3.01.2016

PRIORITIES

As I read posts and articles online during this current election cycle, it makes my heart grieve. We are living in a time with more access, more information, more technology, more government, more regulations, more.. more.. more. It occurs to me that what we need is LESS...Less of this world and more of Jesus! If God's people would get the following things down- THAT ALONE will create real change in our world! God's people NEED to be engaged in the political system- we have a voice and the values we represent are what actually make America great! 

>May we be more passionate about using words to speak life and encouragement into the lives of others than using words that prove us right or them wrong (Matthew 12:36-37)
>May we be more passionate about promoting Jesus than we are promoting ourselves (Galatians 2:20)
>May we be more passionate about the cause of Christ than we are about the causes of this world (John 12:26)
>May we be more passionate about our neighbor’s eternal status than we are about their social status (Romans 10:9-10)
>May we be more passionate about protecting Human Lives than we are protecting Animal lives (Genesis 1:26)
>May we be more passionate about providing homes and care for human orphans than homeless animals (James 1:27)
>May we be more passionate about meeting the needs of the poor and hungry as we are with our personal social calendar (Proverbs 14:31)
>May we be more passionate about using our time to focus on The One who is Eternally famous than using it on those who are earthly famous (Isaiah 40:28-31)
> May we be more passionate about Eternal rewards than earthly rewards or awards (Matthew 6:19-21)
> May we be more passionate about The One who holds the Government on His Shoulders than the ones who hold office in the government (Isaiah 9:6)
> May we be more passionate about seeking and depending on the only source of hope, prosperity and our future (Jesus) than those running for a short-term presidency (Daniel 2:21)

That is something to think about this season- More of Him, Less of Us! As followers of Almighty God, we must set these priorities and not fall into this trap of "mudslinging". 

11.09.2015

Expecting The Miracle!


We spent the weekend in the hospital with Milly (our 3, almost 4 year-old), our little warrior had a ruptured appendix and a large abscess in front of it preventing the appendectomy. They told us we could be in the hospital 4-6 days or possibly up to 2 weeks based on her circumstance. Then we will go back (hopefully) in December for the surgery after the infection has healed up. We had hundreds of people praying for her and from the moment we checked in we started expecting and praising God for the miracle to come! Here is the thing that occurred to me; as followers of Jesus Christ, I believe that is the most natural reaction to adversity or tragedy. As we grow in relationship with Him and walk with Him through life, we learn that He does turn all things for good, He has a plan and purpose for us, He is faithful and His desire is for us to walk in power. He placed his Spirit in us to access that power and live as co-heirs with Jesus Christ himself (Romans 8:17). I love the reminder that "the same power that conquered the grave, lives in me." Here is a little something I jotted down during my quiet time at the hospital and thought it might serve as encouragement if you are walking through a hard time... 

Why is it easier for us to accept and agree with human diagnosis as opposed to expecting and asking God for a miracle? As children of the King we have the opportunity to walk through life expecting miracles and huge things from the Father, because that is His nature, that is who He is. He gets the glory and if we allow Him, we get to partake in that glory! We have His spirit of power in us, when we learn of adversity or walk through a life circumstance we should not approach it from a place of defeat, fear or pessimism, that is not living in the nature of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9-10) that we are members of. That approach stands in agreement with this earth, which we are not defined by (John 17:15-17). We get to approach every situation from a place of victory, not agreeing with the world's outlook, but standing firm in what God says about us: we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:31-39), we can do ALL things through Christ (Phil 4:13), He commands His angels regarding us (Ps 91), no temptation will overtake us (1 Cor 10:13), the Angels of the Lord encamps around us (Ps 34:7-9), He will uphold us with his righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10), He has given us the victory through Jesus (1 Cor 15:57), He works ALL things for good (Romans 8:28), He strengthens us (Ps 89:21), He is our helper (Ps 118:7), He comforts (Isaiah 49:13), He keeps us in PERFECT peace (Isaiah 26:3-4)... We have access to the power of God and should be walking through life expecting great things to happen in advance simply because we know the nature and promises of the God we serve. We can speak the victory over our circumstance with confidence because the victory has already been won on our behalf through Jesus Christ. Expect excellence, He has earned that expectation! Following Christ does not mean we will not have hard times, in fact, He tells us we will absolutely have hard times on earth (John 16:33). We, as His Children get to approach adversity with a different posture, a posture of victory, hope and expectancy. It is thrilling to expect and praise God for the miracle before hand!! Do not let doubt, fear, insecurity, mistrust or guilt steal the wonder and expectation out of our relationship with God, His will for us is victory every.single.time. 



Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.

9.01.2015

Delightful Warm Chicken Salad

I wanted to share one of my favorite recipes with you. I originally learned about this recipe from my precious Suzy and it has been a favorite since! I make it for play dates, at baby showers, for dinner- it is one of those recipes that is good for any occasion!

Warm Chicken Salad:
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees
>2 Cups (or more) of Chopped Chicken 
(You could use Rotisserie chicken or I just sauté 10 or so Chicken Breast Tenders in Avacado Oil and it is so yummy and tender) 
>1 can Quartered Artichoke Hearts- Drained and Chopped
>1.5 cups of Italian 4 Cheese Belnd
>Mayo and Dijon to taste- just enough to be wet
>3/4 cup Slivered Almonds (toasted)
Stir together and place in a greased 9x13 pan
>Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan Cheese
Cook for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees 
Serve alone, with crackers, apples, on toast....however you like! 

ENJOY!!!!!


8.29.2015

Prayer for School-Aged Kids

It is no secret that I am PASSIONATE about praying for my girls. When I was pregnant I was compelled to pray over spiritual and physical health for my babies, thus writing PrayerWithPurpose: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Unborn Child and then when they were born to continue praying over them with PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children. However, as I have entered and been entrenched in this new season of "Public Elementary School" for the past four years, I have struggled with "control" and how to pray for my girls. I want to pray for total protection, but I want to pray for the Lord to sharpen them and refine them- allow them to experience things that will turn them to Him. I want them to be confident and independent, but I want to shelter them from the craziness of the world. As the years pass, the amount of control we have over our children (who they are friends with, their influences, what they eat, their interests, their hobbies.....) drastically declines. I will admit, I do have "control issues", I am an event planner for crying out loud, so this decline in control sometimes has me FREAKING OUT (by the grace of God he continues to free me from my "issues" and gives me freedom in faith and trust- He is a MUCH better planner than I am!). I'll give you an example, we met one of my oldest daughter's (3rd Grade) new friends and her mother for ice cream last week. This child proceeded to pull out her personal cell phone, pull up Kim Kardashian's show and encouraged my precious/sheltered/non-TV watching daughter to check it out with her. When I approached them, I asked what they are watching and she looks at me like I am NUTS and says "don't you watch Kim Kardashian?" If I am honest, my first internal response to this sort of thing is always- "well, we are never playing with THAT child! I cannot trust what happens when I am not there!" There is obviously some level of parental intervention that needed to happen, but the reality is this, my child is with that child for 6.5 hours in a day Monday-Friday and she is with me 5-6 hours in a day- most of which is spent doing homework, going to an activity, eating or getting ready for school. I have to give the Lord opportunities to refine her and to teach her to depend more on Him than she does on me. I also have to give her the opportunity to be light in a dark world. So, I have struggled with what this looks like, to slowly release my "control" and yet protect them from dangerous or unhealthy situations. It boils down to daily discernment from the Holy Spirit. There are times when I just know a sleepover is a bad idea, and times when I give in to a safe situation and let the girls experience childhood. I must not let fear drive my decisions, I have to let the Lord LEAD! 
This brings me to my quiet time today! My absolute favorite thing after I drop my girls off at school is to take the first hour (or 2 in today's case) to go somewhere (not home- there are too many distractions there) and drink coffee, read my Bible and listen to worship music. It is literally LIFE to me! Anyway, I am reading/journaling through the book of John right now and I came to John 17:15-17 and it rocked my world! [Side note, it absolutely thrills me that I can study the same book (The Bible) for nearly 30 years and it still rocks my world every.single.day! That is "alive and active" friends!] Here is what the verse says  (background, Jesus is praying for his disciples before he is handed over to be crucified) 
"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."

I always have my BibleGateway App with me when I am reading my Bible, I love to look at different translations and commentaries and I love The Message version of verse 16- it says "They are no more defined by the world, Than I am defined by the world". As I prayed this over my girls today, I was in tears because it said what I have been longing to articulate- they are His kids, He ALONE can protect them from the evil one. No amount of sheltering on my part is going to protect them in this world, God alone is their protection, their truth, their light. 
My prayer is that this world is so shocking to them that they long for purity. I pray that their spirits would be so unsettled around evil that God alone is their peace. I pray that they are so secure in who God made them to be that they turn to God alone for identity and strength. I pray that the screams and pressures of this world would be silenced by the name of Jesus on their lips. I pray that when hard times come (and they will according to John 16:33 "“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." ) they will know that God is their shelter, He is their go-to, He is who they run to, He is their light, He is their shield, He is their strength- and that they are not defined by this world- they are daughters of the King. .
As I continue to walk through this journey of motherhood, this is my war cry...because sisters, we are at war with this world and it's desire to have a hold on our children. We need to raise a generation of warriors for the Lord, because they will not have the luxury of being "casual Christians", I believe that our Children will have to be absolutely unwavering to survive in this world. God ALONE can protect them from the evil one, while they are still in this world and not locked in our box. As I was reading John 14:30b Jesus says "for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me." Praise God we are one with Christ Jesus and we can also say, He has NO HOLD ON ME or my family. I pray that you will join me in this prayer. Ephesians 6:12 NLT says, "for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." This is not a "mommy war" it is a battle for our kids against this world! Let's do this! 

6.17.2015

GIVEAWAY: The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson & PrayerWithPurpose




I have read a lot of books on prayer through the years. I am passionate about prayer- I see the POWER of prayer every day. It blows my mind that the Creator of the Universe would allow us to change the course of HIStory through our prayers. He allows us to be a part of the action! I am finishing up the Beth Moore study on "Breath" right now and she discussed "The Valley of Dry Bones" from Ezekiel 37 (you must read it if you haven't) and it just thrills me that God Almighty would allow man (Ezekiel in this case) to be a part of the action. He could have resurrected those bones himself- with a snap...but He allowed Ezekiel to witness and have access to the power and wonder of God. I love that He lets us in on the action....I want more insight, more access, more of the Spirit, more wisdom...more time with Him! 


I recently started reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson- it has revolutionized my prayer life. This book sort of sums up all of my favorite things in all of the other books on prayer that I have read. When I was pregnant with my girls I wrote PrayerWithPurpose: 90 Days of Prayer for your Unborn Child for this very reason (I just didn't know that I was praying "circles"). I wanted to cover every spiritual and physical desire for my babies in prayer. When they were born, I did not want to stop "circling" them, so I wrote PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children. When I read The Circle Maker, it gave me such confirmation that The Lord has already answered so many of those prayers for our family and gave me renewed endurance to continue praying and praising Him for what He will do in the future. I love when Mark Batterson says, "Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don't require divine intervention. But ask God to part the Red Sea or make the sun stand still or float an iron axhead, and God is moved to omnipotent action. There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams. That is who He is. That is what He does." (The Circle Maker p.15). Hebrews 4:16 tells us to "come boldly to the throne of our gracious God", this book really encouraged me to be bold with the Lord and The Spirit convicted me that what I though was humility before the Lord, was really a lack of faith. I was just sort of going about my prayer time with the attitude of "Lord just do whatever you want and I am in" and throughout the Bible it shows that He wants us to ask him, He wants to engage us, He wants to give us access, He wants to hear from us! 
SO, I am going to give away SEVEN copies (because 7 IS the perfect number) of The Circle Maker AND SEVEN copies of PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children for your summer reading/journaling (so 14 winners total). I want you all to be ignited to pray bold prayers with me! So share the giveaway and I can't wait to send them out to you! If you don't win- please get the book- you will love it! 



6.08.2015

Week Two: The Simple Series

WEEK TWO: Simplify Time
by Jenica McMaster of www.delightfulmomstuff.com 

How many times have we heard “you have to be selfish with your time?” What I am suggesting today, in this world of “too busy,” is that we DON’T need to be selfish with our time. We need to be intentional with our time. There are way too many opportunities to be busy and I believe it is a daily struggle to fight the “busy” and be intentional with how we spend EACH day! But selfish? I do not see anything in scripture to tell me I need to live a life where “time” belongs to me. The thing about being a mom is that we don’t only have to fight “the busy” for ourselves, we have to fight it for our kids and spouses as well. In my family of 5, it doesn’t take very many individual commitments to make our family feel like chaos. I constantly need to evaluate our schedule and choose where we will invest our time and what needs to be cut from the schedule. The definition of invest is to “devote (one’s time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.” In our home that “worthwhile result” should bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-25) and if it doesn’t, it needs to be declined. 

Here are eight questions to ask yourself before making a commitment with your time: 
  1. Does it line up with the will of God according to the scriptures? 
  2. Am I striving to please God or man? 
  3. Am I saying “yes” out of fear that the person who asked would be angry?  
  4. Will it bear fruit? 
  5. Does it utilize my gifts and talents? 
  6. Is the motivation love and service or guilt and fear? (DO NOT say “yes” out of a place of guilt- that would be a sign that #1 is not in line- guilt is not from God)
  7. What sacrifice will my family and I have to make in order to keep this commitment? 
  8. Is this a commitment I am able to keep? (We need to make sure we practice and teach our children that when we make commitments, we keep them.)

For this week in The Simple Series we are not asking you to eliminate anything from your schedule. Instead, we will evaluate how we are investing our time, so that we might simplify and focus on the things that matter most! 

SUNDAY: Service- Take this day and focus on where you are serving. Scrub your list with the questions above. Is there something you need to step away from? Is there somewhere you need to engage? If you are not currently serving, identify one place where you can use your gifts and talents for the glory of God and His people (Ephesians 6:7). We are meant to serve others. Churches are literally desperate for people to serve in all areas. It is great for your kids to see you serve and serve along side you. 

MONDAY: Priorities- Make a list of your top 3-5 priorities. Have your spouse and children (if they are old enough) make a list as well. This list could be focused on short-term, long term or seasonal priorities. How can we arrange our time to invest more in these priorities? What can be eliminated from the schedule to focus on these priorities?

TUESDAY: People- Who am I investing my time with? We must be filled up in order to pour out! Am I encouraging others? If not, call or send a note to someone to encourage them today. Be intentional about investing in others. Is there someone who I need to set healthy boundaries with? Is there a relationship I need to make a greater investment in? Am I making a greater investment in people online than the people who are flesh that God has placed around me in this season? This might also mean reconciliation, who do I need to free my mind and spirit from? Has someone hurt me and that is preventing me from making an investment in other people? Live in the freedom of forgiveness, do not let the bondage of unforgiveness steal your energy, joy and time. 

WEDNESDAY: Passion- Identify 1-2 things that you are passionate about (a hobby, career, studying the word, etc..) and be intentional about setting apart time to pursue that passion. What is on your schedule that is robbing you from your passion? (could time on technology be robbing you from something?) This applies to our kids as well. maybe their 15 activities need to be simplified to just two that they are really passionate about. Maybe they need to turn the technology off and discover what it is they are truly passionate about! Let’s not force the passion on our kids, let God instill that in their bones! Finally, if our husbands have a passion for something outside of work, lets give them guilt-free opportunities to schedule those things. 

THURSDAY: Peace- Schedule a quiet time today. Maybe this requires a babysitter, maybe this requires a child swap with another mom, maybe this means heading to a coffee shop or a quiet place when your husband gets home from work. I have to force myself out of the house sometimes in order to have some peace with the Lord. When I am home I look around and see tasks (or a “task” is barking at me!). I am always filled up when I take the time to get quiet and listen to what the Lord desires for me. It is NOT selfish to carve out peaceful time, it is necessary! 

FRIDAY: Family Life- Evaluate your household- is there healthy balance? Is it a kid-focused home? If so, how is your marriage? Is it an activity-focused home? If so, how is your peace and energy level? Is it a social-focused home? If so, how is the quality time pouring into your kids and spouse? Is it a task-driven home? If so, how is the fun, the relaxation, the creativity going? Take this time and evaluate what you can add or remove from your schedule to find more time to invest in your family! 

SATURDAY: Maintenance- take this time to focus on the investment we are making on personal maintenance! Am I living a healthy lifestyle? (eating healthy foods, exercising, going to the doctor, dental appointments, checking out the moles and lumps that come with age!) Do I feel good about my whole self? Not according to the world’s standards, but to God’s standards? Am I self-absorbed or have I completely let myself go? God “fearfully and wonderfully” made YOU. His desire is for you to be confident in who you are and to take care of the temporary temple he gave you. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Evaluate how you are maintaining your temple on the inside and outside. You do not need to look like the Hollywood stars to be beautiful. You need to maintain yourself in a way that you feel confident and beautiful and someone who is proud to say “I am the daughter of the King of the Universe and He does not make mistakes.” 


I pray that this week will allow you to reevaluate and adjust how you spend your time. It is a battle to fight the “busy” and not to just fill the time- but to take each day and invest our time with the “expectation of a worthwhile result”!!! 

6.05.2015

15 DELIGHTFUL Summer Essentials

Now that we live in Scottsdale, AZ I feel like I am an expert on summer products...because it is never NOT summer here! If you follow me on Instagram you might already know about a few of these- because I am passionate about them! Here you go...




1. S'Well Bottle- This gorgeous bottle comes in all different sizes, colors and textures. It keeps liquid cold for 24 hours and hot for 12! The stainless steel bottle also makes my water taste better- AND my girls love drinking out of them! I was at the zoo in 102 degree heat with my bottle, then I put it in the car and it was in there for the next 6 hours...and I still had ice cubes when I got it out! It is totally worth the cost!
2. Chloe & Isabel Bracelet - I wear this this bracelet all of the time! It is a lovely pop of color and goes with everything- dressy or casual!
3. Fresh: Sugar lip SPF 15: This is great for your summer lips, it has SPF 15, it plumps, it nourishes, it smells yummy, it is free from all of the "yucky stuff" and it lasts forever (unless your 3 year old gets ahold of it- mine is obsessed). Clear Lip Treatment or Tinted Lip Treatment
4. Coconut Oil I use Coconut Oil for everything- but I am loving it for eye makeup removal. My eye makeup is always hard to remove- and it gets it off and I think it has made my lashes stronger/longer. I rub it over my eyes (and usually my whole face) then put my face soap all over- without water (you know, the whole oil and water situation doesn't work) then I use a wash cloth and wash off my whole face. It is delightful!
5. Jo Malone Orange Blossom I know I have mentioned this before- it smells so fresh and light for summer! (TIP: If you go to the Jo Malone counter ask for a sample- or many samples, their sample bottles are little spray bottles and you can travel with them or keep them in your purse- they are fabulous!)
6. Stella & Dot Necklace I find myself wearing these long necklaces all of the time, I ADORE this one!
7. Cold Brew Coffee : I have been making my own Cold Brew coffee. The difference between "iced coffee" and "cold brew" is that iced coffee is hot coffee poured over ice and leaves you with watery/weak cold coffee. Cold brew just includes using cold water and ground coffee- you let it sit overnight or longer to "brew" and you have a yummy, smooth, strong cup of cold coffee. This recipe makes a concentrate so it lasts longer and takes up less space in the fridge. My non-iced coffee-drinking-husband is obsessed with the cold brew- it is seriously amazing! Here are a few products needed to make your own cold brew: Large Mason JarsFine Mesh Strainer, Cheesecloth, Ground Coffee (dark roast is best)
8. Summer Nails: Don't Bossa Nova Me Around this is my new favorite neutral- it sort of looks like silly putty!
9. Laura Mercier Baked Bronzer and Bronzing Gel - I have listed these before- seriously the perfect bronze. I don't love self tanner- it never looks right on me and I hate the smell- but these two products help even out a tan or give a glow when I need one. They last forever- the price per use is nothing! :)
10.  Trina Turk Cover-up: We go to the pool so much that I finally invested in a cover-up that I LOVE. These Trina Turk cover-ups are so great because they are flattering and they dry quickly.
11. Pants: I am OBSESSED with my new Baldwin Malibu Pants- they are such a great fit and can be worn casual or dressy. The material is not too thick but thick enough to hold up and not get saggy.
12. Mint/Lime Water: My new favorite thing to have around is fresh mint- I have a little mint plant and I love using it! I have been putting fresh mint and lime in a jar of water and serving it- it is so refreshing and so yummy!
13. Eyes: Caviar Stick in Copper by Laura Mercier- you know I love the caviar sticks, they are a no-brainer- you swipe them on and you are done. Copper is my favorite color of all of them! (my go-to Christina gets the credit for discovering these!!)
14. Striped Placemats: I entertain so much at my house and these are so great to have- they wipe clean and look good with any color theme I am going for- and they are CHEAP!
15. EOS Shave Cream- this is the best stuff for shaving- my legs are not dry or nicked when I am done shaving- I see a huge difference between this and the other brands. And...the bottle is pretty and it smells yummy...bonus!
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