It’s A Lifestyle

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Antoine and I decided to brave the wild with Scout in the mountains. Ahhh, the great outdoors, tall trees, a beautiful lake, and fresh, crisp air. No phones, no WiFi, just us, and a nice cozy RV. 🙂 Sometimes, you need to disappear and what better time than our 20th wedding anniversary.

The Serrano Camp Ground provided us with a spacious campsite equipped with a picnic table and a firepit. Autumn is my favorite season, but in Southern California, where we live, summer weather, hot and dry, is the norm in October. Big Bear mimicked the midwestern autumn from my childhood, cool and breezy. Perfect weather for long walks and conversation, perfect for us. See the photo above for reference. LOL

BUT THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!! As you see in the picture below, Scout agrees. 🙂

 

scout on the big joe 10-2019
Scout liked being in the mountains, but she couldn’t wait to sleep on one of her favorite spots in the house, The Big Joe. 

As much as I love Antoine and as much as he loves me, we love the Lord more. That’s right, folks. This is by far the most crucial part of our marriage, and I’m not writing it just to fill up the page. Putting the Lord first sounds simple enough, right? My reality is that it took me a long time to realize that my actions didn’t always line up with my words. How’s that for transparency? But wait, there’s more! Not really. I just always wanted to say that. 🙂

All you need to know is that once I understood and received God’s love and grace, I put Antoine exactly where he belongs. LOL Check it, as much as I love how he sees me, how God sees me is far more important. My validation and confidence come from the Lord. He’s my Source, my Creator, my Savior, and I am who He says I am. (There’s a beautiful song by Hillsong called Who You Say I Am. Click here to listen.)

We are grateful that the Lord blessed us with 20 years of marriage and look forward to the years to come. We will ALWAYS keep Jesus first in our lives and in our marriage. It’s not just lip service, It’s A Lifestyle.

If you’re wondering if God is first in your life, #CheckYourHeart.

I’m not exempt. I’m just . . .

Blogging It Out

Just Love Him Back

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

I had the pleasure of having a conversation with someone who had received Christ three months ago. Let’s call him Bill. Bill told me that although he was excited about his new life in Christ, he felt like he was walking on eggshells. Bill further explained that he felt like no matter how hard he tried, he frequently made mistakes (sinned) and didn’t know how God felt about him.

Before I knew it, I jumped on my chair, and with a resounding voice, I said, “HE LOVES YOU, BILL!!!!” LOL     tom cruise jumping on couch

Okay, my response was nowhere near as dramatic. 🙂 I did tell Bill how much God loves him, and that He knew he would sin, which is precisely why Jesus came. We discussed the fact that we are saved by grace through faith, and there is nothing we can do to earn salvation.  Of course, I explained that grace doesn’t give us a license to sin and what true repentance is. He didn’t quite grasp it right away. It wasn’t until I said, “There’s absolutely nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less.” that he seemed to kind of understand.

Bill’s eyes squinted as his gaze shifted to the sky. I knew he was pondering something, but I just waited until he was ready to share. After about a minute, he asked, “What am I supposed to do when I’m struggling?” And then he elaborated a bit.

My answer to his question, “Just Love Him Back. You spend time with the ones you love.” He responded with a nod.

The more time we spend with God, reading, studying, and meditating on the Word, praying, listening, submitting to His will, the stronger we become through Christ. Before we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are full of crap, and the enemy knows it. He tempts us based on our sinful nature, our struggles. How do we get rid of that crap? By loving God more than the crap. We have to submit to Him. It takes effort, a lot of effort, daily effort. And if you’re anything like me, by the second effort. 🙂 Just keeping it real.

James 4:7 says, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

That’s a conversation that you’d expect from a new believer, right? Yeah, but I wonder how many Christians know, I mean really know how much God loves them. It wasn’t until I received God’s love by faith that I experienced true freedom. Does this mean that I won’t experience trials and that the enemy won’t try to tempt me? Hecky naw!! It means that I understand the pure fact that God loves me UNCONDITIONALLY because He wants to. Simple as that.

I’m not sure if Bill has completely grasped everything we talked about, but I’m confident that a seed was planted.

*****Confession time***** I have to admit, I was hoping one of the Christian men working that day would rescue me from that conversation. I mean, surely they heard what we were talking about because they walked by a few times. I even tried to get one of them to join the convo, but nope. Um, HELLO!! I’m not a man. Come talk to dis dude!! LOL I didn’t say that, but I was sho think’n it. (Excuse the slang. I included it to provoke laughter.) I dismissed that moment of pass-the-buck-itis and shifted my focus back to the Lord. He’ll use whoever is available. I did encourage some of the men to look after him, though.****Confession time over****

I pray whoever reads this knows how much Jesus loves you. If you don’t, #CheckYourHeart. That’s a fact you don’t want to ignore.

I’m not exempt . . .

I’m just Blogging It Out. Oh, and Happy FriYay!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 24, 25)

It’s that time of the year again—MY BIRTHDAY! 

FunnyBirthday HOORAY!!

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to celebrate another year of life. I’m grateful for every single experience because, without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today, feeling more alive than ever. Isaiah 26:3 says, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

No explanation needed, right? Our God is AWESOME!! Trust Him!!

I pray that every person who reads this post will walk in His peace & strength, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in every area of your life. Receive His love, grace, and mercy. In Jesus’ mighty and matchless name. AMEN!

If you find yourself frustrated, depressed, or feeling defeated, #CheckYourHeart. There’s hope in Christ, but you have to focus and connect with Him daily. He’s our lifeline and source.

I’m not exempt, I’m just . . .

Blogging It Out!!

 

Guts Not To Fight Back

17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18)

Aloha! My husband and I just got back from Hawai’i, which explains the picture. For the first time in years, I traveled without a laptop and social media. It felt good to be completely present and focused on why we were there—my nephew’s wedding and to spend time with friends and family.

We had a great time. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my nephew, whom I still call Li’l Brian, is married. Seems like only yesterday I was giving him a wedgie. LOL

And now the #checkyourheart topic . . .

I’ll try to make a very long story as short as possible. In a nutshell, I decided to give Airbnb a try based on a couple of recommendations. The place I chose turned out to be disgusting. My reaction in my mind when I walked in.yuk gif  Nice area and place, but the owners obviously learned how to clean in Bizarro World. LOL We weren’t expecting luxury accommodations, but we expected the place to be clean and fresh. In case you’re wondering if I checked the reviews before booking, I did. They had a high rating in March when I booked, but most of the reviews in April and May aren’t good. No, I didn’t check the reviews right before we left. 

I’m usually pretty good at planning our trips, but I’ll file this incident as a learning experience. People post their best pictures, and who in their right mind would say, “Oh, by the way, my house reeks of death and butt.” It all boils down to the fact that our cleaning habits are different. We clean, and they don’t. 😊

A decision had to be made. We either stay and risk contracting some kind of infection like MRSA or LEAVE!! Of course, we chose the latter.

Side note: My sister arrived in the middle of the night because her flight was delayed. When she realized the iron they had provided didn’t work, she bought one from the local Walmart along with a small ironing board. End of side note.

A few hours after my husband and I arrived, we politely spoke to one of the owners to let her know we were checking out. We also let her know my sister was leaving them a brand new iron and board for their future guests. Her less than professional attitude and her snappy confrontational tone were enough to make anyone’s eyebrows raise. #checkyourheart It seemed like she was looking for an argument.

Bait of Satan? Maybe. We didn’t fall for it, though. Lord, thank you for Your strength.

Here’s the thing. Sometimes you have to have the Guts Not To Fight Back. Why argue about something that’s out of our control? Yes, we could’ve told her a thing or two or 100 about what was wrong with the place, but I guarantee she already knew. It would’ve turned into a screaming match because that’s how she presented herself. Instead, we left the place cleaner than it was with a brand new iron and board.

Fortunately, my nephew’s place was available and close by. I called Airbnb a few days later to report the incident and requested a full refund. I just got the refund this morning minus a small service charge. The Airbnb reps asked if I had taken pictures or a video. We live in a world where your conversations are secretly recorded, and your most embarrassing or heinous tragedies are posted on every social media outlet for entertainment purposes. Documentation is definitely important, but I didn’t think about taking any pictures or video. Me getting out of there.running

However, I will eventually post a review to let people know what to expect. 

We had a fantastic time in Hawai’i, and this incident won’t stop me from using Airbnb in the future. As I said above, this was a learning experience. I’m glad we kept our cool. It all worked out without us getting all worked up. LOL

If you find yourself in a situation that is out of your control and the person standing in front of you is tripping, take a deep breath (unless it stinks 😉) and #checkyourheart!

I’m not exempt, I’m just . . .

Blogging It Out.

 

 

Isn’t Enough

I’ve been trying to write this post for months. Literally. It’s been sitting in my draft folder like,

spanky gif LOL

I think “trying” is the problem, so I’m just going to write and see what happens. I pray whoever takes the time to read this will be blessed!

First up, transparency.

My husband and I had to make a significant change in our lives. Since I’m honest, we waited a year because…uh, we didn’t want to do it. We were comfortable in certain areas of our lives, and we feared the unknown. By the time we decided to be obedient to the Lord, things had gotten pretty interesting, to say the least. You all know that changing churches can be kind of a big deal. I think what made our situation teeter toward shocking is that we didn’t say anything until it was time for the mandatory evacuation. LOL

Will-Smith-Goes-From-Happy-Laugh-To-Very-Serious I’m laughing, but I’m serious.

Finally, we knew what we had to do. We met with our then pastor twice and was very clear that our leaving had nothing to do with the ministry and that we would recommend the church to anyone. (And we have.) He asked questions which made us discuss things that had nothing to do with why we were leaving. Again, had we let him know a year prior that it was coming, things would’ve been different. To be honest, my husband and I didn’t want to leave which is why it took an entire year for us to go. (Maybe I’ll post the whole story one day.) Check this out. During the 6.5 years we were there, I probably learned and grew more than all the prior years I had been saved, combined. I won’t bore you with any more details except that we left on a good note. Unexpected, but good as evidenced by the nice email the pastor sent out regarding our departure.

I thank God for His mercy and grace because we chose to be disobedient by staying as long as we did which shows that we clearly didn’t trust God in that capacity.

Of course, the enemy will try to use anyone who will allow him space. Ephesians 6:12 says it best, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

No matter what people have said, boldly in our faces or cowardly behind our backs, we have kept our eyes on Jesus and our mouths closed. (Character/integrity before feelings.) Because of that significant and unexpected (though delayed) change that we HAD to make, we are at a point in our lives where we WOULDN’T be had we not listened to the Lord. It’s not for anyone else to understand.

Now, onto the #CheckYourHeart topic.

I know that was a long introduction, but trust me it was necessary.

Lately, I’ve had several conversations with people who are contemplating leaving their church. Most of them have been Christians for over a decade and operate in some leadership capacity. The reasons varied, but the leading and most commonly stated was they were no longer being fed.

A good friend of mine told me to post what I told her because it gave her a different perspective for attending church, so here it goes.

You definitely have to hear from Jesus and listen when making any decision including staying at or leaving a church. Whether you decide to stay or leave, you have to focus on Jesus and connect with Him daily, more than ever. If He hasn’t told you to go, then there’s a reason for you to stay. Take in more of Him than ANYTHING, so when the pastor (or whoever is speaking) miss it in his message, you won’t be affected by it. Go Full So That You Won’t Feel Unfed!

I go to church to worship Jesus and to serve. Do I expect to hear a word from the Lord? Yes, of course. Does it matter who delivers it? No. Here’s the thing. It’s not the goings-on at the church that gives me strength, peace, joy, validation, life, breath, ability, etc. It is my relationship with Jesus. I must consume more of Him than anything else in my life. What I used to do Isn’t Enough.

It took me a long time to realize that I had been doing a lot in my own strength and I think there’s a lot of people…God-fearing people who are doing the same. We have to rely on the Lord. The people I mentioned are all super busy with their lives as well as serving in their churches. If we don’t leave ample time in our schedule to connect  (pray, study, read & meditate on the Word, etc.) with our Source (God), feeling empty and unfed is inevitable. He’s our lifeline.

I may be going out on a limb with my next statement. For those of us who have been in the Lord for a while, the messages we hear at church should be a confirmation or a reminder of what we’ve studied. Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church. LOL (Yeah, I know JFK said country. Country didn’t fit so I improvised.)

On another note, sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from serving/activities in church and outside of the church. We have to take care of ourselves. The word “no” is a complete sentence. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about needing a break. It’s all about finding the right balance.

I’m not exempt. I’m just…

Blogging It Out!! Oh, and I guess since I stopped trying, the end happened. LOL

I can’t wait to read your comments. 🙂

Old- blog.tanyamsaldana.com

New-bloggingitout.blog

 

 

 

Turn It Around

Here we are 11 days into spring and 21 days into good old Daylight saving time. Don’t cha just love losing an hour of sleep. Yippee! 🙂

fake laugh gif

If you sense a bit of sarcasm, you’re absolutely correctamundo. I’m not a fan of daylight saving time at all, but I’ll get over it. LOL

What are your thoughts on daylight saving time?

On another note, Southern California is officially out of its drought. YIPPEE!! No sarcasm there at all. The wildflowers are in bloom, our lawn is greener than it has been in years, and the monarch butterflies paid us a visit on their way to Oregon. In my area, the poppies are all the rage, but my favorite wildflower is the tidytips (Layia platyglossa), featured in the photo. I love their simplicity. Although I’m not the type of person who enjoys receiving flowers as a gift, I appreciate their beauty in their natural habitat.

Now on with the topic, #CheckYourHeart!

I recently had a conversation with someone who I haven’t spoken with in a long while. Honestly, I was a little leery about returning the phone call. As a matter of fact, I didn’t until the next day. The call started off with the usual catch up questions: How are you? What’s new? Do you still live in the same place?

The latter is always surprising. How often do owners sell their home’s and move away? LOL Anywho, as the conversation progressed, she got down to the nitty-gritty. Complaints! I knew they were coming.

Usually, when we choose someone to vent to, it’s because we know the person will be able to relate to what we’re talking about, or at least we hope they will. We want someone to say we have a right to feel a certain way, or our reaction was justified. It’s a normal part of being human.

Here’s where I had to check my heart. Her stories were all TOO familiar. I felt the sting of disappointment as she poured out her heart. The conversation could’ve quickly turned into a backbiting session, and I’m sure the enemy was sitting right there waiting like. . .

michael eating popcorn LOL

I Thessalonians 5:11 says, So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

It’s so easy to join a negative conversation. I mean, we can all tell stories about people who have wronged us and it’s quite exhilarating. However, as Christians, we need to Turn It Around.

I could’ve added A LOT of negativity to that conversation. I mean A LOT. Instead, I listened (to a point) to show her that I cared and then I encouraged her. I let her know I could definitely relate to how she was feeling. The last thing people need is for us to act like nothing bothers us. Transparency is essential.

Engaging in a conversation like the one I had can be kind of tricky. Because the person wants so badly for their feelings to be validated, they may drop hints that some bad things have been said about you too. Know what I mean? That’s when you really have to #CheckYourHeart. You have to recognize that it’s all derived from their hurt. In my Forrest Gump voice,

forrest gump gif LOL

At the end of the conversation, she told me she felt better and encouraged. She realized she needed to focus on the Lord. I’ve been there…we’ve all been there.

If you find yourself complaining and irritated about everything under the sun, or deliberately trying to hurt someone with your words, you may need to #CheckYourHeart.

I’m not exempt. I’m just…

Blogging it out! Have a blessed week and keep on praying!!

He’ll Do It Again

In the midst of a rainy morning, a rainbow appeared across the cloudy sky during our usual Saturday errands. No matter how I angled the camera, the rainbow hovered over a muddy construction site. At least from our view. Ideally, the mud, the puddles of water, and the machinery would be cropped, but the more I looked at the photo, the more they grew on me. If nothing else, the chaos on the ground makes me appreciate the rainbow even more. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Reminds me of life. It’s never perfect, but there’s always a reason to be grateful.

Now, back to the topic, #CheckYourHeart.

First, let me say I had NO INTENTIONS on writing about this, EVER!!

taylor swift ever

But since I’m dealing with it at this moment and have had to check my heart, I thought I’d give it a go. I pray this helps whoever needs it. So, here it goes. 🙂

There’s a situation in my life that is very difficult, and I have absolutely no control over it. My natural problem-solving abilities are no match and walking away is not an option. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve done nothing to cause this situation except be born, of course, I had no control over that either. LOL This week, I began to feel a bit stressed as I researched, made phone calls, and read stories of other people who are dealing with the same behemoth.

As I thought about the past effort I made to avoid this very situation, anger tried to rear its ugly head. Who am I trying to fool? I got pissed. If the word “pissed” offends you, I’m not sorry, I’m just keeping it real. I said it to God, and I also told Him how much this situation SUCKS!!! But I’ll get back to that in a minute.

I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out a plan. The more I tried, the angrier I became. Every person I spoke to on the phone transferred me to their colleagues in different departments. They all said the same thing which was equivalent to NOTHING. The stories of people in similar situations wrote the same thing, there’s no help for us. Unfortunately, I started to agree with them after all, I hadn’t gotten any closer to a resolution than they did. And that’s when I said, “THIS SUCKS!!!!” Because it does!!!

Then I realized that once again my deeply-rooted, independent, problem-solving self needed to check my heart. Why? Because it’s out of my hands and I have to trust God instead of getting angry and stressed out. I decided to stop making phone calls, close my laptop, and worship the Lord. He’s done so much already, and He’ll Do It Again. I love that song by Elevation Worship. Click the link to listen.

I have no idea how this situation will turn out. However, I do know Jesus is with me every step of the way, and even my most significant challenges are no match for Him. If I depend on Him, I’ll have peace. If I rely on myself, well, I won’t. LOL Two Bible verses came to mind while writing this.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (James 1:2,3)

AND

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13)

That’s it for now. Short and vague. LOL I look forward to your comments.  🙂

If you find yourself stressed or angry about a tough situation, #CheckYourHeart. He’s got you. Trust Him. I’m not exempt. I’m just . . .

Blogging it out!