Wait

Wait.

Something I am not good at.  But today, God has made it clear that I am to wait.

The last couple of months have been life-changing for me.  If you read my previous post written in March, you read I was in a frustrating season.  I was praying and asking God to fix something and trusting that He was going to do it.  But let me let you in on something.  God did not fix it.  God did not do what I asked Him to do and what I completely trusted that He was going to do.  And as the months went on, it became more and more apparent that my greatest fear was going to become my reality.  I tried my hardest to fix it myself and probably made things a lot worse than they were.  I may have and probably did behave in ways that were not honorable to God.  No, I did not do anything crazy, but I definitely did not honor God with my words, actions, attitudes and thoughts.

Towards the end of the summer, I was tired.  I was exhausted and had nothing left.  This inner battle that has tormented me for over a year had taken away my peace, my joy, my life.  It caused disagreements in my marriage and led me to begin pulling away from everything.  That is my defense mechanism…to tuck and run.  And normally I try not to run, but this time I felt like God clearly said “I want you to run.  But I want you to run towards me.”

So I did.  I took some time to block out the noise and I consumed my mind, heart and soul with Jesus.  For weeks I felt He was calling me to be deliberate about spending time with Him so I set out time after dropping off the kids to do my quiet time.  I began to notice that this time would get interrupted with the daily tasks in my life so I began to feel God pressing me to wake up before everyone and spend time with Him.  5am was the time that He set in my heart.  It took about two weeks to fully adjust.  I would stay in bed too long and then some days I would not get out of bed until 5:30am.  But I kept at it and decided to make this time a priority.  Before too long, I began to crave this time and ever since then, it has become my favorite time of the day.

In August I began to sense God placing different areas of my life in front of me to be evaluated if you want to call it that.  First, it was my prayer life.  Then I began to feel like He was wanting me to look at my relationship with my kids and the way that I spoke to them.  We began positive affirmations and prayer at night.  Oh the stories I could tell you about how this has changed our lives!  After this, I felt God telling me there were areas in my marriage that I needed to look at closer. So He placed a book in my life that challenged me to see the way that I love and respect Joseph.

Every couple of weeks, He placed something new in my heart and revealed an area in my life that I needed to test and examine. Last month, I began listening to a podcast by Jennie Allen called Made For This and the entire season was on building deep relationships.  It was powerful!  It made me see so much through God’s eyes and made me desire deep, real and raw relationships.

During this time, I began to read a book also by Jennie Allen called Anything.  I’ve had this book for almost eight years.  When I first bought the book, I could not bring myself to read it.  I read the first couple of chapters and I became afraid.  I really thought God was going to tell me to go be a missionary somewhere.  I wasn’t willing to give up my life.  You see, this book is about choosing to pray the anything prayer.  Which means, God whatever you want for my life, that is what I want.  I will give up and do anything if it will make you known to the world and glorify your name.  So eight years ago, I tucked this book in my bookshelf and left it there.  During the course of listening to the podcast, this book kept popping up in conversation until I finally felt God telling me I needed to get it out and read it.  And I am so glad that I did.  Because my heart was ready.  My soul was ready.  I was ready to pray the anything prayer.  Reading this book was part of the process and journey that the Lord has me on.

So why am I sharing all of this with you.  Honestly, when I first set out to start typing I had no idea what I was going to share.  Lately I have felt that my words have left me.  I have struggled to pray and write.  My prayer is that God release my words, so here I am typing.  And I am praying that what I am about to share will be God-inspired and will encourage and bless someone today.

After reading the book, Anything and firmly believing that I was ready to do anything for Jesus, I asked God to show me my next step.  I was excited and I could feel it.  He was going to do something soon!  For the last couple of weeks I have begged God to give me a sign and to show me how I am going to fulfill this purpose that He’s placed in my heart.  I am not going to lie, I have began to get a little discouraged.  I started to battle some feelings of insecurity and wondering if any of this is real.  Even Though I wanted to doubt God, He used my time in His word to remind me to keep pressing on.  To keep believing and trusting Him.  So I did.  I refused to let the negative thoughts take hold of my mind and continued to press on.

This morning I read about the story of Joseph.  God gave Joseph a dream.  He shared that dream with his older brothers and they didn’t like it too much.  I mean if your younger brother came to you saying that you were going to bow down to him how would that make you feel?  So they sold him and told their father that he was dead.  I’ve heard this story referenced twice during the last two months and this time, I got it.  You see, Joseph had this huge dream but instead of trusting God’s timing, He decided to go spill the beans to his brothers.  I wonder now what would have happened if he would’ve waited on God to make the dream come true instead of prematurely sharing it.

It took twenty years of waiting on this vision.  And those years were not peachy.  You can find the story in Genesis 37-50.  During those years, Joseph had to choose to trust God.  He had to….wait.

So as I sat there this morning I realized that God’s message for me today was that I am to wait.  And as if I didn’t hear Him clearly the first time, I was listening to a new song a friend recommended and when that song was over, guess what the name of the next song was…. Wait for you.  And!  Do you want to know what the name of the next song was?  Wait Upon the Lord!!  I literally said, I get it now.  I gotcha God.  I will wait.

I will wait and trust that this dream that I have will come to fruition.  I will wait and trust that even when I don’t see Him or feel Him He is certainly working.  I will wait and trust that everything that I have gone through has been for a purpose and that there will be good that comes from it.

