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How Will He Not?

How Will He Not?

As of late, I have been convicted of my seemingly lifelong battle with anxiety. I’ve wanted to tackle this sin bent of mine, and conquer it. Sometimes I am so anxious that my spiritual wrestle turns into physical discomfort. When feeling anxious, my stomach will begin to tie itself in knots (at least that what it feels like), my shoulders start to tense and I clench my teeth so hard my head hurts – I also usually forget to exhale and most of the time, I don’t even realize it.

I’ll never forget the first time I felt really anxious as a child. I was about nine years old and my parents had just leased a brand new gold Honda Civic. Whenever we had a new car in the family, it was standard that we would all hop in and take it for a little spin. After having the car a short while, my parents sat my sisters and I down and told us that they would be returning the car because the payments were more than what they had budgeted for.

The way my young self translated this was that we were poor and I was terrified. I think my dad knew we might think that and he took my sisters and I to Target to pick out some things for ourselves. I remember that one of the new(er) Star Wars movies had recently debuted in theaters and I found myself a Queen Amidala t-shirt and calendar (#nerd) but I made sure they were on clearance. Little did I know that the whole returning the car experience would be something that marked my life forever. In retrospect, it honestly was not a big deal, my parents just wanted to be wise with their money and most of my financial wisdom has been gleaned by following in their footsteps.

Unfortunately, my first response to that incident was fear – a deeply rooted fear that has reared it’s ugly head too many times for me to count and has left me desperately trying to control many areas of my life hoping that I will never have to feel that way or experience that ever again. As you may have guessed, my MO has failed but my Savior has continually shown me that He is faithful.

In Psalm 37:3, believers are commanded to, “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness,” some translations state, “feed on faithfulness.” How sweet to have a Heavenly Father who not only gives me a command but gives me the grace to obey it. I have experienced many crazy things, especially over the past year, that have provided enough fodder for me to feed on faithfulness for a lifetime.

A few weeks ago my heart was greatly blessed when I listened to a message titled, No Need to Worry by Shawn Farrell who is the college pastor at my church back in California and the pastor who performed my wedding ceremony. In this message, Shawn read Romans 8:31-32 which states, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” I especially LOVE verse 32 because of how Paul, the author of Romans, asks the question. It seems as if Paul asks it in such a way that is almost a double negative of sorts, “How will he not?” begs us to realize that He will! Not because He must but because it is accordance with His will and His character to give His children all things. He does so graciously, and He does so by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, who makes known to us the path of life, gives us fullness of joy in His presence and pleasures forevermore at His right hand (Psalm 16:11).

Last week my husband’s pay check was a little lower than the past few because he hasn’t worked as much over time lately. Instead of being joyful and content with what the Lord had provided, I freaked out as I reviewed our budget wondering how certain bills would be paid. I started to get worked up, my mind was racing a million and a half miles per hour and I thought to myself, “Well, we can cut the grocery budget. . . but I am breastfeeding mom. . . oh well, we have to do what we have to do. . .” How silly of me, in light of all the Lord has done, to have panic be my first response. In reviewing our bills, I realized that some of them aren’t even due until next month. That left us with our full grocery budget and even a teeny bit to get coffee on the weekend.

I am memorizing Romans 8:31-32 so along with dwelling on the Lord’s faithfulness, I can put off anxiety by taking my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and thinking on what is true (Philippians 4:8). In November I was in a car accident that left my car totaled but myself and my unborn daughter completely unscathed. I was SO disappointed. I wondered why the Lord would take the first car I owned that I had worked so hard to pay off. I had already left my home, job, church, friends and family to move halfway across the country – wasn’t that enough? Although I don’t know exactly why the Lord allowed that to happen, I believe He was using it to refine me and to cause me to trust Him as He gave me more of His faithfulness to feed on. It took my husband and I a while to find a new car, but when we did, it happened to be a gold Honda Civic. I don’t want to put too much into that but I know the Lord was in control of that situation just as He is in control now.

He is God, I am not. He chose not to spare His own Son but to give Him up for me and as if that weren’t enough, He has graciously given me all things through His Son, including a right standing with Him, precious grace that abounds more than my sin and His kindness that causes me to repent of my anxiety and grow more like His Son as I trust in His great love for me.

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/ Trusting God

Baltimore

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here a few to highlight my first business trip (which was also my first trip to the East Coast. . . I don’t get out much) that occurred back in November.
I went to Baltimore, Maryland for a conference and was so nervous about flying. I am a firm believer that God created gravity for a reason (so why defy it??).
Since the trip, I have flown a total of 3 times in my life.
I was grateful for the opportunity since it meant facing my fears but I was also terrified because it meant facing my fears.
I cried 3 times the day before the trip (I really hate flying!) but I was a big girl and survived the flight there and back and have learned once again, that the Lord is faithful and I need to depend on Him.

I purchased this vintage suitcase on eBay just for my trip –
I always feel like I should be singing “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music when I use it.

Exiting the airport in Baltimore – You’ll never know how happy I was to be off the plane!

Sunrise Day 1

I accidentally stayed on the elevator and went up to the 14th floor
{I didn’t realize the hotel had 14 floors}
I had never stayed in such a “fancy” hotel before.

The inner harbor

The USS Constellation

Sunrise Day 2

Shot from inside my hotel room – can you see the reflection?

Wreckage from 9/11

Have accessories, will travel.

I’m not one who cares much for seafood but their calamari strips are amazing!

 
Inside Phillips

The hotel at night – the purple Vs are lights inside the glass elevators.

It was definitely had a  Charlie Bucket feel.

The skywalk

Little Italy

Sabatino’s
My colleagues and I were actually supposed to meet some friends
in DC for dinner but the plans changed last minute.
We ended up eating here instead and I “randomly”
ran into my friend Katie from church!

Vaccaro’s is the best place to go for dessert in Little Italy.

0 In Blog/ Grace/ Trusting God

The Grace Diaries

“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”
Isaiah 18:30 ESV

After recent battles with sin {specifically discontentment and idolatry}, I’ve been divinely inspired as to new ways to preach truth to myself. I have started my own project called The Grace Diaries. It’s not really an art project so much as it is a writing one. Reading through an old prayer journal last weekend, I was blessed to recall the ways in which the Lord has been so faithful to me by answering many of prayers specifically and in my favor (well, He really answers all of them in my favor but I usually don’t see that initially). I do love to journal my prayers but this usually takes more time than I have in a typical day. I’ve decided that I am going to keep a log in a notebook that will include the date and a bullet point list of examples of God’s grace that occurred in my life for that day. When I am feeling discouraged, lonely or that God is not hearing me {all lies} I can read through my Grace Diary and see how faithful He has been to me specifically. When battling sin it is common to feel that you are alone (which is a lie if you follow Christ because His Holy Spirit is dwelling in you!). I realized that in battling sin, I would rather feel the tension of the battle than nothing at all because at least that way I know that I am fighting. It is humbling to be able to see God’s grace and understand how unworthy I am to be a recipient. I recently complained to a friend about not wanting something until everyone else had it and I didn’t {idolatry}. Through that I was able to see God’s grace in providing me with friends who are able to empathize with me and care enough to speak truth to me in a gracious way. There was a weekend past in which I was disappointed and knew that eventually I would be in situations in which I would be reminded of that disappointment. I was ecstatic and slightly giddy as I realized that God was being gracious to me and protecting me from those reminders. To everyone else, the circumstances were typical. To me, they were a divine gift. Looking for God’s daily grace toward me as a sinner also allows for me to be put in my place (which unfortunately for me, needs to happen quite often). I falsely believe that there are certain things in life that I am entitled to or things I deserve. I was already given Christ’s mercy when He paid my penalty of sin on the cross. For my wicked heart, there are days when I fail to remember this truth, and I {falsely} believe that it’s not enough. Mercy was Christ sparing me from the eternal punishment I deserve. Grace is that He continues to allow me to enjoy things in this life even though they won’t last – and I can do nothing to earn it and most certainly don’t deserve it. My view on grace completely changed when my pastor informed our congregation that God saved us so He could be kind to us. According to John MacArthur,

 “The purpose for which God saved us was not primarily to keep us out of hell, we were saved primarily so that God could shower His grace and kindness on us,”. 

I hope this encourages your soul as much as it did mine and that you are able to see His grace toward His children daily.
Love,
Lolo
1 In Blog/ Trusting God

To Live Is An Awfully Big Adventure

I don’t know why, but lately I have been very excited. I am excited for opportunities, I am excited at work, I am excited at home, I’m definitely excited about this blog and I have a calm sort of excitement about growing up and becoming the woman that Christ has called me to be. I am excited for the adventure that my 23rd year on this earth will provide me with. Today I was driving home and found adventure in rolling down my window even though it was raining, and blasting We Found Love by Rihanna (she has finally produced a decent song!) and singing and dancing to my heart’s content (why yes, I do sing and dance while driving). I believe that not worrying produces a peace that passes all understanding and of course this peace comes from Christ alone (Philippians 4:6-7). My life isn’t perfect by far, but I am completely happy in Christ. Sometimes I am afraid because I know that good times are just temporary seasons of life. I don’t want to be disappointed, but when I expect that I shall be disappointed, I am doubting God’s faithfulness. When I consider all the challenges and trials that I have overcome, He has been by my side through each one and has used all my circumstances for my good and His glory. No matter what may happen I will become more like Christ (ONLY by His power, naturally). I need to use what He gives me and be content no matter what my circumstances are. With Christ as my Lord, I will never be disappointed. I say to live is an awfully big adventure especially when He is holding my hand and guiding me every step of the way.
Love,
Lolo
2 In Blog/ Trusting God

Fun Run

Today I was supposed to do a 5k walk/run with my mom and little sister. As it turns out we talked and decided that we were not going to participate if it was raining (I don’t recall having this conversation). So I woke up at 6:45, ate breakfast and went to see if my mom was up yet. When she informed that it was probably canceled due to rain, I decided to call our local Chick-fil-A because they were hosting the event. They were still going to host rain or shine and since determination is my middle name (well. . .it’s actually Michele), I decided to go anyway. I am NOT a runner by any means. I can run, but am not really motivated to. Any type of exercise for me is a chore and huge burden (it’s sooooo boring!). But I decided to participate anyway because I don’t want to be the type of person to quit when things are uncomfortable or inconvenient. I drove to Chick-fil-A, which is not where the run was. As soon as I realized this, I turned around in a panic and drove to the shopping center where it was held. I made it on time, signed in and got my bib.
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I thought this would be really hard and even told myself, “You don’t really have to do this, you can turn around and leave anytime.” But for me, easy is NOT an option. I was initially a little nervous due to my lack of athletic ability and because I had no friends or family there with me. When everything inside was telling me to give up, I chose to endure anyway. The run was fantastic! I spent time with God, participated in a community event, received coupons for free Chick-fil-A because they were out of my shirt size (I will still get the shirt, but in a few weeks). So I’m still getting the shirt AND I got free food out of it.
Clothes and free food – does it get any better?

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Many people, including myself ended up running and walking with their umbrellas because it was SO wet!
The best part of the race is the encouragement I received from complete strangers. Yes, these people probably live in the same city as I do, but it is a large city and I didn’t know any of them. When I was at the end of the race, a group of people was clapping and cheering. . .for me! They said, “You’re almost there” and “Run to the cow, it’s just around the corner” (yeah. . .that was kinda weird). Then I ran and high fived the Chick-fil-A cows on either side of me into victory. I received a little water bottle and my *ahem* ribbon for completing the event.
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I completed the walk/run in 45 minutes and actually ran for part of it. I was proud of myself for this and hopefully will be able to participate in more walk/runs in the future and finish in less time. This was a great start to what has been a great year so far. It’s time to abandon easy and grow like never before. This means fully trusting God, letting go of fears and releasing inhibitions.
In the words of Bethany Hamilton,”I don’t need easy, I just need possible”.
Here’s to Christ who works through my weaknesses to make me stronger and more like Him.
Love,
Lolo
Me after the run. I was completely drenched and had to change right when I got home. I’m hoping and praying I don’t get bronchitis or strep since that’s what’s going around at work this week.
0 In Blog/ Trusting God

Life Is A Risk Worth Taking

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.”

Leo F. Buscaglia

 

When life is good, write. When life is bad, write. When life hurts, write. When life heals, write. . .

Tonight I received a small opportunity. One that if taken could have major consequences, many positive, a few negative. Let me tell you, “I. Am. Simply. Terrified!” And ecstatic. I am terrified because I have had many opportunities in the past few years that have ended in complete heartbreak. I have only had a few that have not left me empty and broken. My sister asked me, “What is life without risks?” While she is only 19 and we are complete opposites, I love my sister for this innocence, something rarely expressed by 19 year old girls. It somewhat reminds me of being 19. I had not taken many risks at 19 and that left me safe, whole and fearful…fearful of life, people and potential circumstances…I’m older now and only infinitesimally wiser (it’s not an age thing – trust me!). Since I have taken risks I have had much joy, success, hurt and brokenness and I have learned how to appreciate what it means to be healed and whole.

I love my lungs. Most people don’t really think too much about their lungs other than they have them and that they function by providing us with the ability to breathe which in turn keeps us alive. In May I had bronchitis. . .I had it bad. I had to be on 5 different medications for 15 days, a horrid assortment of pills, cough syrups and an inhaler, all followed by nasty side effects. Five months later I drove myself to Urgent Care only to find that I had bronchitis. . .again. I remember these times because they were especially painful and extremely annoying. I don’t remember every single day of health with as much detail as the days of sickness, but I now have a greater appreciation for my health and for good times as well as bad ones.

I do not know what my future holds and I’m scared, but I’m also excited because my heavenly Daddy has a plan for my life that is going to rock my world and it is greater that anything I could have imagined. So I will step out of my comfort zone and step up into being the woman He has called me to be knowing that my worst circumstances are used for my good and His glory. So in actuality I never have had or will have any horrible circumstances, just opportunities. Opportunities to learn and to grow and to glorify Him.
Love,
Lolo

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.”
Ecclesiastes 7:14
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21