The Secret of Being Content

Day Five of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture content scripture

We know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made according to Gods plan but that isn’t enough for us. We continue to think the grass is greener on the other side. Who we are and what we have are no longer sufficient when we compare it to our neighbor.

Philippians 4:12 tells us, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” 

Below is a list of the most common areas I allow comparison to suck the joy right out of me:

My Husband: When I was newly married I would take note of how other husbands treated their wives. I secretly wished my husband would do this or that. In the middle of one of our many arguments as newlyweds I yelled, “Why can’t you be more like so and so (one of his friends)! He is always so loving towards his wife!” He was silent for a moment and then he proceeded to list the multitude of sins committed by his friend when he is not around his wife.

Remedy: I realize I start to compare my husband when I think he is falling short in some way. When I recognize that trigger I immediately remind myself he is made in Christ image just for me. He once told me he is the best man he knows how to be right now but is trying to be a better man each and every day. I hold onto these words.

Material Things: Being a stay at home mom is a priority for both Mr. C and myself. However that also means we live on his income alone. Even though we are more than provided for there are times when I get a bad case of the wants. Instead of celebrating the fact my friends were able to get new furniture, a new car or went on a cool vacation, I develop envy. All of a sudden being proud we saved enough to get my daughter braces isn’t worth celebrating. I want stuff!

Remedy: I have realized my triggers come from watching too much television or flipping through one to many magazines. We live in a world that has brainwashed us to believe we deserve just about everything. In reality we don’t deserve anything, yet Christ still died for us. Shouldn’t that be enough? To combat my wants I make a list of everything I am thankful for until the envy goes away.

Faith: This is embarrassing to write but I find myself comparing my faith to others. I find myself thinking, “Oh how I wish I had her prayer life” or “I will never have her knowledge of the Bible” or “She is always so calm and glows with the Holy Spirit.” It’s true. I want to be a good little Bible study girl but feel like a hypocrite anytime I flip off my husband or yell at my kids! Then I compare myself to the godly woman I know and wonder why I can’t be more like them.

Remedy: I stand firm in the truth that no one is without sin. We are all given different gifts according to the grace given to each of us (Romans 12:6). I celebrate my imperfect progress. Of course, I remind myself that eleven years ago I didn’t even own a Bible!

Whatever your areas of comparison are it is important to recognize what they are, what triggers them and how to remedy it. I recommend you start by praying for wisdom, discernment and for continued joy.

It is amazing how quickly my joy returns.

Satan loves when we do his work for him. I refuse to let him win. What area of comparison is sabotaging your joy?


The Plank in Your Own Eye

Day Four of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture

plank scripture

It is common knowledge that we are commanded not to judge others. I like to believe in the grand scheme of things, for the most part, I do a good job of living this out. In fact on most days I would say I go above and beyond to extend grace to the world at large.

However, on occasion, I have those days. The kind of days when I find myself wondering what the heck is just wrong with some people and/or making assumptions based on outside perceptions. Maybe you have had them too?

If I am being honest here, sometimes those days turn into weeks and even months. All of a sudden I appoint myself keeper of the moral compass others are to use to live out their lives.

The crazy thing is I often find myself being applauded for my beliefs as I pass judgment on others. It is easy to stand on a soapbox and rant about topics that already carry a bandwagon of others who think the same way. This is why we are called to live in this world but nor of it.

I am purposely trying to avoid naming the exact actions I tend to judge for the sake of living out scripture and all. Just think about the topics you have strong opinions about. Parenting, marriage, finances, politics or religion to name a few.

It is possible to have strong opinions and not pass judgment. However, it is extremely easy to cross the line when our hearts are not equipped to discern the beginning stages of Satan’s stronghold in this area. Which brings me to the whole point of this post. When I find myself passing judgment on someone else it is most likely because I am struggling with sin in my own life.

I love the way the message translates Matthew 7:1-5

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

Ouch! I don’t know about you but I tend to recognize the sin I am struggling with in others before I realize it for myself. I am blinded by the proverbial plank in my eye. Now that I know this to be true I am on alert for ways in which I can live out this verse.

My defense is simple. Anytime I find myself starting to travel the road of self-righteousness I start yelling, “Plank in my eye! Plank in my eye!” Look I am not an expert on how not to judge but I do know this silly little trick of mine works for me.

You must be willing to confess you’re blinded by a plank before you can stop yourself from passing judgment .

Anytime I find myself starting to say, “I would never…What was she/he thinking…How could they…I would too if…” chances are I’m about to pass judgment and it causes me to pause. I then start to search myself for whatever sin I might be harboring.

We could all use the following steps to live out Matthew 7:1-3:

1.) Acknowledge and confess we are susceptible to passing judgment.
2.) Set up safeguards to discern when we are passing judgment.
3.) Seek out the sin in our own lives.
4.) Confess and seek forgiveness for both passing judgment and our sin.

I’m not saying that once you admit your struggle you should be able to live a life without judgment. This is simply not true. We are not perfect people. None the less we are called in our walk to become more like Christ. This is an imperfect, progressive journey.

How do you live out Matthew 7:1-3?

I Will Meditate on your Wonderful Works

Day Three of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture

majesty scripture

Lately I feel like I have been going through the motions. I read my Bible, go to church, and tend to my duties as a mom and wife. Instead of seeing God, I see the multiple piles of laundry on the floor, a grocery list, a dirty restroom, emails to be returned, bills to be paid, bickering children and a stressed husband.

Psalms 145:5 says, “They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty
And I will meditate on your wonderful works.”

In his song “I Saw God Today”, George Strait sings, “I’ve been to church, I’ve read the book, I know He is there but I don’t look, near as often as I should. His fingerprints are everywhere, I just look down and stop and stare, open my eyes and then I swear, I Saw God today.”

Do you want to see God today? It’s simple. Do what the song says and open your eyes!

When is the last time you paused and admired His creation? Take time to praise Him for the morning sun, the night sky, the birds in the air and the mountains in the backdrop.

Has praying over your meal become routine? Seek to go grow closer to God and gain renewed heart of thanks for our food by fasting.

Do you ever look for God in your mirror? You should. God created us in His own image. I challenge you to look in the mirror every day and see God.

With my eyes wide open, I can see all the provisions given to me by God. My children are clothed and fed, I have able legs, indoor plumbing, friendships, an income, God’s precious gift to me and a man who loves me so much he bares the sole burden of providing for our family.

Shine Like a Star in the Sky

Day Two of the #Write31Days Challenge: 31 Days of Living Out Scripture

Shine Scripture

Parenting is hard. Mr. C. and I are lifelong members of the trial and error parenting club. There is plenty we get wrong. That is why we are insanely intentional about the words in which we speak to our children on a daily basis.

Now look, there are a plethora of things that come out of my mouth I immediately regret. Teenagers, anyone? However, I am talking about words or phrases that our children hear us say to them every day.

For example, every single time any of our children leave I will say to them, “Shine like a star.” Why? Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “Children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”

We very purposely pick phrases of scripture as a reminder of how we expect them to live.

. “We sang and discussed This Little Light of Mine a bazillion times when they were little. Their bedtime prayers to this day include phrases like, “Lord help them get a restful night of sleep so they can wake refreshed and ready to let your light shine through them.”

From a young age they knew when we said, “Shine like a star”  we were talking about letting their inner light shine by being examples of Jesus. When they discovered the verse was actual scripture they were blown away. “Mom did you know the Bible says to shine like a star?” It led to a great conversation about what the Bible says it looks like to actually live that out.

Naturally, the kids flipped the script and asked, “Mom does that mean you get to shine like a star too!? I love how they see this verse as a gift. Something we get to do.

I find that I am much better at being intentional about how we raise our kids and not so much when it comes to my own life.

So what does shinning like a star in the sky look like for an adult? Exactly the same!

We are told in Verse 14 to do everything without grumbling or arguing, contrary to how the dark world lives. In doing so we will be blameless and pure causing us to shine bright.

I love this visual of shining like a star in the sky. We are city people. Seeing stars shine bright doesn’t exist where we live. We have to literally drive miles away, out to the middle of no where, to fully understand how amazing and bright stars shine against the dark of the night. It is the perfect analogy for having to go in a different direction of the world in order to shine.

Are you shining like a star in the sky?

What keeps you from grumbling and arguing?

How can you remind yourself to live this verse out daily?

31 Days of Living Out Scripture

31 days of scripture

It’s official. I am participating in the #Write31Days Challenge. It’s an online writing challenge started by The Nester, and now hosted by Crystal Stine. For 31 days, starting today, bloggers will write about a topic of their choosing for the entire month of October.

Last year I felt convicted to write about living out scripture. It is a topic I have been journaling about for years for application in my own life. I joined the challenge at the sole prompting of the Holy Spirit and failed to complete it.

I truly believe it was an introduction to what God would have in store for me. Since last year’s challenge I have found myself in situations where I am given the opportunity to lead other women to live out scripture in their own lives.

Every time I speak on the topic my heartbeat quicken, words race out of my mouth a million times a minute, and my hands wave around as if they are landing an airplane. That small fire lit by the Holy Spirit last year has turned into a full-fledged wild-fire I now call a passion.

James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself. Do what it says.”

What often happens is we sit in church, a Bible study, a conference, or even in our personal time and shake our head yes and shout, “Amen!” in agreement but as soon as we walk out the door or close our Bible nothing changes. We are filled with nothing more than head knowledge.