My frustrating season didn’t end the way I wanted it to end.  But I can tell you today that it ended the way it was supposed to.  It began a refining process in me and ultimately brought me to a place in my life where I could pray… anything.  I could confidently tell the Lord that I was willing to do anything for Him.  This refining season was a little overwhelming.  Well who am I kidding, it was very overwhelming.  Every couple weeks, feeling like something else came up began to make me feel a little bit like I was trying to overachieve at the “christian life.”  So I asked God to check my spirit and asked God to show me if I was doing this for the wrong reasons.  In a podcast that day, they were talking about this very thing.  We wonder when we will feel like there’s nothing in our lives that needs work, but the truth is we won’t experience that on this side of heaven.  This is called sanctification.  Becoming more like Jesus.  And then I knew right then that I was on the right track.

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing today.  I am not sure what your past, present or future hold, but I can tell you that if you run to Jesus with your whole heart He will embrace you in His arms.  The process will not be easy.  It will hurt some days and other days it will break you down to tears.  But if you are willing to go there.  If you are willing to tell Jesus that you are willing to do anything….He will bless your socks off.  And I am not talking about material blessings either.  I am talking about a life so in love with Him that your heart just aches to spend every minute with Him.  Whatever your burden, let it go and let God take it from you.  You may not see it today, but good will come from your hurt.  Joseph’s dream was fulfilled.  God did it.  But he had to wait.  And in that wait, God changed Him and molded Him into who He wanted Joseph to be.  And He is doing the same with you and with me.  He is preparing us.

We go through struggles and have a hard time trusting that God has a plan and that all things will work out for the good of those who love Him.  But I believe that with the innermost parts of my soul.  When I lost my dad, it hurt to say that something good would come from it.  But oh how much good has come.  It has shown me the importance of leaving a legacy for my children.  It has taught me the importance of praying.  And it has ignited a fire in my soul to fulfill the purpose that my dad saw in me.  This purpose that God has placed in my heart.  But I didn’t see that good until I surrendered and trusted Him fully.

You may be in a waiting season, too.  I know the waiting can get exhausting and lead us to possibly questioning if this is all worth it.  But I want to encourage you to press on.  Keep trusting God during this season.  There is something He wants to show you.  He wants to teach you something.  In my season of waiting, He has opened my eyes to areas in my life that I had not surrendered to Him. He has began to free me of many things that were holding me captive and keeping me from living free.  Even in the waiting, we are fulfilling our purpose and that is to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind.

So let go today.  Surrender to Him and choose to trust and wait.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 40:31

Dear Lord, thank you for your word today.  Even though at first, it wasn’t a word that I really liked.  You have shown me that even in my waiting you are working.  I pray for anyone today that is struggling with their current season of life.  Life is hard and everyone is going through their own battles.  I pray that you will draw them close to you and comfort them with your overwhelming peace.  May they feel your love today Lord.  May you use this season to refine them and make them more like you. Thank you for loving us so much that you are willing to let us find our way back to you.  And when we do, you accept us with open arms.  May we run to you, Lord.  May we surrender and depend on you to renew our strength. Thank you Jesus! And it’s in your name I pray, Amen

He Goes Before Us

I think it’s safe to say that we have all found ourselves in a frustrating state of mind at one point or another.  Maybe you are in a season of waiting, a season of heartbreak, a season of dealing with a three-year old toddler or a rebellious teenager.  In every season, there are ups and there are downs.

During this particular season of my life, I found myself frustrated and running out of patience with my situation.  I began praying for something months before and tried my best to keep a positive outlook, but everything seemed to be against me.  There was no light at the end of the tunnel, there was no glimmer of hope and this situation seemed to get worse and worse by the day.

I was tired, frustrated and ready to give up, but I wasn’t going to do that without a fight.  Let’s just say my Latina, as my husband calls it, was about to come out.  I was about to take matters into my own hands and handle the situation my way.  The enemy was trying hard to convince me that my situation wasn’t at the top of God’s list and I was entitled to take matters into my own hands.  I needed a quick fix and God wasn’t giving me the quick fix I needed.

I was bombarded by my thoughts, insecurities, feelings and frustrations.  As I sat there about to lose it, I looked over at my devotional book and picked it up.  I turned to the reading for the day and read the following:

“Dear Lord, Don’t let me give into my fears.  Instead, stand in front of me and let me see the peace I crave.  Amen.”

I put my book down and went on with my day.  Later in the afternoon, something happened that allowed me to experience a glimmer of hope and see a little light at the end of the tunnel.  God didn’t answer my prayer that day, but He did give me hope through the means of a conversation.  This conversation allowed me to see that I was about to make a huge mistake.  And God knew this.  He knew that I was about to possibly make my situation much worse than it was and He stood in front of me and reminded me that I needed to trust in Him.

When we grow weary we begin to take our focus off God.  As for me, I realized that I was letting fear rule my heart and my life.  I feared what could be.  Feared that the end result would not be what I wanted.  I was fixated on my situation and I imagined all of the worst case scenarios.

God made me see that day that He is still at work around me.  He is working all things for good no matter how hopeless a situation may feel.  I took this as His response to continue to wait and so that day, I backed off.  I thanked God for standing in front of me and letting me see the peace I needed.

Dear friend, I don’t know what your situation is.  I don’t know what season you find yourself in.  But I get it.  I may not be going through what you are going through, but I’ve experienced my share of pain, regret, loss, financial hardship, rejection and so much more.  I know how it feels to beg and plead God to answer, only to feel like He isn’t listening.

