Follow me into dignity and security

I have been reading a page-turner about insecurity this week, and walls are coming crashing down all around me, allowing me to see the truth of how ugly this issue of insecurity can be, both in my life, in those around me. It’s everywhere.

Insecurity tells us lies that our soul believes, and those lies effect everything that we do. It’s the root that impacts everything else. It pushes us to addictions, foolish behavior, all kinds of negative places. And, it convinces us of all kinds of falsities that contradict what Christ tells us about ourselves

I’m breaking free, and heading back to truth.

Lincoln.
Lincoln Mae, my daughter. Photo | Taylor Monaco

The book offers a prayer to start a new pattern…here are some of my favorite parts.

Forgive me for turning many things into competitions. For being so fixated on what I don’t have that I leave the gifts you’ve given me undeveloped and much less effective than you intended them to be. Forgive me for thinking pitifully little of the person you’ve made me…Transform what drives me. Quell what triggers me. Make me a courageous woman in this harrowing culture. One who refuses to be reduced and defined by the media…Give me discernment to call a lie a lie. Make me the kind of woman a little girl could follow into dignity and security.

If there is one thing that I have learned as a result of this book so far, it’s that everyone suffers someway, somehow from insecurities. And, it leaves me wondering, how much time have we thrown away because of insecurity? Gatherings that could be joyful, filled with bitterness. Nights spent distracting ourselves from what’s really eating away at us, instead of facing this sickness head on. Perhaps, relationships have suffered because we haven’t claimed the confidence we have in Christ within them?

Working to fix the insecurities I have identified in my life is going to reap endless benefits, I can already see that. Even more importantly, however, I am seeing the gravity of this sickness. If I do not dig deep into this book for all that it has for me, all that Christ has for me in it, if I do not seek healing and wholeness, I will perpetuate the cycle. And I will hand it down to my daughter, Lincoln. So for her sake, break the cycle with me, Lord! Break the cycle with me. Make me the kind of woman that Lincoln can follow into dignity and security.

Lincoln
Lincoln, at 6 months.  Photo | Taylor Monaco

She is clothed with strength and dignity. | Proverbs 31:25
Clothe yourself with Jesus Christ | Romans 13:14

Truth:
– He has crowed us with glory and dignity (Prov 31:25) We are worthy of respect.
– If we come to him with a request for strength, security, dignity. He will say yes. (1 John 5:14-15)

Lincoln Loo
Our slinky loo. Photo | Taylor Monaco

“I am no fool. Only a wise woman shifts her trust to Jesus.” — Beth Moore

Peace-filled home

Lately, I have been making it a habit when I wake, while I light candles and make coffee, to pray for peace in my home that day.

Peace in the conversations, peace in the emotions, peace in the potty-training, disciplining, cleaning, working, scheduling, in the living!

It’s a great start to the day with a prayer for peace to the ultimate peace-maker.

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Prov 24:3-4 | By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

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Isaiah 32:18-20 | My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

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Photos| Home details by Taylor  Monaco

Are You Kind to Your Soul?

Do you ever get caught up in negative self-talk? A battle of lies and truths, from which you can’t easily find deliverance? For me, I tend to over analyze things and dwell on things that are bothering me until I can’t really find which way is up and which way is out. Usually, it’s not good and it’s definitely not helpful.

For the past week or so, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been so caught up in overanalyzing everything. I overanalyze how I am raising my kids, my relationships,  friendships, lifestyle choices, it’s just been a season of wrestling my thoughts. A season of giving into the habit of letting those thoughts get negative. Maybe I’m the only one that does this, and you all are free from this kind of self-torture. If so, consider yourself lucky and please skip this post! But, if you – like me – sometimes suffer from a negative head game, where you let emotions get the best of you, He has some truth for you today!

I had been searching, digging into the word, journaling, literally clawing for a way out of this season. Then one morning at 5 am I got out of bed early, I opened my bible and one of my favorite devotional books and He showed up – in about a thousand ways.

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These truths were the fresh lens I needed this week. Photo | Taylor Monaco

Psalms 51: 1-3
Give ear to my words, O Lord
Consider my sighing
Listen to my cry for help
My king and my God
For to you, I pray
In the morning O Lord
You hear my voice
In the morning I lay my requests before you
And wait in expectation

There it was, I can lay my requests before Him and wait in expectation for Him to show up — because He will! He hears us. I was certainly sighing in frustration and He was considering my sighs, hearing me, letting me know to expect Him. So, I did, I began expecting to see his truths. And then this…

2 Corinthians 4:13 | It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.

This devotion encouraged us to walk and talk and proclaim the truth that we believe. We have the power to speak truth over ourselves, speak positives over ourselves, and speak His love over ourselves when we are desperately needing it.