Friends we are called to action. However, that action looks different for each of us because we have all been uniquely made and are in different stages in life.

It is my hope that over the next 31 days you discover practical ways to apply scripture to your life today, like right now.

I preach progress not perfection. That’s my goal, pure and simple. 31 Days of Living Out Scripture Round Two, are you ready? Let’s Go.

Day 1:  But be doers of the Word, not hearers only.” James 1:22 Commit to 31 Days of Living Out Scripture. Simple, right?

Day 2: Shine like a star in the sky” Phillipians 2:15 Do everything without grumbling and arguing.

Day 3: “I will meditate on your wonderful works.” Psalms 145:5 Pause and admire God’s creation.

Day 4: “The plank in your own eye.” Matthew 7:4 Acknowledge and confess, Set up safeguards, and Confess and seek forgiveness for both passing judgment and our sin.

Day 5: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Philippians 4:12.  Whenever you feel joy start to seep out give praise and thanks to the Lord for all of your blessings.

Do what you can…

do what you can

My mind has been racing a million miles a minute over the last couple of weeks. I have ideas, plans, goals, dreams, wants, needs, and a tad bit of time. The problem is I get so overwhelmed my wheels keep on spinning but I’m going nowhere fast.

I keep telling myself when I have all my ducks in a row I’ll move forward. I am a pro at his type of procrastinating excuse. I’ll open my home to others as soon as I get new furniture and maybe hang up some décor on the walls. . I’ll reach out to that friend in need just as soon as things calm down at home. I’ll finish writing my book as soon as I replace my ancient computer. I’ll write that blog series as soon as I give my blog an update or switch domains. I’ll chase my dream with reckless abandoned as soon as I build a platform. I suffer greatly from “as soon as” disease. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

In Jen Hatmaker’s book For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards she writes in part,

“Sometime you throw out logic and run your own race…Stop minimizing what you are good at and throw yourself into it with no apologies…The timing is never right. Forget that.”

Look, there is still plenty I want to do that requires resources I simply am not in a position to acquire at the moment. However, there is so much more I could be doing with what I have to get myself one step closer. It is impossible to get to the finish line without taking the necessary steps to build a foundation.

So here I sit with my ducks scattered all over the place ready to run my race.

The first item on the list is participating in the Write 31 Days challenge. It starts on Thursday, October 1st. I am excited because I get to write about something I am passionate about, living out scripture, while keeping you updated on our family’s journey.

I am excited and scared. Those are the best kinds of feelings of hope, in my opinion. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt I encourage you to join me to


About Our Neighbors

We live next door to a halfway house for men.

We didn’t know that before we moved in. Perhaps it’s a good thing because given my reaction when I found out we probably wouldn’t have moved.

Within the first few days of living here I noticed the randomness of people coming and going next door. I saw vans drive up, men hop in, and drive away. Maybe some people would have suspected a drug house but I didn’t because unfortunately I am way to familiar with halfway houses.

My thirty-four year old brother, Benny, has been in an out of them since he was twelve. He has graduated to a life of being in an out of jail. He is lost in the world of addiction. My heart hurts and his story is his. My point is I am now living next door to a house of men just like my brother.

My first reaction was fear. I may or may not have seen one to many episodes of Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Blue Blood and Dateline. That didn’t change the fact that I have a thirteen year old naive daughter…and ugh, it pains me to say my greater fear may have been for my eight year old daughter. I’m not proud of my thoughts. There were tears and regrets.

My husband was outside the other day and over heard a conversation between a couple of the men.

One man was inquiring about one of their roommates who had been asked to leave. They found paraphernalia in his room. One of the conditions of being allowed in the house is to be sober for thirty days prior to entering the home and remain so.

The other acknowledged how hard being sober was. He began drinking when he was thirteen years old. His mother, an alcoholic, kept gallons of vodka on hand. It was only a matter of time before he took his first drink.

They both felt true sorrow for their brief roommate.

We have been here for two months and there have been no incidences whatsoever. My fear has subsided but our guard is not down.

Addiction runs deep in our family. My mother is a junkie and my father was an alcoholic. It hits home. I stopped asking why and begin asking what. What can we do to serve them?

It is hard with turn over but there is someone who is in charge on-sight at all hours. I don’t know who they are or if they live in the home. I’m not sure how to approach the situation or figure that out. I know Mr. C will take the lead because well, safety and all that jazz.

I do know the greatest thing we can do is be a neighbor. We can show compassion and treat these men with dignity. We can encourage and support them as they attempt to turn their life around. I know I that’s what I want for my own brother.


Buda or Bust

buda 1

Today I am heading out to Austin, technically Buda, to attend the For The Love Launch Team Party at Jen Hatmaker’s farm-house. This is happening for me thanks to generosity of anonymous donors who covered my air fare and a place for me to stay. Pinch me, right?

This weekend we celebrate everything the For The Love book was intended to do. We built a tribe of women who are each doing their part, in their own way, to make this world a better place.

I started to get nervous and felt unworthy of this trip. I started to put too much focus on worldly things and not the purpose of this celebration. I wrote this in our face book group:

buda 2

It has been a relief to know I am coming to celebrate with friends who love and accept me just the way I am. I hope to be able to extend that same feeling in return.

I will be posting pictures of my journey on instagram jenniemarie_76. You can also follow the hash tag #BudaOrBust and #ftlLaunchParty



It’s September!

Downtown Mesa

It was my intention to chronicle our life in our new part of town as a way to bring you along on this little adventure of ours but life happened, as it does. We have been in our new home for two entire months. Where did the time go?

In the spirit of extending myself grace (it’s a new thing I’m trying out) I’m going to forgo all of the apologies, excuses and promises.

The truth is I have no idea why we are here or what we are supposed to be doing. The good news is I still have perfect peace knowing we are exactly where God intends for us to be.

Having peace doesn’t mean I haven’t freaked out a billion times. In fact there have been several incidences where I have cried a puddle of tears wondering if I am screwing up our family. However hope has followed every moment of questioning.

My son Kaiden came home on the very first day of school and I knew something was wrong. I sat him down and looked him straight in the eye. I made sure he knew he was entitled to feel whatever he was feeling. After I used a billion words to make sure he knew he was loved and it was safe to talk me he broke down crying.

The school day was hard for him. All the boys played soccer, as opposed to football or kickball at his old school. They all spoke Spanish during recess. He doesn’t know any Spanish. He couldn’t even pronounce most of their names. What tore his heart apart the most was their language. Apparently cussing is as ordinary as saying the word the.

We have raised him to be wise about his friends. He thought he couldn’t be friends with them because of this. I told him it was okay to seek their friendship but it was important for him to stay true to himself. We had a conversation about his character. I told him it wasn’t his job to correct them but instead to set the example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.

That night I sobbed in Mr. C’s arms.

What in the world was I doing to my poor sweet boy? He never lacked for friends a day in his life. My mommy guilt was in overdrive.

I went to curriculum night this week and I was one of two parents who showed up for the third grade. There was a better turnout for sixth grade. I would guess about ten parents. Both meetings had to be translated in English for me.

To say we are in the midst of a bit of cultural shock is a slight understatement.

Our prayers life has bordered straight-up begging.

Today we are twenty-ish days into school. Kaiden, has a group of boys who greet him every morning when I drop him off. They play football together at recess and speak English whenever he is around. He is thriving socially and academically!

I volunteer in my daughter’s third grade class room three times a week for thirty minutes each time. The kids and I are in the observation stage of getting to know each other. Every time I am there I make sure to affirm them in some personal way. I love to see their smile in return.

I have spent just as many nights on my knees sobbing in prayer as I have spent on my knees sobbing in praise! How great is our God?

What will tomorrow bring? I have no idea but you are welcome to come along for the ride.

For The Love of Jen Hatmaker & Giveaway

For The Love Giveaway

Back in March I was selected to be part of Jen Hatmaker’s launch team for her new book For The Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards. I had never been on a launch team before and had no idea what to expect. I didn’t really care because, hello, Jen Hatmaker.

As one of the fortunate 500 members of the launch team I received an advanced copy of the book (including a PDF), the opportunity to write an endorsement for consideration of being published in the book and I have been privy to a closed Facebook group. From the moment I joined the group I knew I was part of something so much bigger than promoting a book.

When all of the giddy, Jen Hatmaker Kool-Aid drinking, we are not worthy type post died down and we started to read the book a tribe was formed. Real talk began to happen. We even agreed to disagree on certain issues without your typical drama created by strong opinions, insecurities, and what not. We shared our authentic selves, prayer request, personal struggles and achievements. We discussed everything from online dating, Gilmore Girls, Friday Night Lights, Tragic losses, and Jesus. We cried, laughed and solved the world problems one Facebook post at a time.

I am honored and humbled to have my name listed alongside theirs in the back of the actual book. I am even more thrilled to get to meet so  many of my new friends in real life at the official For The Love Launch Team Party next month in Austin at The Hatmaker’s Home.  WHAT!?

In the introduction Jen writes, “I’m hoping to help lead a tribe that does more healing and less hurting.” Mission Accomplished!

If you are wondering if this book is for you, here is what Jen has to say:

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards is officially available today. I have read this book several times. There are a plethora of highlight worthy passages.  I can not recommend this book enough. Here’s why:

For The Love Review

Get yourself a copy and come back and join in on the conversation every week as I blog my way through the book. Details coming soon…

In celebration of the book being released I am giving away TWO copies of the book. Enter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway