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

Taking Directions From the Holy Spirit

Recently I was invited to a ladies gathering —just a sweet night of worship and fellowship time.

One of the women in our church was hosting at her house and I was unfamiliar with the address but thought I had a pretty good idea of the location. Nevertheless I typed it into Google maps this way I could have some reassurance.

Once I got closer to my destination though I began second guessing the directions my phone was offering. It pointed me to continue driving forward another half-mile but my unreliable self-made navigational skills were urging me to take the next left instead.

Reluctantly I listened and followed the GPS directions rather than my wavering mind. This is rare for me.

But guess what…I made it (without fail, rerouting, or wasted time) right to my destination.

After the evening was finished, and I was on my way home, I couldn’t help but ponder the irony of my “almost-wrong turn” I about made on the drive there.

I thought about how similar to my faith-walk at times…

God guides with perfect accuracy and I second guess, opting for my own curvy path—mindless to yield to the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

It’s interesting how, often times, I’ll ask God for direction or comfort over something I’m struggling with and He readily answers through a Bible verse, the words of a song, time in prayer, or the wise words of a friend and yet I completely miss the ‘spiritual’ road signs.

This is such a work in progress for me.

To help navigate life’s roadblocks, I love the reminder and truth of Jesus’ words spoken to the disciples in John 14:26-27:

“But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I will give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

What a great depiction of how the Holy Spirit moves and will never lead us astray.

Allowing Him to speak into us will deter us from getting stuck by the wayside.

When our thoughts and actions align with what God’s word teaches it’s a clear indication that we’re allowing and listening to the Holy Spirit as He pours into our hearts with truth, love, encouragement, healthy thoughts, peace and positivity. When we feel and sense those things we’re surrendering to God’s faithfulness rather than our stubbornness.

The Holy Spirit will always usher us within the guardrails of peace and Jesus’ way—anything other than this just isn’t of Him and must be dismissed from temptation or acceptance. I can’t come up with a better route to take as I journey through this life toward my Heavenly destination.

Weekend blessings to you all.❤️

22 ‘God-Is-For-Me’ Affirmations (backed by scripture)

I’m gonna waste no time and get straight to raw transparency here…I’ve been in a season of life that feels like perpetual nagging in my heart and mind—downward spiraling thoughts of inadequacy, brokenness, and just flat-out self-depreciation. And it’s been tough, so tough.

I’d love to blame Covid, from a week of being cooped up in my room, away from family over the Thanksgiving break, allowing my thoughts to trail…but I’m certain the overwhelming distress would’ve caught up to me at some point regardless of Covid-isolation…Satan and a fallen world are the real culprits.

In this struggle, however, God has lead me to and blessed me with the kindest, most patient, sense-talking therapist one could ever imagine; and (as a result) even though I’m still surrounded by deep waters I can feel God’s strong presence keeping me afloat.

I’m probably 30 years past-due on counseling sessions so the content of discussion with my therapist is wide and harsh. I’m thankful for my husband and mom to debrief with afterwards.

The encouragement is sincere and passionate and for that I am grateful. Though the shoreline is a far distance off yet, my hope is fixed on an anchor of faith.

Friend, maybe you too are facing waves of difficulty in some way, but I pray you’d join me—embracing the calming, reassuring reminders of ‘God-for-us.’ I’ve compiled 22 affirmations of God’s faithfulness backed by scripture, with the intention that the solidity of these words would become more than just simple phrases and all about rich, heartfelt truth and comfort.

Read into them, pray through them, allow every single word to embody you…I’ll be doing the same.

GOD LOVES ME.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. —John 3:16

God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. —Romans 5:8

We love because God first loved us. —1 John 4:19

GOD HAS SAVED ME.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18

For anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. —Romans 10:13

GOD FREES ME FROM FEAR.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. —2 Timothy 1:7

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “do not fear; I will help you.” —Isaiah 41:13

GOD PROVIDES ME WITH SAFETY.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. —John 16:33

The righteous person may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all. —Psalm 34:19

The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. —Psalm 121:7-8

GOD HEALS ME.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds. —Psalm 147:3

GOD IS MY HELPER.

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth. —Psalm 121:2

So we say with confidence, the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? —Hebrews 13:6

GOD CARES ABOUT ME.

