Uplifting in Discouragement Part 4: Final

During the conference, after I had begun to feel the healing process take place in my soul and body, I can honestly tell you that the spiritual warfare began immediately. All of the sudden, I found myself being so distracted, especially during the worship times. I began judging women, which honestly is one thing that I pride myself in not doing. I asked for God to help keep my attention on Him, on worshiping Him and thanking Him for what He was doing.

I could hear things in my brain that are things the real me would never think about. In the middle of a Christian conference. But that just goes to show that God was doing amazing things not just for me, but for hundreds of women. The devil was feeling threatened.

While that’s a great thing, it can also be dangerous if you don’t put your guard up. I had visions of the next week, and saw Satan slowly taking away everything I learned and me spiraling down into my dark place that I so often used to go. I did not want that.

When I felt like I was being healed, I thought to myself, “Wow, God is moving in me and soon, I won’t have to deal with this thing that has plagued me for eight years!” Then I thought about cancelling my therapy appointment because I knew God was going to heal me. But then when I felt that spiritual warfare, I knew that I couldn’t count on myself to keep moving forward. Especially since it had been eight years. I believe that God made therapists and counselors for a reason and so even if it was just for the first appointment, I would go.

And I did. And I love her. She is a Christian counselor who understands how big of a role my faith plays in my healing.

So, me writing all of this down is for me to never forget. Ever. I can say that even since the conference less than two weeks ago, I have had to reread in times of despair. Even just on Saturday, Husband had to help me consciously stop saying terrible things about myself that I didn’t even realize I was. And if someone gains something from this story, well, that’s even better.

I am still constantly a work in progress, but I believe in a God who heals.

Healing

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Uplifting in Discouragement Part 3

Okay, so here’s something very cool. Before all of that emotional, spiritual stuff happened, I had seen the pastor’s wife, Chris, that morning. She stopped by to say good morning, and said, “I had no idea you were coming!” I explained, in short, all of the last minute things that had brought me there and that I was so excited for the weekend. We had our brief conversation, and both went about our business.

After our time of worship, Chris got up to welcome the speaker again and announced that she had some gifts to give away. We had little lanyards with our names and each woman had a different number. She started calling out random numbers and whoever owned the number got up and chose a gift. Now, I’m never the person to win those sorts of things, so I tuned out and just clapped for the women who got something. It was nice little treats such as lotions, soaps and candles. You know, little things that women love.

Anyways, all the gifts had been handed out. Then she said, “I have a couple bigger gifts to give away. God put this person on my heart about 4 months ago {when Katie was getting married. We were all around each other a lot at that time}.” Then she said, “Savannah Lucero,” and I thought, “me?” Well, duh, that’s my name. I walked up to the stage where she was standing and she looked me in the eyes and said, “I have a gift for you, but first; God put you and your husband on my heart, and I wanted to tell you Don’t. Give. Up. Keep pursuing the Lord and He has a special place set aside for the both of you and you are going to do awesome things for Him.”

Wow.

Even thinking about those words that she spoke to me 6 days ago brings tears to my eyes. We haven’t had a lot of rainbows and butterflies in our journey, but those words made me want to keep fighting. And to never give up. I just thought how good God is that He spoke those words to our pastor to give to me at the exact moment I needed it. I had been so down and torn up trying to fight all the battles life has given me. And then this glimpse. This glimpse of the end of our fighting and our struggles, showing me that YES! Someday, it will all be worth it. All of it. And that there won’t be a single thing that I will look back on and think, “Man, I wish I didn’t have to go through that.” Because the end is in sight, and I see a beautiful light glimmering just for husband and I.

So there you have it. Oh yeah, the gift! Remember when I talked about how I {very} briefly thought about going to the spa, and then I saw the prices and changed my mind? Well, that sweet lady gave me a $100 gift card toward the spa!

It was such a special treat and I had been wanting to get a massage for like the past year. It’s awesome to me how she didn’t even know I was going to be there and all these amazing things happened. There for a reason, right?

A glimmer of hope in a dark, dry world.

A glimmer of hope in a dark, dry world.

