Removing the Mask

Incase you hadn’t read last week’s post, my grandma ended up sick a few months ago, to the point she spent some time in the nursing home…she’s home again now. Since then I’ve been helping with housework, grocery shopping and errands, and running her to doctor visits.

I’ve not been staying caught up on the Covid hype these days (besides praying over the situation) but I’m well aware that mask are required (no exceptions!!) when visiting the health clinic my grandma goes to each week. The first time I took her to an appointment there was another little old lady who entered the building without wearing one and caused quite a fuss which helped me see that I definitely won’t be trying that anytime soon! Needless to say, she was masked along with the rest of the waiting patients within seconds!

I usually walk my grandma into the clinic to help her get checked in, all along the bottom half of my face remains covered with a handmade mask. It’s one I purposefully sewed for these doctor visits with my grandma. It’s kinda cute if one could ever be, but it’s uncomfortable and a chore to wear; the moment I walk out of the clinic doors I happily peel it from my face and ears and wait in the car until my grandma’s appointment is finished.

Masks are something I’ve been familiar with long before Rona was ever a thing. There was a time I made a habit of wearing a “mental mask” every time I’d step into the presence of public. To anyone who didn’t know me well it looked as if I was healthy — wearing a smile and confidence all the while.

But the truth is that mask I habitually wore covered shame, regret, fear, anxiety and was as high maintenance as they come.

It honestly wasn’t until I began writing again and started this blog that little by little with each word and post that my miraged mask started coming apart one ingrained thread at a time.

And it felt good.

Every feeling, emotion, and experience poured out in this blog has helped encourage this idea of unmasking blocked pain and has brought me closer to Jesus as I learn to let go of hidden feelings.

Our youth pastor had us play a game via Zoom last month where our kiddos had to guess if the celebrity in the picture was smiling or frowning behind a “virtual” mask that had been placed over their nose and mouth. The kids would guess and then Pastor Trevor would click to the next slide where it showed that same celebrity photo but this time the virtual mask had been removed, revealing their actual look. In most of the “masked photos” you couldn’t tell at all if he or she was smiling, straight faced or frowning when their face was covered.

My point is that while mask cover facial expressions — mental mask disguise raw emotions.

…But hiding our trouble can cause us to give way to dishonesty.

It’s a heartbreaking reality.

And I just wonder how many others have been walking around mentally masked (with a mislead feeling of safety) way before this virus showed up?

Friend, if that happens to be you I want to encourage you with a few verses:

1 Peter 5:7-10 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.”

Writing (which has been therapeutic for me) doesn’t have to be your thing, but going to Jesus (with your afflictions) should be! He is our ultimate cure and promise of hope and mending.

While health mask are “debatably” meant to protect, mental mask destroy opportunities of healing through their ability of false representation.

When we follow Jesus, get into the Word of God, connect in prayers and worship, and form Christian friendships we unravel tightly woven threads of past hindrance and unveil the beauty of the heart in our radiant faces created by a God who never intended for us to be masked with emotional seclusion.

Rather than covering our feelings (risking truth and freedom from burden) let’s embrace our Jesus who will guide and direct us in removing those self-fabricated emotional mask…His love for us through the blood shed on the cross is really the only perfect covering we should desire.

Unconditionally Serving Grandma: It Never “Depends”

I’ve needed the important reminder of being a good servant as I’ve cared for my grandma over the past month. Looking after her has been challenging!

There are visits (y’all will think I’m crazy) when I make a beeline straight into her kitchen just moments after arriving and head right to the Lazy Susan cabinet, which she’s used as a pantry for years. I quickly crouch down, open the door, close my eyes, and let the longtime scent of spices mixed with baking products flood over me and it takes me back to happier days when I was just a little girl making sweet memories with my grandma in the kitchen.

Sometimes I just need reminded of who it is I’m serving.

