The Red Cup.

I have a confession. I just bought a Decaf Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. It was handed to me in their new, plain red cup. I drank it. And I Love Jesus.

I didn’t proclaim, “Merry Christmas” in the middle of the store (its November), tell them my name was Merry Christmas, or run around holding my baby girl above my head screaming, “WE LOVE JESUS!” And you know what, I didn’t feel slighted. I didn’t feel a direct attack on my faith. And in no way, did the removal of the Reindeer effect my love for Jesus Christ. In fact, my love for Jesus only continues to grow, every day that I spend with Him, despite my surroundings in this world.

But you want to know one thing. As I looked at that red cup sitting on the counter I did feel annoyed.. Maybe, even so much as disappointed at the man who caused the big stink over these cups. Granted I don’t know much about Starbucks as an entity but I can’t recall hearing them proclaim affiliation or know of them to be a Christian run and based business. So, why the fuss about them removing the Reindeer? And I hate to say this, but don’t we often hear complaints of people saying that Santa Claus, Reindeer, Christmas Trees, etc. detract from the main Reason for the Season, that being the birth of Jesus Christ!

Let me remind you, fellow lovers and followers of Christ. We are called to lead people to Jesus. We are called to be beacons of light upon a hill. We aren’t called to stir up animosity or get mixed up in the silly arguments about removing “Christmas from Starbucks cups.” We aren’t called to have thin skin, leaving us easily slighted. Rather we are called to be warriors. To take up the cross. To spread LOVE, not condemnation. And PLEASE do remember, that Jesus Christ, NEVER forced the Gospel upon any one. He never screamed “Merry Christmas” at the coffee baristas of His time. I will ensure you one thing… we WILL NOT further the Kingdom by forcing the Good News upon people. It is said, “I will stand at the door and knock.” Scripture doesn’t say, “I am coming to your door, move to the side because I’m kicking it down.”

Now, dear man who created this unnecessary stir at Starbucks… I feel for you. I understand how easy it is to get caught up in bologna. We all do it from time to time. But listen here, “Keep your eye on the goal. Keep your eyes focused on the One we serve.”

In the future, if it truly means that much to you (which is a whole other issue) as opposed to starting chaos and controversy slamming Starbucks new red cups why not put a spin on it and say,

“Thanks Starbucks, for the new red cups with a clean, blank surface reminding us of The One who was born on Christmas Day, who lived a life of humility and love, and who was crucified, and died to wash away the sins of the world… [WHO DIED to WASH AWAY MY INDIVIDUAL SINS], leaving us all a CLEAN, BLANK SLATE!”

Sorry about the rant. But come on people. I don’t mean to sound insensitive but It’s a RED CUP FROM STARBUCKS. Lets toughen up a little and stop allowing the enemy to play games. There are people in this world who are not only slighted for their faith, what they stand for or who they are, but are literally dying as martyrs because of their Love for Our Father, God. These are the situations and the problems that command our attention, not the design team of Starbucks new coffee cups.

 

Made To Thrive : Lieutenant Joseph C. Rocha

 Joseph Christopher Rocha : Made To ThriveOne person can do unbelievable things. All it takes is that one person who’s willing to risk everything to make it happen.” -Sam Childers

 

 

Why He was Chosen for Made To Thrive:

 

Meeting by happenstance in 2009, while visiting Las Vegas with my best friends, I had no idea the impact Joseph would have on my life, my families life and the world as a whole. A humble man of God, Joseph Rocha has waded through the waters of some of this world’s most difficult challenges, receiving his strength from God alone, ultimately carving a new path for thousands of men and women of this country. 

 

As a leading advocate for the Repeal of, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,”  Joseph was given the honor by the Log Cabin RepublicansWhite & Case Law Firm and The United States Senate, to testify in the Federal Court’s challenge of it’s Constitutionality. Upon it’s repeal, Joseph was then invited back to the bill signing, where he had the pleasure of meeting with President Barack Obama.

In all honesty, I could go on for hours regarding Joseph’s worldly accomplishments. However, what truly makes Joseph unique, and in my eyes, a testament of Christ’s love is the way he treats the people and the world around him. Joseph is one of the most selfless, humble and loving people I have ever met. Having spent numerous “weekend-breakfast-visits” with him while he was completing OCS in Quantico, I was always amazed and humbled, how despite the circumstances he had endured the week before; regardless of any hardship – Joseph was always first and foremost concerned with how I was; how my week had been; how my family was doing. When he would finally begin to talk about his week and the ups and downs of OCS, never once was there talk about giving up, or it being too hard. Rather it was always talk about, how God had shown his face throughout the week; how right when he needed Him most, he could feel God with him;  and how humbled he was to have the opportunity that lay before him.

This former bomb-dog-handler, who is now in his final year of law school, contracted to be a JAG/ lawyer for the Marine Corps is not only a world changer, he was and is, “MADE TO THRIVE!”

**all thoughts and opinions expressed in this writing, are solely those of myself, Casandra Tressler.

 

Lieutenant Joseph C. Rocha In His Own Words

Favorite Scripture Verses

  • Jeremiah 1:15 : Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the LORD, have spoken! “They will set their thrones at the gates of the city. They will attack its walls and all the other towns of Judah.
  • Job 38:4-7 : “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together. And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
  • Joshua 5:13-15 : “Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

What has been your biggest struggle and how did you see God’s face in it?

The path to to my commissioning as an officer in the Marine Corps. With “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” only recently having been repealed, this 10 year journey from my original enlistment at 18 years old, has come with many professional, personal, and private relationship challenges. Nevertheless, along the decade, small gains reinforced that I was not alone and I would succeed when and how the Lord saw fit. I’ve gained deep patience and trust in Him.

Who are your biggest “heros” or role models?

My little sisters. They are 12 and 17 and there’s nothing they think I can’t do. I’ve spent my life trying to set a good example for them and not prove them wrong.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Most people will never even try, and so many other will give up, but if you are relentless your dream becomes inevitable.

 

 

 

A Genuine Smile.

Screenshot 2014-11-14 09.27.18

“Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you’re happy for a reason, you’re in trouble, because that reason can be taken from you.”

True happiness isn’t found in your situations, the people that surround you or the dreams you are achieving. True happiness and contentment is found within. True happiness is a choice.  It is saying, I love who I am today. I may not have liked the choices I made in the past, and I may not make all the right choices in the future, but I forgive myself and I am happy with who I am and love who I have become.

Deciding you are happy and content with who you are doesn’t mean entering a state of complacency. It means choosing to be happy amongst the struggles and trials that will undoubtedly find you in your everyday walk in life.

Choosing to be happy doesn’t mean plastering a fake smile to your face, bearing down and waiting for the storm to pass. When you are truly happy and content with who you are, you will find something to  genuinely smile about everyday,  even in the midst of the chaos. It means saying, “Today is tough but when I have God dwelling in my heart, I am tougher.” You may feel like the weight is to heavy to bear. Today may even feel like the worst day of your life, but there is reprieve in knowing that God never gives us anything we can not handle and tomorrow, when we are with Him, is always new day. And everyday, with time, forgiveness, a change in perspective; our circumstances and situations change.

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can now see; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So, smile today. For no reason aside from the fact that you are loved by The One that created you. Know that whatever heartache, hardship or trial you are enduring or will endure in the future will one day come to an end. Know that nothing that comes your way that will be too great for you to handle when you have the Creator of the World on your side. Know that whatever you have done in the past is over, done with and forgiven. Make the choice today to love yourself and see yourself as He sees you. Look in the mirror today and smile because YOU are Beautiful. You are loved. Be proud of who you are, despite your circumstances and situations.

Made To Thrive : Linda Mendible

 Ever meet someone who just makes you want to shout “AMEN!,” all the time? As a momma, a wife, a designer, and most importantly a devoted, daughter of Christ, this beautiful lady, inside and out is a living, breathing, leading example of what it means to be “Made To Thrive!”

Let’s Take a Moment to get to know one of our beautiful “Sisters-in-Christ!

“Hello, I’m Linda Mendible and I blog over at my site lindamendible.com, it’s not just a blog it’s also where I highlight my work as an interior decorator and aspiring fashion designer! I’m a wife and we have the cutest lil munchkin that God so blessed us with, he’s going on 14 months this November! How time flies. I love design and I’ve been designing for a little over 4 years now. It’s so amazing working with fabulous clients and it’s a blessing I get to do this everyday! From custom work to interior spaces it’s all design and I love it.”

What is your favorite bible verse?

I can’t really pinpoint just one favorite verse! I have so many. The ones I really draw from are:
1 Timothy 1:7
Isaiah 40:31
1 Kings 19 (yes the whole chapter, it just speaks to me!)
Jeremiah 29:11

These verses really speak to me when going through trying times, and are great reminders of God’s love for us.

 What do you feel has been one of the hardest obstacles in your life and how have you seen God’s hand in all of it?

Actually at the moment, right now. It’s not easy creating with a wee-one and I have so many wonderful deadlines to meet, but I love it. I just can’t do it with out HIM. Right now I’d love some prayers because I’m also going through something outside of design that’s really making it hard for me to focus, but I’m holding on strong because I know our God is Faithful. He’s gotten me through far worse and I know I can always lean on Him no matter what it may look like.

What was one of the hardest things you found in being a first time mom, wife and having your own company?

That my time was more precious then ever. It wasn’t just about me anymore. Before I became a mom, I didn’t understand the value of my time as I do now. It’s been a transition but one that’s made me a better business person and designer.

How do you remain at peace in the midst of all the chaos? 

Reminding myself of the time God spoke to me, you know, the kind that you know that you know it’s HIM!
After I had gone through one of the hardest times of my life, He said to me “I got your back no matter what.” Coupled with knowing that He is faithful. At my house we listen to the WORD not once a week or whenever we go to church, but everyday! I always make it a habit, no matter how busy I get, to at least read one scripture a day. I believe this has allowed us to transcend so many obstacles.

What is one piece of advice you want to give to first time moms, wives, and woman in general?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5
Life is a rollercoaster, there’s those fearful moments, the high, the surprise and the Low. After it all though its always worth it, and what you may think you can’t handle now you will find that His grace is always sufficient, just lean on Him no matter where you’re at on the ride.

What do you feel has been your biggest blessing is in life?

Jesus. Yes, its just that simple for me. I’m nothing without Him. My marriage wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t be alive and forget about having a business. All that I have is His, but you know what…I have the greatest gift of all and that’s Jesus.

What do you think it means to say that we as Christians are “Made to Thrive”?

If God be for us, Who can be against us?
I think it means that when you live a life that is centered in Christ, there is nothing Impossible for you.

A Willing Heart

“Have you ever felt as if you were the least likely person God would choose to accomplish His will? Do you ever feel too weak or powerless to make a difference for God? Look at Esther’s qualifications for her job. She was an orphan. She came from a race of people who were living in exile in a foreign land. She had no wealth. Lacked any sort of “royal” education. And was recommended for the job by her uncle. But she was the person God chose to become queen and save her people from genocide. God still uses the weak and the powerless today to change the world. All he requires is a willing heart and obedience to HIs commands. If you place yourself in God’s hands, He can use you in ways you may never expect in order to accomplish amazing things for His glory.” Esther 2:7 NLT Discover God Study Bible

Who’s Galoshes are you peeing on?

Forgive me for this horrible comparison, but welcome to the way my brain works.

The other day I was out for a walk with my son when we came across this cute little man and his adorable little chihuahua. Hearing “barks” coming from the stroller, I stopped so we could watch and play with the “doggie” for awhile. The little dog was so sweet, coming up to both my son and myself and giving us little doggie kisses. However, as the man began to talk to us, something I have never seen happened occurred. The mans chihuahua, circled around his owner, sniffing his boots, then picked up his leg and peed on his owner! Completely shocked, I immediately went for the baby wipes to help him wipe off his boots and the little man goes, “Oh, don’t worry. He does this everyday. I’m used to it. Thats why we wear galoshes for our walks.”

As I walked away, I started thinking how annoying that must be to have a dog pee on your galoshes everyday. And then it dawned on me, how often we, as humans do this to the people around us…“Pee” on the ones that love us most.

Okay, bear with me. I am not speaking literally.

However, we often walk around all day with a smile, seemingly in good spirits with friends and co-workers, only to arrive home after a long day of work- tired, stressed about what the day had to offer or worried about tomorrow, only to take it out on our husband, wife, children or other family members.

And just like the chihuahuas owner, who wore his galoshes everyday, ready and expectant for his dog to pee on him, how many of our family members are essentially “trained”, “accustomed” to our attitudes of frustration and short-tempers, prepare themselves for the moment we walk through that door, ready and expectant to deal with our “leftovers” from the day.

It is human nature to to take stressors and problems out on the ones closest to us. People often say it is because you can be most real with those people. However, do know, simply because it is human nature, doesn’t mean it is right.

I encourage you to make a conscious effort this week to treat your wife, husband, children and/or other family members how you want them to treat YOU when you walk in the door!

Before you even walk in the door, take an active assessment of your mood. Are you “hangry,” “frustrated,” “worried,” “tired.” Be aware of it. Leave it at the door. And greet your family with a smile, a hug and a simple, “Im so glad to be home!”

Made To Thrive : Alexis Maday

Maybe the first person I ever got into “trouble” with, and for sure one of, if not the first person I call when “trouble” finds me (or my family). Alexis lives her faith out loud in all aspects of her life, through the giving and sharing of wisdom, truth and love. As a former stay-at-home mom to two beautiful children, she has just re-entered the work force and is working a double career in the medical field and as a gymnastics coach, while remaining a Christ-led mom, wife, active member of her church, and leader of the Sr. High Sunday School. (Can we hear an AMEN!)

It is said, “You are only going to be as a good as the people you surround yourself with.” I strive everyday to display the love, strength, understanding, wisdom, truth, and generosity Alex provides to her family and friends.

I am honored to feature my sister-in-Christ, Alexis Maday on Made To Thrive Monday.

Lets take a minute to get to know our beautiful Sister-in-Christ who was,  Made To Thrive.

What is your favorite bible verse?

I still am fairly new in my faith (I accepted Christ as my savior the night John and I were talking with our Pastor about getting married…. Ok so almost 10 years ago), but it was only in the past two or three years that I have really begun to seek God.   I went through my bible and read all of my highlighted verses and I am torn between two.

Philippians 4:8 –“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right…Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about it.”

Matthew 5:6-9 – “Happy are those who long to be just and good, for they shall be completely satisfied. Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. Happy are those whose hearts are pure, for they shall see God. Happy are those who strive for peace – they shall be called the sons of God.”

I love these two verses because they are SO SIMPLE. Be kind. Be good. Be just. Be fair. Be happy! How hard is that? We want to know how to be better people, how to love God, how to deal with others?   Just. Be. Kind. Thank God for what you have and be happy you have it. So so simple. Love it.

What do you feel has been one of the hardest obstacles in your life and how did you see God’s hand in all of it?

Ok hear me out on this one…. No judging until I am finished! Being a mom is THE hardest obstacle in this season of life. It is not easy nor is it for the faint of heart. To quote one of my favorite authors/bloggers, Glennon Melton, “It is brutiful.” It’s brutal and it is beautiful. It is exhausting and it is exhilarating. She compares raising kids to climbing Mt. Everest – you have all these people around you cheering you on, encouraging you, but when you are so utterly overwhelmed with life, you just want to push them over the edge instead of accept their support. Then, when you finally get to the summit, it is so emotional and exhilarating that you forget all of the pain, suffering, blood, sweat and tears it took to get you there and you can’t wait to experience it all again. Welcome to everyday of my life. My two favorite times of the day are when my kids first get up in the morning and when they are going to bed at night. Can I get an “Amen!”? After I get my kids to bed at night, I usually collapse in to the closest piece of furniture and think about all of the things I did wrong that day. I think about all of the times I was negative, or raised my voice, what I could have-should have done, and I pray. I pray real hard that tomorrow is a better day. I pray that I can be a better mom tomorrow than I was today. It is so emotionally exhausting being a mom, to go through these ups and downs daily.

      I see God’s hand clearly because first, Psalms 127:3 says “Children are a gift from God; they are his reward.” I am beyond blessed that God entrusted these two beautiful creatures to my hubby and I; believing that we will raise them to the best of our abilities. But I can clearly see how He works in my life. I have two people that have been my friends since I was in middle school – Casandra and Becca. These two gals have grown up with me. I have seen them both get married and have babies of their own.   They know who I was before I became a mom, and I believe God has kept these two in my life because it is so important to remember where I came from and what I have been through to get where I am today. Secondly, God has also plopped me down in a church filled with Godly women raising their own families. He knew who I would need around me to share my highs and lows, my struggles and my triumphs, of raising kids.  Clearly, this obstacle is worth every single … Continue reading

Declaring Bankruptcy.