Okay, there’s still more {yes, I’m sorry. I’m a talker} but until next week, I hope you all enjoy your weekend and beautiful weather!

Uplifting in Discouragement Part 2

Click here to read part one of this story.

The next morning, I was ready to be rocked again. After hearing those words, I knew that the rest of the weekend had amazing things in store.

One of my best friends, Katie Leach {she goes by Kate now, but I will never cease to call her Katie; Sorry Katie! You love me :)} was a guest speaker for the event and had her moment to shine that Saturday morning, and boy, did she ever.

I will be true and honest with you; over the past month I have been depressed. I say depressed because I don’t know what other word{s} to use. I don’t hate myself and who I am like I used to, but my body image and self esteem in the physical realm have been completely and utterly depleted. I’ve felt like it’s been even more so than when I was anorexic. I’ve heard a lot of people call weight gain due to a marriage to be defined as “contentment”, but I did not know how to deal with this.

I know it sounds so silly, but to me it was a very real, very emotional and dark time. To gain weight for most people doesn’t stop them from living their lives, but for someone who {albeit doesn’t suffer physically as much} suffers from an eating disorder, it does. Oh man, it does. And it gets worse; because of the physical damage my body endured for so long, I literally wasn’t able to starve myself, even though I tried. It became {what I think is worse than just starving} a dangerous starve/binge cycle. One can only imagine that even though you restrict, you gain weight. I gained 5 pounds last month. 5. That’s big for 5’2″.

Anyways, it began affecting my social life. I hated that every single thing that gathers people together revolves around food. I looked at the other women in our marriage group with envy because they could just eat, enjoy it, and not think about it for the next 24 hours. It became hard for me to pay attention. It stole the joy I once had from such a good thing.

Have you ever heard the song “I’m Worn” by Tenth Avenue North? I read these lyrics to husband about a month back and just cried as I read them, because they’re so true:
I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

I’d gotten so close several times before to complete healing, to even wanting to be healed, but something inside me would say, “No! Stop! This is where you’re comfortable. Out there, healing, that’s scary!”

But I’d finally had enough. I’d held on to my eating disorder for so long, and it had such grips on me that I finally wanted out. I wanted to be normal. Normal! Is that so much to ask?! I’d made the decision to seek out help. So, the Thursday before the retreat, I found a therapist and made an appointment with her for the next Monday, after the retreat.

So back to Katie. First of all, I wanted to say that worship was amazing. One of our worship leaders pleaded with God to let the Lord literally breathe his presence over us, and that my friends, is just what He did. I just cried during worship. I knew I was there for a reason.

I had no idea what Katie was speaking on prior to that morning, and when she got up and declared that she was speaking on what God created women to be, I knew it was going to be good.

I’ll focus on the last point, but Katie said these three things: God made women to be strong. God made women to be persuasive. And God made women to be beautiful.

That last one got me. It got me good. She spoke of Esther and how she won the kings favor with her beauty {Esther 2:15}. She also said that Satan has a special hatred for women. Doesn’t that make sense, though? He was the most beautiful angel and turned from God and became ugly. He can take people’s joy, kindness, love toward one another… but if you think about this, he cannot take beauty. It is impossible for Satan to take a physical trait away from you.

Women have gone so long thinking, “If I think I’m beautiful, that’s selfish or conceited.” What would our friends think if we said, “I just look absolutely beautiful today”? Isn’t it sad that even with our own friends, we can’t feel comfortable living in the beauty that God made us? Sad! It’s begun to make me angry! It shouldn’t ruin or run my life!

But these words… even if just not for myself to stop saying terrible things about me… these words have begun to change my thinking; it hurts Him when we criticize ourselves because we were made beautiful in His image.

You are beautiful, like Esther.

You have won The Kings favor, like Esther.

Stay tuned for the next post for more about that weekend.

Side note: I wanted to say that everything I’ve heard, read and felt is from none other than Yahweh, Jehovah Jireh, the Emmanuel; Jesus Christ. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I also don’t want to live a lukewarm life. He is where my inspiration comes from, and no. One. Else.

Uplifting in Discouragement

I have to share with you something amazing that happened to me this weekend.