I think of the story of Hannah.  As she poured out her heart to God, Eli watched her and thought she was drunk.  In 1 Samuel 1:15-16 she replies,

I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord.  Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” 

I’m not sure the exact number of years that Hannah prayed for a son, but God did grant her request.  He answered at the right time.  And He will do the same for you and for me.  I know we are human and if you are like me, I can be very impatient.  But instead of taking matters into our own hands we need to stop and ask ourselves, “what is my focus on?”  Turn on the worship music, read the Bible, pray and give Him thanks!  Surround yourself with Jesus and ask Him to bring you the peace you crave.  Don’t look at your situation as the end.  Look at it as the means that God is using to make you an incredible woman.

As my devotional said, “choosing to trust God changes my perspective and gives me the strength to persevere.”  Choose to trust Him, friend.  Even when the odds are stacked against you, even in the pit you find yourself in, even in the regret, heartbreak and loss, choose Him.  He is there for you.  He will turn your mourning into dancing and lift you up again.

Dear Lord.  Thank you for standing in front of us and keeping us from making some of the greatest mistakes.  But also, thank you for loving us when we end up making the wrong decision and find ourselves living out the consequences.  You are so good to us.  You are faithful in your promises and gracious to forgive us time and time again.  I pray for my sisters who find themselves in situations that may seem hopeless.  I pray that you will stand in front of them and go before them.  I pray that they will turn their eyes back to you and ignore all of the whispers from the enemy.  Help their unbelief and allow them to see you in every situation.  In Jesus name, Amen.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

 

Finding the Peace Within

I began this post a year or so ago…..It’s been sitting in my drafts folder and today, I finally finished it….

I can’t get something off my mind from the message at church yesterday.  The pastor talked about solving conflicts.  He began with talking about the conflict within ourselves and how we have a lot of pressure within us.  The pressure within us is what causes conflict in our marriages, families and relationships.

This morning on my run I started to think about the peace within and how I could make sure that I had that peace.  How can I make sure that my soul is at peace?

I am reading a book called Love Lives Here.  Excellent book-you should read it!  Yesterday I read a chapter about comparison.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but the author quoted Theodore Roosevelt when he said “comparison is the thief of joy.”  Isn’t that the truth?  She says, ”  It (comparison) will rip us off and steal our lunch money every time.  Rather than running away, it just stares us down as it blocks our path forward…  It doesn’t just dominate the room, it burns it down-with you in it.  It whispers to us that we’re not good enough or smart enough or talented enough or brave enough.  It hisses and bubbles in the hallway and says there’s no way around it.  But the fact is, comparison is a liar.  The way forward isn’t over it or through it; it’s simply to ignore it completely.” (Maria Goff, Love Lives Here, P.46-47)

This morning as I ran, all I kept thinking about was “the peace within.”  How can I be at peace?  How can I live a life of joy?  A life of purpose and a life that I am proud of?  You see, I’ve always struggled with comparison.   Especially in my early years of mommyhood.  I was a depressed, anxious, overwhelmed stay at home mom .  We lived paycheck to paycheck and some weeks only by the grace of God did we make it.  Oh how I would wish things were different.  I always found myself comparing my life to other moms who appeared to have it all together.  I say appeared because now I know, no one has it all together.

After my run that day, I came home and decided I would look up verses in the bible that talked about peace and one in particular stood out…

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.” Col 3:15

You know….what Maria Goff said about comparison is true, but it could also be said of all the things that steal our peace.  Those triggers in our life that dominate our lives.  They bring us down and whisper to us that we are not worthy.  They tell us that our past mistakes are the only things people see.

The enemy lies.  He uses all of that to take our peace away.  And then it trickles down into the rest of our lives.  It ruins our marriages, our families and our relationships.

So how do we find peace?

We ask for it.  Every day.  Cry out to Him and ask Him to surround you with His peace.  When any anxious thought or lie from the enemy tries to come into your mind, rebuke it and replace it with the Word of God.  Wake up each day and choose to be in a gratitude state of mind instead of a comparison trap.  I know our circumstances are not perfect.  I know you may be living paycheck to paycheck.  You may be going through some health issues.  You may have just lost a loved one.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  But instead of focusing on what God has “taken away”, let’s focus on what He continues to give us.  I read something recently that hit me hard.  It said that God is still the God of everything that is left in your life.  When my daddy died.  God didn’t stop being God.  He is still God.  And He is still the God of my life.  He gives us His peace freely.  All we need to do is ask.

John 14:27 says, ” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Sweet friends, God doesn’t give as the world gives.  His love is not the kind the world offers.  People will disappoint us.  They will break our hearts.  Our loved ones will die.  Sickness does exist. But God tells us to not let our hearts be troubled and to not be afraid.  He comforts and strengthens us.  He is there with us through the ups and downs of life.  Nothing is insignificant to Him.  That request you may think is insignificant to God? It is not!  It is just as important as any other.  So present your requests to God.  All of them and stand assured that the peace of God will guard your hearts and your mind just as it says in Philippians 4:7.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

When we are at peace, we bring a person at peace to our marriages, our families and our relationships.  That is God’s desire for us.  The enemy is after our marriages and our families.  Don’t let the whispers from the enemy steal that peace that God has given you.  Hold onto it tightly and ask for it daily.

