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'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

are you a "popular" christian?

Why are you a Christian?

A few years ago, had someone asked me this question, I would have quickly said.

"I'm nice, I'm a good person and I have a good heart."

Did these things make me a Christian? No. Could these things be attributes of a Christian? Yes, of course!

When I say popular, I don't really mean well-known. I mean this, why do you go to church? Why do you sing and worship the way that you do, arms raised to heaven? Do you often type #blessed in your social media? Or, maybe, when a friend sends you a message about a struggle or hard time she is going through, you send an emoji with praying hands and type "praying!"

Maybe it is a habit, and maybe you do these things because it just seems like the right and "Christian" thing to do. But is it? Doesn't God specify the consequences of having integrity and being faithful in His word? (Proverbs 11:3).

In my growing relationship with Jesus, one thing I am coming to discover is this: genuineness is what is right. It is RIGHT to be genuine in all you do, especially in those things pertaining to Christ.  It is so easy to say and do things that seem right, but if there is no genuineness behind these actions, they may as well go undone. After realizing what it truly means to give myself to Christ in all things I do (and no, I'm not perfect and have to actively work at this daily!), I have taken more notice of all things done in His name. Do you know what I've discovered? If we're being honest, lots of bootie-style shoes, skinny jeans, and a certain "look" that has become popular with the influx of a millenial following in His church, comments ending in #blessed, leaders who tend to gain more popularity than the God they are serving and the list goes on. Now don't get me wrong. We can absolutely be fashionable and tag along with trends among our church friends, and we can even attend churches that are large in congregation. What we can't do is lose ourselves and postpone our growth in Christ. Below is some food for thought!

3 Three Potential Results of being Disingenuous in your Faith

1) You may open yourself to false-teaching.

As a believer, I think it is safe to say that in order to know God's word, you work at it. Knowing the word of God does not come because you show up to church every Sunday, or follow a bunch of "church like" people on Instagram, but you must "give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress (1 Timothy 4:15)." When we look to identify with what is popular, trendy, or bask in the things that seem to be more fun, it is easy to loose the Gospel that should be the center of our spiritual journey. False-teaching can introduce itself to you in a way that makes it seem real and true if your faith is lead by an emotions-based existence. Peter teaches us in 2 Peter 2:1 that "there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you."  It is important to know that in teaching, the appeal should not be to your flesh, but instead focused and directed on scripture.

2) You will not enjoy true relationship in Christ.

When you find yourself just going through the motions of Christian-life you will likely still find yourself unfulfilled. Why wouldn't you want to dig deep and cultivate a relationship with the God who made you? Out of all of the people in the world, He still thought it imperative to create you! Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that before He formed you in your mother's womb, God sanctified you and ordained you for a specific role on this earth (paraphrased). You will never know His purpose for you if you do not know Him.

3) Your duty in Christ may be missed, and those you are meant to bring to Christ may remain lost.

I attended a women's conference last year (http://www.recreatewomen.com/) and one of the speakers brought up an excellent point that I still think about regularly. When we begin to debate with ourselves about what we should be doing, how we should serve, how we should handle ourselves for the betterment of Christ, and ultimately how overwhelmed we are in the process of figuring all of this stuff out, the most important thing to remember is this:

What will happen on the other side of our disobedience?

When you get tired of serving, what about the people on the recipient side of your serve who need leadership and guidance in finding their way to Christ? What happens to them if you ignore your purpose? Ensure that you are doing your part by remaining faithful, knowing your purpose and executing your purpose for His kingdom!

Bible Verses to Remember
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

 

Word of the wise? The next time you send "Praying!" to a friend after she bears her heart in an emotional social media post, make sure you take the time to sit in a quiet place and truly pray over her and her circumstance.

Word of the wise? If you are so content with your life, enough so that you want to type #blessed, before you type, instead take the time and thank God for all of the things that are making you smile.

 

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your love, patience, and new mercies each day. Father, I pray that I will continue to grow in Christ, becoming more of you and less of me. I pray for discernment and strength so that I will be able to be a true believer, one that continues to grow into deeper relationship with Jesus, discerns true doctrine from that which is false and be obedient in what your will is for me. I pray that your will is done, and that I grow to glorify you in all of my endeavors, spoken, unspoken and amongst others. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

xoxo

Marlena

sanctification in the situation mess

So…

Growing up with a dad in the army has been beneficial for me over the years, and as of late, in my spiritual life. I learned from an early age that it is important to not see color or treat others who are different from me in a way that makes them feel “less than” or “different” because we do not see eye to eye.

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Fast-forward to present day. I was put to the test recently, regarding this idea of viewing everyone with the same lens. Working in the transportation industry as a recruiting manager, I have encountered individuals from around the country. I have almost reached the three year mark, which is about one year and a half longer than I’ve stayed in any other full time job. You may think this means that I have stayed because it is my dream job. No. Not in the least. I’m still here because I truly think God is doing a work in me that cannot be done unless I’m here. At this time. Right now.

As a “natural” my hair is curly. Another natural style that is pretty popular is dreadlocks, which is a style some of my company’s drivers wear. A few days ago, this style on a particular driver was brought up, and an employee of the company mentioned that because of this hairstyle, this driver “looks like he smokes a lot of weed.”

I thought I would explode from anger! How dare this man discriminate against someone who is different from him and generalize that because of a hairstyle that this man does drugs?! That is not okay! I was offended, but while I vocalized how ignorant it is to compartmentalize groups of people because of looks, or skin color, I found myself thinking a little bit deeper.

Without this position that I sometimes feel is lacking for me in a multitude of ways, I would not have come to Christ. I would have not become a believer hungry for God the way that I am now. Circumstances and situations can change people, but sanctification is what happens to us when we begin to yield to His Spirit and His word as we develop the character of Christ within us. Am I proud of the events that led to me becoming a believer? I’m one of those people who is spot on or I fail miserably. One extreme or another. So obviously I had to find myself in a valley so deep that I thought I’d never be able to get out of before I realized the need to submit my life to Christ. BUT, thank God, forgiveness is paramount when it comes to our Jesus and how much he loves us, and I think I’ve finally learned to accept that J I am proud, though, that I was able to see what rock bottom is truly like and that I now have the ability to look back and truly be able to see what God is able to do for us when we begin to allow him the control that we sometimes steal away from him.

Have you ever felt like you were stuck in a situation for entirely too long, wondering why God has you there and won’t “let” you out? For a long time, I fought this battle with work, thinking I’d find something bigger, more appealing financially, etc., and you know what? I am certain there is something out there for me that encompasses each of these things, but right now, God has me here in this place because it has grown me and any attempts on my part to leave and jump into a season of my life I am not ready for may create chaos that I could have avoided while accepting the aid of His Spirit. Plus, I think I’ve encountered people in my workplace that truly need to understand the Gospel and what it means to love everyone and not discriminate because of our differences. As believers, we can get upset with the ways of this world, but that doesn’t mean we have to succumb to them. Instead we need to learn how to turn them around for the good of God!

Think about your current “situation”. How has God grown you? Do you still find yourself struggling and fighting against trying to control your life versus living in His will?  Below are a few tips to help teach you how to calm down a bit, and let God do His thing!

 1) Work on understanding the meaning of sanctification.

Sanctification is the ongoing progression of yielding to God’s word and Spirit in order to complete the development of Christ’s character within us.

 2) Apply this definition to each area of your life that may be running haywire. For example, if you are having a hard time understanding why you are in a workplace that seems unfit for you, think about what God could be developing you for. Obviously there is something you need from this season of your life in order to move to the next. But you have to be prepared before you get there! Do not miss out on what you are being fed because you are in denial that you should be exactly where you are.

 3) Pray about this situation. And everything else. Prayer is our way to talk to God. Contrary to what some popular speakers are saying these days, you WILL NOT hear God speaking to you in an audible sense. When you have a nice, quiet spot and you’ve cleared your mind only to focus on Him, you will be able to sort through the thoughts, choices, decisions and actions that need to be marinated on and made on your behalf. Your answers will become clearer when you ask Him what His will is in the situations you are believing in Him for.

 Verses to Marinate On

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth (Colossians 3:2).

He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him (Proverbs 2:8)

Xoxo

Marlena

 

contentedness counts part ii

Recently I took the time to study a bit about being content, and whether or not being content in our daily lives is the same as being content in our faith. I was actually in a small group setting and one of my sweet friends began a discussion about social media. Think about your daily life. When you're on social media, does it make you wish and wonder what if? Do you find yourself competing and coveting? Don't feel bad. We all do! But doesn't this affect our contentedness when everything is fine and dandy until you see one of your girlfriends post a picture of her new, uber expensive purse. You know, the one you've been hounding your husband to buy you? Don't these feelings of comparison quickly lead to a multitude of others that are none flattering and representing that of a Christ-filled woman? When you think about the world of Instagram and beautiful, perfect representations of nearly everything, from our homes, children, husbands and even the way we should look, does all of this affect our contentedness? Absolutely!

Being content in the flesh is different than being content in Christ. Personally, I think it is safe to say that we have many opportunities to elevate ourselves to a higher status. We can buy bigger homes, more expensive, luxury-style cars, and climb the professional ladder until we achieve a higher salary. Is there anything wrong with this? No, as long as you have faith in place. What do I mean? It is great to strive for these things but they should not be your primary focus. You should focus on what God's will is for you and pray that in your desires that God listens, but answers you only if they are in His will for you. If we don't do this, sometimes we find ourselves fighting and clawing into new positions and circumstances that were not meant for us in the season we are in, and while God is covering us during these times, we've gotten ourselves into situations we may struggle getting out of as He is working on us to learn a lesson from our mistakes.

In regard to being content in our faith, unlike knowing when to let God take control and learning how to be still in our circumstances as we wait on his direction, we never need to be content in our faith. We need to always want to grow and learn more about Him. We can never be mature enough in the spiritual sense and should always keep climbing the ladder of knowledge.

I took a look at Paul in Philippians during this study because not only did he go through a bunch of crazy things, but he did them with full contentedness in the fact that God had his back. Paul also had full intention to live by the fact that everything is under God's sovereignty. Take a look at Philippians 4:10-19. To give you a little background, during this time Paul was imprisoned in Rome and he was writing a letter to his believers in Philippi. The Philippian church had sent him a gift and his dilemma was that he wanted to express his thanks for the gift but at the same time NOT give off the impression to the church that the Lord was NOT sufficient for his every need during this time of imprisonment. Paul discovered the true source of joy in Christ Himself, and Christ enabled Paul to experience joy even if suffering.

Let's break things up a bit.

What does contentment mean? To Greek Stoics, the word meant having the ability to be self-sufficient and face any situation by your own resources.

What does Paul mean when he speaks about contentment? What does contentment mean for a Christian? For Paul, and in the Christian sense of the word, contentment doesn't come from self-sufficiency, but instead from being dependent on Christ and Christ's resources.

Let us take a look at the verses in question:

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.

Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

verse 11 - Paul's rejoicing was not because of his need

verse 11 - Paul says that he "learned" to be content whatever his circumstances.

verse 13 - Paul affirms that his sufficiency is in Christ

verse 17 - Paul rejoiced in his circumstance because the giving of the Philippians resulted in heavenly reward for them.

verse 18 - Paul says that he received just want he needed.

How can we be content like Paul?

1) We can focus on the Lord as the sovereign one to whom we must submit ourselves;

(In verse 11 Paul saying that he learned to be content is his understanding that everything is under God's sovereignty.)

2) We can focus on the Lord as the Savior we have to serve.

(Matthew 6:33, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. )

(Matthew 6:25, Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?)

