Austin, Lady Bird Lake(/Lake Austin/Town Lake/The Colorado River), Whole Foods, all things Fixer Upper, everyone saying, “Y’all,” the Southern hospitality, wide open spaces, the green, Hook ’em Horns, brisket, breakfast tacos, the healthy culture (okay, just in ATX), and the pride of being a Texan (I’m not sure that I can actually claim the last one, but since I haven’t been in California for a year, I figured it’d be acceptable).

My husband and I talked about what would have happened “if” he had lost his job in Texas and our initial response was we were so grateful that didn’t happen because we don’t know what we would have done. We imagined being in such a situation would be really hard but the truth is, being in California we didn’t really know what to do and God has still shown Himself faithful. His character doesn’t change based on our location – amazing grace, indeed! I do see however, how God has been gracious to us as we found out last month that the location my husband’s company was operating in Austin was shut down due to poor productivity. The timing was interesting and somewhat helpful to my heart to know we didn’t make a mistake in moving.

Yet, how do I move forward? I’ve asked myself this and wrestled internally pouring out my heart to the Lord.

Here’s what I’ve concluded at least for now:

  1. My desire for eternity with Christ should never exceed my desire for any earthly home. May my heart long for the city whose designer and builder is God more than my desire to live in ATX or anywhere on earth.
  2. The bride of Christ has never been more beautiful to me. My husband and I had a wonderful church home in California that we left behind when we moved to Texas. What I didn’t know at the time was how cherished our Texas church family would become. While I long to be with our Texas church family, and I don’t know when we’ll see them next, my heart rejoices knowing that in eternity I will get to worship God forever with all the saints I hold dear. Who am I that God would allow me to partake in such glory?
  3. Fondness for former days can be foolish. Earlier this week I read Ecclesiastes 7:10 which states, “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” I’ve wondered why it wouldn’t be wise to consider former days as better and I’ve concluded that it must have something to do with being grateful for what the Lord has for me each day. It isn’t wrong to hold memories dear but it is sinful to idolize them and I believe Solomon’s warning was for this reason. I should long for eternity more than any earthly season as that is where I will be know fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore in the presence of Christ Himself.

Ultimately, I don’t know whether or not we will one day return to our roots but I do know that I can trust God who does.

“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”

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0 In Grace

When the Future is Funny

Well, it should be to no one’s surprise that these past two weeks have marked another crazy chapter for the DuPrez family. If y’all have been followed our story through this blog, you may know that we recently experienced a rough season of unemployment after moving from Texas to California. We were so humbled and grateful that the Lord provided my husband with a job in March and provided us with a home on April 1st. My husband’s job was a blessing in that it paid $3 more per hour than he previously made, the company provided him with a work truck (a huge blessing since we are a 1 car family), and since they didn’t have company phones, his boss offered to give us $80/month toward our cell phone bill (we were really excited about this since our bill is only $60/month!). Through it all, Ihave been wavering between the temptation to fear that my husband would lose his job again and the desire to trust the Lord who gives us everything we need.

About 2 weeks into the new job, my husband was being sent home multiple days a week due to the company not having any work for him. Since this was becoming a pattern, he reached out to a company that had wanted to interview him after he had accepted his most recent job. After a few days passed and he didn’t receive a call back, we figured the opportunity had passed.

Come Monday, April 17th, my husband was a little discouraged as he was home again and I was having a hard time seeing him so. He decided to make the most of the time off by heading to the local library to prepare a message he would be teaching to the high school students at our church. He was gone only a few minutes before my phone rang and he told me he had received a call back from the company and the owner wanted to interview him locally at 1:00. Since the library had not yet opened, he decided to head home and prepare for the interview. He left that afternoon interested to see what the other opportunity might be and we were both a little intrigued as the owner wanted to meet him at a local sports bar.

Once the interview concluded, my husband arrived home and told me it went okay. The company definitely wanted to hire him but the pay would be less and he would be starting his shifts at 2 AM in Los Angeles. Not exactly the time and location he would prefer, but he was willing to accept the job if it meant he could provide.

Y’all, I love my husband. 

A few minutes after he informed me about the interview, he received another phone call on his old cell phone which happened to still be activated AND turned on. There was another company he had applied to and interviewed with while unemployed and they also wanted to hire him.

WHAT?!