The past few weeks I have been exhausted. The kind of exhaustion that leaves you craving the bed, calculating the next time you can have just 5 minutes to rest your eyelids or escape to nothingness.

While I’m awake I think about the beauty of a goodnights sleep, and when I finally make it to the bed, I lay there tossing and turning thinking about the countless tasks of the day ahead.

I have spent hours analyzing and altering my lifestyle over the past few weeks; changing eating habits, sleep habits, my exercise routine, and spiritual lifestyle to find some area that has left my mind restless.

I was at a point of emotional, physical and mental bankruptcy.

Bankrupt. “Lacking in a particular thing or quality.” (dictionary.com)

What was I lacking? What was I bankrupt of? I’m not referring to a monetary type of bankruptcy; I’m referring to something far worse. A bankruptcy of passion, motivation, and drive. A bankruptcy of focus.

It wasn’t that I was failing to see God’s beauty and direction for my life, but it was that I had lost sight of my real focus.  I was caught up in the busyness of life and was missing all my marks.

I was spending my God given strength, resources, and time on things that only continued my cycle of busyness, distracting me from my real focus, depleting my God given strength and resources.

I have always been a butterfly. And will always be one. That is the way God created my soul. However, God didn’t intend for me to bounce around in a spirit of busyness, from one thing to the next without completing the first, expending half my energy there and half my energy here, before “getting around” to what it is that He has gifted me and entrusted me with.

While in this period of analysis, I realized something quite startling. I am amazing at starting things. I truly have fantastic intentions, drive and ambition in the beginning and then something always occurs. Good or Bad. However, that “something” pulls my focus away from the project before me. (Perhaps you could say, I have EXTREME ADD).  It’s not that the new task is something bigger or better, it is just “something”, that distracts me, and often times requires my full, immediate and undivided attention. Thus leaving the original project, incomplete.

Let me give you three, very clear examples that have existed in my life recently.

  • Example 1. My mother “nominated me” to complete the “5 Days of a Gratitude Challenge”. Guess how many days I completed. 4
  • Example 2. Several months ago I started a challenge for myself, #30DaysofGraititude. This was something I woke up, one morning and said, “I want to challenge myself to do this.” Guess what day I made it to? Day 10.
  • Example 3. My blog. I just went through and counted, for the sake of honesty, 54 incomplete blog posts. Meaning, 54 blogs, I sat down to write, began writing, and never finished. That means 54 potential times I could have spoken the word of God to someone’s heart, but I didn’t. Because I left them “half-done.”

And the list goes on and on.

  • Laundry, half done.
  • Home Renovation, half done.
  • Books, half read.
  • Commitments, halfway fulfilled.
  • House, a quarter organized.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then He will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wines.” Proverbs 3:9

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” Colossians 3:23

We are commanded to give “the best of everything,” and to “work at it with all your heart.” Not half our heart. Not until we are half-way finished. Not until we move on to the next task. No, we are told to give the best of everything. Our time, our resources, our hearts, our everything!

And I wondered why I was so tired? Why I was so physically, emotionally and mentally bankrupt? Could it possibly be because I was not giving my “best of everything.” Could it be because I was expending 75% of my energy here, and 75% of my energy there, without waiting on the Lord to guide my next step.

Our God is a pretty smart God. He knew that if I ran around in this crazy state of busyness, failing to wait on His direction, at some point, I was going to run out of fuel, and then FINALLY, turn to Him and say, “Hey, whats up? Why I am so tired? What is going wrong here? Why do I not have the energy to fulfill what it is You have asked of me?” And thankfully, that is exactly what happened. He was waiting for me, since I failed to wait for Him.

28  Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is jthe everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

khis understanding is unsearchable.

29  He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

30  Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

31  but lthey who wait for the Lord shall … Continue reading

Sonflowers.

Last night as I was falling asleep scrolling through instagram, there was a photo of a girl holding freshly cut flowers captioned, “If I had more female followers this photo would have more likes.” Although several things ran through my mind, one thing, rather feeling…

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