 

xoxo

Marlena

contentedness counts part i

In the midst of hosting a small group this summer semester, I have found myself constantly thinking about topics that will create great discussion and a great catalyst for better learning and knowing God's word. This week, while I was out and about, the idea of being content was one that hit me hard.

Traveling as a military brat while growing up, and growing up during a time when high speed internet could virtually give you ANYTHING within a matter of seconds, I can totally understand my need for continuous change and having a patience level of zero (except with my son), when I'm unable to have something now. For awhile, my husband and I thought it best for the family to move, albeit it was only about sixty miles away, but we were ready to be closer to his work, be in a "better" school zone, and live in a bigger, fancier house. After a year and a half with my son commuting with my husband to work each day, the both of them walking through the door around 7 pm each evening, hours spent in the car and exhausted, the idea of transferring our life seemed to no longer make sense. Throw in a really bad initial meeting with the potential builder of our new "dream" home, my husband's job going remote, and my learning that no matter how much you pay for child care each month, you're still going to have issues, the wheels in my brain began to turn.

At this point in time, I hadn't prayed for my husband's work to slow down, in years I think, but at the center of my struggling to "keep up" and get the next, shiny new thing (new house, obviously new furniture, new schools, new mommy clique, etc.), I remembered the time when my son was born. He is our only child, and when he was first born, in attempts to make sure that we were financially stable with the growth to our small family, my husband took on a second job. This was on top of his full time job changing tremendously as he shifted into a position with his company that we expected for him at least eight or nine years down the road, at the earliest. Too put it simply, he was busy. He was always at work, talking about work, sleeping to take a nap for work, and, on top of his, he commuted so I was always worried I would receive a phone call about an accident. Honestly, I was angry. I loved being a mother, but I wanted the picture perfect family, too. This included my husband being with me for every milestone. So I prayed, and if we're being honest, this was during the time in my life before I truly began my relationship with Christ. So yes there were prayers, but honestly, there was quite a bit more wishing and hoping. Fast-forward three and a half years later when the pace of my husband's job slowed a bit and he didn't have to commute anymore. God answered my prayers for a life slowed down. It took a few years, but I truly believe that through prayer, and the way God worked in that process, I began to start understanding what "content" means.

Why did my husband and I really want to move? Now that his work had gone remote and he no longer needed to go to the office, was it still "imperative" to be close? What was so wrong with our house? It's spacious and it's nice. It's not a new build, and it's not $270,000 in a gated community but we brought our son home to this house, we have rooms that we've shed tears in when situations seemed like they would never get better but they did. In this house. There are times when we laughed so hard in some of these rooms that we were able, if even for a moment, to forget about everything else. So why leave? Who are we trying to keep up with? Why is there always a race to have more, do more, see more? Why can't we just live? I was absolutely convinced that God was leading me in the direction to stay put, but there was just one thing bothering me. School for my son. We are Christian people, and while I know that one day I'm not going to be able to protect him from everything, I am able to rest assured now that I can. I found myself searching local private schools one day at work. And you know what? I found a quaint little place I had never even heard of during my constant battle to be the quickest and the fastest while doing as much as I could at all times. It's faith-based, and after an hour long conversation with the principal during my first inquiry, I fell in love. I fell in love just a little bit more after my first visit. During my second visit I was certain. And as we are just a few weeks away from his first orientation for four-year-old kindergarten, I am absolutely convinced that God opens our eyes to so many things if we just take the time to slow down, listen, and put his needs and desires ahead of our own.

Are you having a hard time being content? Let's see what God has to say...

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." ( Hebrews 13:5)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (1 Corinthians 12:10)

It's amazing how God works. When we are in true relationship with Jesus, abiding by his word and living faithfully, everything we pray for is answered (John 15:7). While learning to be content in our every day life is essential to truly living in the present, I've learned that we should never be content in our faith. Be content in God and his purpose for your life, but never be content in thinking that you know everything there is to know about Him. He is good, He is loving and He provides for us in ways that we sometimes don't understand because although he is always moving, we cannot always see. It's called faith folks. Do you have it?

xoxo

Marlena