I went to a Women’s Retreat with 250+ women from JFC, as a last minute deal. I was planning on going about 3 weeks in advance, then roommate things fell through, and I had just made terms with myself that I wasn’t able to go. So of course, Husband buys a TV instead since we weren’t spending the 200 bucks for me to go {okay, we really deserved it – we had been watching a TV that had LED leaking right through the middle. For two years}.

So, on the last day of registration, my friend texted me and asked if I was going, and I told her no, unfortunately. She responded with “well, there’s still one more spot in my room!” That gave a little glimmer of hope, but then the TV thing crept up in my mind. I said “thank you, but let me speak with Jason. We didn’t think I was going, so he bought a TV, and I’m not sure if we’ll be able to swing the money.” After I asked Jason, {and I told him ONLY IF it’s not putting us in a bad situation – could you imagine going to a life-changing event to come back to face guilt and ruin everything you gained?} she responded to me before he could and told me that the church would give me a scholarship to go.

So, the decision was made. Total God thing, right?

Anywho, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the amazing stuff.

I read the email that was sent to me after I registered to go, and it said if you mention that you are at the Jubiliee Fellowship Ladies conference, you get 30% off at the hotel’s spa. So, I searched the website, and even with 30 percent off, the cheapest thing was a 75 dollar pedicure. No thanks. And that was that.

A series of other last-minute God things helped me get up to Beaver Creek, and while the girls I rode with and I were about an hour late, we made it in the middle of the first session where Terri Furr was speaking. It was a little difficult for me to get into at first because I came halfway through and wasn’t entirely caught up with what she was talking about. But then the end of that first night kind of set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

These words: Pride really isn’t the conventional way we think of pride {oh, I’m so good at this, etc.}. Pride is preoccupation with one’s self.

Woah. Maybe that doesn’t rock you like it rocks me, but it in all my sadness, complaining, talking about myself; that is my pride. Talking about how rough life can be or how things always happen to me that don’t happen to others. That really threw a wrench in my thinking.

Then she said: The opposite of pride is humility. You become humble when you choose gratitude.

That makes total sense, right? Instead of my normal, “woah is me” thoughts, I should be thanking God for what I DO have. Which is so much more than some others. Then, my thinking will shift to those others who so often go with out. And like that, gratitude changes pride to humility.

Okay, so that was the first day. And that was after I didn’t think I was getting anything out of the first message because I came late.

But like I said, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out how good God is {if all this hasn’t convinced you yet}.

gratitude

Marriage Mondays Part 6: Submit?

Okay, so I know what a lot of you are thinking. I have been there. The words “submit to your husband” literally used to make me want to puke. I am an extremely strong-willed person. Like, really. So a long time ago, before husband and I met, when my friend suggested I read the book “Created to be His Help Meet”, I read through one chapter, and threw it down in disgust, pretty much immediately.

I wasn’t yet in a place to understand what being a wife means. I had been in serious relationships, but the fact that I wasn’t willing to be the best I could be for them proves that they weren’t the one for me.

One thing for me that stands out about my relationship with my husband apart from other men, is that immediately after I met him, I had an insane amount of respect for him and wanted to do anything to make him happy.

That, my friends, is what being a wife means. And as for “submit to your husband”, I think that our society of feminists and man-haters has perverted the real meaning of that saying. It doesn’t mean that when he says, “Woman, go clean the toilet”, that you do it. It doesn’t mean doing everything he said just because he said it. It means falling under his protection, and when he takes into account the right insight from you or other wise counsel, being able to respect and follow his decision.

As soon as we started dating, my heart was much more open to reading that book, to be the best I could be for him. I like to think that God was saving that special part of me just for him – the part where I’m not so stubborn, and the part where my heart is soft.

Also, when we went to our marriage group a few weeks ago, one of the leaders said something that stuck with me – when your husband makes you feel safe and protected, you want to respect him and respect for men is like the equivalent of love for women. Husband often says that he knows I love him when I respect him. And I want him to feel the remarkable way he makes me feel when he loves me like I need him to.

