Mercy and Grace Take The Win

My oldest daughter, Paige, is now mid-season in her second year of girl’s high school wrestling. Last year, watching wrestling, this mama was a real hot mess; I had no idea the amount of throwing around, twisting unnaturally, and bending forcefully that would be involved in this sport. You could say I was very much a nervous rookie wrestling mom, smacking madly on my Doublemint gum before any flavor could even hit my tastebuds!

This year, however, I’m a little more relaxed having sat through almost another completed season. Although, recently, my mother-in-law wondered why the gymnasium bleacher we were sitting on (while Paige wrestled on the mat in front of us) was shaking rapidly, only for her and I to both realize it was from my leg bouncing up and down uncontrollably. Okay so maybe I’ll never be 100% chill while Paige is in a match, and that’s okay!

It really has been a fun year so far watching these girls wrestle. They’ve learned quickly, as girl’s high school wrestling was only sanctioned into Nebraska just last year. For most of the young ladies wrestling, this is a completely new-to-them sport.

Paige’s technique, skill, and knowledge have improved so much. She has a lot more control out on the mat than she did last year. Sometimes she pins her opponent and sometimes she doesn’t, but regardless she wrestles hard.

I’ve noticed, though, that once her opponent gets Paige on her back it’s typically game over for Paige and she ends up getting pinned almost immediately. There’s a strategy Paige could use to her advantage to help keep her from getting pinned and it’s called “bridging”. Paige won’t do this, ever. Shhhh, don’t let her opponents know this.

Bridging involves lifting the pelvis off the ground so that the body weight is supported on the shoulders (or head) and the rest of the weight is supported on the feet at the other end of the body.

When I asked Paige ‘how come she never uses this move,’ she said ‘it’s because it terrifies her and she’s afraid she’ll get her neck broke.’

Well okay then, no argument from this mom. I get it and I’m in complete agreement. I would never dismiss her concerns and ask that she give it a try just for a chance at a win. Never. So we’ve indisputably settled and you won’t get a bridge out of Paige…reasonably so. On the other hand, there are other ways out for Paige to utilize and get out from under her opponent before a pin would happen and I’m certain as she gains more muscle and experience she’ll opt for those instead.

In learning of Paige’s issue with bridging during a wrestling match I could have argued the matter and urged her to try it regardless of her concerns. But instead she felt comfortable enough to share her biggest fear in wrestling, she opened up, and was met with limitless understanding and no frustration.

As I think about this, I’m reminded of the way our Sweet Heavenly Coach meets us on our mental or spiritual wrestling mat with mercy and grace over our struggles and insecurities. I think of the way that His understanding opens the door to mercy, and grace kindly follows— simultaneously pardoning any potential grudge-holding.

Wonderful and encouraging mercy and grace.

It’s what helps us want to continue onward.

When we take notice of our shortcomings, communicate our concerns to God, and seek forgiveness, God gives to us boundless mercy and grace. Our posture should be one of gratitude, and the desire to embrace this type of kindness while extending it to others.

Who needs a “bridge” anyway when we have the Lord, and the fullness of His mercy and grace, to walk upon the waters alongside us, leading us to the ultimate victory…

Weekend blessings, friends!❤️

Lessons From Damar Hamlin

Great post written by Alan who blogs at Fuel For The Race …couldn’t pass up reblogging this one!

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur on Pexels.com

Lessons From Damar Hamlin

https://fuelfortheraceblog.wordpress.com/2023/01/10/lessons-from-damar-hamlin/
— Read on fuelfortheraceblog.wordpress.com/2023/01/10/lessons-from-damar-hamlin/

Happy New Year! And This Snow, just wow!!

This morning, my neck of the woods woke up to eight inches of snow. I know it was eight inches because my dear husband literally took a tape measure outback to precisely check for himself!!

We typically only end up with a dusting to a few inches when it snows; so this amount of snow is a rare treasure for us—well maybe not for those who aren’t a fan. I’m loving the beauty of today’s winter wonderland though, it’s the messy roads in the days to come I don’t really favor however!

Beautiful, pure-white snow.

Isaiah’s message of warning to a rebellious nation of Israelites comes on behalf of the Lord in Isaiah 1:18-20 and has this to say:

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

(Bold and italics added by me for the lesson)

Boy if those words don’t sound like we’re just as in need of that warning (today) as Israel and Judah were all those years ago!!!

There are two ifs to choose from in that piece of scripture, and depending on the “if” chosen the results are drastically different.

In verse 20b, choosing the second if, consisting of resistance and rebellion, would leave a person in the permanency or stain of deep scarlet-red sin…devoured by the sword.

But by choosing the first if in verse 19, the crimson color that once stood out so boldly from sin, would be entirely replaced with a pure and calm white—the color of snow or wool. Choosing this if requires willingness and obedience but leads to satisfaction or a reward given by the Lord, “you will eat the good things of the land.

This beautiful, pure in color, dazzling in the sunlight, white snow outside my house windows sets the stage for the reminder that I want to willingly and obediently stand in the presence of God’s desire daily—to “eat the good things of the land,” as quoted.

The message given in Isaiah chapter one—sin cleansed white as snow—was as much for the people of that time as it is for us now. Jesus’ sacrificial blood shed on the cross and his resurrection washed away those crimson colored sin-stains we once carried; and though we’ll continually sin (this side of Heaven) Jesus makes those sins white as snow as we place our faith in Him, seek forgiveness as needed, and remain in unity with Him through a healthy relationship.

Choosing and following Jesus, points us to choose that first “if” in Isaiah 1:19—may we be ever thankful, never taking for granted, but instead praising God for the removal of permanent crimson stain and the washing and cleanness of our sins, white as snow, all because of His magnificent love for us.

Blessings for a Thankful and Healthy 2023!!!

Christmas Shopping Ideas For All Ages

It’s interesting to me that as people get older it seems harder to come up with ideas for Christmas gifts. You would think that the older our loved ones get the better we know them, the easier it is to shop for them! …Not the case for me though!

I’m not quite finished with all my Christmas shopping but I do have a majority accomplished and thought I’d share some of the gift ideas I’ve come up with so far in hopes that it may be a help to you for your gift giving! Feel free to share your gift ideas in the comments section, together we’ll outdo Santa and his elves!!

Our family has a wide range of ages to shop for this year from newborn, to kids and teens, adults, and great grandmas as well.

Here’s a list of gift ideas that I’ve organized by youngest to oldest:

NEWBORNS

Baby skincare set- honest.com

Baby wash/shampoo and baby lotion from honest.com ($17.99)

What doesn’t sound more fitting and soothing than the scent of sweet orange vanilla on soft baby skin? As an added bonus, right now, honest.com is offering 20% off your order when you enter your email!!

KIDS

20 oz tumbler cups- Amazon.com

I ordered an eight-pack of stainless steel (tall) tumbler cups from Amazon last week, one for each of my nieces and nephews. I plan to use my Cricut machine to put their names on them. I’ll fill them with their favorite mini candy bars and then give a bottle of soda to each one also! ($59.99 for an eight pack)

TEENS

Tortilla blanket- Amazon.com

At our house we do “Taco Tuesdays” each week (the name explains it all). My son has a slight obsession with tacos and probably more so it points to the tortilla itself!! In fact most mornings his breakfast preference is peanut butter and strawberry jelly spread over a tortilla and folded in half…so when I came across this tortilla blanket I couldn’t resist! They have other options as well: a cookie, pizza, or waffle!! Super fun and unique!! ($15 to $30)

FOR THE TEEN GAMER

Gaming headset- Amazon.com

Gaming headset

Gaming mouse- Amazon.com

Gaming mouse

I don’t understand the difference between the amped-up mouse (featured above) and the original mouse that already comes with a PC??? And that gaming headset seems like an unarguable ticket for a visit to the chiropractor but nevertheless my kids must know something I don’t…here’s to trusting their “gaming” knowledge!