Dear God, thank you for your peace.  Thank you for your love, your faithfulness and your reassurance that you are with us.  Life is crazy.  So many things are pulling at us, trying to steal our peace.  Help us stand firm on your promise to not be afraid.  Guard our hearts and our minds dear Lord.  Send your peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

-Maggie Eterno

I’m Doing It!

For as long as I can remember, writing has been my outlet.  From a teenager writing in my diary to a newlywed going through the darkest time of my life of battling depression and anxiety, writing has been my way of coping through the many seasons of life.

As a preacher’s kid, I was able to serve in many ministries in our church.  Very early on, I began serving in the youth ministry and then became the youth group leader for a couple of years.  After I got married, I had the opportunity to lead the women’s ministry.  Part of the position included giving the message at the Easter Sunrise Service.  I was so nervous but as I prepared, It was amazing how God gave me exactly what I was supposed to share.  I remember battling thoughts of fear and unworthiness.  I felt so incapable and unqualified.  How in the world could this 23-year-old newlywed have something worth sharing?  But God reminded me of the story of Him calling Moses.  In Exodus 4:10-12 it says,

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”  

And God fulfilled that promise to Moses in my life that day.  He made me see that all He expects from me is my obedience to do what He has called me to do.

As the years went on, I had many more opportunities to write, speak or lead a bible study.  And on instances when I would, the response was humbling.  To me, it served as a confirmation that this is what God placed me on this earth to do.

But life happened.  And sadly, life’s disappointments and struggles created a detour in my life.  After my dad died, I went through a very dark time.  I completely separated myself from the Lord and lived a very selfish life.  My way of coping only took me so far before I began to see the consequences of my choices.  It was like I was walking around looking down and then one day I looked up and I didn’t even know where I was.  Our family was a mess.  My marriage was a mess.  My life was a mess.

I was so angry with God for “taking” my dad that I allowed myself to pull away and try to fix things myself.  I chose to do the things that would satisfy momentarily instead of choosing to trust that God had a plan in all of this.  But God.  He was still there.  He still had a plan for my life.  He brought beauty from ashes.  He never left my side and He was patient with me as I lived a life apart from Him.  I see it now.  His love.  How great it is.  He truly does leave the 99 just to come back for you and for me.

I’m thankful for the people who God placed in my life during this time.  Strangers that became friends who led me back to God.  A dear friend that I will forever be grateful for because she invited me to a bible study she was hosting in her home.  As much as I wanted to say no, I knew I needed this.  During the bible study, my heart softened.  I was reminded of who God is and that even through life’s tragedies, He is still who He says He is.  My life didn’t immediately change even though I was part of this bible study.  There were still areas in my life that I needed to work on.  I needed to learn to trust God again.  I needed to choose Him above everything else.

During this season, Joseph and I went through the hardest time in our marriage.  There was a span of months where we fought daily.  We didn’t know how to fix what was going on.  We are not a couple who fights.  We have disagreements and heated discussions, but this was so out of the ordinary for us.  It only got worse as time went on.  We did our best to put up our best front because that’s what humans do, right?  We put up a front.  We put on our masks and hide our true selves.  We can’t let others see our struggles, our pain our loss.  It wasn’t until we began to see things in our children’s lives.  Their actions, their choices…they weren’t horrible kids, but it was evident that we failed them as parents.  We failed them in pointing them to Christ.

God began to work in our lives last summer.  I hope to share this soon….It is a beautiful story of redemption.  A story that is still ongoing.  But as the months have gone by, I have felt that desire once again.  The desire to write.  The desire to speak.  The desire to minister to women of all ages.  They are my passion.  This is my calling.  I’ve fought it for a long time because of fear.  I fear people’s judgment for my past choices and mistakes.  I fear their criticism and fear being talked about behind my back.  I feel unworthy, incapable.  I feel that I’m not qualified to do this.  As I’ve felt this desire fire back up, the enemy has brought out all the tricks.

The enemy has a way of tearing you to pieces.  He pours salt on your wounds and makes you dwell on your circumstances.  But I’m done.  I’m done giving the enemy power over my life.  And why?  Because my God is greater.  He’s already won this battle and given me the victory.  He has forgiven me for all of my screw ups and He doesn’t hold it over me.  He loves me with a love that I can’t begin to comprehend.

This morning as I read “It’s not supposed to be this way” by Lysa Terkeurst the following spoke so much truth….

“If you have ever experienced an unexpected darkness, a silence and stillness you aren’t used to, know that these hard times, these devastating disappointments, these seasons of suffering are not for nothing.  They will grow you.  They will shape you.  They will soften you.  They will allow you to experience God’s comfort and compassion.”

Our hardships, our disappointments, they are not for nothing.  God is molding us and preparing us for His purpose.  But it also takes us doing our part.  It takes us saying, “God, whatever it takes, wherever it takes me.  I want you!”

I had a hard time doing that.  For years, I knew what I needed to do, but I wasn’t willing to let go of certain things.  But today.  I am ready.  I am ready to go wherever God takes me.  So today, I want to share with you that I am pursuing my calling in writing and speaking.  What that will look like?  I have no idea, yet.  I am just at the beginning of this journey, but I am excited and anxious to see what God is going to do.  I want to share this because I know that I have a lot of friends in many different churches and ministries.  And I would love the opportunity of speaking at one of your events.

You can reach me through email at maggieeterno@gmail.com.  I would love for you to help me share the word, but most importantly I would appreciate your prayers.