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Beautiful Things

On Monday, I was cleaning and doing chores around the house, which I don’t hate, but I don’t LOVE {I mean, don’t get me wrong – I do get pretty excited to use a new cleaning product. Husband knows not to touch them if I haven’t christened them yet}. I just thought to myself how mundane people allow their lives to be. Even I have asked husband several times, “What are we doing with our lives?”

We have a great life, an amazing marriage, two awesome little boys, and a heap of dear family and friends – but what are we doing to better the world? I know in my heart of hearts that God has some big things in store for us, but I just keep thinking of this verse:

Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”

So there’s the proof – plus, God knows the desires of your heart! He knows I want to change the world, change people, but His timing is perfect, right?

In the mean time I am going to do something on this blog every Friday to help pass the time while I wait on Him. Everyday of the week, I will look for at least one beautiful thing about my day, about my life. I will take a picture of it, and post it here so I can come back every time I get weary of the wait. This week, there will only be 4 pictures, since I started on Monday.

Monday: Beautiful Things

A glimpse of a piece I recently finished for Burning Through Pages‘ next art benefit show. Currently hanging on my wall, looking pretty good, but I know it will make someone else’s wall happy.

Tuesday:Beautiful Things3

An old school blouse from the 60’s that I got at Saver’s for THREE BUCKS. Score.

Wednesday:Beautiful Things2

My dogs eyeball from a morning photo sesh.

Thursday:Beautiful Things1

My creepy art collection {by this guy} in our bathroom, which is pretty much my favorite decorated room.

Enjoy life 🙂

Marriage Mondays Part 4: Learning to Love

Proverbs 18:22 {ESV} “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

This wisdom from Proverbs is something that we as men should take to heart consistently. In my last post, we discussed Ephesians 5:25, where we are instructed as men to love our wives. This command is more than just that instruction, it is a realization that it is not natural for us to love our wives the way that God intends.

For me, this often means falling short in terms of my planning or how I show Savannah on a daily basis that I love her. For example, I know that she loves flowers – I am horrible as getting her flowers. She sweetly reminds me of this every so often and I can see the disappointment in her eyes. It’s something so simple that I could do to bless this good thing that God has blessed me with, and I can’t even accomplish this.

There are long lists of things that we already know will get us in trouble {many of which I constantly do}, like forgetting to buy a card or rushing out the door in the morning without a monstrous hug and kiss. I encourage you men to seek out your wife just like we need to seek out Christ. For me, this means making calendar appointments in my phone for random things, trying to learn something new about her everyday {not hard to do, guys. Just admit we will never understand women}, playing and chasing her around the house… Your wife yearns to be pursued, and that is biblical.

We are all made in His image, and part of God’s character that is in every woman is the want to be pursued, the want for you to seek her out and love her WITHOUT her having to force you or tell you. Real love is in the everyday, especially the days that you don’t like each other. I know for myself, I need to make more of an effort to do what does not come naturally.

When you go the extra mile, you will find that God’s favor on your marriage and your life will continue to shower down on you both.

Marriage Mondays Part 3: Compromise

Compromise isn’t something I do easily. I’m just a teensy bit stubborn and won’t usually give in until I get my way {great quality, I know}. So this forged a problem a few nights ago when I was begging and pleading for Husband to get off his computer and spend some face time with me. Usually I can hold out longer than him, but this day he just ignored my annoying nagging, forcing me to do what I do when I don’t win. Go close myself in our room like a child. The reason I use this strategy is because I feel like it will make him feel bad enough to come talk to me {manipulation}. Well, 30 minutes later, I was still alone, laying in our giant bed. So, what do you think happened next? Yep, I fell asleep.

This didn’t turn into a huge fight or anything that composed a big dilemma. But the next day, I told him my feelings were hurt that he didn’t want to spend time with me. He was a little puzzled because he thought, “we were in that same room, how was that not spending time with you?”

Instead of trying to completely understand one another {which often times will never happen}, I texted him later that day and asked him if we could make a compromise and end this problem.

My solution was that we could spend as much time on the computer/phone/electronic as we wanted, up until one hour before bed. We could spend that hour talking, giggling, getting to know each other more, and anything else we could think of, but no phones, no computers, no internet.