Unsure of how to proceed, we decided that we would pray together, my husband would call a few guys to seek counsel and I would call my parents to see if their home would be available for my husband during on call shifts which are a requirement of the second job opportunity (my parents live much closer to the job location than we do). Praying together was bittersweet. We thought it so timely that there were options for my husband but it was hard for him to make a decision because they company he currently worked for had been so good to him. He was conflicted with the desire to be faithful to his company and to be faithful to his family as the provider. In tears, I went in prayer before the Lord on my husband’s behalf, asking Him to give my husband wisdom and to honor his desire to be faithful on both ends.

My husband proceeded to make his phone calls and I made mine. He was outside for about 20 minutes talking then came in to let me know how he was counseled.

Y’all, I am not exaggerating when I tell you that not even two minutes after he concluded his calls, he received another call from his current boss telling him the company would have to lay him off due to a lack of work.

WHAT?!

To say we were shocked would be a major understatement. It took a moment for the proverbial roller coaster to stop and for us to catch our breath. We were so amazed, surprised, humbled and a little fearful about the course of events that had occurred and SO beyond grateful to see God’s provision in our lives so tangibly on display. I literally laughed out loud because really, what else was I to do? I thought of the woman described in Proverbs 31 who is so confident in the Lord that she laughs at the time to come. I figured if the Lord saw us through unemployment once before, He is more than capable of extending His faithfulness to us a second time around.

My husband decided that the second opportunity would be the best fit for our family. That company is able to match was he was making and then some. They are also able to provide health insurance for us and a matching 401k. I learned during the first bout of unemployment that the only benefits we truly need, we have in Christ and these little earthly benefits are simply a bonus.

Honestly, I did shed a few tears later that evening. I was discouraged but hopeful at what was to come. It was hard knowing that we wouldn’t have an income for almost two weeks but I was reminded of how God provided for Moses and the Israelite’s when they were in the desert and I know that the same God also provides for me.

The rest of the week was really rough as my husband contracted the stomach flu – bad. I totally gave him a hard time for whining about a man cold (which is what we initially thought it was), but when I took his temperature and the thermometer read 100.2, I knew we were in trouble. His fever went up and down but we eventually got it to stay down consistently. During these times of caring for my husband and my daughter I felt alone but had to remind myself that the lens for truth is not my feelings – the way I feel does not always determine what is true.

I read Psalm 54:4 in my Bible reading plan and it was so sweet to be reminded that I am never alone because it is God who helps me:

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. 

So simple and so sweet.

My husband began his new job (I hope I can stop saying that for a while) last Thursday, a few days sooner than we expected – how great is our God?

Moving back here hasn’t been anything near what we expected, not that we really had expectations. But, in the midst of the changes I am thankful that because of Jesus, I know and am reconciled to God who is the same yesterday, today and forever and who will never leave me or forsake me.

I can laugh at the future because I know Who is in control of it.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”

Ephesians 3:20-21

0 In Grace

Unemployment & Unbelief

This post contains affiliate links

I’ve delayed writing this post for quite some time now as what I have to share isn’t something I’m necessarily excited about.

I’ve also delayed writing this post reassuring myself that I would share about this season once it had passed because I wanted y’all to know how it ends.

Twice last week I received feedback on this blog from people I have never met and I’ve realized that what I am going through isn’t about me and maybe the Lord will use it in ways I never would have imagined. I figured it would be best to delay no longer and share what I am learning in these trying times.

Six weeks ago yesterday, my husband was terminated from his job – yes, the same job that allowed us to transfer back to California from Texas after two years. This was not expected by any means and has been more difficult that I could have imagined but also a great blessing that has far exceeded my expectations.

While working in Texas, my husband passed the background check with his company and also passed with Google since that’s who the company holds the contract with out there. In California however, the company is contracted with Cox Communications who, we now know, has some of the strictest background check standards. My husband had to do a new background check in California for Cox and was terminated due to a misdemeanor charge for trespassing in 2011, before he became a Christian.

I was heartbroken upon receiving the initial news about the job loss. I was angry with the company for not seeing my husband as a new creation but, as the organization is not Biblically based, I knew it didn’t make sense to think that they would do so. I hoped that his track record with the company of hard, faithful, ethical work for, what would have been two years in April, would have been enough. I have wrestled through wanting to be angry with the company but I know such a response is personal and emotional and ultimately it is the Lord who is allowing us to go through this.

Once again, it feels like we were back at square one, counting everything as loss. Not only is our income gone, but our insurance benefits too. There have been a few tears shed during this season as well as sleepless nights.

Fortunately, Derek and I had just completed reading the book of Job in our Bible reading plan prior to this happening. Most people know that Job is the one who said, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. . . ” but what was most encouraging for us was to see Job’s hope in Job 19:25, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth.”

We have also been working on memorizing Psalm 103 and in the midst of losing our benefits, it was sweet to, “. . . forget not all his benefits. . .,” and to see that the first, and most important one listed is that he forgives all our iniquity. We may not have medical coverage, but our sins have been covered and that is of far greater worth to us.

I have been reading the book Spurgeon’s Sorrows, which has given me much comfort in this season and reminded me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Derek and I had the privilege of meeting the pastor who wrote the book at a conference by the same name and we were greatly encouraged by God’s heart toward His children as they experience trials.

This season has been hard, but not impossible. Most days, I share the prayer of the father in Mark 9:24 who said, “I believe, help my unbelief!” as I beg the Lord to provide my husband with a job.

We are learning to be content in any and every circumstance which is made possible only by the strength supplied by Christ. After all the crazy things that have happened to us during our almost two years of marriage, this has by far been the hardest but it has also been the first time in a while that I can say my soul’s disposition is truly happy. After much hardship, I am finally learning what it looks like to count it all joy as I endure various trials.

Right now we are waiting quietly and trusting patiently.

Derek has had four interviews but three of the places aren’t hiring until March and we are expecting to hear back regarding the fourth at the end of this week. We are able to receive unemployment from Texas, since that’s where most of his work experience was and by God’s sweet grace, it pays more than the state of California (go figure). He has been doing some temporary construction work for a man in our church which has been a blessing and, he has been driving 40 minutes away to donate plasma twice weekly to help with gas and give us a little bit of “fun money,” (gosh, I love my husband). We are fortunate enough to have paid off the remainder of our lease for our apartment in Austin and apart from student loans, car insurance and a few scant medical bills from Addie’s birth, we don’t have too many expenses right now.

We have been able to spend more time together as a family than ever before and when our tax return finally arrives, we will be receiving more than Derek would have made in a month with his former job. We are considering using that money toward a down payment on a small condo since rent out here is through the roof. Although our circumstances aren’t ideal, we may actually depart from this season with bountiful savings which would be quite humorous in an ironic sort of way. This isn’t necessarily how I had hoped or planned for that to occur but I am humbled and deeply grateful for the Lord’s provision in our lives. It has been fun to see the unexpected ways He has had His hand over us during this and every season.

Our faith has been challenged exponentially and the growing pains of sanctification are uncomfortable yet we rejoice and take heart viewing these trying times as God’s gentle care for us in shaping us more like His Son.

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4 In Grace/ Motherhood

Not Just A Mom

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As of late I have found myself wrestling with being  just a mom. Amidst the spit up stains on my clothes and the never ceasing piles of laundry, you would probably never guess that I have a bachelor’s degree. I actually used to work full time and then part time and then I quit “working” so I could fulfill my dream of staying home with my sweet Addie Rose. Long nights have led to heavy eyelids and a weary heart. The dream I thought would swell my heart with joy often leaves me longing for more – more sleep, more time, more patience, more energy. . . and the list goes one. Day in and day out, I battle for joy seeking to take my thoughts captive so I may think on what is true and know wholeheartedly that my identity isn’t in my academic status, my career or lack thereof. Don’t misunderstand me – being a mom is the hardest job I have ever had. It is work and important work at that but it isn’t my identity.

I must constantly comfort my heart with the truth that I am fulfilling the command of Christ to make disciples in a way that is losing value in our culture. I often think that my work as a mom will be valuable if I am raising a future preacher’s wife or future doctor but what I fail to realize is that my work is no less important if I raise an “ordinary” girl who will do extraordinary things for Christ – like forsaking a career outside the home to work in the home and raise children.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying – that it’s wrong for a mama to work outside the home. We know that as women we are to work with willing hands and to consider a field and buy it. However, this doesn’t mean that if we choose to work solely at home, even if just for a season, that our work has less value. We may not be receiving a pay check, but what we are doing is invaluable economically and spiritually. (I love this recent blog post a man wrote explaining why he can’t afford his wife.)

Becoming a wife and mama within a year, amongst many other changes in my life, has been one of the biggest joys I have ever experienced and it has also been one of God’s greatest tools for my personal sanctification. As I battle to be a wife and a mother unto Him for His glory, I have learned that I will never be able to do so if I am seeking my identity in those roles. Yes, Eve was created to be Adam’s helper, but her  identity was first found in bearing God’s image – something I must remind myself of daily as I seek to honor the Lord in my priorities. I tend to get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent which these days, consists of a dishwasher that needs to be unloaded and an infant who needs her diaper changed. In these moments, I often forsake my first identity for fear that I won’t be able to accomplish as much as I set out to when my day started. It is when I seek the Lord through reading His word, which is to me a joy, and the delight of my heart, and through prayer, that I am reminded of who I truly am. I am valuable, not because of my work, but because of the identity I have as an image bearer of God which is displayed in my work. This is true for us women in every season of life whether married or not, whether a mother or not.

I would typically say that marriage and motherhood are hard, but after reading this, I know that it is my sin that makes them so. As we are in various seasons, fighting our sin may cause us to grow weary and lose heart but may we consider the words of King Hezekiah in 2  Chronicles 32:8, “. . . but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” These were the words Hezekiah spoke to his army when Sennacherib, the king of Assyria was threatening Hezekiah and his people. Although you are most likely not engaging in a physical war today, know that the God who helped Hezekiah is the same God who sent His son to die on behalf of His children to not only remove their record of sin but to accredit to them His perfect life. This is the same God who through Jesus helps us today by the power of His Holy Spirit. Be encouraged today as you remember your identity and work in whatever capacity to bring Him glory, “for he has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.'”

 

 

 

6 In Grace/ Motherhood

My Top 5 Encouragements for New Mamas

 

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As a new mama there have been so many opportunities for my sin to be revealed and there have been moments where I’ve experienced great discouragement. Trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing coupled with little to no sleep and hormones out of whack has left me desperate for Jesus like never before. Parenting is a great joy but it is also a great responsibility.

There are many days where my husband comes home from work eager to talk about his day and asks me, “So, what did you do today?” There is an internal struggle as I decide between responses, “Everything. . . nothing. . . ummm I kept a human being alive. . . ” Amidst the never ending piles of laundry (So. Much. Laundry.) and the sometimes never ending flow of spit up, the days have quickly dissolved into one big blur. My daughter is almost three months old, a quarter of a year, and I’m not sure how time has managed to slip by so fast.

This season, like every other, has it’s roses and thorns but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am learning to be content with where the Lord has me and be grateful for His faithfulness to continue to cause me to be more like His Son. The following five encouragements have been in my mind and on my heart as I’ve considered what wisdom I would offer a woman going through the season that I’m currently in. New mama, I hope these truths derived from Scripture encourage your heart as much as they have encouraged mine.

1. Give Yourself Grace

A few years ago there was a diapers commercial that stated, “Having a baby changes everything” and that sentiment couldn’t be more true. As a first time parent I have questioned whether or not I am doing things the “right” way (even though I’m not sure what that really is). During my daughter’s second week home, we had one particularly rough night in which I could not get my daughter to fall asleep. The combination of exhaustion and hormones lead to the spilling of hot tears as I entered our living room and told my mom, who was visiting, that I wasn’t qualified to be a parent and that there are moms younger than I am who are doing a much better job. I spent most of the first month of my daughter’s life condemning myself by thinking such thoughts that were based on my emotions rather than thinking on what is true. What is true, is that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). I don’t need to punish myself when I fail because Jesus took the punishment I deserved when He traded my sin for His righteousness. The truth is, I fail daily but God is sovereign even in my failings.

2. Wait For the Morning

As a parent of a newborn, I’ve learned that late nights and early mornings are going to be normal in this season. Initially this was REALLY rough for me. I am the type who needs at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night in order to function well but I’ve learned how to scrape by on 3.

A few Scriptures that have encouraged me when my heart grows desperate for a lack of sleep (and brain power) are Psalm 30:5 which reminds me that joy comes in the morning and Lamentations 3:22-23 which tells me His mercies are new every morning. I’ve faced a few discouraging and extremely long nights but ultimately I am grateful for them because they humbled my heart and left me longing for fresh mercies which only He can supply.

3. Fix Your Eyes On Jesus

Running the race of the Christian life requires great endurance and I think I realized this more upon becoming a parent. Sure, my seasons of singleness and marriage had their own respective challenges but neither season had me so desperate for Jesus as this one. This doesn’t mean that motherhood is more holy or sanctifying than other roles or seasons, for me it’s simply a different type of sanctification than I’ve previously experienced. In singleness and marriage I was free of someone relying on me for their care and nourishment 24/7 and I also had the ability to sleep for at least 8 hours every night uninterrupted. I could go out wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. Motherhood is extremely hard mostly because my sin is being exposed like never before and I am having to die to myself like never before. Motherhood is also one of the biggest blessings I know because it shows me that I am weak and need Jesus in every moment. Such desperation has caused me to cling to the hope offered in Hebrews 12: 1-2 which states, “. . . let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus endured for joy and by fixing my eyes on Him, I can do the same.

4. Do It For Joy

One of my goals this year is to memorize a portion of Scripture every week. Whether it’s one verse or  a few, I desire to have God’s word in my mind and written on my heart. One of the verses I came across in my Bible reading plan that I decided to memorize was John 16:21, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a human being has been born into the world.” The context of this verse is Jesus telling His disciples that He is departing to be with the Father but will one day return. He compares His absence to the pain women feel in labor and His return to the joy that is experienced upon the realization of new life. This was the verse I asked my husband to remind me of while I was in labor. Through contractions I squeezed my eyelids shut and crushed his hand with my grip as he gently whispered to me, “It’s for joy, lovey, you’re doing this for joy.” Labor is painful and at times motherhood is too but this beautiful metaphor reminds us to keep longing for the return of our Savior by reminding of us of the joy that caused our hearts to swell upon the births of our little ones.

5. Remember Who You Are

This has probably been the biggest challenge for me as a new mama and I think it’s generally a challenge for women in every season – remembering the roots of our identity. I have had moments of pride spring up in my heart as I’ve received compliments on how quiet my baby is or how well she (sometimes) sleeps well. During those times I’ve, in a sense, proudly worn my daughter like some kind of Badge of Excellence. In those moments I’ve failed to remember that I am a new creation and have been designed to worship God. Instead I have chosen to worship my daughter and allow my identity to be expressed based on how she behaves. I’m sure this will be a struggle in every season but I’ve learned that when I sin in this way, I put an unrealistic expectation on her and must realize that as another sinner, she will never be able to perfectly satisfy my expectations. Instead of humbly being grateful for my new identity in Christ, I’ve abused God’s grace in allowing me to be a mom and have pridefully allowed my new role to become my new identity.

Another area in which I’ve failed to be identified in Christ is body image. Instead of remembering that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and allowing my soul to know it well, I’ve beat myself up based on the number I see on the scale. Yes, my body is a temple and self control is the fruit of the Spirit, but I tend to go to the extreme and turn these truths into the law that Jesus died to save me from. It is definitely discouraging having a closet full of clothes that don’t fit but my hope is that my heart will count even that as loss for the ways that I am gaining Christ in this season (Philippians 3:8). I have learned to be disciplined in cultivating healthy habits knowing that bodily training is, indeed of some value, but ultimately, the training should create in my heart a deeper desire to train myself for Godliness. It is this training in Godliness which reminds me that, “. . . It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me,” Galatians 2:20.

Motherhood is hard but God is faithful.

He will not give you a season of life without giving you the grace to endure it in a way that is honoring and glorifying to Him.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Press on mama.

0 In Grace

Simple As Socks

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This week I have been SO overwhelmed by how good God is!

When my husband and I were first married, he was an independent contractor and I had no job – we definitely weren’t ballin’ (and all the newlyweds said, “AMEN!”).

We’re not destitute by any means, we have more than we could have ever hoped or dreamed of. Yet, sometimes the money is a little tight – we can pay all our bills but usually have little left to do fun things. I realize that’s a sacrifice we make now and we will probably be able to enjoy more in the future (all y’all who have already paid your dues, I’m positive, can attest to this). But there have been (too) many times in this season where I have doubted God’s goodness, faithfulness and provision. Despite Him seeing me through the craziest season of my life (marriage, moving, motherhood), I have failed to trust that His plan for me is good. I’m a modern day Eve wondering if God really has my best interests at heart.

Earlier this week I was on the verge of tears from being so bogged down in my thoughts that I started to believe the lies of my own sin. I questioned how some of our bills would be paid this month and was over analyzing in my head different ways I could come up with a solution, you know, since I’m totally in control and all.

Yet, His kindness lead me to repentance (Romans 2:4).

I was humbled that He so tenderly and graciously caused me to remember what is true of His character according to His word:
• His love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8)
• He remains faithful when I am faithless (2 Timothy 2:13)
• I can be content because He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5)
• I have everything I need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)

I encourage you dear reader, when you are struggling to trust Him, tell Him!

My prayer of repentance wasn’t anything super deep or theological – (with this preggo brain, I’m barely hanging on by a thread). I basically prayed the words of the  father with the demon possessed son in Mark 9:24, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

When you find yourself failing to trust, don’t run from repenting because of shame – there is none left for you (Romans 8:1) for it was  poured out on His Son.

Thinking on what is true (Philippians 4:8) about who He is and what He has done for His children should cause us to glory in His character and His plan of redemption.

We can rejoice knowing that, even in the small struggles, this life isn’t it (James 1:2-4).

Yesterday I was overwhelmed to the point of tears (are you sensing a pattern here?) to receive 2 packages from my mother in law (thanks mom!) that contained items for our baby – blankets, clothes and burp cloths. There were even some new socks for my husband – he’s really needed new socks!

I started crying thinking about how wicked my heart has been to not trust God yet I was overwhelmed that because of Jesus, God no longer sees me as a sinner, but as His child whom He loves and cares for deeply.

I’m amazed that His love for me is displayed in so many simple ways and He can use something as simple as a pair of socks to bless me and show me that He cares and faithfully provides for even the smallest of needs.

Since repenting of my faithlessness earlier in the week, I have begun to cultivate a trust in Him by quoting Scripture to myself that reminds me of what is true of His character. I haven’t been trying to create a master plan for how we’re going to financially succeed here on earth and it has been quite freeing. My hope is to fight this sin by depending on the Holy Spirit to work in me to cultivate a heart of trust.

I am not perfect and I don’t expect that I’m going to perfectly trust the Lord from here on out but I am thankful for the many crazy circumstances He has put me in over this past year that gave me no other choice but to trust Him. I have seen His character remain constant and I am grateful for the opportunities He’s given me to feed on His faithfulness (Psalm 37:3).

It it, indeed, so sweet to trust in Jesus!

0 In Blog/ Christmas/ Grace/ Trusting God

So This Is Christmas


I have to be honest, this Christmas is the hardest for me so far, probably because it’s at the conclusion of my hardest year so far. It’s the first Christmas I’ve spent away from my family. As much as I LOVE Christmas, I’ve been both anticipating it this year and dreading it hoping it will be over in a flash. Last week I sobbed tears knowing that this year we won’t have a tree, presents or family. I’ve kind of tried to avoid the question, “What are you guys doing for Christmas?” because the truth is we didn’t have any plans. 

It’s been a hard year and a rough season but I was encouraged when I talked to an older woman in my church who told me it would be her first Christmas without her family too. In a strange way, I was encouraged to know that it wasn’t just me – I’m not alone as I struggle. I realized too with the mini Christmas series my pastor has been preaching that even Christmas, as much as I want it to be, is not about me. As difficult as it has been to not have a tree and participate in my family’s traditions I have learned to appreciate what I have like never before and I’ve experienced growth in contentment like never before. 
When I think about what Christ has done for me, coming to live amongst sinners so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for my sins and make me right before God, that is enough. 
But He didn’t stop there. He has also faithfully changed my heart, He has never left me or forsaken me, He has given me His Holy Spirit to help me and comfort me, He has made His power perfect through my weakness. 
But He didn’t stop there. He’s also provided me with a husband. For years all I wanted for Christmas was a husband. This morning I was SO blessed and humbled to wake up next to my sweet husband who had a big smile on his face and said, “Merry Christmas Lovey!” Followed by, “I’m going to make you breakfast!” And, “Remember we’ve already received the greatest gift we’ve ever received and its Jesus, God gave us Jesus.” 
I’m one really spoiled girl, but God still didn’t stop there. This year I’m not only married but pregnant with our baby girl. My husband received a promotion and raise at work a few weeks ago and we also bought a new (to us) car. We have food in our kitchen, our bills are paid and we even were blessed to received gift cards from my in laws and money from my parents as our Christmas presents. 
I’ve realized that not having all the traditions, decorations and presents has made Christmas hard but it’s also made it better because it has caused me to fix my eyes on Christ and eternity like never before. 
Jesus didn’t have a Christmas tree. He didn’t drive around and look at lights with His family. What He did have though, He gave up for me to make me His own. It cost Him everything.
This year has been the hardest year of my life but it’s also been the best because I have learned that despite my circumstances and my feelings, 
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭16:5-6‬ ‭


Merry Christmas y’all! 


