body + health

Today I started a ten-week body transformation challenge. Mostly because my husband and I want to start a family in the near future and I want to be as healthy as possible. Also, in part, because of the 1274 Instagram accounts and Pinterest pins out there on fitness, clean-eating, and everything {organic-low-free-gluten-carb-high-protein-green} I come across every day. So, yes. I want to be healthy and fit. I want to learn how to eat real foods that will actually nourish my body. I want all of those things for me and my family.

“Carolina, guard your heart. Have a healthy outlook on your health.” – Holy Spirit

 I must confess I had to really pray about this one. The Lord began to reveal to me how I was slowly becoming obsessed with the idea of becoming fit {and looking like one of those girls with negative six percent body fat}. I wanted to pin recipes more than I wanted to feed my spirit.

Wanting to be healthy is not a bad thing. It’s actually a very good and wise decision. The problem arises when this desire is an obsession that becomes a major distraction. Our outward appearance cannot take priority over the condition of our heart. I have found that I tend to over-eat based on my emotional state, especially when I am anxious. Anxious, anxiety, lack of trust, doubt, doubting God, unbelief, dry and weary, burdened…

I know, that escalated quickly. Yet isn’t it so true?

Taking a step back allowed me to see the root of my obsession and the true motivation in my heart. I am grateful for His order and discipline. I am grateful that He is full of mercy and grace. I’m ready to train hard and pray harder.

Be encouraged today to take a step back and examine your heart. This doesn’t just apply to my fellow avid health friends, but to all of us that have allowed something to take the place of God in our lives. He is Good!

Day 1 #nailedit

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

 

 

my name is pride

“My Name is Pride” by Beth Moore

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
Untrue.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.

praise anyway

I have had some of the most powerful times of prayer and worship in my car.  Somehow it feels safe in there to let my hair down and give God all I’ve got. Now, ninety eight percent of time this happens when I am alone. A couple months ago, we welcomed little Oliver into our lives. Oliver is a very {very, very, very}  hyper, playful, and needy Maltese puppy. Needless to say, when I bring him along he wants to ride on my lap all the time. This is not only a bit dangerous, but mostly very inconvenient for my worship time. We will start out fine with him in the passenger seat, and twenty six seconds into my worship set, Oliver just jumps on over to my side.  I cannot concentrate and he makes it really hard to do anything other than just sit there and drive.

“Carolina, worshipping with Oliver on your lap is like worshipping through difficult times. Praise anyway!”- Holy Spirit

Sometimes Most times it is easier to exchange our praise for pity. Honestly, how much easier is it to throw a pity party, especially when pity’s friends {gossip and pride} show up. It would be so easy to just let Oliver sit there, turn dow the music because it bothers him, and complain about how he is hindering me from being close to God. The truth is it takes courage to rise above your emotions. It takes supernatural strength to look past difficult circumstances.

Be encouraged today to be courageous and walk out your authority in Christ over your emotions; to know that His joy IS our {supernatural} strength. Be encouraged to crank up the voice of God and put your circumstance back in the passenger seat.

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 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans 12:12

PS. Oliver is a little blessing in our lives. The Lord is using him to teach us many great life lessons! :)

by our love

When Carlos and I got married we moved into the perfect little house downtown. And by perfect I mean it was great, except it did not come with a washer and dryer. So for the first nine months of our marriage I was going to a laundromat every week. Those thirty-six weeks gave me a big slice of humble-pie with a serving of character-building on the side. I confess I was embarrassed and annoyed. I did not think I deserved to have to go to a laundromat. {pride much…}

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“Carolina, this is a ministry opportunity. Be nice.” – Holy Spirit

In that moment I remembered all the times I had prayed to Jesus to make me more like Him. “Lord, whatever the cost, send me! I just want to be your hands and feet. Show me how to love like You.”

Quietly, I began to do small acts of kindness as the Lord led. Bring extra detergent and share with someone, give away my extra quarters, let someone else use a machine before me, smile, pray with someone, help out the single mom that looks exhausted by giving their crying child a snack. Little things that were making a bigger difference than I expected. Soon they would open up and share their life stories, and a door was opened to share about His unfailing love.

With all these small encounters, I noticed there was one common denominator. Everyone that I reached out to was initially shocked. Shocked that anyone would be nice or do anything for them without expecting anything in return. I even had one girl tell me “why are you being so nice?”. As if not being nice is the norm.

