don't let the world steal your day

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I let the enemy beat me up today.

It sucked.

Now that I've collected myself, I've backtracked and thought about everything gone wrong and how I reacted. Ugh. Nothing feels worse than thinking you've made progress in your maturity as a Christian, and falling down. Far. And hard. 

Yesterday nothing and no one could touch me. A friend recently told me about a past experience of hers. She was waiting for a retail store to open up so she could get a pair of shoes that would be limited in supply. She was in the front of the line, and when the doors opened, she was trampled over by a herd of college football players who didn't understand the concept of the word "line." Yesterday, I could have been that girl, trampled at the front of line and you know what? I would have probably gotten up, crying of course, but I would have been okay. I wouldn't have yelled and screamed, I would have kept my cool, shaken it off and moved on. Fast-forward to today, I came home and got ready to load clothes in my dryer only to find that my husband have transferred clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer, running a cycle of dry clothes with wet clothes. Have I done this? Lazily, yes, on occasion. Did that matter today? Nope. While he was on a work call I managed to slam two doors, huff and puff while I hung a huge stack of clothes that had been piled up in my bedroom chair for days and jokingly (hmm...was I really joking?) threatened to do bad things to him if he happened to make that same laundry faux paux again....

What happened between yesterday and today? 

Correction, the question should be, what should have happened today that happened yesterday? 

Prayer. I woke up yesterday morning before the sun came up, tidied up a little bit in my home, made some hot tea and a small breakfast and spent time in God's word. 

What did I do today? I rolled over, woke up at the same time I did yesterday, but let the fact that the family dog had crept into my room overnight (in all his smelly glory I may add), irritate me enough to shoo him out and into the hubs' office and crawl back in bed. Could I have stayed awake? Yes. Would I have been better for it? Absolutely. Instead, I wake up an hour and a half later, late, and grab my phone. What pulled up? Of course, a negative posting on Facebook. 

The key here? Let God be first in your day. Don't start your day off with the world, because grace and mercy aside, it doesn't feel good to backtrack. 

Set your alarm, people. 

 

xoxo

marlena

are you a Mary or a Martha

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Too busy to revel in what God's word wants to reveal to you? Or maybe you're already at His feet like you should be? 

I absolutely have so much to say about this topic, but no time!!! More coming soon!


And I'm back....

I don't know why this segment of scripture has been on my mind so much lately, but earlier this week, I read a little deeper into the verses in Luke (Chapter 10, verses 38-42), and I've been thinking about myself and my constant doing, being "busy." I have also been thinking about my "presentness" in certain situations. Am I truly being present, or am I just going through the motions because what I am doing is on my continuously growing list of things to do?

 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Reading and studying these verses, there are a few things that are important to remember.

1. Jesus did not stop Martha from completing her responsibilities. Jesus knew very well that the things Martha was doing were necessary and important. However, he also knew that because she was wrongly emphasizing her necessary labor that her inner communion with Him was suffering. 

2. He didn't admonish her, but spoke to her in a loving way, that he had only done with a few others. When Jesus said, "Martha, Martha..." it was disapproving, but in a loving and affectionate way. As a matter of fact, Martha is the only woman in the bible who receives this type of reproof from Jesus. In Luke 22:31, Jesus did this to Simon, in Acts 9:4, he did this to Saul and in Genesis 22:11 he does this to Abraham. In the repetition of their names, I think Jesus was expressing his earnestness to them in what words were coming afterward.

When Jesus says "she is worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one." it is important to see that He is rightly giving a cure for worry and busyness: Himself. Which is absolutely ironic considering that while we are rushing around busy and completing our lists frantically, oftentimes stressed, that the only thing that can take that mentality away is sitting at our Lord's feet and being fed spiritually. While worry can make a busy woman feel like the many things in her planner are priorities, putting Jesus first can alleviate this way of feeling!

So, are you a Mary or a Martha?

 

xoxo

Marlena

what does self-care mean for a Christian woman?

I went to small group two nights ago after missing each group of the semester thus far (approximately 5 or six meetings!) and I feel renewed. 