That power to speak in belief is ours, in Him! What a victory! And oh friends, hang on, it gives even better!

Romans 8:17 | If we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.


Are you kind to your soul?
Do you consider yourself a co-heir with Christ? Do you dare to speak and believe what Jesus says is true about you because of Jesus? I realized I wasn’t. And, that’s was needed to deliver me from the head game. Soul-kindness. And through these verses, I found the hope I desperately needed.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 | Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is in the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed into his likeness with every increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit!

He is the remover of the veil and the giver of freedom. He is working on me, transforming, and when he is finished, I will look like Jesus!

So I decided to ask the question, what lies have I been wrestling with? And, what is true of me, in Jesus?

Here’s what I came up with:
Lies and struggles:

  1. I am not good enough
  2. I can’t be changed without the right direction from people in my life
  3. I am not deep enough to figure out how to get out of the head game
  4. I don’t have what it takes for real change
  5. People will think I am crazy, or silly
  6. I am too full of sin
  7. I make the same mistakes over and over
  8. I’m too emotional
  9. God can’t reach me
  10. I have too many walls up

And once I was able to identify them, He was good to show me what was real.

Truths and freedom:

  1. I reflect the Lord’s glory (1 Cor 3:16-18)
  2. I am an heir of Christ (Rom 8:17)
  3. The life of Jesus is in me (2 Cor 4:10)
  4. I am a child of God! (John 1:12)
  5. I am a friend of Jesus (John 15:15)
  6. I am NOT a slave to sin (Rom 6:6)
  7. I am accepted by Christ (Rom 15:7)
  8. In Christ, I have wisdom. (Yep, just me and Jesus is all it takes, regardless of who is in my life pouring into me.) (1 Cor 1:30)
  9. The hardening of my mind has been removed. (The head game is gone, that’s biblical!) 2 Cor 3:14
  10. I am FREE in Christ (Gal 5:1)

Friends, thanks for sticking with me through this post, I know it was long. But, amen, praise the God who delivers us from the hardening of our mind, the drowning we do in our own thoughts and emotions, and the lies of the enemy that steal our joy, and mask the truth, which is freedom of Him and His intense love for us. I pray for you that he will open your heart to respond to His world like he did for me this week (Acts 16:14).

 

Less than perfect is perfect after all.

I’m so grateful for the moments I get to spend with my son everyday. Every moment we have together untouched by health issues, loss, sorrow, and so many other hardships too many face, is recognized. Appreciated, logged, memorized. I’m thankful for that today.

I heard something this weekend I desperately needed to hear. Everything isn’t perfect, and that’s okay. In fact things might be a lot worse than less-than-perfect for some. It could be their lowest low and its’ still  completely okay. So for me, I can celebrate how close to perfect things really are. It’s not perfect, it may be hard, but it’s okay! That’s the story we all have to tell, a less than perfect one. I’m not alone in that.

1 Thess 5:18 |  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
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So I choose to recognize these moments today, and rest in their less-than-perfectness. Be thankful for them. It’s hard but it could be worse, it could be harder. Someone is always struggling in a deeper way, and facing hardships I can’t event imagine. So no, things aren’t perfect, but really… they are.

“Mommy, up!”

If you’re anything like me, you might need to some help today. Maybe, like me, you need a fresh dose each and every morning because by the end of that day you’ve run out. You’ve run dry.

Good news friends, today is new. It’s a new day! And today, our helper is ready and waiting to lift us up, to pour a new dose of blessings, mercies, patience, hope, whatever it is that you need this today. He does not run empty. His well does not run dry.

I often hear the words, “Mommy, up!” when my two year old is tired, and needs to be lifted.

And just like this — our helper — he carries us when we cry, “Father, up!” And He carries us so well that we will abound in every good work. I pray you turn to your helper today and let him carry you.

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2 Corinthians 9:8 | And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Are you stuck? Me too.

I keep getting stuck this summer. Stuck in a web of the same questions; stuck in the same places; discouraged by the same things; looking for answers I’ve already been given, but looking still.

Photo | Taylor Monaco
Photo | Taylor Monaco

I’m so incredibly aware of how human and flawed I am. I was recently told that the first step to being brave is to believe in yourself, but not in our ability, in His ability that is in us. And, in who He created us to be.

Again, I find myself asking him HOW? And this morning, Proverbs 7 was my answer.

His word.

Keeping it in front of us, before our eyes, bound on our hands, written in our walls and in our hearts.

This blog was founded on the idea that scripture gives us life. His word breaths life into us. (So please don’t ask me why I have to learn this lesson again and again.) But there it is. The answer is in storing up his words, and writing them all over our lives.

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Photo | Taylor Monaco

Proverbs 7:1-3 | My son, keep my words
and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.