Gaming headset ($19.99) Gaming mouse ($20.99)

ADULTS

Personalized doormat- Amazon.com
Personalized doormat- Amazon.com

Who doesn’t love giving or receiving a personalized gift? We ordered these personalized doormats for my brother and his family as they’ve just welcomed home a new baby, to make a family of four now! Their doormat will read (The “insert last name” Family).

And my in-laws just became the proud owners of a new home this past September so a doormat seemed practical, especially as it will display, “Mama Thea & Papa’s House!”

Personalized doormats ($25 and up)

Scooters gift cards
Starbucks gift cards

I also love a gift that seems to keep on giving long after the holidays. Gift cards are great for this! Can’t go wrong with a Scooters or Starbucks gift card for the coffee lovers in your life! Pick your price!!

Cavenders.com

For the cow fanatic (which includes both of my daughters) these casual cowprint shoes are ridiculously popular and on the MOOve right now! In fact, I tried to pick them up in the Hey Dudes brand (which typically run around $60) and I might have had better luck finding a needle in a haystack! Cavenders sells the Gypsy Jazz brand though, which are just as comfortable, plus they’re offering 10% off when you enter your email! Gypsy Jazz cowprint ($44.99)

And if you want to “step” it up a notch with something a little more dressier you can find cowprint boots at Cabelas…($49.99)

Natural Reflections cowprint boots- Cabelas.com

And for the hunter in your life you can never go wrong with a new camo bag chair! (Only $12.88!!)

Ozark camo bag chair- Walmart.com

GREAT-GRANDPARENTS

Honestly what they usually want most of all is our time! My grandma is now in the nursing home and I try to visit her once or twice a week there.

I bought her favorite bag of ground gourmet coffee from a speciality store in town and also picked up some disposable to-go coffee cups a while back ago and have been brewing up a cup of coffee at home right before I leave to see her. She absolutely loves this and sips away while we make small talk and ohh and ahh over Paula Dean’s dishes on TV. Sometimes I’ll sneak in a soft donut from the local bakery too!

Other little odds and ends that this precious generation enjoys are soft cookies or breads, blankets, socks, a phone call, plants, flowers, homemade drawings or colorings from the littles, family photos, greeting cards by mail, devotion books…anything of this sort. But seriously most of all is TIME. If you have a loved one whose years are mostly behind them at this stage in life, give them the gift of time and fellowship. It’ll be a gift that not only they cherish, but in turn blesses you as well.

Hopefully some of the gift ideas I’ve shared help! Enjoy this time of year and remember our gift giving is in celebration of Jesus’ birth, Christ needs to be our top priority, both now and year round. We can panic, stress and search for the perfect ‘something’ for our loved ones but the bottom line is God has already outgiven us all as he’s offered the best gift ever, freely available to all…

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16

Christmas Planters…from dull to full

I’ll start off by saying I know Jesus is, without a doubt, the one and only reason for the Christmas season. PERIOD! …BUT I’d be lying if I said I don’t get excited about the extra shimmer and dazzle that oozes it’s way into this time of year!

I love decorating with holly and berries while a cozy fire crackles in our wood burning stove, stirring up a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, listening to Micheal Bublé’s ‘White Christmas’ …wrapping presents and sipping hot cocoa…

I could go on but I’ve probably already gotten way over-commercialized here for some folks! @Matt from Jesusluvsall blog 😂

As much as I love the indoor Christmas traditions our family has created, I equally love the part of decorating outdoors.

We live in an area of the United States where pretty flowers and plants don’t do too well in the cold temperatures, so anything that grew in flower pots over the summer usually dries out and then gets pulled once the cold weather comes but the empty pots leave nothing to be desired.

This year, as a first for me, I had dressed up my empty planters with an autumn style and looked forward to changing them up for a Christmas look.

Today I’ll do a quick run through showing how I threw these together!

CHRISTMAS PLANTERS

Empty planters (mine are still filled with soil)

Birch or aspen branches

Yucca seed pods and stems

Faux flowers, berries, icicles (Hobby Lobby)

Evergreen sprigs/wreath (real or artificial)

Pinecones and acorns

Small Christmas sign (Wal-Mart)

I started by adding the branches and yucca stems to the center of my larger flower pot.

I then added the berries, icicles, and Christmas sign, and finally filled in the remaining bare spots using a combination of real evergreen sprigs, pinecones, and acorns.

In the smaller flower pot I first placed an artificial evergreen wreath to fill the outer area of the pot. Then I used two large artificial flowers for the center, and lastly arranged pinecones in the leftover empty spaces.

And here’s the final result!

That’s all there is to it and the possibilities are endless! Let me know if you end up “sprucing” up your empty planters for the Christmas season!

I’m also including an advent reading plan that our family has used over the past few years. While my kids are getting ready for school in the mornings I try to read them the verse of the day from the Bible YouVersion app but during the Christmas season we switch it up to gear toward Jesus and His birth. And below is the reading plan we use by alyssajhoward.com. Feel free to print it off and use it for your own Christmas advent reading plan!

Enjoy and sweet weekend blessings to you and yours!!

BE STILL

Recently I attended a weekend youth retreat as a leader with some of the junior high kids from our church youth group. The weekend was geared toward the words ‘BE STILL’ and served as a reminder to intentionally take time out of our day from this crazy, busy life and ‘be still’ so we can hear from Jesus.

And the kids loved it…as well as the leaders.

I always look forward to the opportunity of attending these youth retreats because I can get as much out of it as the kids, my heart really soaked in this particular topic.

Here’s a list of scripture we read and studied that paired up with our weekend focus:

1 Kings 19:9-15

Exodus 1-6:13, 12:1-28

Psalm 46

John 10:1-18

Mark 4:35-41

John 15:1-18

Our very own youth pastor led one of the afternoon breakout sessions sharing tools to help us connect with God:

  • Start the day with quiet time.
  • Be alone in our quiet time.
  • Read scripture and listen to what God is speaking through His word.
  • Spend time in prayer, also pausing in the midst to hear from the Lord.

He also shared a free app called the One Minute Pause App by John Eldridge (New York Times Best Selling Author of Wild at Heart and Captivating). It encourages stillness and “the simple practice of releasing everything to God, restoring your union with God and inviting him to fill you.”

There’s soothing music, scripture, commentary with words, and beautiful scenery for each meditation.

App example

It’s super simple to navigate and allows you to choose from one of the main pauses offering different lengths of time; or as a huge bonus there’s a 30 days to resilience program “designed to lead us on a path of supernatural resilience—to recover our joy, strengthen our hearts, and thrive through the challenges of modern day life. Each day has two 8 to 10 minute sessions, designed for the morning and evening and grouped into six 5-day modules. Each session is part soul care, part reflection, and part contemplative prayer.”

After downloading the app I have yet to miss a day of connecting to God in this way and wanted to share it with those of you reading this blog.

Main screen app example
Main screen app example
App example

P.S. Our youth kids have really enjoyed the app and right before our small group discussion time starts on Wednesday evenings when we meet, I’ll typically go through a three or five minute pause (using the app) before we get into our lesson questions—they look forward to this time, it helps them settle and connect with God before we start on deep questions and discussions.

Do your heart a favor and download it, tell me what you think, and share it with others. I really hope you love it and I look forward to getting feedback!!

Below is a link that will take you directly to the app and gives the option for Apple or Android devices.

One Minute Pause App and 30 days to resilience

As always sweet weekend blessings!!

Alicia ❤️

Thanksgiving Gratitude

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is right around the corner, and with it comes the tendency to oftentimes jump into overdrive taking inventory of our blessings! I never want it to be the stereotypical thing for me or my family to do so I’ve tried to be better about counting blessings of thankfulness YEAR-ROUND instead.