Compromise plays a huge part in making a marriage work, and this small but important instant of realization was our first Ah Ha! moment for that issue. I guess we had never really addressed it. My stubborn ways were forcing him to let me have what I wanted, so it hadn’t proposed a problem until the one day I didn’t get that. It’s also important because men and women have minds that work completely different. He may never understand your need for one on one time, and you may never understand his need for alone time. The important thing isn’t to understand it, but to allow the other what they need, then meeting each other in the middle.

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*This picture was taken photographer and my sister Mary Jo Aguilera. Go visit her facebook page!

Marriage Monday: A Call to Men

Since Savannah has started this new series on marriage, she asked me to add some guest posts for her to convey a male perspective on marriage, in addition to her own. Hopefully, for any men out there, I can shed some light on the things that God has taught me and continues to teach me in this lifelong journey. I want to start with something from the Creator of marriage and go from there. In Ephesians 5 we see some great instruction for husbands and wives, but specifically in verses 25&26. It states, “For Husbands, this means love your wives as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”

What a simple concept that I think has been lost slowly over time in this country. Jesus clearly models for us as men, the type of husband you should be by simply by loving you enough that He happily laid down His life to atone for your imperfection. In our own lives, we should be happy to lay down our lives in a spiritual sense for our spouses.

Men, are you willing to be a better spiritual leader in your home? Do you realize that you are involved in a war that has been raging since the fall of your ancestor, Adam? As the head of your household, you are the first line of defense to the enemy’s attacks, and in Christ, you have been given all the tools to defend your home. Although your wife is your equal, it is your responsibility to protect her, not only in this physical realm, but even more so in the realm the really matters.

Love your wife enough to be a better man, but love her even more to be willing to build a strong and unbreakable bond in your marriage with Christ. Solomon lays out clearly for us in Ecclesiastes that the things we do in this life are like chasing the wind. So more than a nice car, a beautiful wedding ring, fashionable clothes and the extravagance that the world tells us we need to provide, the most important issue that you need to address in this life is the spiritual leadership that your wife needs to help further her own relationship with God. If you lead in Christ, Christ will then cause your wife to follow in respect and submission to you. I pray for this in my own life first, and hope that this will challenge you to love your wife enough to lead from the example of our savior.

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Jason

 

Intro to Marriage Mondays

So, with this new year and new season, I thought I’d try a little something different. Kind of going along with my past Worthy Wednesday posts, my idea was to write about only marriage on Mondays. I want to touch on that topic because our marriage is ever changing, ever beautiful and often times very tough. I want to talk about things we want to work on, things we do to strengthen our marriage, and advice we will try in the future. Husband is pretty excited about this as he will often guest post on Mondays to get insight from both perspectives. We will be very open, but this being our marriage, we will not talk about everything in our relationship. It is sacred between us and God.

Keep in mind, we are not marriage experts – we simply want to strengthen ours and possibly give someone a new understanding as to how marriage really operates. Most of the time.

Aside from my relationship with my Heavenly Father, my relationship with my husband is the second most important thing in my life.

So, I hope you will enjoy, and learn along with us.

The first thing I want to talk about that I have started for the year 2013 is a little book that I received for my bridal shower from Chris & Lynne but I never touched. It’s called “365 Reasons Why I Love You”. It’s made of all different papers, and each day you write a reason why you love your spouse. At first we decided we were going to do it together, but after the first day that he didn’t do it, I wasn’t going to pressure him {and I wanted to see if he would do it on his own}. After he didn’t, I was a little sad, but I had to realize he is a man, and things often slip their minds. Plus, he has a lot going on and I didn’t want to make this thing we were working on for our marriage stressful – it should be fun, right?

Anyways, I won’t show you a picture of mine because my naughty Molly chewed the cover. I couldn’t find the original company who made our book, but I found lots of DIY ways to make one.

Here’s a good tutorial.

At the end of the year, I will have a lovely gift for my husband that he will be able to look back on time and time again. It also forces me {especially when he makes me mad} to remember why I married him and why he’s so special.

Enjoy 🙂