7 Ways to Be Grateful Every Day!

 

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My Family is Finally Blended

I’m writing this post a day after Father’s Day for a reason, but mostly because God brought it to my attention early this morning that he took care of that little problem with my family that always made me feel sick, worried, and upset. I have a blended family that consists of my biological parents, step-parents, and of course siblings. However, I never equate spending the holidays with my siblings because I know how complicated it is with them having several sets of parents and in-laws. They don’t need the extra stress either.

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I love the holidays, oh my goodness, I love them so much, but leading up to the actual day use to make me nauseated because I was afraid to make my family upset. I’m close to all of my parents and I felt like they all equally demanded the same amount of attention from me during the holidays or other important occasions such as Father’s Day. My goal was to make everyone feel loved by first visiting my dad’s house where he and my step-mom are for a certain amount of hours and then jet over to my mom’s house with her and my step-dad for a certain amount of hours and this was all without even calculating my inlaws into the commute. My sweet and patient husband, bless him! At the end of the night, I felt like I had accomplished the goal but at the expense of my husband’s and my peace. It was starting to become unfair to my kids as well.

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My mom was always the voice of reason by telling me, “you can’t make everybody happy or this person and that person will be okay at the end of the day.” That comforted me. God guided me by making me comfortable with inviting all my parents to the kids’ birthday gatherings and special life events. We started choosing what days everyone would have during the holidays so that we could still enjoy our day as a family. Turns out that the older my parents get they actually have a life outside of us as their kids and grandkids and don’t want us holding all of their time anyway. Ha! Having everyone gathered in small rooms together made them work it out or put aside their differences for the moment. God was working on us all and I didn’t even know it. What made it all real for me was at my daughter’s 3rd birthday party here at home. My dad and step-dad were talking leisurely about randoms like they have done in the past. They were able to throw in petty remarks with each other and it all ended in laughter from us and them both. At another time during the party, my mom, step-mom, my aunts, my mother-in-law, and I were all laughing in the kitchen in peace. God was just working it all out and my prayers were being answered. This Father’s Day I was able to post a pic of both my dad’s and my husband as my Facebook profile picScreenshot_2019-06-17-12-10-30~2.png without the fear of offending one dad or the other. Not that they would actually say something to me, but you all know people have other ways of expressing their dissatisfaction. What really put the icing on the cake for me was my hearing my dad tell me that it was so nice of me to put them all on a pic together and then having my step-dad to tell me that he really enjoys talking with my dad when we are all together. Mannnnnn, I was so elated and thankful! God did it all and I finally know what it means to have a blended family.

Do you have a blended family? How has your experience been?

Carmen

God Goes Ahead Of Us: Holy Socks And All

This post is definitely about socks, but don’t turn away just yet. I want to share with you something that I know to be true for my needs and will help you with many of yours even when you don’t ask for help. I think I’ve told you all that I really despise doing laundry. It’s the tedious folding and putting away that actually bothers me. I try not to complain about it much, but I will make a few jokes here or there about this never-ending saga.

 On Saturday I was pairing my son’s socks in the laundry pile. Three pairs of his socks had holes in them, so in my mind, I thought that I would just put them in my son’s sock drawer and he could just walk around the house in those when he’s lounging. My husband and I have told him repeatedly wear clean socks and underwear every single time you leave the house, but we all know how young boys sometimes do what they like to do and not what you tell them to do.

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I dropped those hole-filled socks into the laundry basket. I called my son into the room to gather his laundry to put away. Yes, I make him put his laundry away. He will have to do this on his own one day, so why not begin now? Just as I was about to tell him to get those socks out of the basket with the familiar warning of not wearing them to school or outside of this house, a still small voice in my thoughts spoke to me. The voice said, “nope, don’t worry about it”, so I threw them away.

On Monday, while scrolling through Facebook I noticed that my son’s teacher uploaded pics of the activity that they were working on for the day. They were working on measurement in Math and had their shoes off. feetThey each had little rulers and I immediately panicked. Then I breathed a sigh of relief because I remembered that small voice telling me to throw those hole-filled socks away. What if my son had worn those hole-filled socks to school on this Monday? Chances are he would have felt ashamed, been teased, or embarrassed. Let’s be honest kids can be cruel to each other sometimes. I shouted “thank you” to God because it was the holy spirit that told me to trash those pairs of socks on Saturday. God was 2 days ahead of me. He knew the lesson that my son was going to have on Monday and chances are he would’ve picked those comfy, cool, and hole-filled socks to wear to school. God is amazing you guys! Stop believing that “something told you to do this or that” when things work out in your favor or you realize that you should have done something. That small voice is the holy spirit. He speaks to those that are willing to listen. Thank you, Jesus, for leaving him to help us! God is always, always a million miles ahead of our needs and all that we have to do is trust and believe that. When we have a need or even sometimes a want all that we have to do is request it to God and be patient. If it is in his will and not for our ill selfish gain, he will answer. Faith is what it takes from you when you can’t actually control the outcome. Here are a few scriptures for you to meditate over that proves that God is always ahead of us and even with something as small as hole-filled socks. What are your unselfish needs today? Send them up to God!

 The Lord your God who goes before you will fight for you, just as you saw Him do for you in Egypt. Deuteronomy 1:30

You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. Psalms 139:5

The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

I will go before you and level the uneven places; I will shatter the bronze doors and cut the iron bars in two. Isaiah 45:2

21 Days of Prayer

2017 gave me some joys, lessons, hurt, and a tidbit of fun. 2018 has started off rather rocky, but “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.” Psalm 121:1-2.  That means that I’ll be okay. I try my best to be an optimistic and hopeful person. I make so many mistakes and many times I just want to throw in all of my towels. However, with all of that small chatter out of the way, Happy New Year Everyone! Now, I do have a question for you.

Will you join me? Do you need a reset already from even Jan 1? I’m embarking on a reset today with thousands of others that are as hopeful and as optimistic as I am. I’m talking about the 21 days of prayer with the Church of The Highlands in Alabama. #COTH is offering you and me a chance to reset again through prayer and optional fasting. I’m one day behind, but that’s okay! There will be two options for you to join in for gathered prayer. The first option will be at a local campus at 6 a.m. Monday-Friday and on Saturday at 9 a.m.  If you’re like me and know for a fact that attending the campus is just not an option, at 6 a.m., you can also stream the prayer service from your location live. You have the option to watch or listen. You can also playback that day’s prayer service anytime during that day. Isn’t that wonderful and no guilt if you can’t physically attend?

Now, I know what some of you are thinking; neither of these times will work for me.  That’s perfectly okay! 21 days of prayer can be done in the privacy of your own home or car. The goal is to sit alone with God uninterrupted and expectant. Each day as you connect with God, read scriptures that speak to your need or spirit. Ask for help from the holy spirit on what you should read. The Bible app found in the Google Play Store and Apple Store offers several 21-day reading plans. You can use these as a guide or foundation for your 21 days of prayer.  Pastor Chris Hodges has given us 4 tips that we can use when while wholeheartedly seeking God and his provisions through our 21 days of prayer. These are my interpretations of those tips.

  1. Express gratitude to God. “Praise him and show thanksgiving from your heart”

  2. Show commitment to God. “Stay connected to God often”

  3. Give yourself to God. “Give your total life to him”

  4. Express your dependence on God. “Let him know that you need him…tell him your needs.”

The optional fast is not required but may bring more clarity to what you are praying for or about. Who can’t use fewer distractions whether it’s bad food, social media, or foolish television shows? I have found that in the past when I have paired them both together I came out feeling empowered and ready to defeat all the strongholds in my life. I am choosing to fast, but I will not share that in this post. I hope that you will join me in 21 days of prayer and I hope that you will be encouraged during this reset. Although the actual 21 days of prayer begin on Jan 7, you can always jump in and just continue a few days after everyone else. Never believe that it’s too late, even if it’s day 10. Let’s look forward to our awesome future and great new year!

 

 

Finding Your Beauty In An Artificial World

My mom and I had a talk this weekend like…we always do. We talked about self-esteem, beauty products, the world’s standard of beauty, hair and all of its complexities. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if you don’t believe it, no one else’s opinion will ever really matter to you. There is no one product that will do the job. There is no one outfit that will change the world’s standards. You truly have to find the things about YOU that you believe are beautiful and work with those things. There is something beautiful about everyone.

We now live in a world where plastic surgery is available on payment plans and social media glorifies artificial lifestyles. While there is nothing wrong with nipping and tucking what you have attempted to tweak but still want to improve, plastic surgery will not change the way that you feel about yourself or how you want the world to treat you.  Attention and respect from people based solely on what a person looks like doesn’t last forever. If there is no true talent or gift behind what everyone is flocking to, the fad will eventually fade. This is why it’s so important to find YOUR beauty and worth for yourself, and not what someone else flaunts as their beauty. Ladies, we must do a better job of telling our daughters and our son’s that they are gorgeous before they seek the gratification of the world. If your television shows don’t show a beauty that you can relate to and it makes you question your own beauty…..turn that mess off and find a new program.

I use to hate my hair because it was so thick and big. I use to hate my bottom lip. I use to hate my height because I’m only 5’1. I use to hate being so hairy because of the jokes and taunts that I received as a kid. I use to hate my eyebrows because I have a naturally pointed arch. My mom spoke beauty and worth to me, but I was still struggling with loving those other things about me. Somewhere in me eventually, I realized that all of the things that I disliked about myself were traits of my family. I learned to accept them and make them the way that I wanted them to be. I’ve embraced my big hair, shave or wax often, and I cut the tip off of my brows. Often, I do a lot of manipulation with my strong family traits. It’s worth it for my happiness.

 Find what you love about you and embrace it with love. No one is perfect or has it completely together. Don’t allow the media or the world to define your beauty. Love your traits and features because they are inherited from people that love you the most. Love yourself and improve what you can daily. That may mean eating healthier, exercising more, sleeping more, resting more, laughing more, praying more, reading more, or simply taking better care of yourself. Find your beauty!