Something that will never leave me are the words of my dad before he passed….he would say that he saw me on a stage speaking in an auditorium full of people.  He saw it.  And today, I am claiming that vision.  Because I know, this is what I’m supposed to do.

I can’t wait to share this journey with you!

-Maggie Eterno

To My Sweet Momma Friends

We finally spent some time at the beach yesterday.  The wind was bearable and it was a beautiful day.  We loaded our wagon with a couple of beach chairs and our cooler with a couple of drinks and snacks.  I brought my big beach bag with some towels, sunscreen and a book.

We walked down to the beach, set up our chairs and the kids took off into the ocean.

I couldn’t help but sit and reminisce about our past years at HHI.  The first time we came, Mackenzie was only five months old.  Oh my goodness at the stuff we needed to pack before heading to the beach.  From diapers to bottles and formula, snacks, a change of clothes for the baby.  The jogging stroller you have to push through the sand, a tent, chairs, sand toys and a cooler….you get my drift.  So.  Much.  Stuff.  I was exhausted before we even made it out the door.

I sat there holding my book and watched my kiddos play in the ocean and build sand castles.  It made me think of the saying, “the days are long but the years are short.”

When we are deep into the baby years of motherhood this saying doesn’t seem true.  All we focus on are the long days and oh how long those days are.  Diaper changes, feedings, teething babies, the terrible threes, potty training.  We are always trying to remember when the last time we showered was and if we even brushed our teeth that day.

We are exhausted both physically and mentally.  Not to mention the mamas working outside the home.  Praise you mamas.  When we are at home still in our pajamas you are working it in the career world.  All us moms, we work so hard.  We are stay at home moms, work from home moms, work outside of the home moms.  It doesn’t matter what we do I think we can all agree that being a mom is exhausting.

But with the hard days come the good days.  The moment our little one holds their head up on their own, takes their first steps, says mommy or daddy.  So many wonderful milestones that make those long days worth every minute.  A sweet embrace, kiss on the check and a “I love you mommy” is enough to forget how rough the day was.

As I sat there and watched my kids play, I began thinking towards the future.  Life will be so different then.  As we approach the teenage years (help us Lord), I know life will once again change.

So many seasons of life, each different, but perfect.  Each season is meant to mold us and make us into the moms we are today.  And today’s season will do the same for the future seasons.

With every season there are new hardships, challenges, frustrations.  But there are also those beautiful moments filled with love and memories.

I began to thank God for his sweet grace as I sat there on the beach.  So many times I’ve messed up, wondered if I was doing this mom thing right, yelled at my kids for no reason or had a nasty attitude.  But today was a sweet reminder that I am doing my best and my best is enough.

A friend of mind recently shared that she had a hard mom day and it reminded me of God’s word that I would repeat almost daily through those hard momma years,

“Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” Lamentations 3:22-23

Oh sweet friend.  Momma out there having a hard day.  Give yourself some grace.  Take a deep breath in and release.  Look at those sweet babies the Lord has given you and take a moment to thank God that His mercies are new every morning.  He loves you and He is right there with you.  Through every diaper blowout, temper tantrum, talk backing, whining and rude attitudes.  He is there.  Giving us grace.

Rest in Him.  Take all thoughts captive to Him.  Don’t live life full of regrets and wish I would’ve moments.  Embrace every moment, every season.  Because no matter what season you find yourself in, His mercies are new every morning.

You are doing a wonderful job.

-Maggie

Staying Active While on Vacation

Happy October, friends!

I just love this month.  The (hopefully) cooler weather, jeans, boots, sweaters, pumpkins, costumes and all the wonderful things that fall brings.

This week we are out-of-town at one of our favorite spots, Hilton Head Island.  I look forward to Fall Break every year.  It’s a week to rest and recharge.  A week off all things school and sports.

Since I am on vacation, I thought it would be a great time to talk about tips on how to stay active while on vacation, workouts and nutrition.  It can be easy to fall off track while on vacation.  I know for me, I love my mornings on vacation.  Drinking coffee, enjoying the quiet, reading a book or just sitting on the porch.  I do enjoy several mornings of this, but try to add in runs, workouts or fun activities with my family.  It is all about finding a good balance.

Be Prepared

Pack your workout clothes yo!  If you are driving to your destination, pack your weights, resistance bands, jump ropes and anything else you can.  This will help add in variety to your workouts.  If you don’t have weights that’s ok!  There are plenty of workouts you can still do.

Plan Ahead

I am a planner.  A list maker.  A girl who loves to know what she’s doing with plenty of time in advance.  For me, a lot of the battle is mental so I go ahead and set a tentative plan in my mind.  It’s tentative because if I miss a day, I don’t beat myself up.  It is vacation!  If you CrossFit, plan to visit a local box.  If you are a runner, plan what days you will go for a run.  Setting that plan in your mind helps keep you accountable.  And if you are traveling with a group that also enjoys working out, do it together!

Involve Your Family and Friends

You do not have to go out and run miles and miles and miles or go to the hotel fitness center for hours.  You can make staying active fun!  Go for a hike, walk on the beach, play spike ball or volleyball, golf or go shopping!  My husband would disagree that shopping is exercising, but it totally can be.

We love renting bikes and taking the kiddos out riding. We normally set one day aside as “bike day.”  We ride our bikes around the island and grab lunch.  You will be surprised at how many miles you put in by the end of the day.

As a box owner, I’ve had a lot of athletes ask me for ideas of WODs (workout of the day) while on vacation.  There are so many on the web that it can be a little overwhelming when trying to find them.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

A.  20 Minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible)

5 Push ups

10 Sit ups

15 Air Squats

Add in a one or two-mile run at the beginning or the end and you have a great 30-40 minute workout.

B.  4 Rounds for Time

Run 400m

50 Air Squats

C.  100 Burpees for Time

D.  For time

Run 1 mile, lunging 30 steps every 1 minute. (Keep your hands off of your thighs!)

E.  Run a 5K

Next up, nutrition.  Oh me.  The hardest part of vacation.  Resisting the urge to splurge.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  It’s all about balance.

I am one to go crazy on vacation and then come back home with an extra set of pounds and regret.  It leaves me feeling gross and makes it hard getting back on track when I get home.  This is why, for me, staying active is so important.

Choose a healthy breakfast

Oatmeal, whole grain toast, turkey bacon and eggs.  This will help get you started on the right track for the day.

Healthy Snacks

I make sure to bring my protein powder and yogurt bars when travelling.  If I have a refrigerator I make sure to have Greek yogurt, fruit and deli meat on hand.  This keeps me on plan with my snacks and helps me avoid reaching for the cookies or the potato chips.  Water is your best friend!  Lots and lots of water!

Choose a Healthy and Light Lunch

When we go to the beach, we pack snacks and lunch for the day.  So when packing, I make sure to go ahead and pack something relatively healthy.  I roll up slices of turkey and ham with cheese and some pretzel crisps.  I make sure to pack lots of fruit in our cooler.

Dinner

When we are in HHI, we eat out most nights.  There are so many restaurants that we love so we make sure to hit as many as we can.  I choose to have a glass or two of wine with my meal and don’t fret too much about the calories.  Again, it’s vacation!

When we go to PCB with friends we eat in for dinner every night.  This year we were spoiled with our friend Rod’s cooking.  We try to balance out healthy options like spaghetti squash or steaks and a salad.  One night we have a Low Country Broil.  Our friend’s uncle makes the best mac n’ cheese.  Believe me.  I am not thinking about calories that day ha!

Everyone is different when it comes to staying active on vacation.  Some choose to do something daily, others may choose to do something here or there and others may take a complete break.  There isn’t a right or wrong way.

Our bodies and our mind need a periodic break.  This summer I chose to take a complete break off of counting macros, but I also balanced it out with staying active as many days as I could.  It’s all about balance y’all.  And grace.  Don’t be so hard on yourself for missing a couple of days.  But when you get home….hit it hard!

Happy Vacationing!

-Maggie

Friday Favorites

Good morning friends! Can you believe it’s the last Friday of the month?  Where has the month gone?  I am looking forward to October and hopefully some fall-ish weather, please Lord yes!  This heat is awful!  Not to mention the pesky bugs.  The little bitty ones that you can feel but not see?  Ugh.  Anyone else feel like they are crawling up their nose and in their ears?

This Friday I am linking up with Erica, Narci and Andrea for this Friday’s Favorites. I’m calling them by name like they are my friends ha! But after reading their blogs for a couple of years and following them on Insta, I feel like I know them! Anyways. Every Friday they share their favorite things for the week. You can link up and join them too. It’s a great way to find new blogs to read.

ONE

Isn’t this the cutest little unicorn you ever did see? I think this is by far my favorite costume she’s ever dressed up in for Character Day at school.

Let’s not talk about the fact that this mommy almost forgot about book character day! Thankfully another mom posted something about it on Facebook and I saw it just in time. Wooo! Mackenzie is not happy when one forgets something. This girl knows how to turn on the waterworks.  She can be a little dramatic-not sure where she gets that from :).  Off I went to Target and found this adorable unicorn costume. #targetforthewin

TWO

My sister introduced me to It Cosmetics CC cream last summer during our beach vacation.  The coverage is amazing.  I don’t wear make up everyday, but still want/need something for coverage.  This works perfectly and is SPF 50.  I’ve been mixing two shades because on months when I am not tan the tan is too dark.  I mentioned this to my sister and she told me about their new shade, Medium Tan.  It’s the perfect shade.

THREE

These shoes!

During my unexpected trip to Target for a book character costume, I came up on these shoes.  Aren’t they adorable?  I love slip on shoes for everyday outfits.  I paired them with my J. Crew shorts I bought on clearance and a Gap T-shirt.  These Gap shirts are the best.  They are soft, light and come in a variety of colors.  I am excited to transition these shoes into my fall wardrobe.  How perfect would these be with cropped jeans and a cute plaid shirt?  Oh, and they were $24.99!  You can’t beat that!

FOUR

Two years ago when we first moved into our house I looked for two planters to put on each side of my front doors. My hubby, the frugal one, thought our money would be better served elsewhere. I was patient and waited on a better time…not my best attribute but I try!

While on a Home Depot trip to pick up paint samples, I asked Joseph to help me pick out some mums for our front door.  And there they were! The planters I wanted for my front doors! He agreed it was a good time to go ahead and get them, but he thought they may be too big.  Not me though, I knew they would be perfect.

I couldn’t wait to set them out. I was right, they WERE perfect. You know you are an adult when you get excited about planters ha!  Now to get some pumpkins-I love fall!

FIVE

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook memories.  Yesterday it reminded me of this picture…

It’s me and my daddy doing what we did for so long.  He would preach in Spanish and I would interpret.  When I first started doing this I was probably in my early years as a teenager.  Honestly, I didn’t really like doing it at first.  As the years went by we started to get really good at it.  As he finished a sentence, I was already starting it in English.  We became in sync.  It became OUR thing.

SIX

If you knew me in my early years, then you knew me as Maggie with super curly hair.  Angels from heaven sang when I first discovered what a straightener was!  During the last 10 years I’ve worn my hair straight 90% of the time.   A lot of friends who didn’t know me back in my curly years didn’t even realize my hair was naturally curly.  My hair is thick, coarse, frizzy and has a mind of its own.  My sweet Mackenzie definitely inherited my curliness.  This morning as I was getting breakfast ready, AKA putting frozen pancakes in the microwave because balance, she says to me, “Mommy why is your hair so cray cray?”

This curly hair is no joke.  It is hard to tame and really it has a mind of its own.  My good friend Mary, who also does my hair introduced me to some pretty amazing products.  We call her “The hair whisperer” because she totally is.  Her hair is just like mine so she knows exactly what she is working with.  I mean we have to set aside two hours and sometimes more for my hair.  Thank you Mary for your patience! I get asked all the time, especially from ladies who knew me back in my curly days, what I use.  And this is it.  Y’all I have tried everything.  I’m telling you EVERYTHING.  These two products work amazingly together and keep my hair in place.  I put the Redken Frizz Dismiss on first.  And then I spray the Keratherapy on.  I comb it with a wide tooth comb and sometimes let it air dry through the night. The next morning I blow dry and straighten.  This morning I coached the 4:45am class so I didn’t have any time to fix it!

If you are looking for something to use for frizz, these are great!  Thanks again Mary for helping this girl tame “the beast!”

And that wraps up my first Friday Favorites!  What a fun way to reflect on the week.  I hope you have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend.

 

-Maggie

Change is Good

Stop what you are doing and go buy Jen Hatmaker’s new book, “Of Mess and Moxie.”   I love Jen Hatmaker.  She is funny and writes in a way that I can understand and relate.  I am only on the second chapter but I can already tell that this is going to be one of “those” books.  Those books are books that I remember for a long time.  Books that encourage and inspire me.

She emphasizes on how we don’t have to be who we were.  It’s ok to change.  It’s ok to move on.

This speaks so close to my heart because it is so true in my life.  When I decided to blog again I decided on a fresh start.  The girl who blogged almost 10 years ago isn’t the same girl blogging today.  My passion, my desires and my goals are different.  Some may judge and call that being inconsistent or fake, but I call it life!  Life takes us through so many different paths.  Each day is changing.  We may have a blueprint drawn up for our life, but I can guarantee life will not go according to that blueprint.

What’s the saying about making God laugh by telling him the plans for our life?  I may have messed that quote up (insert face palm).  I am a girl who thrives on routine.  Change is hard for me.  Even though my life has been full of changes, I still have a hard time with it.  When something messes up my plans, I turn into some awful creature.  I am working on this…trust me.  Taking change with grace ha!  Jen Hatmaker says in her book that change means we are alive.  Change is good!  Change is growth.

So don’t look at your Five Year Plan or Ten Year Plan disappointed because you are not where you thought you would be.  Instead look at your life today, your season, your blessings and embrace them.  Embrace who you are.  Chase your dreams.  Give 110% to whatever your passion is today.  Don’t be embarrassed, be proud!

I am thankful for every season of my life.  My Ten Year Plan has gone a different direction and I am thankful!  It may sound weird, but I feel that I am right where I need to be.

Embrace Your Life Today Friend!

-Maggie

What’s Up Wednesday {09.27.17}

Today I am linking up with Mix and Match Mama, Sheaffer Told Me To and Larson Lingo for Whats Up Wednesday. I have been reading their What’s Up Wednesday posts for a while now so I thought I would join in on the fun! They do this on the last Wednesday of every month. Every month, they answer these questions….

1. What We’re Eating This Week

Yesterday I shared with you my favorite snack.  I eat it pretty much every day.  It is easy to make and tastes great!

I normally try to grocery shop on Tuesdays but wasn’t really feeling it yesterday. What is it about grocery shopping and laundry? I am awful about putting it off until we are completely out of food and underwear ha! I planned on making this meal later this week, but decided to go to Kroger and grab a rotisserie chicken to use to make chicken fajita tacos.  They were super easy to make-only took about 15 minutes to get it all prepared and ready to eat.

Speaking of things we procrastinate on. I am always so rushed in the morning packing lunches for my kids. A couple of weeks ago, I had surgery and Joseph had to cover for a couple of mornings. As I was telling him all he needed for each kid, he says “babe, I got it. I’ll just get them lunchables. They will love that.” And they did totally love it. I felt a little bad about sending them to school with a lunchable but I quickly appreciated how easy it was to pack their lunch.  This has become my go-to option on mornings when I coach our 6:45am class.  It makes things easier and less hectic.  I love stress free mornings.

Another one of my daily snacks is this yogurt bar.  I try to keep one in my gym bag or purse.  After I had kids, my hunger went kind of crazy.  If I get too hungry I feel so gross.  I always try to have almonds or this bar on hand.