…Still the same precious grandma just very dependent these days.There are instances where she ask me the same question seventeen plus times, days when she calls me four times in a row but she’s trying to phone my mom, and moments where she repeatedly tells me she’s just ready to go be with Jesus.

Side note: I don’t even think I’m being my typical exaggerated self with that last statement!!!

All of that (together) takes a toll on my “only” granddaughter heart. It’s hard to see someone I admire slip away, going from self-sufficient to considerably insufficient.

Recently (with perfect timing) our pastor’s sermon came from John 13 where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, demonstrating the love in His faithful servant’s heart.

In Bible times footwashing was a lowly job household servants took up when guests arrived. By Jesus’ willingness to wash His disciples’ feet He showed a humble example of equality, not considering Himself above others.

Let’s set the tone by checking out Jesus’ words (to the disciples) in verses 13-16:

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Ahhhh what timely words given the condition of our nation…Amen?!

And verse 17 follows up by saying, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Reading those verses in context allows us to see that Jesus didn’t look at this seemingly unpleasant task as burdensome but rather as a defining teachable moment, filled with blessing.

Overall it was the idea of serving others without applicable conditions, and it still fully applies as an inspiring example to us today.

I want to passionately and actively live out Jesus’ heart-actions, every single time I show up at my grandma’s house.

I learned “Jesus” from my grandma as a child and now I want to do my best to show her “Jesus” right back! Even if it means I’m a 36 year old hauling Depends around in my grocery cart or adding yet another package of toilet paper to her overwhelming stash in the bathroom’s linen closet…or emptying the trash can when it’s not even half full because she’s obsessive over it.

Serving my grandma is an opportunity to echo Jesus’ ways — and staying in His word, reading stories such as John 13, motivates me to want to serve exceedingly and abundantly well, bringing glory to Him all the while!

…This afternoon I’ll head over to my grandma’s to take her to another doctor’s appointment; but today I’m just gonna happen to bring along a foot bath and spa products as well…

CHALLENGE: Take time to find someone to serve as you go about your weekend, surely blessing will be in the midst…and then share your ‘serving story’ with me in the blog’s comment area!!

Take care friends!❤️

Kitchen Remodel and Thought

Alrighty here’s my ‘positive post’ as promised. Sorry I kind of went on a rant for a moment in that last post but I felt I needed to explain…I actually read through that yesterday and had to go through and delete about a half a dozen “and” words!

Moving along…be ready for lots of pics.

For the past few weeks the husband and I have been at work in the kitchen…no Paula Deen dishes getting whipped up here though…

Instead, what was supposed to be just a few hours of putting up shiplap for backsplash on a Saturday morning turned into a two week long project of sanded cabinets topped with a few coats of fresh paint, which then led to the idea of new wall color and custom floating shelves, topped with a make over on our kitchen door that exits to the garage.

Here was our kitchen before:I decided I was sick of the distressed look so that’s what sparked the decision to paint cabinets at the last minute after the shiplap was put up.

So here was the first step with the shiplap backsplash:For the shiplap we used plywood that Nate cut into 4 inch strips. We painted it, nailed it up with the nail gun and then touched up any nail spots. My excitement lasted for not even a half a second before I decided cabinets were getting painted and all the other hoo-ha.

For the paint on the cabinets I bought a pricey specialty chalk paint from an area seller which was worth every penny spent. It’s called Frenchic Al Fresco, originating from France and I might as well just say it: it’s like a drop of Heaven landed right in the paint can. This stuff glides on smooth as butter, leaving zero streaks or clumps. It also doesn’t require a sealer and can be used outdoors as well.

I’ve messed with other chalk paints but they’ve really been to no avail. This stuff will always be my new go-to every time I paint a piece of furniture.

The floating shelves came about as a result of me wanting to allow a little more natural light to spill into our kitchen, so we removed a few cabinets and replaced with an open shelf concept:

Click this link for the DIY YouTube video Nate used for the floating shelves if you’re interested.

This was the final look after shiplap, cabinets, wall color, and shelves were done. But there was one thing still bothering me…

That darn garage door…such an eyesore…so I got ahold of a tattoo artist (from the area) who’s shop has been closed over the past few months with the virus mess. She’s actually been supplementing income by using her talent to paint customer’s windows, outdoor concrete walls, and sidewalks so I figured why not add a garage door to her art gallery showcase. Click that link to see the local gazette write up featuring Ginny, she’s such an amazing gal. We had an awesome time visiting, plus I took her on a tour of our “impostering farm” afterwards which she absolutely loved.

I’m kind of a nut for wildflowers and they go with the whole farmhouse thing so the flowers are a combination of some of my favorites — sunflowers, poppies, and daises.

K so this is the FOR REAL FINAL look now:

Next up will be that kitchen table project!!…right Nate!?😊

***Without the cost of the door we spent under $200 for this entire kitchen makeover. Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or need tips if you’re considering tackling your own DIY kitchen remodel.***

Bare with me, here comes my devotional thought…

I keep standing in my kitchen thinking I can’t even believe this is mine, like I’m “wowed” by the fact that this Pinterest inspired style has taken up residency in my own house…and here it is — at the core truth it’s honestly just a trivial, little earthly thing…nothing fancy…nothing flashy…at all…but I love it!! And in the midst of my awe I’m reminded how God feels about each one of us. He graciously proclaims His love over us even though we hold onto physical and emotional scars and wounds that beg to lie and tell us we’re unlovable, even though our mouths disregard the warnings of James 3, and even though we mess up repeatedly. Right?

Just like my kitchen, no one is really that fancy or flashy because of our natural sin nature, we’re all prone to it. And if a person struggles with that fact, they should consider that even in a “state-of-the-art kitchen” or just a “plain ordinary one,” grease still splatters and cookie-crumbs fall to the floor when either type of kitchen is serving its purpose…

Check out our hope in Ephesians 2:4-5, and soak up these words with me:

“But because of His great love for us, God, who was rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.”

Two words, mercy and grace.

Mess ups, failures, flaws and all…God shows us a better way of life through Christ and He believes that, despite our shortcomings, we are worth more than we could ever fathom. How many of us would willingly give up our own Son on an old wooden cross for another’s life?

But God.

Because of you, because of me. Because of His love for us.

Rather than gushing over my freshly remodeled kitchen…when I stand within its white walls and pleasant charm I want it to serve as a reminder and be whisked by the fact that God loves me exceedingly and abundantly, even though I’m nothing fancy or flashy — I’m good enough for Him!

Thanks for reading today, have an amazing week!!❤️

Just So You Know

I’m pretty excited to share my next post with you! (The ‘happy’ one I’ll put up after this one…)

But let me just say I honestly feel like I can’t even post that next one without feeling a little bit guilty. And that’s unfair and sickening to me.

Because of the ridiculous rioting taking place it begs and tries to halt life, everyone’s life…bringing attention to the negative…and I’m just not going to revolve my blog around such nonsense. I have future posts planned that have nothing to do with the latest in news and yet there’s a lie trying to fester within me that keeps saying ‘my posts should only give thought and focus to the mess that’s currently happening.’ …Well that mess has Satan’s ‘yuck’ written all over it. I’m not saying I should be totally ignoring that lie, but I’m not about to feel like I shouldn’t be able to be excited and enjoying life just because of other’s poor decisions and dealings. I shouldn’t have to feel like all of my posts need to wrap around that situation or that if they don’t then I’m being insensitive.

I get the frustration. I get seeking justice. I get the protest. I get speaking out, but doing so with peace!! My heart breaks for the hurt of others. I FULLY want to see each and every person treated fairly and equally…but my posts will absolutely not get hung up feeling like I can’t write or share about the positive things that excite me nevertheless just because of this ongoing madness.

With that, it is my prayer that all people would seek Jesus — replicating His love for others. This might be my only post that ever mentions the latest news and that’s okay, I know where my heart lies. ❤️🙏

Finishing up I’ll leave you with a picture of our family spending Friday evening with some of our best family friends, who adopted four Haitian kids a few years ago.

When people have a discrimination issue they certainly miss out on some of the best, beautiful memories and moments that can happen. These kids are such an awesome blessing in my life and to my own kids as well. We’re so thankful to know and love them!

…and yes their mama gave me permission to post the pic and added through her own words that, “kids are such a shining example of God’s desire for us and they accept people how God created them.”

Thanks for reading friends, take care!

‘He has told you, O man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ —Micah 6:8

Learning in the Garden

Nate and I decided to plant our vegetable garden (this year) in large containers on our patio outback. This is definitely a means of rookie gardening for us.A few weeks ago when we transferred our plants from their indoor starter containers into the outdoor ones they weren’t looking too hot. I was like ‘ahh great here we go again killing off another season of veggies’…because when we’ve planted directly into the ground in past years that’s typically how we roll so I was bracing myself that this year’s gardening “experiment” would be no exception. But with my doubt, Nathan reminded me, “just give it time, it has to adjust to new soil.”

…And I think he’s right because over the past week these plants have really began to grow. They look good!It makes me think of someone new to the Christian faith; a life without Christ compared to a seasoned life with, should look dramatically different. Therefore those beginning stages can have kind of an ebb and flow effect as a new believer adjusts and learns fresh ideas, almost like a culture shock. Continue reading “Learning in the Garden”

Living on His Plans

When people talk about how they can’t wait for life to return to “normal”, I mentally stand on the other side thinking: ‘but I’m not 100% okay with the old kind of normal, the pre-covid normal…What changes do I want to see made within my family for our “future normal”…What is it that I want to grasp as a spiritually beneficial takeaway from this unique time?’…Because I don’t want to revert back to my Alicia’s world, impatient, on the go self when things do return to “normal”…my true colors usually show up best with a well thought out detailed itinerary…that’s part of my control girl flaw.

I’m trying to figure out how to mesh this current lifestyle (the things I’ve learned during my coronavirus-downtime) with what’s to come when life eventually does return to “fast-paced normal”…and the idea of loosening my firm grip on ‘itinerary-style-planning’ definitely needs to be part of a wiser planning method for myself.

We’ve all seen firsthand now how things can dramatically change in a matter of day to day living.

I have to laugh in spite of myself — back in late February, before I even knew the word coronavirus existed, I had sat down at my kitchen table and counted through my calendar all the days that I had marked down to substitute teach, and there were many. And in my eyes I was seeing dollar signs and the amount of money that I’d be able to tuck into savings to put towards a trip our family has/had scheduled this summer. In the midst of counting sub days I literally thought of how foolish it seemed because subconsciously I knew something could come up and any of those days could be taken from me, none of them were necessarily ever guaranteed to stay locked in. Sure enough every single one of them was canceled out through the end of the school year due to the virus. Continue reading “Living on His Plans”

The Wild Joy of Mothering and Prayer

Yesterday morning as I worked through my independent Bible study at the kitchen counter, I could hear the voices of my children connecting together — grouped up in my youngest daughter’s room the three of them laughed in between small talk and LEGO building.

Like music to my ears (hearing them bond) I shot up a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness to the One who encourages loving relationships. I thanked God for the laughter, for zero arguing and that the Holy Spirit would flood that room with joy. I closed with a blessed feeling of Amen.

No joke within seconds my boy comes storming out of his sister’s bedroom — head down, arms crossed tightly to his chest and feet stomping madly as he made a beeline straight for his basement bedroom.

Yup I’ve seen this move a thousand and one times before…

“Dude! Please get back here so we can talk about this situation, and when you come right away it shows me respect!” I pleaded.

With that, he turns around before hitting the steps and marches straight over to where I sat on the kitchen stool waiting.

“What in the world happened?…I just finished offering up a prayer of thanksgiving that y’all were getting along so well and I even boldly requested that Satan stay the heck out of that room, so how did things turn south so suddenly?” I spouted out calmly but rationally.

Our eyes met and a sly smile spread across my son’s playful face immediately, followed by — “I was just kidding mom, we’re fine!”

Goodness! Isn’t mothering full of surprises? Continue reading “The Wild Joy of Mothering and Prayer”

Garden Sign…DIY # 5

I’ve never been so excited to welcome warmer days as I have been this year!!!

In my state cold weather stretched a little too far out this year for my liking. Being stuck in my house because of chilly, windy days doesn’t always settle well with me. I’ve done alright with the idea of “quarantine” because I can still hang out in the yard, take walks, bike rides, etc. when the weather cooperates. But “stuck INSIDE due to cold temps and windy days” gets me stir crazy so everyday that warms up and the closer summer gets you can find me outdoors…somewhere.

…And honestly maybe colder days haven’t been much different this year than any other year but it sure feels like they’ve drug on and on to me but then again I’m partial to 70s and hotter!

Nevertheless we’ve managed to get a garden planted over the past few weeks which I’m super stoked about. This is our first year to plant a garden in containers outback on our patio…We’ve got basil, squash, banana peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green beans and strawberries growing out there. I feel like it’s a science project but things are looking good…this week anyways.❤️ There’s something seriously therapeutic for me about gardening — the rhythmic sound while watering, contrasting colors of dark soil and the signs of life in those green plants, the anticipation of “harvest” time….love it!And I get just as excited about my flower garden too. Sooooo when my mom called me this past week to explain about a garden sign she wanted to make I was like “yes ma’am and I’ll make myself one too!”

It’s Spring! I’m so excited I wet my PLANTS!

Side note: My daughters are equally embarrassed by the saying and absolutely didn’t want it out front in the flower bed so it went straight to the backyard on our patio with the vegetable garden after it was finished.

**Super easy to make and right in time for Mother’s Day….if you start today…

Here’s what you’ll need: Continue reading “Garden Sign…DIY # 5”

A Finished She Shed part 2

Last Fall I posted A She Shed in the Making part 1 where I shared that Nathan had this brilliant idea to build me a she shed as a fifteenth anniversary gift! I’m pretty sure by the time we hit up the building material store he was wishing he’d have never entertained the idea…but alas six months later the she shed is pleasantly finished! When my husband started it at the end of last year the weather turned pretty cold so he made sure he got it buttoned up on the outside and the inside waited until warmer days over the past month. I’ll share photos and let them do the talking.

Also if you’ve hit up this post due to a tag-link and are in the midst of planning or building a she shed then WELCOME!! Let us know if you have any questions or need hints on how to go about this or that. We have quite a few cost saver tips too!

Continue reading “A Finished She Shed part 2”

Mystery Blogger Award

Thank You Gail of gaillovesgod.blog for nominating me for the Mystery Blogger Award. Gail has a wealth of Biblical knowledge, a ginormous love for God, and shares her testimony in a way that points to Him! You can check out her blog here! Thanks so much Gail for the nomination!❤️

Here are the guidelines…

• Put the award logo on your blog

• Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog

• Mention the creator of the award
The creator of this award is..Okoto Enigma

• Answer the five questions you were asked

• Tell the readers three things about yourself

• Nominate ten to twenty bloggers

• Notify the bloggers that you nominated them by commenting on one of their posts

• Ask your nominees five questions with one weird or funny one

• Share a link to your best posts

Three things about myself:
1. control-freak….yikes!
2. I’m reading a book to help deter that flaw (Control Girl by Shannon Popkin)
3. Jesus is my saving grace!! Continue reading “Mystery Blogger Award”