Posted in Faith, Love

3 Ways to Live Loved

Living loved is not the result of having people in your life that love you or accept you. Living loved is not a feeling based on how others choose to love you. To live loved goes way beyond the kind words and actions you receive from others.

The moment we start to depend on other people’s words and actions to live loved, is when we have lost complete sight of what living loved is all about.

The root and foundation of living loved is anchored in three critical areas of our lives:

  1. Our identity

  2. Our purpose

  3. Our faith

Throughout my years of being a Christian, I have learned that life does not get easier, nor free of negativity and hurt. Living the Christian life has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Christ, which is why the word Christian has the word Christ in it.

Being a Christian means you are no longer living for you but for Christ. As Christians, our plans, agenda, goals, and desires no longer matter. Rather it is God’s plan and desire to use us in whatever way He sees fit to accomplish His bigger plans for humanity.

That means being fully present in the season you’re currently in. Whether you’re a full time mom caring and loving on your kids, teaching them in the way of the Lord, or being a waitress/waiter serving the person or family in the restaurant you work at. No matter what season of life you find yourself in, there is a purpose for you and the people you encounter during that season of your life.

Don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid. The fact your dreams and goals will no longer matter, does not mean you won’t have new dreams and goals. God is so divine that He replaces our own selfish plans and desires with His plans and desires for our lives. Ultimately, for the salvation of many lives.

Had I not given up on my own plans and agenda for my life, I would not be typing this blog right now. I would probably be practicing medicine on someone somewhere. Can you picture me as a doctor? What about a pediatric doctor?

Yeah… I’m glad my plans did not unfold the way I thought they should. Almost a year ago, God showed me I was living from a place of discontentment. The sad truth is that I had absolutely no idea I was living this way! God has a way of bringing to our attention the places of our lives that don’t please or honor Him.

For me, it was through a friendship I was holding on to with the hopes of being more than just friends. I was so caught up with the thought of just friends that I lost the significance of having him as a friend. Why wasn’t I content with being just friends?

So what if our friendship never got passed the friend zone?

Would I be OK with that? Obviously, I wasn’t.

Deep down I was not content, which is why I wasn’t OK with just being friends.

What does living loved look like?

Have you ever wondered or questioned that?

I hadn’t until I realized I was living from a place of discontentment.

After attempting to seek answers from this guy pertaining our relationship, I didn’t get the answer I hoped for. So I made the decision to stop being his friend. Was I being selfish and self-centered? I was definitely making the situation about ME rather than allowing God to have His way with our friendship.

After carefully considering the question, “Why wasn’t I content with being just friends?” The reason was, my lack of trust in God and His sovereignty. Rather than focusing on God’s truth during this time, I was so caught up focusing on my fleeting emotions.

Discontentment only brings frustration, anger, negative self-talk, and worry. Friend, we were not created to live a life of discontentment. We were created to live loved in spite of our circumstances.

3 Ways to Live Loved

  1. Live Loved by Knowing and Understanding Your Identity in Christ

Our true identity is not found in what people say about us or how they treat us. Our true identity is found in Christ and Christ alone! People may identify you based on your race, your job or career, your outward appearance, or even based on your past.

God, however, He identifies you as His son/daughter. He identifies you as the bearer of His own image! (Genesis 1:26)

  1. Live Loved by knowing and Understanding You Have Purpose

Each of us have a purpose to fulfill here on earth. If you don’t know what your purpose is yet, I encourage you to seek after it. Discovering your purpose will require you to be intentional about it.

You can volunteer at a church, school, or nonprofit organization to name a few places. Ask yourself what interests you and try it out. Taking these steps of action can help you discover your God given purpose.

Discovering our purpose is powerful! Once we know what our purpose is, we live with an understanding that we were created for more. No matter what life throws at us, knowing our purpose will encourage us to keep going and to not dwell in life’s circumstances.

  1. Live Loved by Knowing and Understanding His Best Is In Store No Matter What

Yahweh God is good and faithful! His character is based on the foundation of pure love. His love, grace, and mercy never falter. The storms of life can’t stop God from being faithful to us. It’s in those difficult and challenging moments where God wants to pull us close and grow our intimacy with Him.

To live loved means knowing and understanding the foundation from which love comes from.

“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

– 1 John 4:8

The Bible tells us that love comes from God. We can’t live loved if we don’t know the source of love, and we can’t show love without first living loved.

Friend, let’s be intentional about living loved, and that starts with seeking the giver of it – Yahweh, God.

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”

– 1 John 4:16

Question: What Bible verse speaks to you the most about love and why?

Posted in Faith

A Letter From God

My beloved daughter,

Slow down. Don’t be in such a hurry. Learn to embrace your journey and don’t compare it to someone else’s. Enjoy each day as it comes.

Take time to process your present, to be with Me and to do the things you enjoy.

Breathe deeply every day and come find rest in my presence. I will reveal what’s to come for you. I promise to never leave you nor forsake you. This is my guarantee to you. My desire is to bless you, to make my plans for your life known to you.

Seek me with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. I will show you, surprise you and amaze you with my overwhelming love for you.

My thoughts are ALWAYS higher than yours. That’s not a bad thing. That simply means I am in charge of your life, your destiny. Better are my ways even if it means you have to endure temporary pain and turmoil.

When you don’t get what you hope for or expect, keep this in mind. I am sovereign over every aspect of your life.

Let your heart take courage. Be brave, be bold and be strong. Allow yourself to be these three. You are capable.

Let your soul be steadfast. Be still and know I am always up to something good no matter your circumstances. Don’t give up on faith. Believe there is goodness in store for you because there is.

Hold on to Me, your hope. Your triumph is unfolding, let it finish its process. I’m waiting for it to fulfill its purpose in you. I will never fail you.

Give me your praise in every circumstance; in every season praise my holy name. Find your strength in Me, your joy.

Thank Me.

Honor Me.

Believe Me.

Trust Me.

Nothing is as strong and full of joy as Me.

Let my words and truth lead you into my peace, love and joy. Do not forget my great faithfulness. I will finish all I have begun in you. I always begin with the end in mind. Trust me, your ending is beautiful. It’s far beyond your expectations.

Just like I hold the stars and call them each by name, so do I hold you and have called you my beloved daughter.

I will surely keep my promise to you, that you will rise in my victory. You may not have the strength or tenacity to get up and fight, but by Me and through Me you can do all things. Never forget that.

Your Heavenly Father,

God

Listen to Take Courage by Kristene DiMarco. Be encouraged and share the encouragement by sharing this blog.

Posted in Faith

More Than Just A Sister

She’s sunshine mixed with a little hurricane.

She can be sour with the sweetest intentions.

She’s crazy cool (too crazy at times, but I love her for it).

She has a facial expression for every occasion (the “Abby face” is my favorite).

She’s blunt and does not beat around the bush.

She’s full of laughter.

She is my sister Abigail:

Amazing.

Beautiful.

Intelligent.

Good-humored.

Adventurous.

Inspiring.

Loving.

And she is more than just my sister. She is my:

Forever friend.

Running buddy.

Inspiration.

Encourager.

News updater.

Defender.

Growing up, Abby has always been the craziest, funniest sister. You may see us now and think we’ve always been cool with one another or have always had a good sister relationship. However, that is far from the truth. There is no such thing as a perfect sibling relationship. There is always some sort of rivalry or jealousy involved.

My relationship with Abby has grown and become stronger with the passing years. There were seasons of heartache, bitterness, and rage. But despite it all, we found a way to restore and redeem our sister relationship.

Today (October 1st) is her birthday. If you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to go wish her a happy birthday.

What would my life look like without my sister Abby?

Honestly, my life would be boring and not as adventurous. She brings so much laughter and joy to my life and to the lives of those around her. I LOVE that about her! Sometimes our roles switch and she becomes a big sister to me.

Countless of times she has encouraged me and believed in me when I couldn’t see passed my circumstances. Time and time again she shows up and makes herself available to remind me I am not alone and never will be.

Here are a few pictures of us:

IMG_9056

In this photo, Abby is obviously not happy. She had recently woken up from a nap. Fact, she’s a heavy sleeper.

IMG_1863

In this photo, Abby and I were at either a Quinceanera or wedding. We both wore our pageant dresses for this. We would take turns dancing with our dad and at times we would both dance with him simultaneously.

IMG_6190

As you may have noticed, our mom enjoyed dressing us like twins. People actually thought we were fraternal twins. After all, we’re only 13 months apart. Also, I’m pretty sure our mom made us hug each other in every picture.

IMG_3403

Behind the camera was a weird man trying to make us smile with a teddy bear or other silly things. I guess you can say it worked. We were pretty obedient kids 😉

IMG_3847

When we were younger, our parents would celebrate our birthdays together. In this picture we weren’t as young but we chose to celebrate our birthdays together.

IMG_6384

In this photo both Abby and I volunteered as running buddies for our sorority’s philanthropy of building strong girls through Girls on The Run of Bexar County.

IMG_1857

In this photo, Abby asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. It was a sweet moment that preceded chaos! Being a bridesmaid is HARD WORK! But nonetheless I enjoyed celebrating her every step of the way despite the drama and chaos.

 

Dear sister, I loved you yesterday. I love you still. I always have and I always will.

