The Mountain Road

My oldest daughter recently turned ten and for her birthday she waned to go up to Lake Tahoe to celebrate. I thought it was a great idea, as a matter of fact, I made it my mission to convince my Husband to take us up there! You should have seen how excited I was about all the fun we would have.  I had everything all planned out. The whole family was looking forward to it, however there was one thing that I couldn’t plan for…the road up the mountain.

I grew up on the plains of Georgia, so I always wanted to see mountains, but it wasn’t until we moved out west that I actually got my chance. That’s when I found out that I’m prone to car sickness! That’s right, apparently curvy mountain roads above 5,000 feet make my stomach turn, and my ears pop relentlessly. I was fine as we began the climb up, but the higher up we went the more uncomfortable I became. I started having thoughts about turning around, or how I wish we would have gone skating instead. My husband was trying to get me to, “loosen up and enjoy the beauty around me,” but I was not able to do that! My oldest son, who also gets car sick, had forced himself into falling asleep.

I was anxious and uptight the whole two hour drive up to Tahoe! It was pretty rough for me, and there were plenty of times when I begged Hubby to please just turn around or knock me out! I was done, I wanted to quit and go home! Along the way there were some things too beautiful to pass up so we stopped at the observation areas and took a few pictures. We all hopped back in the car and continued up the mountain. Finally, we were only about twelve miles away and we saw more warning signs about falling rocks and curvy roads, and then I looked up and noticed this huge snow covered mountain that is so close that it looked like I could reach out and touch it! The kids were so excited and I made the mistake of looking over and out the passenger side window.  We were so high up that I immediately got dizzy, and I told my husband I was going to be sick. His response was, “Just take a deep breath and calm down.”

Thankfully I did mange to calm down and not throw-up all over the front seat. When I finally lifted my head we were there. We had finally made it to Tahoe and it was the most beautiful place that I had ever been. Honestly it was breathtakingly gorgeous. I loved the mountains, the strong scent of pine in the air, and the water was so clear and blue! I feel like the sky was bluer than what I’m use to and the scenery, OMG!! I have never in my life seen so many log cabins and Chalet’s in one place. The trees were all so tall and the people all seem so happy and care free. We went to the lake and had the best time ever, and all I cold think about was how glad I was that we didn’t quit and turn around!

I instantly realized that the trip was worth all the trouble. I felt like I was getting a sneak peek of what heaven must be like. That’s when it dawned on me, hard roads can sometimes lead us to the most beautiful places. In life we all have seasons where we feel like we’re on the back side of the mountain,  or journeying through the valley. It’s in those tough times I believe that God is creating in us a clean heart and renewing a right spirit with in us. We need those mountains to climb and those hard roads that make us want to quit, turn around and give up. These are the times when our character is developed and created. Those challenging roads are critical to shaping what kind of people we will become.

I know you all are probably very tired of hearing me say how important adversity is to personal growth and spiritual development. After the fact when I realized that I didn’t die, I could admit that I was scared and that my fear of falling off a cliff, ruined the beautiful drive up the mountain for me.  I’m no expert in car sickness, but the root of my car issues seem to be based on high elevations and curvy roads! Knowing that about myself brought up the question, “how many times have I quit half way up the mountain?” How many times did I get so close to breaking through and seeing the splendid beauty of what was on the other side of my struggle. I truly wonder how many things I could have accomplished if I hadn’t let my fears stop me.

I feel like looking back the mountain road is what God uses to turn us into more than conquerors. It’s what He uses to build our muscles and to teach us how to fight the good fight of faith. Tonight as I write this post, I’m so thankful for every mountain and every trial. I’m so grateful that I serve a God who has shown me over and over again that He is everything that I need.

Have you been up the mountain lately? Let me hear about it in the comments!

“Be curious, not judgmental.” Walt Whitman

Have you ever wondered what happen to your old friends? Well thankfully someone created a social network that allows you to reconnect with ALL your old buddies! That same website happens to be very popular, so popular that I might be the very last person on earth to finally join! The great thing is I got to reconnect with a lot of my old buddies, and I really like that about social media.

I found that social media has really awakened my curiosity and I have been scrolling through pages of pictures and in some cases I’ve caught myself being a little judgey.

I know you ladies might not be guilty of looking at pictures of people and thinking, “Oh My Gosh, so-and-so is so_______ now!  It’s only natural to notice that someone has changed in some way since high school, but it’s when I find myself making assumptions or giggling in condemnation about the condition of someone else’s life, that I feel the chastisement of the scripture, Matt.7;1-3 “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considers not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

I don’t know about you but those verses are heavy in my ears! How easy is it for us to look at someone else and mentally, or even verbally pick them apart? We judge other Mothers on how they look, how they parent, how their kids look, if they yell too much or not enough. We judge other women on how quickly they lose the baby weight, or how put together she looks during morning drop off at school.

We judge other Christians on how well they know the scriptures or how they dress, is her skirt long enough? Is her top cut too low, because we all know how much God hates it when we show cleavage and make all the men lust! (Sarcastic eye roll.)  By show of hands how many times have you been guilty of one of these things?   You can’t see me, but I’m shaking my head up and down sayin, “um-hum, I thought so.”

News Flash!!! We all do it, whether it’s out loud or in our minds, we all are guilty of being judgmental every now and then. I can’t say that curiosity always leads to being judgey, but I can tell you that if we are not careful we can quickly go from being curious about something to being judgmental. What I’ve learned is that we never want to be judged negatively for our transgressions, but we as a people have to constantly be reminded that we need to show some grace and mercy. We can have so much mercy and understanding when we sin, but we can’t even buy some grace when someone trespasses against us.

I think it’s totally human to forget that we ourselves are flawed, and that we needed a savior and a redeemer too. I asked myself how can I judge someone else when I’m a hot mess on any given day? The answer is simple, it’s easier to point out what’s wrong with someone else’s life than to change what’s broken in my own life. I think in many ways we try to make ourselves feel better by tearing down those whom we feel are better off than we are. I read a quote that said, “Hurting people, hurt people.” Wow, I could not agree more! For some reason people who are hurt or disappointed with their own lives tend to be harsh critics of others.

While that quote may not be true of every person who’s hurting and broken, it does seem like if you really dig deep enough into what is really the root of mean-spirited, malicious, gossip, or hateful, judgmental words, it’s a misguided attempt to deflect the pain and trauma that they feel in their own life. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen other mothers at the park and because of my own short comings or insecurities, felt like I was less than and in my heart, not out loud, I found some small thing to criticize them about.

Before you judge me picture this, have you ever been in line at the store and overheard a conversation between a mother and her child that made you cringe? Have you ever heard something that made you want to turn around and give your unsolicited advice? How about when you’re at the park and you see a child having a tantrum and thought that if you were that child’s mother you would handle the whole situation better? You know, because you’re the best mother in the world and there is no way that your child would ever do that to you. (Insert dramatic look coupled with a over-the -top eye roll.)

As women we have to be very careful that we don’t attack one another over our differences. We must try to make a conscious effort to celebrate our differences, no matter if it’s our parenting styles or lifestyle choices. We really are stronger together because a house divided against itself can not stand. One of my very best friends has a deeply set belief that yelling at children is very damaging to their self-esteem.  I on the other hand am a yeller!! I never try to yell mean things at my kids and tear them down, but I do yell, so whenever I go around here I feel self conscious and loud. I always start to have these crazy thoughts that start out at Insecure road and travel all the way over to Whose kids are better drive.

I fond that what would happen is I would convince myself that because our parenting styles were different that one of us was a better mother than the other. At several different times, I would try to act is if I had stopped yelling and become like her. This would confuse my children because they knew the real me and would always tell the truth whenever I tried to pretend that I was a sweet talking, non-yelling, whispering Mommy! I’ll let you just imagine how that scenario went down! My kids would look at me like they were staring at a stranger!! I would be sweetly talking to them through gritted teeth, and rubbing their arm! All while on the inside a scream was bubbling up inside my chest and rumbling around like a caged tiger! Worst of all, they would literally ignore every attempt that I would make to get their attention so that we could leave the park or playground, where ever we happen to be.  It got to the point where I could not  pretend to be her because both my children and I needed me to be Torre.

I could no longer suppress who I was and be her friend at the same time, I had to embrace who God called me to be so that my family could get what they needed from me. I realized that because I was afraid of being judged in a negative way by her, I was completely ignoring the fact that I was made by God, the Creator of the universe, for His pleasure! If God made me in His image to please Him, then how could I bring him pleasure if I wasn’t being me?

I have to admit that accepting the fact that while she had made an admirable choice that had set her free from yelling, that same choice had put me in chains. Am I telling you to go out and yell at your kids instead of reply with a soft answer, no I am not. However, I want you to look at the bigger point that I’m trying to make and that is to be who God called you to be and enjoy that without putting others in chains or feeling inferior because you’re different.  I certainly hope that my friend wasn’t too disappointed once she saw that I just couldn’t help myself.  Fortunately, she’s been my friend for over 16 years, so by this point she loves me in spite of my yelling!

Romans 14:8 talks about living for the Lord and dying for the Lord.  I would actually recommend that you read and study this whole chapter because it really talks about how we should not judge each other any more(Rom.14:13). I challenge you to make a real effort to be curious, but not judgmental. I urge you to embrace who you are even if you have qualities that you don’t necessarily like because that’s what makes you who you are.

Have a great week and please feel free to leave a comment for me letting me know what you thought about when you read this post.

Defeat, Death, and Victory

Happy Resurrection Day!!! I hope that everyone reading this had a wonderful Easter weekend!

This evening at the dinner table we were discussing when it was that Jesus actually defeated the devil. I told my children what I know to be true, when he died on the cross. That confused them because they wanted to know how it was possible for Jesus to die on the cross if He was God in the flesh and He could just get down and kill the bad people that were trying to hurt him. Of course that set us down the path of talking about what qualified Jesus to win by dying. You guys probably already know the deal, Jesus was able to be the lamb without sin because He was the only perfect man to ever live. Therefore He was the only one who could take our place on the cross. Because of His death, we can now have access to the Father.

What I want to talk about with you all today is the times it look like we loss, but we really won. When you look back over your life how many times did you have to go to the cross, allow yourself to be crucified, even though you may have had the power to stop it? How many times did you humble yourself even when you had the ability to win? Perhaps, you thought that you had lost, and didn’t realize until after the fact that in that low moment that was your place of victory?

I want to encourage anyone who may be reading this and you’re having a really rough time, or you’re in the heat of the battle and you think that you’re losing the war. Be of good cheer! The places that we struggle the hardest and sometimes the very spot where we fail, is our most important victory. I have felt like a failure and failed many times at many different things; however, I have come to realize that the times when I thought I had failed so badly that a piece of me had died, those where the places of my greatest victories.

As much as dying to the flesh, or losing the things that we want so badly may hurt, we need those losses and we need to die to our flesh. We absolutely can not grow without experiencing death, or should I say separation. Without Judas’s betrayal Jesus would not have completed his destiny. Of course you can present the argument that God could have used someone else, and you would be right. Nevertheless, my point is the same there would still be a need for pain, hurt, betrayal, loss, or death. In order for us to truly be all that God has called us to be we have to experience defeat and sometimes even death.

The Bible tells us, “Verily, verily I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (Jh.12:24KJV).

Friends the difference between fruit and much fruit is the seed. Jesus was the seed for all man kind and the reason He did not get down when they teased him is because He knew that if he would be willing to endure the pain of death, that in a short three days he would be ascending to heaven with all power in his hand, to take his place at the right hand of the Father in victory.

Don’t fear defeat or loss, it’s in those moments that we truly win! Have a blessed day!

Decisions, Decisions

I’m one of the most indecisive people that I’ve ever met! I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to make a decision, but it’s something that I really need to work on this year.  I feel like I can make some decisions quickly, but others take much more time for me to decide on, and even then I may go back and forth.

I’m curious to know how do you all make decisions? If you find this struggle to be present in your own life let me know.

I feel like one of the reasons that I get so paralyzed when it’s time for me to make a decision is because I hate making mistakes! I always feel like if I make the wrong choice something bad might happen to me. Another reason why I feel like it’s so hard for me to make a decision is because I fear that I might miss out on a better option! Even after I make a selection I always wonder what would have happened if I chose differently.

One thing that I have mentioned here on my blog before, is my constant tug of war with satisfaction and the desire to see what’s next. I’m constantly looking forward to the next thing, or anticipating the joy that comes with tomorrow.  Perhaps there is a link between my indecisive tendencies and my touch of destination disease. Maybe I should work to strike the proper balance between enjoying where I am in life and looking forward to the future.

Tell me what you think in the comments!

No more negative Nancy

You might be familiar with the title, it’s what we call someone who is very negative. You might even use the phrase, “Vibe Killer.” I typically don’t use either of theses phrases, but I feel like confessing to you all today. I am so mean to myself and the things that I say to myself during self talk, I would never say to my own daughter…or anyone else for that matter.

Ask yourself this question, “Do you have a problem with negative self talk?”

What kind of things do you say to yourself when your jeans won’t button, or if your “fat jeans,” are snug? What about when you make a mistake or forget something very important, what names do you call yourself?  I can tell you that the names that I call myself I would absolutely never call one of my friends or even a stranger! I will be the first to admit that this is abusive behavior that I practice towards myself and I’m trying to stop.

The thing that I often ask myself whenever I catch myself being mean to myself is, “Why?” The answer is not as simple as the question though, because a simple I don’t know just doesn’t seem to satisfy.

I believe that the moment that I made myself more aware of the hurtful and negative words that I was speaking over my life it became a problem that I am determined to solve. I really started looking at it from the perspective of, “would I want those words to manifest in my life?” The answer was no of course not.

I remember ten years ago thinking I was fat, so I called myself fat all the time. However, now when I see pictures of me I think, “why on earth did I call myself fat then? I’m bigger now then I was back then! Then I thought, what if I gained weight because that’s what I spoke over my life everyday, so subconsciously, I stopped even trying to maintain a healthy weight? I really truly believe that words have an effect on us, they can build us up or tear us down.

One of the most impactful things that I did to combat all the negative words and mean self talk, was to write down scriptures that pronounce God’s love or positive things about me on a piece of paper and put them on my mirror. By hanging them on my mirror, I never forget to say them everyday. I also pump positivity into my mind, and heart as often as I can throughout the day. I listen to positive music, I speak positive words over my day, and make a huge effort to chase away negative thoughts that otherwise might turn into negative words.

I guess you could say that I have resolved to stop the negative self talk. I set some goals to help me overcome negative self talk and I’m making progress everyday. I want to hear what you would do to combat negative self talk? Do you have any suggestions that you’d like to share? Leave them in the comment section! Thanks for stopping by!

The Golden Rule

Hello everyone! Welcome back to my blog, I’ve been caught up in the mommy whirl wind, but I’m back now!

I was at my local everything store with a very short list of things that I needed to get in a very short amount of time. It was so packed! This particular store has low prices, so there’s always a lot of people shopping there and milling about up and down the isles. There are not enough words for me to describe to you how absolutely RUDE some people are!! I have now lived in quite a few different places and I can tell yo that southern hospitality is no myth!!

I have to say, I travel with a large group; however, we try to be mindful of walking to one side, or moving out of the way, you know we try to practice good manners. We don’t practice good manners because we’re trying to impress others or to win an award. We do this because I truly believe in treating others the way that I would want to be treated. Where did I get this from you ask? Matthew 7:12. This is what Jesus said and He himself was quoting the law. Some people referee to this as the golden rule.

What I’m trying to say to you is that we can not separate the Word of God from good morals. It’s impossible to treat people with loving kindness if you do not know real true love that comes from God. It frustrates me that people think you can separate God and Kindness. If you think that you can be polite, kind, and loving, without knowing the Christ, I am here to say that you can not. How can we show love to others if we ourselves have not accepted real love that comes from God the Father?

It seems like a new age trend is sweeping the world, the doctrine of kindness. That sounds nice when you first hear it, but I ask you to go deeper. How can someone, who does not know the one true God who loved us when we were unlovable? In Christ, we have been shown the perfect example of what it means to have compassion and mercy for someone, all while compelling them to be the best version of themselves.

One of my most favorite Christian movies is about a man who travels to the future to see what can happen to a society who tries to remove the principals of God, while keeping the moral code that a Christian lifestyle creates. Friends you can’t do it, it’s like trying to stop water from being wet!  You can not ask someone to simply be kind to others without also asking them to commit themselves to living a life that is acceptable unto God.

Ask yourself this; who told you that it was wrong to tell a lie? Now that you have answered that question where did they get it from? I have so much more that I can say about how I think our world has eroded the foundation of moral soundness by leaving behind the principles of the Word of God. Now, I was talking to my husband and he pointed out that plenty of people are kind to others and show generosity and respect and their not Christians. Many of them follow the teachings of other faiths and I agree with that, some people are kind to others and I get that. I just truly feel that we can not separate the doctrine of Christ from the genuine love and strong morality that comes along with the Christian faith.

Nevertheless, I want to hear from you, the readers! tell me your thoughts on this subject. I’m thinking of doing a video talking more about this and posting it to my blog. Let me know what’s on your minds.

Rain, Rain, Here to Stay

Here in Northern California where I live it has been raining for a week now, and it’s supposed to continue well into the next week as well. I personally have always liked rainy days, as long as I don’t have to be out in the rain. I love to read a good book, or watch a good romantic comedy.

The abundance of rain in a short amount of time is not that great for our area though, because we’ve been in a severe drought for the past five years. Which means we are now on alert for flooding. It’s like the old saying too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Isn’t it funny how that works? If you’ve been without the proper amount of rain for a long period of time, you would think that getting a lot of rain would thrill and delight you.

That’s not the case though, when you’re forced to live without the very thing that you need you find ways to adapt and to live without it. Here in Northern California we have what they call fire season, that’s when we have the perfect conditions for wildfires that occur naturally or man made. The past two years that I was here we had some pretty bad wildfires and they did a lot of damage and destroyed a lot of trees and homes. With all this rain that we’ve been getting, now we have a mudslide advisory in addition to flooding.

All of this has made me think about my own life. It’s made me question how adversity has made me adjust my life, my level of expectations and even how I perceive certain things. When you lack something that you really need or someone who you really depend on, you learn to live without them. That’s essential for survival, but how do you adjust to life when God starts to bless you and you feel like it’s more than you can handle?

Have you ever had a bunch of really good things happen to you and it made you feel like something bad must be waiting for you just around the corner? I don’t know how it happened to me, but that’s something that I struggle with now. If a string of really good things happen or a huge blessing happens to me I get really nervous that something bad will happen next. I think I know how this unrealistic fear came about, but I’m curious to know does anyone else deal with this unrealistic fear?  I think that this will be something that I try to work on this year.

Fear is so paralyzing and it’s a real thief in my life and I definitely want to be free of that. What are your thoughts? Do you have any fears of being blessed too much? Does good news make you afraid that something bad is going to happen next? Let me hear it in the comments.

Have You Ever

I have a question for you all this Monday (it’s still Monday here for fifteen more minutes.)

Have you ever done something that you weren’t completely comfortable with to further your career? I’m not talking about something illegal or unethical, but something that takes you out of your comfort zone nonetheless. Please feel free to leave a comment and let’s talk about it together.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

James 2:14-26 Is one of those popular passages in the bible that many people seem to have read or heard at some point in their life. While there are so many good things that I could talk about with in those verses, I want to focus on verse 2:17, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

This morning I was thinking about all the different goals that I want to accomplish for next year and all the things that I want to be when I grow up, yep I just said that.  I stumbled across a quick motivational video of a woman giving a speech about why she thinks people don’t ever achieve their dreams. Her response was so true for me that it made me want to sit down and write about it. (I’m paraphrasing now, but it’s the basic gist of what she said.)

She said that fear is a reason, doubt and other things like finance and lack of opportunities, but the main reason she thought people’s dreams were never realized is because we wait so long with the perfect idea and never take action. Finally, that they just run out of time to do them.  Ladies, that is exactly what happens to our dreams if we don’t go after them…we die with them in or heart! After I heard what she said I decided right then that I didn’t want to die with all my dreams in my heart. However, it’s so easy to say that I want to go after my dreams, but it can be very hard to do.

I have been very open about some of my fears and the main reasons why I waited so long to start my blog or to write my book. Being vulnerable and transparent is not easy, but it’s so necessary to help others conquer their fears. Although, I didn’t start out trying to do that, I was just trying to get through my proverbial check-list of must do’s. I think because I finally took the leap of faith and did a handful of the things I thought I could never do, but the thrill from achieving my goals made me complacent.

I was talking to my husband and just telling him some things that I would like to do and basically day dreaming out loud. Then he proceeded to tell me that I need to stop wishing and hoping and start doing something to make it happen. I was naturally a little offended because, well who isn’t when the truth slaps them in the face? He began to tell me that Faith without works is dead, and that if I want something to happen I have to do more than just pray for it, I have to put a plan into action.

Honestly folks, I’m more comfortable praying for it and believing God for it to happen, than I am taking action. I don’t know why that is, but thankfully I married a man who is a doer. He pushes me to act no matter how much I kick and scream because in his heart he knows that faith without actions/work is dead. F.Y.I. I also have a rough time making decisions!

If you notice in the scripture it says that faith is dead if it is alone. It takes more than just faith, as much as I hate to admit that. The facts are right there in the verse. We can not expect to have what we are believing, hoping, or praying for if we are not willing to do some amount of work. Now, as with anything I would advise you to pray about what that work is and be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The work could be to believe, like Jesus told the disciples in John:6:29, or it could be to go and take action like he told the children of Israel when they were finally ready to go into the Promise Land.

I came to a crossroads and I had to decide if I was going to put action with my faith or just let all my hopes and dreams die. I chose action! I confess it will be a challenge for me to just put myself out there and work on going after what I hope to have someday, but I don’t want to die with potential! I want to do everything that God created me to do and I want to be the woman that my daughters admire most.

I want to hear from you ladies in the comments about the moment you realized that faith without works was dead. Have you ever been apprehensive about taking the next step to meet your goals? Do you have goals that seem too big for you to ever really achieve? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

The Price of Your Self-Worth

I though I would start out with a little story for you guys this week to introduce my topic. In February I ordered a pair of rain boots off line and they were pretty expensive considering their boots that you only wear when it rains. Well, as you might have already guessed when I got the boots they did not fit me well. I happen to have big calf muscles and long boots tend to fit me kind of tight sometimes. My first thought was to keep them and just lose weight to fit into them, yes you can insert a sarcastic comment followed by a laugh here! If you figured that I didn’t lose any weight, you would be correct! About two weeks ago I decided to sell them on a popular biding site. When I was trying to decide a price the computer generated a suggested price based off the information I provided. When I saw the price my first reaction was, “no that’s too high, no one will buy it if I ask that much!” Now keep in mind I had never worn the boots because I couldn’t fit them, so they were new and still inside the box.

I looked at the price and decided to price my boots significantly lower than the suggested price and my boots sold very quickly for less than half of what I paid for them. I started to look at other boots like mine on-line and I noticed that they were selling for much more than my boots had been priced. I was somewhat devastated that I had so grossly undervalued my boots. I was thinking that if I would have asked for a higher price, perhaps the true value, that no one would want them. I was thinking that no one would want what I had to offer if I asked for a higher price.

My question to you today is, have you ever undervalued yourself? Did you ever seriously miscalculate your worth and therefore you didn’t get what you truly deserved? Obviously, I have and honestly I do this all the time. I always seem to make myself less out of fear that no one will want me if I ask for what I really deserve. The funny thing is I didn’t realize this until I was telling my sister how much I had priced the boots for and how many people were bidding on them. My sister immediately said, “Why would you price them so low, don’t you know how much their worth?”

I did know how much they were worth, but I just didn’t think anyone else would. I hate that I do that to myself. I wish I wasn’t so afraid of someone rejecting me or not realizing my true worth. I wish I wasn’t convinced that I don’t have a high price, or that I’m not worth more than my weight in gold.

I am trying to work on this bad character flaw, but I would be happy to hear how you ladies deal with the value issue. How do you all deal with people who want you to discount yourself so they feel like they’re getting a great deal? How easy/hard was it to stand firm and demand that you get the respect or treatment you deserve? Let me hear it in the comment section.