My Provider

Someone recently brought into question the statement, “The Lord will provide” and how it’s often said with a blind faith that negates worry. I too once thought this statement showed a lack of planning, a lack of motivation even. Now I see it differently. And, it got me thinking, do I really believe that? If I do, does that make me naive?

So, I did what I should always but don’t often do, I went to the scripture:

1. Gen 22:14 | So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Because Abraham had been faithful and obedient, God provided.

2. Matthew 6:31-32 | So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
He knows our needs, why should we worry? Instead we should say, if it’s needed, the Lord will provide.

3. 1 Peter 5:7 | Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
He always takes the burden; therefore, a worry-free stance is not a naive one.

4. Phil 4:19 | And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
He will supply every need. And our needs never exhaust His supply!

5. Matthew 7:11 | If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
He will provide good gifts if we ask, and declare that he is provider.

After turning to scripture, I decided to turn back to what God has done in my own life to provide.

  1. My husband. He gave me a man better than I could have written up for myself. He’s nearly flawless, I mean it. He’s brave. He’s supportive, fun-loving, always smiling and forever loving me better than I manage to love him. God outdid himself as my provider by giving me Dan Monaco.

    Photo | Aaron Shintaku
    Photo | Aaron Shintaku
  2. Lincoln, after a loss. He gave me my daughter, Lincoln Mae, after a painful loss of our 12 week pregnancy.  And having her is a beautiful journey, I could go on and on on this one, or you can read about it here.
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  3. Health. 2014-2015 was filled with health-scares for my husband and my son Finn. Looking back, they are both healthy and thriving and that is no small thing. The people I love are safe and healthy. He provides our health.IMG_1839
  4. Friendships. I recently moved to Northeast Indiana and away from family and friends at home (San Diego). I had my husband and some acquaintances, but no real, true, wear-no-make-up, cry-your-eyes-out, drink-too-much-wine-with-friends. And now I do. I’ve got great ones, ones that feel more like family and every day I’m making more.  God blessed me hugely here. He provided ladies I really, really love.
  5. My work. I work, I raise my kids, I use my professional skill-set. I have opportunity. And, I do something I’m passionate about. Most of the population can’t check all these boxes at once. I can. (Don’t for one second think I’m bragging, this job falling into my lap was purely Him providing, and validating that our life-choices were aligning with his will for us. Provision.
  6. Security. When others fail me; he is a safe and secure place where I am loved.
  7. Family. After 5 years of marriage to the man I love, his family really feels like my own.  I have gained a sister, a mom. In addition to my own wonderful parents and siblings, I have them too. And, it is the biggest blessing to have so much family in my corner, rooting for me and loving me well.DSC_0165 (2)

Yes, Lord, you do provide. I can say that boldly, knowing that it’s not naive, but truth. My past is proof. Your word is proof. Your character is proof. I pray everyone could know you as their provider, as I do.

The God Who Sees Me

May we never forget that you see us Lord, that you know us to the core, that you know what we’re going through — you even orchestrated it, designed it, specifically for us.

You know the highs and the lows, and the waiting in between.

You know our hearts, you know our hurts, and you carry us.

Thank you for being the God who see us.

Today, help us to see you.

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” | Gen 16:13

Photo | Taylor Monaco
Photo | Taylor Monaco

I know you see me
I know you hear me, Lord
Your plans are for me
Goodness you have in store
(Hillary Scott, Thy Will Be Done)

Where do I start?

Where do I start today?

There are so many mornings where I don’t know where or how to start. How do I hit refresh? How do I start over? How do I do right today? How can I make peace, encourage, and lift up my family today? (Because yesterday, I may have let stress, discontentment, and sinful emotions upset us. Ouch, we are so human.)

It seems the answer always starts with thanks offerings. What can I be grateful for? How can I see the cup as half full today? How can I pick out the good and beauty today, instead of letting the less-than-perfects and the stresses overwhelm. When the list is done, I will realize the cup isn’t half full, it’s quite overflowing.

My boys. Photo | Taylor Monaco
So grateful for these two boys.  Photo | Taylor Monaco

It’s humbling, but sometimes we just need to head back to the basics, and that’s okay. That’s where we need to start.

My thanks offerings for the day:
1. Friends who are willing to share their gifts and teach.
2. A forgiving and patient husband.
3. The joy, joy, joy of children.
4. The lost little ones who will join us in heaven someday.
5. The knowledge that God is GOOD in THIS life.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. | Palms 27:13

6. New mercies each morning; oh how we need them!

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. | Lam 3:22-23

7. Family that invests in us.
8. Music that moves and inspires.
9. Long summer days.
10. Hospitality of friends that feel more like family.

Yes, the cup is quite overflowing indeed. We just need start over at thank you to have eyes to see.

I pray you see the overflow today.

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