Protect It All

Lately, in a tangled mess of reflections, I’ve been reminding myself of some wise words God instilled in my heart years ago.

You must protect your destiny. You must protect God’s plan for your life.

Iceland. Photo: @nattesferd #iceland #nature #landscape #scenery #explore #travel #adventure #photography #explore

That sounds all too relevant for most of our lives, right? But I realized this goes much further than just the plans He has for our lives, but how those plans are meant to restore, build, and lead others.

I mean just the other week, my fianc√© and I were really feeling defeated after crunching some numbers for our wedding. I’m sure most of you have gone through something similar when dealing with a wedding budget.

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We were not following our devos, not involving much of God in our lives those few days, and were starting our days with bickering and ending out nights with arguments. It was rough, folks.

Yet, I still kept hearing a still small voice in my heart telling me to keep protecting God’s plan. To hold on to this precious gift before I went into full destruction mode and lost something so valuable.

Every single time we were engaged in some sort of argument or bickering, it brought me to a bitter and vulnerable state. I wasn’t seeking Christ wholeheartedly and I was letting the devil have a foothold on my life. Guys, all it takes is a moment to let that kind of bad energy in. And hear me closely, all it takes is a still moment to let that all OUT!

We can’t and should not be oblivious to our surroundings. To what is coming out of our mouths, having negative thoughts, and our actions. The super natural world is all too real. All it takes is just one moment to get us out of our routine with Christ. So, yes, quite frankly lately I’ve been feeling pretty inadequate. And for a mostly introvert and anxious person, it can be painfully real and consuming.

We ended the week by going to our last pre-marital counseling session. Talk about perfect timing. Thank you, Jesus!

And we realized that our differences were what brought us together in the first place. That we really did bring out the good in each other when we worked together with Christ at the center of it all. Once the session ended, I smiled. I knew that we were and ARE destined for something GREAT. Something that will bring forward much change, not only in our lives but in others’ lives. I mean, how many times did I miss an opportunity to bring God’s love into someone’s life while I was turning away from Christ? How many times did I miss the holy spirit getting me out of my comfort zone to speak to that stranger or to pray into others’ lives? We must stick to His plan. It doesn’t just affect us, it affects a whole train of plans God has for YOU and OTHERS. That is how amazing and beautiful God is!

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J and I. Photo by Custock Photography.

Our life plans are so intricately and wonderfully made! Woven in with other sweet people. Rest your soul in that cup of goodness. ūüôā

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And the devil will never be able to get over the good in our lives, guys. He just can’t take it. So, whatever is being thrown at you or your relationships, or your life in general. Know this….the battles refine us. They set forth a fire that should be firing for Christ. But when they deplete us…when they bring us down to our knees in despair, know that God is more than willing to meet you halfway. But He needs you to….protect your destiny. He will always bring healing to your pain, fullness to your emptiness, and grace to your short-comings.

If we don’t remind ourselves that His plan is greater than the current battle, we open doors to this world’s scrutiny, pain, addiction, and sorrow. Don’t let those doors open. Instead, embrace the down days. If you feel that it’s too late, know this… You can still restore your destiny.

We must fight for our future.

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J and I. Photo by Custock Photography.

Photos/Gifs:

Wonderlog Photography-Tumblr: https://wanderlog.org/post/169535055261/iceland-photo-nattesferd-iceland-nature

Personal photos by Custock Photography.

Gif 1) templatemonster.com

Gift 2) giphy.com

 

xox L. Carolina

There are no filler episodes in life.

Wow. Seems as if I’ve hit the fast forward button to life since my last post. So much so that I can’t help but feel God’s grace and goodness towards me these past few months. What JOY.

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Since I’ve last logged on, my free time has consisted of planning a Spring wedding (YEAH!), trying to enjoy these still small moments with Kal bear and my love, and making a strong effort to remain sane through the mundane days at work. But friends, it gets better.

I received a moving word the other day. Do you ever talk with God on your commute to work, alone in the car? Or perhaps alone at home? I mean…audibly speak with Him. I do. And sure, it may sound crazy, but the plethora of my conversations with God, I know He already knows exactly what I’m thinking or going to say. I know that, but the peace and joy that I obtain from hearing the Holy Spirit respond to my concerns and the revelations I hear are priceless. They are seriously the turning points to my days.

So the other day I was chatting it up with God. It was something like a little bit of concerns here and a little bit of struggle there and a dash of insecurities. Pretty much sums up my lines that morning. But the amount of revelation I received through the struggles was REAL. You catch yourself speaking and it just hits you like a mountain wave. Be still and know that I AM working in YOU and through YOU. In my season, you will see the dawn of a new day. 

I know that I’m fast to judge the outcome of a pressing matter in my life. I’ve been that way all my life. Growing up, I saw issues between my parents as my own and I remember growing conflicted with confusion and doubt when things were constantly changing at home. But God always remained the same. He was my constant.¬†

And although things didn’t hash out the way I envisioned them in my mind, things certainly took a turn for the worst before they fell into place to where they are now. What I’m trying to touch on is that we will never have all the answers and there will be times that feel…maybe wasted? But press on. God is up to GOOD. There is no such thing as filler episodes in your life! These are the times where we look to Him and just smile because we know this breakthrough will be monumental in our lives.

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Don’t let this opportunity slip through. I keep hearing God ask, “Why not now? Why not?”¬†

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper times we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,”

There are crowds of people in your life that will name all the reasons why not now, but God has been preparing you for this all your life. You can’t let those people hold you down. And if God’s preparing you for something great, who can stand in His way?

Remember the power of prayer and the power of the words you speak over others and over yourself. It is powerful, it is intimate, and it is yours. Speak it and watch the changes take place before you.

I say this now because friends, my life is not the same. It will never be the same. And I’m thankful for that. All of these changes in my life—both spiritually and physically have been because of the man upstairs. Stop carrying doubt on your sleeve and hear Him out. Because…..you will never be the same.

He is good.

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All personal photos. xox

Love behind His lens.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared some updates on overflowing thoughts and reflections. I wish I could share more on these last few days but I felt a tug in my heart to share one reflection in particular in more depth.

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This last week, my boyfriend and I made a trip to Maui. It was our first time on the island and we were beyond ecstatic! Among eating our way through Maui, I was able to sit back, relax, and be reminded out the goodness God has in other parts of the world. The way of life is just so appealing to folks like myself. You get to hit the PAUSE button in life and just relax. Enjoy the beautiful atmosphere and the sweet locals who make it a point to smile your way. Now don’t get me wrong, not all locals favor tourists in Maui. Ha! But the vacation itself was remarkable.

We had reservations at Mama’s Fish House which by the way, if you’ve ventured for the best fish in Maui, Mama’s Fish House has just about the best and freshest fish I’ve ever had! Believe me! They even include the fisherman who caught the fish and the area of the sea in which it was caught on the menu. It’s amazing…before I start drooling, let me get to one of the most sweetest moments of my life.

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Uku fish dinner, Mama’s Fishouse, Maui, HI.

While we were waiting for our table out by the beach, my other half started setting up the tripod in front of a cool spot for a perfect photo by the water. We sat down on a slanted palm tree and started smiling for our photo to be taken. Just the perfect weather. Slight breeze and just humid enough for the dew on your skin to hold a healthy glow.

And just like that, he proposed to me. I can’t even begin to describe the feelings of joy, excitement, and fast heart-palpitations I began to feel as he starting sharing his love for me and took out the ring. I said YES!

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It was a beautiful moment I’ll forever cherish in my heart. The days to follow were just perfect. After all, who can complain about getting engaged on a gorgeous island? It’s just perfect!

On one of the last nights on the island, we decided to stay in and relax. I had an ugly thought come to mind.

But what if…you’re not ready?

Immediately, I was flooded with negative thoughts and insecurities. I’ll go over these raw feelings of insecurity, fear, and uncertainty lightly as there is no reason to camp-out on thoughts that hinder you from God’s plan. But yet again….the devil is always working at great lengths to finding ways of opening ANY door in your life to these emotions. I’ve always suffered from anxiety most of my life so this is a usual way he ends up opening these doors.

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Let me start off by saying that my boyfriend and I are not perfect. If anything, we’ve come a long way to learning how to love each other. Despite our opposite lifestyles when we first met each other, there was and is a definite attraction within our hearts. A longing to better ourselves for one another. It was instant. And over the next few years, we have had many highs and plenty of lows that have opened our eyes to tough realizations.

There’s a well known author, Bob Goff, who quoted, ” Don’t let being ‘right’ talk you out of being kind,” In the same way I feel, don’t let your beliefs hinder you from listening, loving, and praying.