Three years ago, if my closest friend had told me that sitting inside a local eatery, eating good food and laughing with a group of girlfriends for an hour and a half would be fulfilling, I would have thought differently. I wouldn't have laughed, but at the time I would have probably considered "self-care" as my being able to save a few hours for myself each week, you know, going to Barnes and Noble, grabbing a pile of magazines and books (despite the fact that I knew I wouldn't read them all), and drinking a large coffee that I wouldn't have to share. But really, that's just motherhood. Sometimes we just want to read pointless celebrity gossip and intake calories from whipped cream and chocolate syrup that we don't have to share with our husbands or children :)

I spoke with a friend a few weeks ago, and I think we just happened to catch each other on a mutually rough day. We were both overwhelmed with wanting to be working supermoms who do not tire after a week of work, after school activities and everthing else we do regularly that we truly do love. Before we put our phones aside to resume our schedules, she told me that she needed to begin incorporating self-care, which is a word that more times than not will lead me to think about the spa gift card from my husband that I have been saving for a rainy day. 

But there is something about those words, self-care.  

As a Christian woman, I think self-care equates to a whole other idea. Sure, we feel fantastic when we look good or lose a few pounds, but lately, my desperate need has been one for spiritual health. I've learned that self-care quickly follows suit when you tend to work toward achieving spiritual health. I feel the greatest when I am close to God. What makes me feel close to God? Here are a few things that draw me nearer to Him.  

1) Marinating in God's word. Daily. This will seem hard if you overthink it. Yes, focusing on my prayers is "best" when I am at home in the early morning with my worship music playing in the background. I feel even better about this time when I can have this time for thirty to forty-five minutes uninterrupted. Is this realistic for all of us? Honestly, I wish it could be. But insert family, work, extracurricular activities, and a multitude of other things, and sometimes we are happy to just have five minutes of complete silence before bed. BUT...in the same way that we make getting up for work a priority, taking the time to be specific in our reading of His word is paramount to prayer life and relationship with God.

2) Taking part in community. Join a small group or community group and attend regularly. Don't miss. If you feel like missing, and find yourself coming up with excuses of things that you are responsible for regardless, understand that taking aside an hour will generally not effect your schedule negatively. In fact, after a life-giving fellowship you may accomplish more than you originally planned!  Never take yourself out of the running of being lifted up by other believers by God's Word. While in attendance, express yourself in a way that allows you to open up with other women who are seeking the same things: Jesus and how we can live our lives to bring glory to His name. 

3) Setting aside alone time, preferably each day for a few minutes, but definitely a few times per week. While prayer is our main means of communication with our Heavenly Father, and is a strong number one for this list, having alone time to process your thoughts is a strong habit to incorporate into your daily schedule too. When you are alone it will be easier to walk yourself through the things that you need to commune with Him about when it is time to pray. What do you need to thank him for? What do you have going on that you need to ask God to help you identify, and then correct? It's hard to deepen your spiritual relationship when it remains surface-level, and if you're trying to do this while driving in your kids' carpool or running errands on a lunch break, you may have brief revelations, but it takes time away from everything to truly make this time beneficial in your walk with God. 

4) Studying, asking questions and learning. In some circles today, Christianity seems to be like a popularity contest. I believe this sometimes results in groups of women who are taking the word of others over the word of God. If you are unsure of what you are being taught, hear, or read, make it a priority to learn God's word on your own!

You can find yourself cheering on someone else in their spiritual journey, and this is great, but you are the only one who can cultivate your own relationship with Jesus.  

 

runnin, runnin, runnin, runnin...

Runnin' runnin' runnin,
ain't runnin from myself no more
 

So, I'm an absolute scatterbrain, but I went from my study on Jonah to that Beyoncé song, Runnin... lol

...But isn't that what Jonah was doing? He was running from God. When we think about Jonah I know we usually first think about him sitting in the mouth of a huge fish (at least I do). But when I studied this book recently, I put myself in Jonah's shoes. How many times have I known what God expects of me and instead took the easy way out, only to discover that the easy way out sunk me deeper into my mess? This is what happened to Jonah and it happens to us all of the time. God puts something on our heart, it comes to us in the form of work, requiring a level of energy we are either to immature to exert effort for in our new faith, or making us feel "put out," like Jesus dying for us was not enough, that we should have the pleasure of being able to pick and choose when we want to act as Christians. DISCLAIMER: We are to act this way all the time! 1 John 3: 19 says, Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Let us remember that Jesus is the truth we speak of here.