2.  What I’m Reminiscing About

This summer we did not go on our annual Hilton Head Island Trip.  This has been a tradition since Mackenzie was a baby and we really missed not going.  HHI is so special to us for many reasons.  For a long time, Joseph and I couldn’t afford to take beach trips with our kids.  When we began going to HHI, we were at a better place financially.  We were able to do things we couldn’t afford to do before and it quickly became a special place.  We were hoping to go back during our Fall Break next week, but weather is not looking too promising.  We are going to watch it for another day or so before making the final decision.  These are pictures from our trip in 2016.  We love HHI!

3.  What I’m Loving

Let me start by saying I love all three of my kiddos.  But this week this kiddo has stolen my heart.  I am so proud of him and the young man he is becoming.  Jojo has struggled with school since starting 3rd grade.  He has a tutor and she has been so good for him.  Jojo has really worked hard to get his grades up this year.  I’ve learned that not all of our children will be straight A students and that’s ok.  If you give me 100% and you get a B then I will take that B and I will be proud of you no matter what.  This year Jojo has improved so much.  Especially in math.  He was so excited to show us his 100.  I was so happy to see him get excited about his grade and to realize that hard work pays off.  I am loving watching him grow up.

4.  What We’ve Been Up To 

Football and Softball!  Between the two we have no life haha!  It is such a fun season, but it keeps us busy.  My friend Lindsay takes amazing pictures.  Her son is not on our team this year, but since we played their team she took some of all the kiddos.  Thank you Lindsay!  You have a gift my friend!

5.  What I’m Dreading

I couldn’t really think of anything I’m dreading other than this crazy heat.  Can we please have fall weather now?

6.  What I’m Working On

Joseph and I are about to start the 2nd phase of house projects.  When we moved in two years ago we got a lot done right away.  After finishing a couple of big projects we took a break to recover from the craziness of remodeling.   We are ready to get started again and first on the list is new paint.  When we first moved in, we decided to go with a neutral beige color.  I couldn’t decide on a color because we painted before moving in all of our things.  It’s taken some time, but I’ve finally decided to go with a grey.  This is not an easy task!  The choices were overwhelming.  I finally narrowed it down to two and now I think we have agreed on the color.  I can’t wait to see it done!

7.  What I’m Excited About

I am excited about our upcoming projects!  I’m also excited about all things fall and getting my house decorated.

 8.  What I’m Watching/Reading

Who else is excited about fall TV?!?! I am super excited!  All of our shows come back and I can’t wait.  This is Us, Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Will & Grace and Riverdale are just a few of my favorites.  Joseph and I love putting the kids to bed and then hanging out on the couch catching up on our shows.

As far as what I am reading… I have not read very much lately.  I can’t make myself stay still long enough to read.  But I really do want to start reading again so I’ve made a goal to read 1-2 books this month.  I picked this one up at Target today.  I’ve heard great reviews and I love Jen Hatmaker.  I thought it would be a good book to read during my quiet time.

I took Mackenzie to the book fair this week and saw this book on the shelf.  Have y’all watched the previews for Wonder?  Oh my goodness.  I can’t wait to watch it.  I want the big kids and I to read it before watching the movie in November.  It has such a beautiful message!  I was excited when the kids saw it on the table and said they wanted to read Wonder too.

9.  What I’m Listening To

My music is all over the place all the time.  I can go from straight gangster rap to hip hop to Christian music.  These were a couple of the songs I listened to on my way to Target today.

10.  What I’m Wearing

About a year ago or so I was introduced to Lululemon.  Joseph and I took a trip to Asheville and I got to go in the store and try everything on.  I was immediately sold!  The fact that I get a discount for having my CrossFit L1 is a plus.  Wunder Under pants are my favorite.  They feel amazing on and look great.  I have a couple of them in black so I was excited to get these in.  They are a really pretty deep purple.  I can’t wait for cooler weather so that I can wear them without pouring sweat!

Speaking of things I love from Lululemon.  I also love their speed and run times shorts. I wear them pretty much every day.  They are super comfortable.  I was excited for the cooler weather this morning.  I love wearing a lightweight jacket or sweater.

I am also wearing these beautiful No Bull trainer shoes.  They were a sweet surprise gift from my hubby.  They came in the mail the day I got cleared to work out again.  Great timing and thank you babe!

11.  What I’m Doing This Weekend

Football!  Go White Dragons!!

12.  What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month

Fall break starts Monday for our kiddos.  We are hoping to go out of town for a few days.  I am looking forward to some time away with my family.

 13.  What Else Is New

I think I’ve covered pretty much everything!

Bonus question this month: What TV show are you most excited about this fall

Oh my goodness I can’t just pick one!  There are so many that I’m excited about.  But I am super excited about Riverdale. The first season is on Netflix and you should totally watch it.

Well that wraps up my very first What’s Up Wednesday!

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

-Maggie

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Goodness

I struggle with getting hungry in between meals.  I normally let myself get so hungry I feel sick.  Because of this, I am always looking for healthy snack ideas.  I don’t know why I struggle so bad with snacks.  I know what healthy snacks I should have, but instead I reach over for the Oreos or the bag of chips.  I eat this snack almost everyday. Either in the afternoon or in the evening after the kiddos go to bed.

It is super easy to make!

I use the Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt add in about 1/2 tbsp of Earth Balance Creamy Peanut Butter and then top it off with a 1/2-1 tbsp of the mini chocolate chips. I love these chocolate chips because they are dairy, nut and soy free.

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If you are like me and need something to calm the sweet tooth monster down, pick up these three items at the grocery store and enjoy! I promise, it is so so good!

-Maggie