0 In Blog/ Grace/ Photography/ Travel

Sacramento

I was lucky enough to travel to the City of Trees on Wednesday for my 2nd business trip. There’s nothing like waking up and leaving for work before Starbucks is open. I wasn’t as nervous to fly this time around as I have been reading Trusting God by Jerry Bridges and it has been a great encouragement to my soul. Throughout the flight I was tempted to fear but I had to remember that ultimately God sustains everything and it is under His sovereign control. 
Who am I that He should make more like Himself by allowing me to encounter circumstances that leave me in total reliance upon Him . . .
Leaving San Diego

“Nothing is so small or trivial as to escape the attention of God’s sovereign control; nothing is so great as to be beyond His power to control it. The insignificant sparrow cannot fall to the ground withoutHis will; the mighty Roman empire cannot crucify Jesus Christ unless that power is given to it by God (see Matthew 10:29; John 19:10-11). And what is true for the sparrow and for Jesus is true for you and me. No detail of your life is too insignificant for your heavenly Father’s attention; no circumstance is so big that He cannot control it.”
Jerry Bridges
Flying above the Pacific Ocean
“Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”
Psalm 36:5

Looking up in the Capitol 

The California State Capitol
(It’s way bigger than the White House – who knew?) 
This was my workspace for the afternoon.

The Crocker Art Museum
This was my first time at an art museum 

A painting by Renoir.
Inside the original Crocker mansion which is not part of the museum.

This “tree” was inside the Sacramento airport and was starting to light up as the sun went down. 
This was the most amazing view ever! 

0 In Blog/ Grace/ Photographing Friday

Morning Stroll Through the Secret Garden

April 18, 2014

Do y’all remember this story from childhood?

I felt like I was there when I went running/walking this morning. 
I have today and Monday off of work and have packed the weekend full of plans with loved ones and while it should be a time to rest and relax I woke up charged and ready to go this morning and busted out my To Do list du jour. 
It seems that my life is dominated by To Do lists and this is of my own doing. 
Deep down inside, I realized, was an anxiety that I had to accomplish so much in a given period of time. 
Maybe I am used to the work environment where performance is a hot commodity. 
This isn’t a bad thing but it can be if it becomes the ultimate thing. 
Before I went walking, I read this article which calmed my soul and encouraged me. 
I still wrote out my To Do list and continued my morning as usual. 
I spent time with Jesus and prayed that He would help me be disciplined in exercising. 
Then I realized that since I prayed for discipline in exercise, I would actually have to do it. 
So I did. 
This is the beauty I encountered on my run/walk. 
When I see such beauty, I think to myself, “My savior made this!”
And then I am reminded that in Christ, I am enough because He was the perfect sacrifice for my sins. 
I am not perfect but His death and resurrection mean that when God looks at me, a sinner, He sees the perfection of Christ in my place. 

0 In Blog/ Grace/ Photography

My Week in Pictures // Spring Break Edition

My roommate Court and I decided to be “spontaneous” and went to Oceanside one night.

Sunset surf
I heart peeps!

Court and I bought some flowers and decorated our porch.
I definitely took advantage of the free Pantone paint samples at Lowe’s

I am in love with these bulbs that are growing right outside my front door!
I feel like there is sunshine beaming up at me whenever I walk outside.

Butter lettuce is The Best kind of lettuce there is. 
Is anyone else thinking “poppies“?

There really is nothing in the world quite like a new sketch book.

Peanut butter + chocolate = LOVE

These fruity Macarons from Trader’s are simply delightful.

I had the privilege of taking Le Boo Boo to her first eye doctor appointment.

She had the same doctor that I had growing up.

Sweet & Savory Sweet Potatoes {I made lots of these – Lolo loves sweet potatoes!}

Poolside + New Book = PERFECTION
I began reading Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis