Choosing To Swim

Choosing To Swim

Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Human Resources by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child".
Sara
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I’m sitting here at 10:59 pm on a Saturday night asking myself, “What could I possibly have to say to readers about faith and spirituality? I’m no teacher, what am I doing here? People will think I’m a hypocrite. They will surely regret asking me to be a part of this if they don’t already!” (Mind you, all I have submitted up to this point is an about me survey.)

That is precisely what happens when who the world says I am takes over in my mind. The voice in my head gets ugly. I can either drown in these lies or swim towards the warm light of God’s grace. So I pause, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and open my bible. I choose to swim even though I want to hide. There will be no drowning today because I trust Him.

I pray and ask, “What do you want to say?” This question reminds me of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” While flipping to this passage a previously underlined verse catches my eye in chapter four. I read on a little and find 2 Corinthians 4:13: “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak.” There it is. We speak because we believe. Simple, isn’t it?

My assertion of not being a teacher is still correct, but thank goodness I’m not unable to share what God has done in my life just because I am not a teacher. I confess I deeply regret not having journaled all the amazing things I’ve witnessed God do in my life. Because now I sit here and kick myself for not being able to articulate them well since so many details have faded.

But what never fades is the awe that has filled me each and every time He has shown up. From seemingly small things–like placing a hand on the dying washing machine last week while begging God to bring it back to life, and before I can finish my plea it is spinning again! (You laugh or roll your eyes, but it totally happened and I stood there for a whole minute with my jaw on the floor)–to big things like finally having independence as a single mother who for several long years didn’t see how that could be possible. The people in my life got to watch that play out right before their eyes. No need for me to figure out how to share that story, everyone saw! It wasn’t possible without God’s grace and intervention. They knew it and I knew it.

When paying attention to God’s work in my life, it becomes clear that my imperfections are a great platform to use when talking about what an amazing God we have. I don’t need to be embarrassed or afraid. That would be to assume that only some of us fall short of the glory of God and that I happen to be in that category.

News flash–we are all in that category! Despite all my past and present failures, shortcomings, and flaws He loves me. He forgives and continues to show up in ways that continue to surprise me. Shouldn’t we all be able to and want to share these works with each other and the world? Yes! Are we supposed to keep them to ourselves because we let the condemning voice of the world we live in tell us we are hypocrites? Nope! Isn’t our weakness the very thing that makes His work so incredibly amazing and worth talking about? Absolutely!

Great! Now that we’ve established that, let me ask you:

  • What opportunities are you missing because “that is for someone more qualified”?
  • Can you identify ways that the enemy will capitalize on you succumbing to that lie?
  • Can you identify ways God will use those opportunities for your good and His glory?
  • Will you choose to swim today and ask God to help you keep swimming tomorrow and the day after?

Feel free to share your answers in the comments section below, I’d be honored to pray for you!

Mercy!: It’s a Decision

Mercy!: It’s a Decision

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
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Let me start off by saying I am not normally a compassionate person. I see things in black and white; there are no gray areas.  I believe that criminals should pay to the fullest extent for their crimes.  I see stories on the news and don’t understand why they allow plea bargains. Throw the book at him.

I was recently the victim of a crime.  I do not want to get into the specifics and have changed some details to protect everyone’s identity.  I was some place and some young people were helping me unload.  I walked up and caught a young man going through my purse.  I was in such shock; I just stood there and watched him for about 30 seconds.  I finally asked him what he was doing.  His reply was, “I didn’t take anything.”  I then asked him why he was going through my purse.  He said, “I was going to bring it to you.”  I told him that he did not need to go through my purse to bring it to me.  He just kept telling me that he did not take anything.

Another young man that I knew came up right after and asked me what happened because he could see that I was upset.  He told me I needed to report it to a supervisor.  I asked what the perpetrator’s name was and he told me they would know.  (The perpetrator apparently had a history of issues.)  I was taken to the supervisor along with the young man.  She told me I could press charges and would give me his information to give to the police.  I was still in shock.  He admitted to going through my purse and insisted that he did not take anything.  I know nothing was taken because I was not carrying cash, but I definitely felt like my privacy was violated because I saw him going through my purse.  It is an indescribable feeling.

The supervisor asked me what I wanted toThe Supervisor asked me What IWant to do- do.  At first, I wanted to call the police and have him arrested and sent to jail.  At that moment, God spoke to me!  I looked up at her and out of my mouth came, “I don’t know. But I do know that right now I want to pray with him and for him.”  There were four of us in the room, including the young man.  I think they were all shocked as I was.  We all stood up and joined hands as I prayed for him.  I asked God to bring him out of this path he was going down.  By the time I was done, we were all crying.  I hugged him and told him that if I pressed charges that it would be for his own good and not out of spite (this is so unlike me).

I thought about it the rest of the time that I was there.  He lost his position there and came up to me to apologize and ask me not to press charges.  I do not know if he was sincere but I decided not to press charges.  I told the supervisor of my decision and asked her to contact him and let him know what I had decided but that there was a stipulation: I wanted him to go to church.

Mercy:  noun.  1.  Compassion or forgiveness toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.  Synonyms:  leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance, quarter, humanity. 

I have thought about this so much lately.  I never show mercy but as we approach Christmas, I am reminded that God showed us MERCY!  He did not have to, but because He loved us He sent His one and only Son, so that we may be saved (John 3:16).  Had God not shown mercy and grace, we would all be trying to work our way to Heaven and still come up short.  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23 (NASB).  We do not deserve His mercy, but He gives it to us through His Son Jesus Christ.

This experience has not changed my view on criminals.  I still see black and white.  But, it has me rethinking how I interact with people.  I should be trying to make a difference and be more merciful.

I do not know if this young man has made any changes to his life.  I may never know what effect that morning had on this young man.  I do not know what all was going on his life to bring him to this point.  I do know that I was obedient to God and prayed for this young man and I still continue to pray for him.  Hopefully, that prayer, that morning, in that office, will stay with him and eventually make a difference in his life. 

Please join me as I continue to pray for him.

Have you ever shown mercy in a difficult situation?

Have you ever had anyone show mercy to you?

 

What Really Matters…

What Really Matters…

I am "Mom" to Chloe, Allie, & Emilia. I am wife to Misael Escobar. I am a child of God. I love to learn about other cultures and learn about others life experiences.I am always a "work in progress". Through many struggles I have become "me" and I am finally happy with the person God has led me to be.I am excited to see where God will lead me in this life.
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It is said, “The truth will set you free.” So here is my truth… I am very much a Type A personality! I find joy in marking off “To Do” lists, having a clean house, organizing closets, and meal planning. I am also a person who tends to fight “all or nothing” thinking and my emotions can be a bit of a roller coaster when it comes to life. Everyday is a struggle for me to find balance and perspective.

I am a mother of 3 girls. Chloe is 15, Allie is 13, Emilia is 14 months, and we have one on the way.

The funny thing is, my type A personality really did not kick in until I went through a divorce when Chloe was 4 and Allie was 1. I heard someone once say,  “Perfectionism is insecurity in an art form.”

For many years, I lived in the extreme of perfectionism. I was a single mom working two jobs while getting straight A’s in college. I was attempting to be perfect in all areas in my life.

Along the way, my perfectionism manifested in an eating disorder. For me, my perfectionism was about control. I wanted to control EVERY aspect of my life, and sadly, many aspects of the lives around me. I wanted to always be two steps ahead of anything bad that could happen because I thought I could prevent it then.

THE OLD & NEW JEN 

I waved the “Single-mom-whose-husband-left-her” flag high in the air. I have struggled with issues of self worth all my life. As I began to navigate life as a single mom, somehow I began to find a lot of my worth in being productive and in “control”. The longer my “To Do” list and the more things that I marked off, the more I felt like I proved my importance, existence, and worthiness. That was the old Jen.

The new Jen still struggles but now I struggle well and with hope.

I can see my perfectionism for what it is – a warning sign that I am trying to control something because somewhere else in my life I am feeling out of control or insecure.

How Does the New Jen Avoid the Old Jen Returning?

  • I take time to “be still” every morning and spend time with the only one who is perfect.
  • I pray over my To Do list before I make it.
  • I pray that God will keep me balanced.

As is with my life, I can often times treat my walk with God as a To Do list. I say I don’t believe in “salvation through works,” but a lot of times the way I walk with God would show something else. I do know now when I make my time with God a “To Do” list, I am leaving no room for grace.image1-2

So, when life is hard, when I am struggling in any area of my life, when I don’t know what to do…what gets me through?

Well, for me, there are only 3 things. There are only 3 things that God wants and expects from me. I believe they are found in Micah 6:8

 

“And what does the Lord require of you:

To act justly,

love mercy, and

walk humbly with your God.”

That’s it. That is what I am required to do and the rest, well… God is God and I am not! He will take care of the rest.

Do you struggle with perfectionism and control?

What are some ways that you help overcome these issues?

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