Jonah was given an assignment. He was asked to preach to the people of Nineveh, but decided he would run instead of announcing God's judgment as God commanded. We're going to take a look at Jonah's disobedience, and how we can use it in our own lives.

Upon hearing God's demand, Jonah...

1. Disobeyed. He went in the opposite direction of Nineveh, bought a ticket and hopped on a ship, thinking he was out of dodge of the Lord.

God gives us messages through his prayer and knowledge of His word. As believers, we are called to please God and not man, and to spread His Gospel. While we will not hear an audible voice, we will be moved by His Holy Spirit to act in ways that please Him. Disobedience, and failure to submit fully will have us traveling just like Jonah, in a direction that is not in God's will for us. 

2. Ended up in a less than ideal situation. Because of his obedience, God "hurled a powerful wind over the sea that threatened to break the ship apart," Jonah 1:4.

God does not make us make bad decisions. We do this on our own. Sometimes we aren't fully delivered out of valleys we subject ourselves too until God sees that we've learned a lesson from our struggle. For a believer, he will deliver you out of these times. 

3. Recognized the power of God and the power of prayer after sinking to a valley from disobedience. Jonah prayed to God after being swallowed by the fish and the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

Just like Jonah found himself in less than stellar circumstances, his situation made him realize God's power, and he knew that God would be the only one who could help him so he prayed. It's important to pray and study God's word before we are in horrible situations, but, if we come to God humbly, as Jonah did from inside the fish, he will see us through our struggle!

4. Obeyed, yet questioned. Jonah traveled to Nineveh after God spoke to him a second time to deliver the message he gave him. Jonah did this, and because God saw what the people had done, and how they put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had initially planned.

God wants to give us a second chance, turn our lives around and follow Him. Our prayers do not fall on deaf ears if we seek him humbly, ready to admit our sin and fully repent from wrongdoing. When Jonah saw that God gave the people of Nineveh mercy, he was upset. God asked Jonah if he had the right to be angry. Did he?

Sometimes we find ourselves in obedience to God and find our situations remain stagnant while others' who continue to disobey flourish. The big question is this: do we all deserve God's mercy?

Yes. Some of our brothers and sisters just haven't stopped running from God yet.

 

xoxo

Marlena

what's the groundwork for your life change?

Happy New Year!

I'm off of work for the week, just spent a few hours joyriding with my two favorite boys (a let's get out of the house venture  that included fast food tacos, nachos and cheese, sweet tea and discussions about home renovations for the upcoming months!), and feel absolutely free. Do you know that feeling? Like you wake up, and your worries are gone because you've just DECIDED to live and enjoy the life you've been given?

These last few months (okay, the last year at a minimum, lets be honest), have been crazy. I've woken up, gone to work,  thoroughly enjoyed watching my little man grow in his karate class, participated in school as much as I can, hosted a few small groups, worked on my soon to be published book!!!!!, and successfully blogged for an entire year! Wow! That's not a very extensive list, but I feel accomplished. I also feel ready to admit that I greatly allowed my activities and what's expected of me to dictate my comings and goings. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions because they last for the first few weeks of January, and as soon as I "mess up" or "get off track," I literally feel like a failure. That's dumb, but it's the truth. The older I become, the more I prefer setting goals for life change. I guess you could argue that resolutions are the same as life change, but maybe I just like to call it life change :) Call me dramatic, it's okay :)

Key players in my truly making life changes will always include my growing to be a better wife and mother; as women, we can never be too mature, or too put together where we aren't in desperate need of growth and Jesus. As I type this I am thinking about my pouting session at church (of all places!) as I mumbled through my favorite elevation worship song because I was upset my family was late to service. Again. Okay, see, I'm falling into petty, that wasn't even necessary! But, back to the things I plan to work on to achieve life change. I decided that a great way to start 2018 on the blog would be to share a few things I look forward to doing in my attempts to live fully and free, leaving behind running here, there and everywhere!