Why is the world shocked that people are being nice? The Bible says that we {Christians} are to be known by our love. Yet, it seems they don’t know us at all. Our communities should be so filled with love that  random acts of kindness don’t shock people. A missionary friend, Hope Dodson, once said “After being in the mission field for a while I’ve realized: the deep things of God are the simple things. Just be nice!” I couldn’t agree more. You’d be surprise how a simple cup of coffee, or five minutes of your time to genuinely ask someone “how are you”, will change a life.

Be encouraged this week to be simply deep. Go, be nice!

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

the watch{wo}men

As a new wife, I have discovered that there is a fine line {I mean like as fine as they come} between ‘submitting to my husband’ and knowing when I ‘should take a stand’. I have found myself in little situations where I have not entirely agreed with a decision my husband has made for us as a family {turns out they were brilliant, of course}. And while I understand, and fully respect, my husband as the head of our household, I wanted needed insight from the Lord on how to deal in these circumstances.

“Carolina, you are a wife. And among many other duties, you are also the watchman over your household. Picture a Medieval castle, you are the one up in the tower watching over the land and things to come. Your husband is the king, he rules and makes decisions. You are his helper, and he cannot do without you. Read in Proverbs 31: 27 “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  - Holy Spirit

Thank you Lord.

I’m nowhere near being the expert on marriage. However, so far I have learned that it is crucial to understand our roles as husbands and wives. I know now that as the watchmen we have the ability to see things from a different perspective than our husbands {the kings}. We have two choices, we can eat the bread of idleness or not. Will we let our kings make decisions we know may not be the best, just to have the {false} satisfaction of uttering “I told you so”? Or, will we HUMBLY warn our kings and PRAY for the Lord’s wisdom and grace to cover them?

Castle Towers_JSullivan_Small

Husbands {and husbands-to-be}, you are the kings. As such, you also need a trustworthy watchman, helper, and a woman who fears the Lord by your side. Learn to trust that your wives, like you, also hear from the Lord, are strong, and discerning. As the spiritual head over your household, challenge us to grow, pray over us daily, and celebrate our accomplishments. You can never do any of those too much.

Wives {and wives-to-be}, do not lean on the crutch of a misunderstood definition of submission. Learn to pray and watch over your household. You have the spiritual authority in Jesus Christ to grab captive of every thought or emotion that is not of Him. Your prayers not only affect you, but your household and family. Remember, His Joy is our strength.

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” - Ephesians 5:21-25

peanut

Peanut is small and has a couple quirks here and there. Yet it is fast, cute, and fits anywhere. Yes, Peanut is my car. And while some day I may have to trade it in for a more spacious model to accommodate baby seats and strollers, I am in no hurry to let it go any time before that. I know exactly how Peanut works, where all the buttons are and, of course, where all my music is stashed. I am still a big fan of having to hunt through a pile of CDs to find the perfect song.

scion xa

However, my husband is very particular of the care of our vehicles, and every so often takes Peanut for a day in the world of car checkups and washes.  While I appreciate this gesture oh-so-much, it leaves me having to drive Snow White. That would be my husband’s so-nice-and-clean-it-looks-like-a-rental-all-the-time car.  And while it’s prettier and probably better conditioned than my own, I don’t know it like I do Peanut. I still confuse the windshield wipers and the lights switches. All of these little seemingly things add up and, simply put, I do not feel in control. I end up going to half the places and running half the errands. Clearly, Snow White does not run at its full potential in my hands.

“Carolina, I need you to be Peanut. I cannot be in control when you’re Snow White.” – Holy Spirit

How many times do we pray “Holy Spirit, come and have Your way. Fill us up. Make us more like Jesus.” yet we do not provide an environment that allows Him total control. We turn away from the lives He has called us to live, a life of holiness, a life set-apart, filled with His Word, surrendered to His will, ready to be used for His Glory. We begin to fill our prayers with ifs and buts, instead of yes and Amen. We praise and worship, but will not pray and study. We turn into Snow White, a vehicle that while it may look nicer and will still go places, is not the one where He has total control.

If you are going to follow the Lord, then do it whole-heartedly. If you are going to surrender your life, surrender it’s entirety. He is a gentleman, He will not take control from you, but will gladly accept it only when you give it up. Be encouraged that He longs to take every burden, worry and fear and give you rest, joy, and peace.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

friends with benefits

I urge you to resist the temptation to check out due to the length of this post. This may be one of the most important things I have ever written…

“Carolina, many treat God like a friend with benefits. They want all of the benefits and none of the commitment; all the rights and none of the responsibility.” – Holy Spirit

Matthew 7:21-23 always haunts me, in a good and challenging way. It is a burning reminder to fight the good fight and make decisions that reflect the righteousness of Christ in me. More than that it is the reminder of the passionate love and yearning with which Jesus desires to have a personal and intimate relationship with me and you.

I am so grateful His mercies are new everyday, because, for a long time, my flesh struggled to walk down the narrow path.  I was praising God, praying, writing to Him in my journal one night, and then blatantly ignoring His commandments the next. I was lusting, lying and insecure. I was a hypocrite. And here’s the thing… Yes, God is a loving Father, Jesus came to die for all of our sins, we are forgiven. But we are also called to be in a committed relationship. A relationship that is based on mutual respect, communication, and trust.

If I only looked for my husband for what he could do for me, yet I didn’t honor, respect or communicate with him, our marriage would be in shambles. I can tell you I decide to wake up and love my husband every day. I decided to walk down the aisle, state my vows, and commit to a lifetime with Carlos. All of that because I know him. I know his desires, his fears, his strengths, his struggles and I choose to love him {very much}.

I wonder if many struggle with committing to an intimate, loyal, relationship with the Lord because we believe that God is Almighty God of the Universe, yet we do not know the Father’s love… Or we know  about Jesus, King of Kings who died on the cross, yet we do not know Jesus the Bridegroom, Lover of our souls…

I remember the exact day my double-mindness left; the  day  I decided to give my whole heart to Jesus; the day I fell head-over-heals in love with Him. It was on the night of June 26, 2009. I encountered the very REAL, living power of Jesus Christ. I was, in a moment, healed and delivered of shame and insecurity. I felt love and peace in such an overwhelming way, it really surpassed my human understanding. I remember just weeping as I got a vision of Jesus and I, as a little girl, dancing and twirling in a field. Just freedom and joy. That was my point of no return.

Yes, I face struggles today. My flesh wages against my spirit, the difference is that now I have knowledge of the Word, I know Jesus, and I walk in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I also understand that I am in a relationship that requires an investment on my part, and I do it gladly because I am in love. I desire to spend time in prayer because I want to partner with His heart. I desire to read and study His Word because I desire to hear His voice and learn His ways. I am not talking about striving religion, but a personal relationship.

God is not your ATM. He is the Great I Am, Creator, Father, Yahweh, Consuming Fire, Judge {and more}. Repent and turn from your ways. We all want to wear our crosses and send God “shout-outs”, yet few are willing to pick up the cross and lay down our selfish desires and sinful lives. We have lost our reverence for the things of God.

Normally I would apologize for saying or writing something like this. I am careful not to offend anyone and not “shove the Bible down others’ throats”. Quite frankly,  I am ready to start loving people enough I have to tell them the truth. I am tired of this false “consideration” going around. I am tired of seeing people slowly dying on the inside, full of shame and made prisoners by the lies Satan has put in their heads and hearts. I am tired of seeing people feel purposeless and empty. I am not here defending God, Jesus or Christianity. Believe me, none of them need me {or any of us} to do that. But I am standing as a testimony of His love, grace, mercy, and power. We can argue theology and points, but no one can stand against who I was and what I have become because of  my life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ.

Be encouraged today… :)

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—” – Revelation 3:15-17

making your bed

Growing up, making my bed was not my favorite. I was disciplined many times for leaving to school without making my bed. So I got as “smart” as my eight year-old self thought it could be, and I would just pull the covers and place the decorative pillows to hide the mess. I got a away with it for a while. And then I realized mothers will always outsmart us. However, by the time she found out, it had become a habit. Wake up, pull covers over sheet mess, and top with decorative pillows; no one needs to know.  Fast-forward many years as I sit in a church service where the pastor was preaching on character…

“Carolina, shaping your character is like making your bed. Just because others can’t see under the cover and pillows, doesn’t mean the mess and wrinkles aren’t there.” – Holy Spirit

Umm {busted}… Yes, Lord….

Character is defined in the dictionary as moral or ethical quality; qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity. It’s who you are when no one is looking and what comes out when the going gets tough. I understood at that moment that my outward expression was the reflection of an inward state. I began to think of the many other areas of my life where I was using covers and pillows to hide the mess I didn’t want others to see. I realized how exhausting it really was to keep up. I, by no means, am declaring I have flawless character {because, believe me, none of us do}. However, I know that the Word of God is true and alive. I read in Ephesians 4 about letting the Spirit renew our thoughts and attitudes; and I can tell you it’s amazing to see how far He has brought me in just three years.
Be encouraged today, you are called to be salt and light to the world. And yet, it is He who equips and empowers us to do His will.
“…if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:21-24