Research shows that when we concentrate on an attitude of gratitude, giving notice and calling out the things we’re thankful for it leads to:

Growing our relationship with Jesus, overall happiness, better mental health, positive relationships, higher energy levels, improved self-esteem, mercy and grace for ourself and others, creates positive thought patterns, lowers stress and anxiety, plus it causes us to be present in the moment.

Recently I picked up a small, blank notebook from the store to serve as a gratitude journal and have been journaling little notes of thankfulness. I’ve not made it an everyday thing at this point but I aim to. There’s a ton of good resources on Pinterest or Google to spur ideas on gratitude topics, including sentence starters.

Gratitude encourages us to look at the glass half full rather than half empty. It takes practice like any good habit but it is achievable and so worth the effort!!

“Gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine. Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. The more we think positive, grateful thoughts, the healthier and happier we feel.” Cerebral Cortex

I’m subbing today so my time is short while my class is at music, but wanted to share with you a poem my youngest daughter wrote. I’ll leave you with her words as a Thanksgiving blessing and also share a picture of our planters on our front porch. I couldn’t stand seeing them empty during these cold months so I dressed them up for fall and am already looking forward to changing them up for Christmas! I’ll maybe do a DIY as I decorate them for Christmas!

Until next time, sweet autumn blessings and a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

THANKSGIVING

Leaves fall red, brown, yellow.
In the distance neighbors say hello.

Turkey in hand,
open the door to smells so grand.

Sit down in your place,
and now let’s say grace.


—Mckenzie W.

Autumn Blessings in Photos

I put my little five speed Jeep in reverse, checked that all was clear and pushed down on the gas pedal quickly to back away from the curb after finishing a recent counseling session.

If any staff at the architecture business located next door have ever watched me pull in or out of the hillside parking space each week they’re probably relieved I’m seeking therapy because my skills with driving this Jeep are about as unreliable as my emotions sometimes.

Boy it’s been a year! I started counseling back in January after realizing my childhood trauma had some explaining to do, what I didn’t know was that it actually had A LOT of explanation into the thoughts and choices I’ve made throughout my entire life.

In faith, through Jesus, I might be brave enough to finally say that I’m (really, actually) in the process of truly overcoming!! It’s the most scrutinizing process I’ve ever endured, but my counselor is amazing and God is using her to the fullest. My husband has been a solid encourager, along with my momma. I am so blessed and I can feel God’s presence at work. (Bare with me though as my blog posts may continue to be hit and miss for a while.)

Leaving Monday’s therapy session, I felt a spurring for some guilt-free me-time so I set out to purposely photograph the changing of the fall leaf colors. It felt refreshing to experience awareness in nature’s surroundings. My little iPhone has continued to help capture this week’s beauty, filling an abundance of thankfulness within my heart all the while.

Nebraska may not offer the warm, playful amber hues of the aspens in Colorado during this time of year, but nevertheless, we definitely have some reminders of our own kind of gratifying autumn…

Enjoy the upcoming weekend! Sweet blessings!❤️

-Alicia

Quenching Thirst

Hey there!! I realize my posts have been few and far between this year but right now I have time to write, along with a message of encouragement so I’m gonna take advantage of it!!

In our neck of the woods I am surprised camels haven’t shown up with the drought we’re experiencing! The heat from the sun has poured down heavily and meanwhile rain has been almost nonexistent. Crops, cows, and farmers would quickly attest to that!!

My own front yard which consists of what is typically hardy buffalo grass has even felt the sting of a dry, sweltering summer.

Buffalo grass usually looks after itself and can withstand warm temperatures with little watering required and still maintain a nice, healthy, pale green color. My husband and I noticed recently, however, that even our once strong grass was now fading to golden hues, with curled edges and in some areas there was nothing but large patches of dirt where grass once grew.

We needed to quickly improvise if we were gonna keep up on curb appeal with our yard. A trip to Ace ensued where we purchased a standing, rotation sprinkler and once we were home we set it up and turned it on immediately! No joke within one watering session there was a dramatically, noticeable difference. That ground along with its sprigs of grass was thirsty. Very thirsty. And it soaked up that longing for water while almost simultaneously producing fresh, green nourished results in return.

