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

the company you keep...

I think I finally understand when a friend needs to be let go. 

In service yesterday, the lead Pastor at my church talked to us about wisdom, and fearing God. He reiterated the point that fearing God doesn't mean that you are literally in fear of Him, but that you revere Him, and stand in awe of Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10) 

A friend of mine is actively seeking relationships outside of her marriage. While she is in the process of getting divorced, buying a new home, etc., it still makes me uncomfortable to speak with her nowadays, as her giggles and laughter about forwarding pictures, text messages and emails to these strangers brings her pleasure. It's doubly hard because our boys are friends and my distancing myself from her, distances our boys too. I constantly remind her of her family and I hear the same thing: he's done x, y, z and it's only fair that I get to have something for myself. One thing I've learned over the years is this: when you are in a marriage and have a family, "self" no longer applies to you in the way that it does for single people.  And, years ago, I would have been able to entertain this type of frivolous conversation. The thought of that reality makes me sick to my core. I likely would not have given her Godly advice, and I likely would not have distanced myself from her. Instead, I would have also acted like a fool for the sake of what I thought was a friendship, and acted unrighteously, unwisely, unrealistically, unreliably and in an undisciplined fashion because I didn't know the importance of the company I kept close to me. Each of these "un" words represents a trait of a fool according to God's word.

It is so important for Christian women to know that a friend is someone who is not going to take them back to a place in their lives that they may be trying to get away from, or to never be introduced to altogether. A friend will also never try to lead you into a place of disobedience because they are in a valley themselves; this doesn't necessarily mean that they are trying to talk you into doing specifically what they are doing, but the fact that they are willing to continue talking about their indiscretions and sin when they know it makes you uncomfortable and is against what you have advised.

So how can you be a Godly friend, and prevent your friends from falling into the trap of acting the way the fool does that is referenced in the Book of Proverbs? The three proverbs below are great reference for a woman who is thinking of, or in the process of looking elsewhere in her marriage.  They are also great for women who may have a friend she is trying to advise during such a time. 

Proverbs 10:23 - Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible. 

* While it may seem fun for your friend to talk about her adventures and dish on the details of whatever she is taking a part in, as a friend it is important to remind her that what seems fun now is going to bring destruction to her life in some shape or form. If her marriage is not destroyed, her relationship with God will definitely be in jeopardy until she comes to terms with what she is doing. 

Proverbs 10:21 - The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

A woman of God should surround herself with those who seek wisdom and maturity in Christ. 

*If you have a friend who is playing with fire in her marriage, you had better believe that she already knows better. She knows what the consequences are, and she knows what is right although she is not acting as she does. It is important to encourage her to not only do what is right, but to keep her relationships pure. This could mean letting people around her go if they are encouraging or ignoring the wrong she is going, and seeking friendships and fellowship with new people who in turn will be life-giving and who are more mature in Christ. 

Proverbs 17:24 - Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

A woman of God should be realistic and content in her own reality and understand that the grass is greener on the side that is watered. 

*As humans we all battle sin nature, and everyone's battle is different. In marriage, one of the biggest battles we face as women is our sexual integrity. This doesn't mean that we all have physical or emotional affairs, but it does mean that sometimes we live in a fantasy world and compare our husbands to other men we encounter. While this may not seem like a big deal, when a woman does this she is creating a reality that is nonexistent. If her husband was like her co-worker at work, and if her marriage suddenly became perfect like her best friend's marriage appears to be, her journey would not be her journey. While a woman is busy wandering about what could be? and what if? she could be watering the grass in her own relationship. 

xoxo

Marlena

 

camping and a little camouflage

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Okay, so I'm obviously a glutten for stress but a few nights ago while my little man was engrossed in Youtube videos of car crashes on mountain tops (I have no idea why this is so appealing!)  I spent about two and a half hours planning his fifth birthday!

Let me start off by telling you that first he wanted a tree cutter birthday. Right. Me too. I don't know what a tree cutter is, but my little person likes dozers, race cars, Kubota tractors and all kinds of things that make me truly understand what people mean when they say, "well, he's a boy." I definitely have a boy. So, when I politely explained that I didn't know what a tree cutter birthday party should entail (and in my head was completely freaking out because I couldn't find anything related to tree cutter parties on Pinterest) little man decided on a camping party.

Yes!

Score!

Momma can do that! 

So, four pages of notes and a few internet searches later, I found a really great camping invitation. I will report the progress over the next few weeks, but I leave you with these tantalizing ideas...

This is the backside of the invitation!

This is the backside of the invitation!

1) Bug juice

2) Outdoor obstacle course

3) Tents, tents and more tents!

Oh, it's going to be a DIY extravaganza y'all...

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.  

 

bbq love

So I finally did. I guess I should say "we." My husband and I had our first date day of the New Year! 

My wives club meets during my church's small group semester, three semesters per year, and one thing I'm a strong advocate for is date night. But the kicker is this....my husband and I have NEVER had a date night!!! We may go on a date every few months, and let me tell you, by that time it is so long overdue a quick attitude is likely guaranteed at some point during the event. I guess you could say that we allowed "busy" to dictate our time together. Well....no longer! Today I happily left work, met my husband at Moe's, talked about nothing special and had some much needed quality time. Thank God for the little things that mean so much!

So, that's it. I just wanted to share my bbq happy and give myself a kudos for starting off the New Year being more intentional with my relationships :) 

 

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

the slow boil...

Prior to becoming a mother, my television habits were atrocious. I would plan meals around prime television nights, and I'd even binge watch and sit in front of my television for hours on end. I would grossly involve myself in scripts and plots that were entertaining and adventurous, although many sometimes reflected lifestyles I didn't necessarily agree with. After becoming a mother, amidst my many opportunities to smother and shield my son from all things "not innocent," I just recently began to analyze his television usage. As I became more reserved in my viewing choices for him, a question found its way into my head and it really made me think....

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If I regularly watch TV shows that go against my moral beliefs, am I condoning the immoral behavior if I continue to partake and spend my time watching these things?

This is heavy. You have morals. You have a standard for yourself, your family and your actions and how you portray yourself. BUT, can you explain away continuous watching of things that are against scripture and what you believe in personally, all for the sake of entertainment? If you've ever watched TV, I think it is safe to say that generally, content handles enormous themes in very simplistic ways, making viewers morally uncritical. Let's think about this desensitizing process. For example, if you drop a frog into boiling water, it would very well jump out (or at least try). On the other hand, if you put the same frog into a cool pot of water, bringing it to a boil slowly, the frog remains unaware its being boiled to death. Such is this life dominated by visual entertainment.

God's word tells us to not be lukewarm Christians.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop --- some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown (Matthew 15:20).

So if we apply these verses from God's word, what is the take away pertaining to the topic at hand? We obviously would like to be mothers who are like the last type of seed in the parable above. We want to be good soil. We want to read and immerse ourselves in God's word and produce fruit. Think of the good fruit as our family, our babies whom we want so badly to protect and raise in Christ. It is hard to raise a strong, devout believer when we ourselves are wishy-washy at best. But, in a world that is so fact-paced and social media and media driven, how do we survive?

Social Media Mom Tips

Television Usage

Monitor what your littles view before they view it. Understand that some cartoons are merely cartoons in appearance with heavy subject matter and language meant for an older audience.

Allow your littles to watch what you yourself teach at home. If you don't condone certain words and/or language to be used in your home, don't allow your children to absorb such language on television from strangers.

Be careful as to what subject matter you allow your littles to learn from the television. If you want to be the one to teach your child about pregnancy or dating relationships, teach them and model to them what you'd like them to know from your own relationships before they see it somewhere else.

Social Media Usage

Easy: Think before you post! Constantly remind yourself that whatever you post is a reflection of you, your family and your role as a believer.. You may be as close to Christ as a non-believer gets, so always be a light!

 

xoxo

Marlena