I'm trying my hardest to be a planner. You know, write things down, think about projects and activities in advance and work toward them, you know? So I told myself at the beginning of last year that if I successfully calendared all year long, I would buy me a big girl planner, a.ka. an Erin Condren planner. With stickers and fun stuff! So I did, it arrived early which was fabulous, and there were some fun pages at the beginning that I thought I would share for to give some inspiration :)

This year, I am believing God for the successful publishing of my book (this is in process!!!), continuing to build myself and my son larger savings, uplifting and loving my husband more intentionally, taking a business risk to grow financially, BEING A BETTER SERVANT for His Kingdom, know Christ better and making sure my son and tranforming my mind and my body!!!

I'm curious, what are you believing God for this Year New?

What are a few things you plan to achieve this year to make true life change happen?

 

A sneak peak at my goals for the year.

A sneak peak at my goals for the year.

xoxo

Marlena

pray for your home

Galatians 3:26 tells us that we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  He knows us so intimately that the hairs on our heads are all numbered (Matthew 10:30), and "He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them," (Psalm 147:4). How amazing is our God! He is King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords and he loves us so much that he knows us so personally :)

We are not gifted with Salvation because we are good, but because we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and savior. We are all sinners, but because Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died for our sin, we are forgiven and declared free of guilt and consequence of sin before God when we accept and love His son. This is why we are his children.

One of the most important things you can do as a child of God is pray and be in communication with Him. As so many of us moms are sending our little people off to school in the mornings, and entering new routines, it is so important to keep our families under constant prayer. Here are a few tips!

1) Make prayer cards. At the beginning of your week, grab a few notecards and make prayer cards for your family. Don't be methodical or overly formal with your requests. Write and talk to God as you would your dad! Make one specifically for your children, your spouse, your parents, siblings and most importantly for your home. Write down prayers for upcoming events and concerns but most importantly, for what you'd like to see. Pray for strong relationships with Jesus for your growing babies, for example, or for your husband to learn how to slow down and enjoy the Present :)

2) Pray for those things that are going well. Make sure that you pray for those people and events that may not even seem to need prayer. It is important to make sure that we are thankful and prayerful in ALL situations, those that are good as well as those that are not.

3) Take time out daily. In the car, in your office at work, during a walk around your neighborhood, or even while you lay in bed at night. Be thankful that you have such an amazing God, and be in peace that He wants to know you.

4) Pray that your prayers are answered according to His will. Sometimes we want things done that are not in God's will for us. As you pray, pray this His will be done in each and every situation and circumstance.

5) Wait for your prayers to be answered. Add to your card stash as new prayer needs arise, and as you see God answering you, keep a separate stash of prayer cards to help you remember that while it may take him some time, God does hear us, and he answers all of his children!

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).

 

xoxo

Marlena

the choice

"But now God is hidden. Now it is possible to be in our world and not know him, not experience his presence, not follow his ways, not live in gratitude."

When I read this in my new bible, I was struck by how powerful these words are.

God is hidden.

It is possible to be in our world and not know him.

It is possible to be in our world and not experience His Holy Spirit.

It is possible to be in our world and not follow His ways.

It is possible to be in our world and be selfish and self-serving.

But should it be possible? I would never want to put myself in the position of "well, if I was God..." But at the same time, let's think about this for a second.

God created all things and because of His will they existed and were created (Revelation 4:11). We were created by a God that has the power to make us choose to love him, but he doesn't force us. We are given the free will to live our lives as we please. Why?

Love by means of free will is the love that matters. VOLUNTARY LOVE is what God wants. 

 

Heavenly Father,

I love you. You are an almighty, all powerful, loving father. I pray that I please you in all that I do, and most importantly, I pray that you mold me and shape me from the inside out so I can be more of you and less of me.

xoxo

Marlena