What a spiritual lesson in the midst…

As Christians we experience seasons of what feels like our own personal or internal drought. Jobs, relationships, health…they don’t always measure up to our expectations and therefore can leave us feeling depleted or dehydrated. At times, rather than reaching for Jesus (the only way we can quench our desperate position) we instead stay dormant much like my buffalo grass.

To overcome, action must take place!! My buffalo grass wouldn’t get better on its own without intervention. The same is true for us…

Bibles:

We must reach for our Bibles. Open them and immerse ourselves in God’s word and believe His truths for our good and His glory.

Prayer:

Just like the sprinkler in my yard is hooked up to its life source to replenish our buffalo grass…we have the greatest life source of all, Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us—to guide, remind, comfort and direct—and to connect us with the Father as we communicate our prayers and praises.

Music:

We have the blessing of music and the ability to saturate our heart, soul, and ears with rich, meaningful worship of our Savior—filling us with amazing, satisfying hope. Let’s tune in!

Fellowship:

We surround ourselves around likeminded Christians…none of that lukewarm stuff, that’s where the weeds have a chance to overtake…we need the fellowship of true, authentic Christ followers to spur us along for encouragement and growth in our faith!

Everyday we should thirst for Jesus’ overflowing goodness.

We are most certainly capable of staying spiritually hydrated when we make a conscious effort to keep inventory of our current condition and then follow up with action that draws hope from Jesus, the source of Living Water!! (Read John ch.4)

Soak Him up sweet friends!! Blessings this weekend!!

❤️❤️❤️

An Inexpensive and Thoughtful Gift Idea

I hope your summer, so far, has been an enjoyable one! Ours is flying by yet I feel like we haven’t been terribly crazy-busy so I’m not sure how the time is moving this quick!?

We went on vacation a few weeks ago to Moab, Utah and spent a lot of our time hiking which was amazing and so beautiful.

My girls had 4-H this past week and brought home grand champion and reserve champion ribbons for their dogs. Paige, our oldest daughter, showed her chicken and rabbits and also received grand champion and reserve champion ribbons for them.

The rest of our summer memories will consists of our church campout at the lake this weekend, a youth group trip that I’ll go on as a sponsor, a few days at church camp, and then VBS. School will start mid-August for us and will be here before we know it!!

Today, on the blog, I’m veering away from my usual “life lesson post” and wanted to share an affordable and creative gift-giving idea with you instead

A few weeks ago I got together with some friends as one of them was soon-to-be moving away. We wanted to celebrate her and wish her the best so we met up for Mexican food and fellowship!

I love gift giving, I’m not great at receiving gifts BUT love giving them. In my effort of being thrifty I wanted to come up with an inexpensive but thoughtful gift for my friend who was moving.

Not really sure how I came up with the idea, guess it was the Holy Spirit’s prompting, but I was lead to the ‘salt and light’ verses and came up with a gift idea that paired up with that piece of scripture.

Biblegateway.com

I bought a garden light for the encouragement that we are to let our light shine, and a package of sunflowers seeds to represent that we are the salt of the earth.

I also threw in a candy bar and pop, just for fun, as a reminder to ‘stay sweet’.

Because the cost was reasonable (under $3 per bag) I ended up giving each of my friends one of these gift bags when we met up for supper to show my appreciation for them.

It’s no secret that the cost of EVERYTHING is going up these days. Groceries, fuel, insurance…all have seen an increase.

It’s frustrating but it’s a part of life right now. God’s word, however, reminds us to not worry—that we need only trust in Him. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Gift giving is something God has put on my heart as a way to encourage others and I’m not about to allow a harsh economy to step in the way of that.

After putting these together I was thinking of other scriptures and gifts that would go well together:

flower seed packets, a watering can, and gloves

“And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” —Isaiah 58:11

a peace lily plant

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15:13

a fruit basket

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. —John 15:4-5

If you have any ideas for inexpensive gift-giving and encouragement share them in the comments! Have a blessed weekend!!

%d bloggers like this: