2015!!! Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope that 2015 brings you all much love and joy.

As I sit here this morning doing my devotion I am reflecting on many different posts/blogs I have read over the last few days. I have read many different resolutions, goals and words to pray over for the new year. I sit and think about what I want for myself for this new year. I have never been much of a new years resolution person but I am constantly wanting to self improve and become a better version of myself.

I decided that this year my focus is going to be on my relationship with God. I feel like if I make that my main focus all of the rest will fall into place. If I am striving to bring glory to God in all that I do then I will become a better version of me! With that said my word that I will pray through this year is TRUST.

Trust is an easy thing when life is going smooth. It is easy to say that I trust in God when things are going along how I want and think they should go. The trouble comes when trials and road blocks come along. That is when my faith and trust are challenged. When I do not understand why things are happening the way they are. Why the tumor was cancerous, why we had to loose a loved one, why we lost our job, why we didn’t get the promotion, why a relationship ended…all of these why questions are tough. We do not understand and we begin to question God. If God is for us then why is this happening. Why would God allow this to happen to us? I am faithful and strive to live my life for Him so WHY? Why God?

The hard truth is that we cannot see God’s plans for us in the moments. As hard as it is to grasp, and as bitter as the words sound when people say these words as I am going through obstacles….Things happen for a reason. Nothing in our life happens at random. God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We just have to TRUST. We have to trust in Him in all that we do and all that happens. Through the good and the bad trust Him and let Him take care of it. We cannot change our circumstances but we can definitely change the way we react to the circumstance.

I am the poster child of anxiety, fear and worry. I worry about everything. I want to plan everything, feel secure and know what my future holds. I do NOT like uncertainty. Well in case you did not know life does NOT work this way. haha We are constantly thrown curve balls. We can plan all we want but when it comes down to it things can change in the blink of an eye. What do we do when this happens? TRUST. Trust in Gods plans, Trust in His words and promises, Trust in His love for us, Trust in HIM!!! He knows what is best. I can speak from experience when I say that when I look back on my life I can see Gods work. The things I thought were bad at the time led me to greater unexpected things. Those breakups I thought were the end of the world led me to my husband. The move away from my family that caused me horrible anxiety has led to an incredible amount of growth and independence. The jobs I lost and did not get all the hurt and things I could not comprehend all make sense when looking back. GOD’s got this. Why am I worrying. He knows exactly what is best for me and my life I just have to trust in Him. His plans always end up better than what I had planned on my own.

So with that said… this year I am praying over the word Trust. I am going to work harder to Trust God in all things/all aspects of my life. During this time right now, where I am unsure what the future holds for my life, my husbands job, where we will call home, if our family will expand….all of these questions I have and unknowns. God knows and He’s got this. I do not have to worry about a thing.

I pray that you to will be able to let go and let God. Trust in Him! He has a wonderful plan for your life and is faithful. “He works for the good of those who love Him.” God bless you in this new year!

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust the Lord your God with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and he will make your paths straight.”

This is ALL I have to give

This is ALL I have to give….
When reading the different blog topics this week, as I got to this particular one I found myself realizing that lately I have said these exact words. “This is all I can do.” “I am doing the best I can.” “I am giving all of myself.”

As a new mom to a beautiful 6month old daughter (Lydia) I am still trying to figure this mom thing out. Some days are better than others. Some days I feel like I am doing great and others I feel like I am not living up to the expectations of a great mom. In a “social media world” where the best of everyone’s lives are all that is shown, it is hard to keep from making comparisons. With Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest the pressure to be this “super mom” is real! For example… professional infant pictures, beautiful monthly pictures as your child grows from birth to a year, beautiful magazine looking nursery, crafts with your infants foot prints and hand prints, beautiful DIY artwork for nursery, homemade baby food. The list goes on and on. Then on top of that you have the opinions from different mothers who have been there done that as well as opinions from other new moms. Breastfeeding vs formula, cloth diapers vs regular, organic non chemical sunscreen vs water babies, pampers vs Huggies, homemade baby food vs Gerber, Orajel vs natural remedies, cry it out vs picking up, Johnsons baby lotion vs Burts bees. This list could go on and on as well. When you are a new mom trying to figure out a simple routine as well as get some sleep… how in the world are you supposed to keep up???
I have to admit I finally got to my breaking point the other day. My neighbor who was at the pool with me (who meant no harm whatsoever) mentioned to me that I should not be putting Water Baby sunscreen on my daughter but instead the Botanicals baby Suncreen which is organic and has no chemicals. At this particular point I had found myself in these similar situations more often than not and unfortunately instead of just thanking her for her suggestion I instead said “this is all I can do!” “I am doing the best I can right now.” This was also said in a very irritated voice. I felt terrible! It had nothing to do with her! She was trying to be helpful, but since day one I have been told daily by different people what I should be doing. Everyone’s opinions different. My daughter has three holes in her heart and needed to gain weight quickly when she was born and I unfortunately did not produce enough milk to fill this need, which on top of everything else on the list left me feeling inadequate. I have lately felt like having children creates more of a competition and judgement between moms instead of a support and comforting time which in result just adds more stress to a time that is already stressful.
As a stay at home mom my husband and I had to adjust our lifestyle and budget in order for this to be possible. Therefore there is no spare money laying around to pay a photographer to take professional pictures or money to create a pottery barn nursery, or in some cases no extra money to buy brand name formula and instead getting store brand. But again I am doing the best that I can.
It wasn’t until I sat the other night rocking my daughter and singing to her that God spoke to me. I felt him saying THIS is it! These are the moments that are most important. LOVE. The love I give my daughter. The moments I am present and spend with her. The time I put in to caring for her. That I teach her who God is and help her to have a relationship with Jesus by seeing this in my own life. Work harder on setting a great example and teaching her about what is important, instead of trying to fill these worldly mom standards. So what if she grows up on formula and doesn’t have professional pictures of herself as a newborn? She will have pictures taken by me that show her the unconditional love that her father and I have for her. She is growing so quickly and I know these moments will be memories soon so instead of trying so hard to be super mom I am going to instead live in the moment and cherish each second with my daughter, focusing on what is actually important. I know I will fail her at times and make mistakes. I will not do everything right but neither does anyone else. I will ask forgiveness when I mess up and keep working on being the best mom I can be. It is a learning experience and a true gift from God. With God by my side I know I can handle this mom thing. I am beyond blessed to have the opportunity to be Lydias mom so my prayer is that more moms start supporting each other instead of constantly comparing, judging and outdoing. That is why I thank God for the group of woman in my Proverbs 31 Online Bible study who help me to realize that no one is perfect. We all fail as moms but we are in it together and through Gods Grace we ask forgiveness and get back up!  This is how it should be!

Here are a few pictures of my imperfect family. We are learning more and more everyday but through it all thankfully we have Gods love and love for each other!

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From Mess to Masterpiece

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10

As I continue the journey of my Proverbs 31 OBS we are now on the third and fourth chapters of Limitless Life, by Derwin Gray. This has been an amazing study thus far. It has definitely challenged me. I am not only learning more about how amazing our God is but am also learning a lot more about myself as well. This week in chapter three Derwin talks about how God turns our messes into masterpieces. For some reason this really stood out to me. Then to look at something even greater, scripture tells us that WE are God’s masterpieces. That is so mind boggling to me for some reason. The fact that He would call me a masterpiece. How can he consider me a masterpiece when I feel like I am more often a mess?

Masterpiece: “A work of outstanding artistry, skill or workmanship.” “An artist or craftsman’s best piece of work.”

To be honest that is far from how I would define myself. When I think of a masterpiece, works of art usually come to my mind. For example my husband grew up in Italy so Michelangelo’s statue of David or the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are things that usually come to mind when thinking of a masterpiece. These are incredible pieces of art that Michelangelo spent years planning, creating and crafting. He chiseled the stone of  David until it was perfect. These pieces of art that he created are extremely famous and most everyone that sees them are in awe of the talent and beauty of his creations. What never clicked in my head is that this is us. We are Gods masterpieces. His creation and works of art. He spent the time planning us out, crafting and creating us. He spent time chiseling  and molding us until we were perfect in His eyes. He knew exactly what he wanted us to look like, be like and had our lives mapped out. We are his greatest accomplishments. Thankfully our creator still makes touch ups in our lives. He prunes us, leading and guiding us to fullfill His will.

Now having a daughter I look at her this way as well. She is my greatest accomplishment. She is a precious gift from God that my husband and I created and in my eyes she is the most beautiful little girl and definitely a masterpiece. So if I can see how this is so in others why is it so hard for me to accept that in Gods eyes he sees me as a masterpiece?

I think pride and perfection have a lot to do with this. We constantly as humans try and be perfect, doing everything right and keeping it all together. We try and keep our lives in order when in reality it is 1. impossible and 2. out of our control. While yes my life may feel like a mess more often than not. Often filled with chaos and “drama”. I am not a mess, even though it feels that way. I am a masterpiece. I am a child of God and created exactly how he wanted me. There are daily hurdles placed in front of me and days that I just cannot get it together. (Today was one of those days.) Thankfully though feeling like my life is a mess at times is okay. God takes those messes in our lives and turns them into masterpieces. God has created us each with different spiritual gifts and although at times we do not feel like we are a masterpiece or have much significance we do. God created us to do good in the world in His name! I am beyond thankful that I am Gods prideful creation. When I think of my flaws, imperfections and the mess I create at times, this verse helps me to remember that God planned me out and does not see me that way.  When he was finished creating us he saw perfection. So I take great comfort in knowing that God has created me exactly how He wants me and when I become discouraged through my trials and messy times I know that God has it all planned out. He has complete control over our messes and good will come from it. We do not always see it. It often takes time but eventually we can look back and see exactly why something happened the way it did. In those times I find myself taking a step back, smiling and just saying WOW! Our God is incredible!

Thank you Lord for taking my messes and turning them into masterpieces!

 

Labels

Nerd. Pretty. Smart. Dumb. Popular. Unpopular. Artsy. Weird. Preppy. Jock. Fearful. Anxious. Faithful. Unfaithful. Unreliable. People pleaser. Shy. Weak.

This list could go on and on. Unfortunately we live in a world full of labels. We have all been labeled, we have labeled ourselves and we sadly have labeled others. As I continue in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study, reading Limitless Life by Derwin L Gray I feel a sense of conviction.  I have labeled myself been labeled by others and unfortunately continue to label individuals without thinking about it.

The other day I was talking to my sister about a friend that I had in high school that I had not seen in a while. I had mentioned to her that I had run into this individual in town and that she was very pretty and outgoing now. I then said “yea it is weird she was very shy and kind of a nerd in high school.” WOW! Who am I to label someone like that? Who am I to carry on someones label from high school? How would I feel if everyone that I randomly ran into from my past labeled me by who I was when they knew me? That would definitely not be a good thing. I do not want to be labeled by my past, because that is not who I am. Labels do not define a person. People change. People grow. People acknowledge their “labels” and work to rid themselves of them. In Gods eyes we are free from labels. We are forgiven. We are loved. We are his children. How amazing is it that!  In a world where we are constantly labeling and being labeled in Gods eyes we are not. We are free from labels!! SO RID yourself of those labels that you define yourself with and instead replace them with FREE and child of God. You are so much more than those labels. So today I rid myself of these labels…..

People pleaser, pushover, weak, dumb, ditzy, insignificant, insecure, fearful, anxious, hesitant….

I am FREE. I am FORGIVEN. I am LOVED. I am GODS Daughter!!!

Take comfort in knowing that you can rip off those labels and are free!!

 

 

Verse Mapping “Limitless Life”

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I have heard about and seen different people example verse mapping so I figured I would give it a try. I must say that it is an amazing technique to use. I found that I got so much more out of the verse after I dissected it. Each word came alive and by inserting my own name it became very personal and spoke to me. It was exactly what I needed to hear. My confidence and the way I see myself is not always how I wish it would be so I took great comfort in this verse and knowing how valuable I am to God. He paid such a high price for me…(His Son) and implanted His life in me through the Spirit. I belong to Him and He loves every aspect of me. But with the Spirit within me why do I still fear?

This week we have been working on the first and second chapter of Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray. Derwin started out the first chapter with a quote from Nelson Mandela. This quote set a great foundation for the first chapter. It said….

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

This is something that I had a misconception of. For some reason I perceived fear as something that I should  not do or have within me God is constantly telling us, “Do not fear,” “Do not be afraid,” “Do not be anxious.” So in a way whenever I would feel one of these emotions I would feel guilty. I would feel like I was not trusting God completely. Why am I worrying when God is in control? Why am I so afraid of the unknown and what my future holds when God has it all planned out? Am I going against God by feeling this way?

Then after reading the first chapter and reflecting on the quote by Mandela, which I referenced above, I realized that I am not alone.

Derwin starts off the chapter talking about the commonly known “David and Goliath”story. As I read back through this story in my Bible I saw where Mandela’s quote came into play. David was afraid. He was scared of facing Goliath. All the other men in the army feared him as well. No one wanted to fight the giant in fear that they would loose and be killed. The difference between David and the other men is that David found his strength and courage to overcome fear by trusting God. That is what we need to do more of this in our own lives. There are many people throughout the Bible that serve as an example of this fear of what God was asking them to do. They did not want to take risk in fear of failing and in fear of the unknown. But when they trusted in God and found their courage to take risks through Him, great things came from it.

I have been struggling lately with knowing what my “purpose” is? What is God’s will for me? What risks does He want me to take? I have been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what steps I should be taking to figure this out. Then I realized that it is not my responsibility to figure it out. I just have to have an open humble heart and ask God to come into my heart and direct me. He will lead me where He wants me to go, setting me up in the perfect position to take the opportunities and risks He wants for me. My job is to fully trust Him and take those first steps even though I may be fearful. He WILL be with me every step of the way and will NOT lead me astray.

So with that said… it is so comforting and important for me to remember that I will be fearful of change, the unknown and what is to come. That is normal. The important thing is that I overcome and conquer that fear by having courage. And that courage comes from God.

So take comfort in that my friends. With God you can conquer anything!!

Community: “Limitless Life”

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May 25th I will be starting up my second Bible Study through Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies! During the 5 weeks we will be studying “Limitless Life: You are more than your past when God holds your future” by Derwin L. Gray. I am so excited about this study! I so often let who I used to be or who I think people see me as determine and influence the decisions I make, which often holds me back from great opportunities. So I am looking forward to working through some of my internal issues with the support of such an amazing group of women.

During these five weeks we will be asked to blog on various topics. This weeks topic is on Community. What does community mean to me? My quick answer: Community is essential for my growth!

Am I good enough? Can I do this? Those are two questions that go through my head on a daily basis. I have always struggled with feeling adequate. I let the fear of failure hold me back from taking risks. Instead of taking leaps of faith and trusting God to guide me I often take a step back. (Often missing out on great possibilities/opportunities) I have always tried to to work through my issues and struggles (just me and God). I never included others because I did not feel like their concerns would be genuine or that they would truly care but rather just use my weaknesses against me. That was until I joined my first community group and finally had an accurate grasp on what that entailed.

Community: ” A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interest and goals.”

When my husband and I moved to the beach we tried out a few different churches and finally found the place we wanted to call home. We got plugged in right away and were placed in a community group that included other couples varying in age. I was extremely hesitant about this step because I do not do very well in groups of people. I tend to step back, observe and take it all in. It takes me a while before I become comfortable enough to voice my thoughts and opinions. I think that stems back to my issue with fear. The fear that I will say something wrong or won’t know how to answer something. Other times I become intimidated about the knowledge others have of the Bible. I start to feel like I should be on the same level as others even though I know that everyone’s walk with God is different and each relationship develops at different rates. With that said I cannot even begin to explain how this community group changed me. I gained such confidence in my faith. I realized that everyone in my group was sincere and truly cared about me. I was constantly challenged and pushed to be better. It was a safe place where I could share my struggles and voice my opinions. Through this group my faith and relationship with God was strengthened. I was baptized in February and my entire community group was front row cheering me on. They were the ones who prayed through my difficult pregnancy and the first ones to be there to bring me meals every night to get me back on my feet. They have become family and have opened my eyes to the importance of a community. I cannot begin to explain the growth I have seen in myself and my faith. Through this group I gained the confidence to branch out and find a Bible Study to help me dig deeper into Gods word and find others who shared that same desire……

That is where Proverbs 31 came about. My daughter is now 4 months old and I am a stay at home mom. She has been the biggest blessing and I thank God daily for choosing me to be her mom. As joyous as being a mom is so far…. there have been those days where I sit and wonder what in the world I am doing. How is what I do daily making a difference and important? I change diapers wash bottles and feed ALL day long. Is this what my life has become? I realize it is a stage that will come and go so quickly but it is still challenging some days. Especially because having an infant is so confining that actually going to someones house for community group or going to the church for Bible study is not enjoyable anymore because it adds on so much work when an infant is added to the equation. So my activity in my community group became less and less. Thankfully Proverbs 31 was my saving grace. I for once took a leap of faith and decided to go out of my comfort zone and join the Online Bible Study. I cannot even begin to put into words how much just one Bible study impacted my life. When the challenge to join the Blog Hop came about I spent two days juggling the idea of writing a blog. I let Satan in my head and was listening to him tell me that I would not know what to say or no one would be interested in reading it. But after those two days I decided to take a leap of faith. I have never had so many women encourage, support and show me so much love. By stepping out of my comfort zone I became part of a group who shares the desire to become closer to God. I became part of a community where I can be myself and feel safe sharing about myself.  I am inspired by all of these ladies, I pray for these ladies and I strive to be a better wife, mother, daughter and individual because of these ladies. I love Proverbs 31 and am so proud to be part of their community. I am so thankful for the impact it has had on my life so far and I am so excited to continue to grow!

I would encourage anyone who has any interest in being a part of a community to take a leap of faith and join this next study! You will not regret it!

“Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.” Philippians 2:2

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

 

 

 

About Me

My name is Anna. I am 24 years old and married to a wonderful Godly man. I still consider us newlyweds but we will be married two years in October. I have my Masters in Elementary Education and Special ed. but am currently not teaching because I am a new mother of a beautiful little girl….Lydia Grace. She was born January 8, 2014. She was an unexpected surprise but the biggest blessing and joy in our lives. I am so fortunate that I get to be a stay at home mom, able to watch her grow and prepare her best I can to be a strong young lady after God’s heart.

I have read many blogs but am new to writing one. It is very much out of my comfort zone, but through my current Proverbs 31 Bible Study Living So That” by Wendy Blight I have been challenged to do so. I am taking a leap of faith and have decided to share what I am getting out of this Bible Study as well as share all the many times God’s Grace is seen throughout my everyday life! My grammar will not be perfect and I will more than likely have spelling errors so if that is your pet peeve I am apologizing now! 🙂 I will do my best though!

With that said I will give you a little background on my Faith. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and I believe that Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins so that we could have eternal life. I believe that He rose from the dead and will one day return!!! There is no greater love!! I cannot imagine giving up my only child as a sacrifice for anyone, let alone a group of sinful humans but that is exactly what God did for each of us!

If you asked me at any time during my life if I was a Christian I would tell you “yes” with no hesitation. I had my times throughout life where I was not living life the way I should and I was not in any way glorifying God in my actions. I was the first to pray in times of need but when things were going great the prayers were not as much of a priority. I did not read the Bible much because I never understood it. I felt like the Bible was over my head and there was no chance of me ever fully comprehending what God wanted to share! (Boy was I wrong.) My husband and I joined a community group in our church and it was there that I realized that while yes I believed in God, I one did not have a relationship with him and two was not fully living my life for him. I decided that is what I wanted, so on February 9, 2014 I was baptized! Since that day I have been working on changing my everyday life and strengthening my relationship with God. I fail on a regular basis but through his Grace I am always forgiven and I continually work harder and harder to be the woman He created me to be!

I have always been a fan of Proverbs 31 so after I was baptized I read a few of Lysa TerKeurst’s books and began exploring their website on a regular basis. I had prayed to God asking him to fill me with the Holy Spirit and allow me to understand his word filling my heart with it. While on the website one day I saw the opportunity of doing an online Bible study. I felt like this was an answer to my prayers. What a great way to start off getting plugged into scripture. I would have the chance of being part of a group that would help guide me through the process as well as have a daily assignment that would help me create a daily routine of spending time in His word. Being a new mom its a challenge just to find the time to use the bathroom, shower and eat but I decided He needed to be my top priority so I am making time to spend a significant amount of time in his word daily! The study so far has been an amazing experience and I cannot even begin to explain how much it is changing my life! This is the perfect option for stay at home moms with young children because it can be done from the home during nap time!

I am excited to begin sharing how God’s Grace is shining through my everyday messy, pretty boring ordinary life!

2 Peter 1:2 “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

 

1. Gods Word and a Creative Display

Today is the first day of “blogging” for me. It is completely out of my comfort zone but this Proverbs 31 “Living So That” by Wendy Blight Bible study has been doing such amazing things in my life, so I decided to take a leap of faith and participate in this challenge. I have gained so much confidence, understanding and knowledge from this study already. I am excited every morning when I wake up to dig into my book and Gods word! It has been such a blessing in my life.

Memorizing Scripture has always been a challenge for me. I was one of those children in school who made flash cards for every test. I would go over them and over them until they were stuck in my head. Being a new mom to a three (almost four month old little girl) it is very difficult to find time during the day to sit and study flashcards. That was until I decided I would make flashcards and put them in places that I spend the majority of my day. Those of you who are moms can probably guess where those places are. You all may think I am crazy…..but this is what I came up with.

First place: Right next to the kitchen sink. I wash bottles and do dishes more times than I can count throughout the day, so while standing in the kitchen I am able to read over John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

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Second place: In front of Lydia’s changing table. I spend a lot of time throughout the day at this changing table so while I am there i read this verse out loud in my “baby talk” voice or I sing it (very off tune) but she likes it. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is GOD- Breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in Righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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Third Place: In front of her pack and play downstairs. I also spend a lot of the day in front of this spot either rocking her or doing tummy time. So I do the same thing here. I will sing it, say it or recite it in my head. Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.”

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And then to add a little spice and challenge to the equation, yesterday when she was napping I took a box of diapers and wrote the book and chapter of the verses on all the diapers. So when I am putting a new diaper on her I try and recite the verse by memory.

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And the greatest part of it all is that I get to read and sing scripture to this little face, that I pray will grow to be a young woman after the heart of God.

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Love to you all

Anna