With endless love,

Your big sister Crystal

Posted in Faith, Life

Even If

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

– Habakkuk 3:17-18 –

Have you ever been discouraged by the lack of something in your life? I have. There have been several areas of my life in which I have gotten discouraged from. These areas of my life are areas of your life too.

And I’m sure you too can relate to the discouragement that can come when we don’t see any change in these areas. I’m referring to the financial, relational, and societal status of our lives.

We may lack everything this world offers as “good” such as fame and riches. Or we may lack basic essential needs like food, water, and shelter. But the one thing we can be sure of never lacking is the love of God and His salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 reminds us that even if we don’t see any change happening in our finances, relationships, or our life, God is still good. Even if we don’t get what we’re hoping for, God is still the giver of joy.

No matter what our finances look like, whether we have less than or more than enough. God’s love is always enough to carry us through.

Where does your joy come from? Does it come from the things you possess or the status you hold? Or does your joy come from knowing God? I’ll be honest with you. I used to rely on my accomplishments and achievements for my joy.

If I didn’t have something to brag about to others, I wasn’t joyful. My joy depended on my own doing.I had to hit rock bottom to learn joy is not dependent on my possessions, finances, or relationships.

Joy comes from knowing God and His faithfulness. He is our Savior. Even if we don’t have the job or things we wish we did, God is still good, and His joy is still available to us even if.

 

Dear Lord, thank you for your never-changing love and joy for me. My circumstances may never change, but you God, still remain faithful in giving me your love, peace, and joy. Help me to know you more intimately to fully receive the joy you give. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Encouraging you always,

Crystal Castillo

Posted in Faith, Life

Not Today Satan. Not Ever

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

– Matthew 4:1-3 –

Jesus was the Son of God. He was perfect and blameless. Yet he was still tempted. He was still attacked and disturbed by the tempter and accuser. Otherwise known as Satan the devil. Although Jesus was God himself in human form, he was not excused from living like a human. And that includes feeling every emotion we as humans feel.

As I meditated on these verses, I asked myself, why did the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness? The wilderness sounds bad. I think about isolation and loneliness. Why would God lead Jesus to such a place? As I continued to read along, my question was answered. Jesus was led to the wilderness not only to be left alone. He was led there for the purpose of being tempted by the devil! Seriously?

I mean being led to the wilderness was already scary. But being tormented by the devil while being there is just too much to bear. Don’t you think? To top it all off, Jesus was in a very vulnerable state. After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. It was in that moment of weakness and vulnerability when the Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness.

Why? Why not lead him when he was strong enough to resist the devil? Perhaps after he had eaten. I’m sure you too have asked questions similar to these pertaining your life or someone else’s life. Why would God allow me to go through this? Why now when I’m not feeling my best? What did I do to deserve this?

Friend, you are not the problem and never have been. We have a real enemy who is out to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). This is Satan’s purpose and desire. He strategically plans to target and aim at our weak and vulnerable places of our lives. He did this with Jesus. He used Jesus’ vulnerability as an opportunity to steal His identity by persuading him to do something that was against God’s will for him.

Jesus could have turned the stones to bread because he was God himself in human form. However, Jesus’ purpose was not to obey the devil or do as he willed. Jesus’ purpose in the wilderness was to do the will of the Father. And in that moment the will of God was for Jesus to stand strong and firm against the lies and schemes of Satan.

Satan has not changed his strategy of deception. He still manipulates the situation to make us give into temptation and fall into sin. I have personally experienced temptation from Satan. Not once, or twice, but multiple times. He tempted me by asking, “If you are the daughter of God, why hasn’t He come through for you?”

The devil was trying to destroy everything I had believed about God since I was a little girl. I had a choice to make in that wilderness of mine. Choose to listen and give in ultimately giving up on God and His promises. Or choose to rebuke and declare God’s goodness and faithfulness despite my wilderness.

Like Jesus, we are sons and daughters of God! The reality is, we will never be exempt from temptation. Don’t believe the lie that once you turn to Christ life will be easy. The difference between knowing and not knowing Christ is that we as His followers are given the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is our advocate (John 14:16). He is our comforter and encourager. The Holy Spirit is a powerful person on our side, working for and with us.

Don’t be surprised next time you find yourself in a dark and scary place. Be prepared and ready to rebuke the lies of Satan. Often times the Spirit of God will lead us into wildernesses to reassure us of our purpose. To let us know that although we are weak, He is strong and stronger than anything around us.

Lord, I desire to know you more intimately. Help me draw close to you so I can be filled with your truth and be ready to rebuke any lie the enemy has formed against me. No matter my circumstances, I will choose to believe your promises over my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Embrace Your Journey,

Crystal