It’s taken some rough patches for me to hit a sense of humility within myself. Throughout all my Christian upbringing and surrounding in my hometown, I was never given the chance to LOVE others with a different spiritual background than me. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t want to, I was just never in that situation truly since most of the demographic growing up was full of believers.  It’s effortless to carry out your beliefs in a setting like that, right?

Fast forward to my relationship right now. The amount of refining I have had to go through to learn how to truly love is amazing, yet tough.

I’m not saying compromise on who you are or your beliefs to be with someone. Know your worth every step of the way and love out loud. Be bold in spirit but gentle in your ways of explaining and learning. Listen before most and take a step back in your response before being critical of the other person. Cherish the sweet moments and the efforts they put in your relationship…appreciate and encourage! Remember, your words have power in them, your thoughts linger, listen to God’s words and put that into action. Clothe yourself with the spiritual armor of God daily and respond to your partner’s insecurities or concerns with much love and empathy. After all, we are called to show others’ God’s relentless love. To show others what God is really about.

It may not always be black and white when it comes to your beliefs and his beliefs but you know what? That’s okay and you will both be okay. What God has brought together for an empowering future, let no man or fiery dart of the devil separate.

So I end with this. At the end of the day, we can’t let the devil’s thoughts linger in our minds and deteriorate these life-long decisions. Take a step back and look at your partner through another lens. God’s lens. It can surprise you how much you can learn from seeing through His eyes.

We will never be perfect. Never. We’ll fail daily but we must not hold others’ to high scrutiny over these struggles.

I am head over heels in love with my best friend and I look forward to our future. I’m here to share that those special God moments in your relationship outweigh the tough refining ones. They outweigh the growing pains, the struggles, and the tough decisions.

The next time the devil tries to plant a negative thought in your head, seek God. Seek God and hold on to His promises and visions for your future. Speak life into those thoughts and visions and keep on lovin’ one another.

xox

All personal photos from my trip.

 

 

Beyond the roles.

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This is my escape. Being able to give my thoughts and reflections a voice puts me at ease. It brings me a sense of security understanding what God is stirring up in my heart and being able to share it with you guys is all the more heartwarming.

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with the daily mundane tasks¬†of being who I am. I know that sounds silly, I mean, I don’t have multiple fa√ßades everyday but I¬†have plenty of roles that require my time, effort, and care. I am a woman, a project manager at work,¬†a significant other at home, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mother to my fur babies,¬†a prayer warrior, a believer in Christ. I am me.

Do you ever feel your worth being depleted by the second after going through so many roles in one day? Is it not the most alleviating feeling to lay out and just turn off everything at the end of the day? I mean, we are called to much more than this, right?

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I am a woman.

In this day and age, more often than not, there’s much criticism as to how we are to endure and react to certain aspects of things. That’s a never ending quarrel that I won’t get into but I’m talking about what truly being a woman comes down to. We are such intuitive humans, we share such love for others, our maternal instincts kick in, and we fight with a relentless passion for what matters most in our hearts. Our gentle spirit but courageous demeanor is beautiful. ¬†We are amazing. And with that, comes much learning, discerning, and emotions galore! I mean, just me writing this has me smiling. We are created for so much by God.

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I am a project manager.

I think we all have intricate tasks at work that can get the best of us. We deal with a high work load and a work circle that also requires social maintaining as well. In my personal world, I handle projects that bring high scrutiny from architects, designers, and engineers that require me¬†to maintain a resilient attitude. I’m in a deadline driven work setting that’s just as demanding as many others.¬†It’s in the still moments of personal calls from some of my favorite accounts that bring me much joy. I know God finds a way of treating me to those calls when I’m at my last straw. I’m sure many can relate to this type of stressful job setting. But what we are beyond the work load is so much more.

I am a significant other at home.

Relationships. Isn’t is so that when you’re ¬†in a relationship, the world can seem to have more color. Scenery is more vivid and crisp. It’s wonderful to be able to share moments with someone that brings out the best in you but at the same time it requires key ingredients to maintain a solid foundation. I often times think of a relationship as a garden. Do we not have to maintain a garden to reap a beautiful view? The right soil, right amount of water, and weeding. In the same way, we need to tend to our relationships daily. As a woman of God, I want to be¬†my husband’s rock one day, his support, discerning spirit, and LOVE. I come home drained from the workload to someone who I constantly love on, care for, lift up, and speak life into. We are called to love and speak¬†blessings into our significant others.

These roles, they make up who we are in the natural world, yes, but¬†they don’t take away from our relationship with God. They shouldn’t. I’m speaking to myself as I type this. Can we just stop for a second and listen to God? I mean, we’re cranking away here but we’re not going to be able to make it through our journeys if we don’t replenish. God and I were talking the other the day when I was on my way home from work and I just sat in the car thinking about how life could just throw everything at us. The standard of living the “American Dream” could overwhelm and bend us to the point that we can lose sight of what truly holds us together. Jesus Christ.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

So on that day you’re losing it at home? Emotions take over and you’re laying on the kitchen floor in tears? You are worthy. You are beautiful in whatever mess life is striking you with. That passive aggressive email you just received at work? Take a step back and ask God for that extra breath to respond in a graceful way. Truth is, life is full of GOOD and plenty of BAD….We must not forget¬†WHO we’re living for and¬†WHERE we’re headed. The devil has intricate ways of getting to our emotions. When life if just too much, look up. Be still and know HE IS GOD.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

God calls us beyond the daily roles. He calls us to so much more. We are worthy when things go wrong and guess what? We will will fall short at times and that’s okay! We have mighty plans for our lives and until we let go, and let God, we will be falling short on some¬†abundant blessings He has for us.

“Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

We are called beyond the routine.

Take refuge in all that we are and all that we are yet to be through Him.

kal&I

 

 

Photos via tumblr, artists listed.

http://www.tumblr.com/grace-hollow-doll

http://www.tumblr.com/deesertislandcomics

http://www.thepowerwithin.com, author unknown.

Last photo: Kalvin & I.

 

Love. Xox

And we will be free.

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Do you ever have an inclination to join a circle just to understand the other end? To understand the reasoning behind something or someone? Could their reasoning and actions bring validation to your doubts?

On our many walks with our pup in the evenings, we pass by an AA meeting nearly every time. I’m not certain if remnants of my bitter¬†childhood arise in me but I can’t help but desire to sit in and listen. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at¬†their meeting, I wonder.

My father, a man with a full heart, a hearty personality, the type of man you just want to be around despite the amount of times they’ve crossed you.¬†Oh, but that¬†prideful addiction he sustained. Alcohol, plain and simple.¬†It lingered throughout my young childhood and by the time I was fully aware of the turmoil my mother was enduring, I folded. I questioned my faith, I questioned my intimate relationship at the time, I questioned every being that entered my life. How could someone so close to me hurt me in such a way that questioned my entire world?

I’ll never be able to obliterate¬†my pain from the past or even ease it.¬†The¬†still moments of looking into the eyes of a man that was¬†called by God¬†to protect me, nurture me,¬†love me; were the very eyes of a man that fell short within adversities and brought such agony to our home.

Yet, I love him with all of my heart.

I prayed relentlessly for his heart. I still do today. I guess I’ll never be able to comprehend the seasons we endure at a very young age or why we go through what we do but I’ll gather that they piece us together for the long haul in either a very negative or a very positive version.

I used to envision my father in my dreams as a construction zone. A weathered building with broken glass and obstructions to get to it. Caution tape surrounding it with thick blocks of wood before its entrance labeled with “under construction”. I had a yearning to clear the obstructions and wipe away all of the dirt. The addictions, resentment, infidelity, fears, and sorrows.

So, that AA meeting I’m ever so inclined to join or listen in on? Its my heart’s cry for closure to the never-ending questions of addiction. Its like trying to piece together a puzzle piece that has great meaning yet requires much patience. How would these recovering addicts advise me? How would their testimonies bring me hope and what would be resolved within me by attending?

I’ve become more and more aware of the works of the devil by his fiery darts at work. I used to be under the stigma that evil followed evil but that just isn’t true. Evil also follows what is true and GOOD. It will make its attempts with much power on those devoted to God and those distant from God. It’s relentless.

In the same way, God’s love is relentless. Despite my doubts, distances, and push back; he fights for me. I am worthy. And so is my earthly father.

I think we all might have some sort of similar figure in our life fighting these darts¬†from the devil and it’s time we stop casting judgement but share His love and grace.¬†We won’t have all the answers to past experiences but we do carry the very weapon that can rid us of all of these fears, insecurities, and pain. His love.

So, I might swing by that meeting next time. But, no I won’t seek answers…. I’ll listen. I’ll pray and I’ll accept.

For we are called to freedom through Him. To share what is good and leave behind the bitterness at the cross.

And that construction sight I envisioned at one point is no longer valid. God’s love is much bigger than this pain. That we may experience his whole truth and be free.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

Photo via tumblr; author unknown.

xox

 

July 4th, 2017

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These past 4 days have just flown by. I can’t help but think back on this year in its entirety. Before we know it, we’ll be nearing the holidays and preparing our favorite dishes for our family members and loved ones.

As I think of these special seasons, I’m filled with warmth and joy. Just this last weekend, I was filled with joy by watching our little pup swim all weekend. He was hesitant in the very beginning. He watched us as if he was seeking approval as well as seeking some quick form of encouragement. At last, I nudged him in and he was over the MOON! There goes Kalvin, lap after lap, chasing his tennis balls…..happy as a clam! All he was needing was that little nudge and the safety net of knowing his mom was right there by his side watching him.¬†I took so many pictures. I recorded him. I laughed, smiled, and pushed him forward. I was happy as a clam myself.

Later that evening, we had family come over and we lit fireworks, devoured some delicious food, and mingled within. But I could not help but keep thinking back at my pup’s first swim sessions and my reaction. My adoration.

These still small moments. They’re precious. They’re mighty. They’re love at its purest form.

Earlier, I mentioned all the thoughts of thinking back to earlier this year and I can’t help but notice that all of it is comprised of these smalls moments. If you aren’t careful, they slip away leaving you with with a tart taste in your mouth capturing only the painful recaps. Just as I shared passion and pride for my pup’s first water adventure, in the same way I knew that God was watching us with a grin every time we seek Him first and cast a positive ripple effect in the water with our actions.

I’ve had a few lows this year already but it’s these small moments that capture my heart’s true beat. The next time you’re out and about, sit back and take a deep breathe. God has a way of using people, events, and settings to bring adoration and appreciation to what is GOOD. To what is true and whole.

Those small, swift moments that bring smiles to your face are worth far more than all of the low points in your life. It’s in those small moments of love that God is grinning from ear to ear as a father does with his son. Simply overjoyed.

This 4th brought nostalgia and peace to my heart this year. Sweet, sweet appreciation for what is today and what was yesterday.

And with that, Happy Birthday, America..

xox

Me. Organically. 

Just me. My first post, make it memorable, right? 

Well, here’s a snippet of what goes through my mind daily. My thoughts, emotions, heart strings, and plain gibberish.

I was created to give. To give unconditionally. Nurture. Love. Adore. It’s as if this was instilled in my DNA long before I existed. I wanted the well being of others. If anything, I wanted to be able to aide whoever in whatever season they were in life. When I was a young child growing up, my mom would take us grocery shopping with her every Sunday. “You’re allowed one item for one dollar on any treat,” she’d remind us at the store. I’m the middle child of three but it was always such a joy for me to grab a treat and go over to my aunt’s house on a Sunday and just share all I had with the others that day. It didn’t matter to me if I wasn’t going to end up with any treats for myself. I just wanted someone else to try a piece and indulge.¬†This is¬†me. A servant’s heart deep to my core.

Today, it’s a little more complex. My deep desires for others aren’t as smooth sailing as unwrapping a candy and handing it out. Human beings don’t want help. They don’t understand it. An odd desire to have at my age… The young age¬†of 23 in a city where entitlement, wealth, addiction, and power were all too great to surpass. There are days I feel distant from myself. Alone.¬†Different. And quite frankly, wretched.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

In the past few months, I’ve unfolded many hidden treasures God had wrapped into my heart at a young age. Just give. Just love unconditionally. Discern. And pack your bags when you are through.

“I have mighty plans for you.”

I’m beginning to understand the realness and connection you can have with someone when you look at them through a different lens. A lens that has no conviction or pain. Just love.

We may find ourselves living in a world full of hatred and ill intentions at times but¬†we have a God who is all powerful. All-knowing and loving. If that’s you today, I challenge you to dare to be bold and loving. The zeal you carry inside, whether it be LOVE, JOY, COMPASSION, and HAPPINESS; let it radiate off of you.

And who I am at my core is me. After I put aside the shame, judgement, pain, thoughts, and memories. This is it. Just me. Organically.