Give all your worries and your cares to God, for He cares about you. —1 Peter 5:7

GOD EQUIPS ME.

All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. —2 Timothy 3:16-17

GOD POINTS ME TO TRUST IN HIM.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. —Proverbs 3:5-6

When I am afraid I put my trust in you. —Psalm 56:3

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. —Psalm 84:12

GOD DESIRES FOR ME TO REST IN HIM.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

Be still and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10a

GOD STRENGTHENS ME.

For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. —Philippians 4:13

Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, put on the full armor of God so that you can take a stand against the devil’s scheme. —Ephesians 6:10-11

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. —Psalm 29:11

GOD COMFORTS ME.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. —Psalm 23:4

GOD FILLS ME WITH JOY AND HOPE.

You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. —Psalm 16:11

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. —Isaiah 40:31

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11

GOD LEADS ME.

In their heart humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. —Proverbs 16:9

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. —Psalm 119:105

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. —Psalm 23:2

GOD IS WITH ME.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9

The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” —Exodus 33:14

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10

GOD BLESSES ME.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. —2 Corinthians 9:8

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. —Psalm 84:5

GOD FORGIVES AND REDEEMS ME.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9

As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:12

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. —Ephesians 1:7-8a

GOD HAS MADE ME NEW.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. —2 Corinthians 5:17

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. —Galatians 2:20

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. —Isaiah 43:18-19

GOD GIVES ME PEACE.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. —Galatians 5:22-23

GOD HAS CHOSEN ME.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession. —Deuteronomy 14:2

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. —Ephesians 1:4

GOD DIRECTS ME TO LOVE OTHERS.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. —1 John 4:7

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. —John 13:34

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. —Philippians 2:5

GOD WANTS ME TO LOVE MYSELF.

I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. —Psalm 139:14

To acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper. —Proverbs 19:8

For no one has ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, as the Messiah does the church. —Ephesians 5:29

The Darkness Has Not Overcome the Light

I’m finally feeling back to myself again! Which is a good thing I hope!!

I had Covid over Thanksgiving and man I feel for anyone who battles Covid physically, but for myself it really messed with me mentally—and with my emotions as well.

It was the reality of being secluded from my family (in effort to keep them from getting sick) over a holiday that’s bent on togetherness—that’s what really got to me. And although I tried to stay focused and connected to God through reading His word, devotions, and prayer through it all, Satan managed to squeak his ridiculous way in to play mind-games with me.

I struggled with the realization that my kids are growing up so fast…I worried that I didn’t enjoy them enough as babies…I longed to hug each of them individually and apologize for my crazy mood swings over the years…I feared that I’ve messed them up for future parenting of their own one day…

Forget doctor’s orders to stay hydrated, instead I filled up on shame and regret, even digging up dirt on myself from pre-Christian years and settling on the messy memories I have of childhood trauma. My thoughts felt completely out of my control. A total downward spiral. It was absolutely miserable and ugly. I was devastated and I cried a lot. A lot!

Looking back I can only now see how silly this must seem but it truly felt smothering at the time.

When Satan has his way with our thoughts it can cause those valley-seasons to feel like we’re endlessly cratering. The sense of darkness can seem overwhelming and paralyzing.

BUT THERE’S HOPE WHEN WE REMEMBER JESUSwhen we fix our eyes upward—when we cling to God’s faithfulness and we fill that somber void with His peace—when we remember seasons are only just simply seasons, and new ones are fixing to surface.

Several times during my depressive state, I would literally, pronounce, “get behind me Satan.There is power in our words and putting Jesus in front of everything else makes a profound difference.

Recognizing the struggle and anguish I was experiencing, I focused on verses 4 & 5 from John 1, stating that the darkness has not overcome the light…

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Our tree is now up to celebrate the Christmas season, and goodness the golden-colored lights wrapped around it are such a reminder of the beautiful truth in those verses. It amazes me that such tiny little lights can put out such a bright illumination…at night they cut through the dark effortlessly with such a stark contrast.

What a wonderful portrayal of the very way Jesus operates…He longs to overflow our darkest days with the hope and energy of His light if we’ll allow ourselves that kind of power supply.

Maybe you can relate with me and sometimes experience what feels as if it’s a shortage every now and then but as we stay connected to the Light, the darkness will never, ever overcome…and that’s something worth brightening our outlook!

You Version pic

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” —John 8:12

LET GO & LET GOD

I love words which makes sense given the fact I write a blog so when I spotted customizable letter peg boards at Hobby Lobby I knew I’d purchase one eventually—but a couple of years ago when we hosted a foreign exchange student she bought one for me as a Christmas gift unknowingly (to her) that it was a piece I’d been admiring previously.

I remember the first time I was deciding which words I would clip to the board. I wanted something that was simple, truthful, and that spoke boldly to me.

I chose “LET GO & LET GOD.”

For me those words sum up how every concern, fear, worry, or negative that crosses my thoughts should be handled. But I must admit, often times it’s easier to read them than to put them to action.

After that phrase was displayed on the letter board for a few months my always curious exchange student asked me one day if I was ever going to change it to something different.

Honestly I’m not sure I can come up with something more fitting,” I responded.

…And to this day those same words cling to that little gray letter board.

As my husband and I have been currently remodeling our home I’ve rearranged wall decor also and that particular piece has now been transferred from the dining area to a wall in our kitchen.

As I was in the process of moving it, I held the board in my hands and realized that phrase had simply become nothing more than the plaque it stuck to—just another home accessory like the rest of my wall decor. The meaning of those words had lost their luster in the same way most collectables do.

The thought left me with the sting of guilt and I paused on those words…

LET GO & LET GOD

I considered how fragile my heart and feelings have been recently, how stressed I’ve felt lately, and how I’ve been doing anything but “letting go and letting God.

And I realized when we truly consider those words, applying them to an unsettled heart can make a huge difference.

When concern hits, “let go & let God.”

When fear threatens, “let go & let God.”

When worry consumes, “let go & let God.”

What other choice do we have?

As Christians, if we are going to claim faith in Jesus then trusting Him with every area of our lives is something we should be doing also—along with placing control in His perfect plans.

I love Proverbs 3:5-6 for this reminder—

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.

That verse is the beauty behind the deep meaning of, “LET GO & LET GOD.”

I don’t want those words to hang from my wall without grabbing my attention each time I see them. I want them to fall fresh on my heart every time. I want my thoughts to anchor to the value they hold and turn to the God they point to.

There’s not a one of us who doesn’t struggle at some period or another, but it’s when we take a wavering mindset heavenward that we see a quicker path of healing. When we turn to God with a “let go & let God” attitude we are met with beautiful mercy and grace.

This is something that is very much in my own need of practice just as much as it might be yours. I pray that as we face difficulties or control-freak antics it would be without hesitation that we would counteract by letting go and letting God.

Sweet Labor Day weekend blessings to you all! I’m headed to the mountains for a much needed getaway with my family and some amazing friends of ours.

Until next time!❤️

Taking Inventory On Our Habits

Well I’m pleased to say I’ve had a better week than the last two. Despite a mini water park voluntarily emerging in my basement yesterday, this week has still been good.

…We’ve been working on a house project and with that we had our washer and dryer permanently moved from upstairs to the basement to allow more space. After a week of working smoothly the sump pump (which is supposed to push water out of the basement) backed up and we ended up with water pooling up on the utility room floor and seeping into the hallway. It could’ve been much worse but thankfully my husband noticed it early, located the issue and it should be back in working order soon!

As our house remodel has been underway, I’ve been consistently reminded of the word “habit”.

First off the idea of moving the washer and dryer to the basement to begin with seemed ironic to me from a reasonable point of view because having them upstairs sounds pretty convenient right? When the washer and dryer are steps away from the dining room table you’d think a person could create an effective system out of that.

And I’m sure most people could.

Not me though.

I operate on distraction mode…usually…so often times when I’d make it a point to do the laundry (when it was upstairs) I’d be interrupted by something else and not great about sticking with my task of washing clothes.

I’d deeply formed a bad habit.

But I knew, like all routines, a new habit was possible once they were moved downstairs and I could train myself to do better. And up until yesterday’s messy surprise I had!! I actually look forward to doing laundry now that it’s in the basement. Weird.

Our remodel has brought a lot of changes and things have been temporarily put in new places. Two of those things are the dogs’ food and water dishes and our kitchen trash can.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve went to throw something away and been reminded that the trash can is no longer in the same spot.

And it’s been funny watching the dogs jet over to their “refueling station” only to do a quick u-turn remembering that their dishes have been relocated to my bedroom for the time being.

None of these mindless habits are such a big deal that I’ll lose sleep over them but it shows how easily routines stick, for better or worse.

We all fall into the patterns of habit—physical or mental habits. Good habits. And not so good habits.

Sometimes we become so comfortable in our ways that we can’t easily recognize when we’ve gotten in the rut of a bad habit.

We must intentionally take inventory noticing if those traits are healthy or not.

When it comes to bad habits Paul has some thoughts to share with us and some follow up advice. Let’s check out what he says in Romans chapter 7.

That’s a whole lotta “I’s” and “do’s” and “not’s” and “sin,” right?! But what Paul is saying is that he recognizes some bad habits have taken shape in his life and he wants to deal with them.

In verse 21b Paul sums up those verses above by saying this: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”

I so get this issue! Can anyone else relate with Paul and I?

So many things I get frustrated about with myself. In this type of ‘game’ I’m my own worst enemy at times. Forget the sidelines, I’m right there catching the negatives that Satan’s throwing.

This piece of scripture Paul writes is one of my favorites and I’ve made a GOOD HABIT of coming back to it time and time again because reminders are good and necessary.

Verses 24 and 25 are where the answer dominates the obstacle of a bad habit—whatever it might be: “What a wretched man am I! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

That right there is the solution—Jesus Christ brings us to the other side of our bad habits. He is our rescuefrom the negatives, from sin, from the bad habits we’ve fallen into Jesus will help us overcome.

Sweet friends whatever the struggle might be, we need to make a positive habit of going to Jesus again and again so we echo His example of healthy Christian living! He is our strength and hope, and following Him is a habit I never want to take for granted!!

Weekend blessings to you all!❤️

Scripture Memorization

Last week was a bit rough and I’m not sure this one has been much better.

If you remember from my post last Friday we had this rabbit at our house that my daughter was pet sitting for someone, it ended up getting sick and I shared a post about patience and prayer with the hope that it was getting healthier. Friday night came and the poor thing declined rapidly and didn’t make it. So awkward having to call the family and tell them.

Then just when I’d been thinking Paige’s driving was also getting better (which is necessary as she turns 16 the end of September)…while in town one day she was inches away from smacking a post at Walmart while backing up, then pulled out in front of somebody when coming away from the bank, and two blocks later she stopped at a red light and then got ready to take off again (like it was a stop sign). All within a half hour. Yikes, this girl! Not sure I’m gonna be able to graduate her from the school bus to her own set of wheels!

Another part of my week consisted of me receiving a phone call with an unexpected job offer. I accepted right on the spot because I felt it was a God thing, then after two days decided it was probably not a good choice so I fired myself and felt horrible making the phone call to let this lady know I wasn’t taking the job after all. Humiliating.

On top of that I’ve been stressed over our house project (installing ceramic flooring)—it hasn’t been without it’s share of trouble. And I currently have my fridge, stove, and kitchen table all in my living room while we replace floor so the entire process feels unorganized, crazy, and really time consuming.

None of these things are over-the-top traumatic but with them stress heightens and vulnerability unveils.

As my heart has felt unsettled and my mind has drifted from peace lately I know how pertinent it is to stay connected to Jesus.

Two verses have helped steady my emotions:

Give all your worries and your cares to God for he cares about you. —1 Peter 5:7

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. —Psalm 138:8

I love the simplicity of those verses yet the deep comfort and certain truth they provide.

God longs for us to go to Him with our troubles, fears, and worries. He meets us in our place of discontent offering us compassion and hope as a remedy.

When I began having those feelings of weakness and doubt through my current struggles I was immediately drawn to scripture that I’ve memorized over time. These pieces of scripture have taken the edge off my fragile mindset as the Holy Spirit lays comfort on my weary soul.

The importance of scripture memorization became clear to me when I first started getting real about my faith in my late twenties. There were so many obstacles in my way at the time and goodness was God’s word such a guide as I traveled a new-to-me path. Since that time I’ve continued to learn new scripture and memorize it.

What I love is that even though difficulties can seem overwhelming and impulsive, God’s word is solid and sure, and it offers direction over the twist and turns of life. There is literally a verse to cover any difficulty we face.

Often times the Holy Spirit will lead and remind me of a verse I have tucked in my heart and I’ll rest in those words of peace. If my mind feels absolutely blank I’ll simply do a quick Google search typing in something like, ‘Bible verses on worry’ (or whatever the topic/concern might be).

Over time, as I’ve memorized scripture I’ve recorded them on paper and I’ll periodically reread the verses and references to keep them fresh in my heart.

Here’s an example:

She’s a bit worn and in need of a reprint but still efficient.

Since the verses are aligned in one column, and the references in another, I can fold my paper so I can flip back and forth making sure I’m recalling each of them correctly.

So I might look at the reference side only and choose Romans 3:23 and then I’ll quote that verse and if I need to double check it I can flip back to the verse side to be sure I’m right.

There are many different memorization tools (flash card style, games, apps, etc.)—some work better for one person than another.

Hiding God’s word in our heart is a lifeline to Him. It’s incredibly useful and a sweet part of our relationship with Him as well.

When the darkness rises it’s such a blessing to choose God’s words of encouragement to rest in. Our situation may continue in gloom for a time but the trial fades as we walk opposite of it’s direction and intently in His—eventually we see the Light of His glory brighten.

I will continue to reflect on His word in the midst of my frustrations and even after—and whatever it might be that you’re experiencing I pray you’d be sparked to do the same.

Sweet blessings!

Raising Up the Next Generation

There’s an old family church camp about an hour from where we live. It meets just once a year (the last half of July) for ten days and people come and go as they please. Some stay the entire time, some a handful of days, and others just the day or evening.

My girls have enjoyed attending this camp over the past five or six summers. They’ll stay for a week at a time with either my mom or my best friend’s mom who help as children’s craft directors during that time.

Typically I take my girls to camp to drop off or I pick them up at the end of their adventure. I so look forward to these yearly visits, spending the late afternoon and evening taking in the comforting atmosphere of this camp.

Large cedar trees line the north perimeter of the flat buffalo grass campgrounds and at this time of year the surrounding cornfields are tall and green.

Some folks bring an RV and stay on the east side of camp while others rent out cabins on the northwest corner.

I love checking out what activities the kids have been up to and what they’ve been learning in their own little children’s chapel.

Teamwork

Located near the center of the property the old church bell clangs to bring everyone together—announcing wake-up times, service times, and meal times.

In the dining hall savory down-home meals are served three times a day. And sweet iced tea hits the spot on these hot summer days.

Teens washing dishes after supper

Everywhere you look everything is just filled with remarkable charm and an old soul feeling.

After a full belly in the evening hours church service follows. The camp chapel is this 1950s white, barn-style building filled with traditional wooden pews, large open beams and propped open windows. It’s a Jesus-loving, farmhouse-enthusiast gal’s dream.

Chapel in the background
Chapel, my little nephew

Gospel music is sung from old hymnal books during what’s called Harmony Hour and afterwards the featured camp speaker gives an evening service message.

Worship in the chapel

You guys the entire experience warms my heart. It’s such a tie to nostalgic pieces of history where life was slower paced and electronics weren’t all the hype and distraction of today’s world.

There are kids from toddler age to teen, and adults from early twenties to well seasoned. It’s a beautiful array of generations and seeing the older folks get so excited about the younger kids coming…well there just isn’t anything like it.

I took my girls to camp on Monday afternoon of this past week and I enjoyed all the sweet blessings and soaked in conversations with different age groups.

And I left camp that night with this feeling of communion (not the bread and wine type) but communion that serves in a way where a group of people are gathered and their thoughts share the same likeness—an intimacy pointing to Christ and His love.

When I read my Bible reading the next morning it came from Titus 2; I want to share those words with you (this was Paul encouraging and instructing Titus, a trusted and dependable companion to him).

TITUS 2:

Vs. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Vs. 3-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Vs. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Those verses cause me to reflect on Imperial Valley Holiness Camp—the way they cater to all ages and you literally get to witness the young and old interacting, enjoying, and respecting each other. Those verses are being fulfilled through this camp as an older generation passes down their wisdom, knowledge, and love to a younger one.

You may not be able to visit this camp for yourself but the heart of it lies within the pages of God’s word.

I pray people would flip open their Bibles and read and see for themselves what a life of hope and beauty can be had, our dark world is in desperate need of truth bent on leading the next generations to Christ.

It’s time to rise up, Christians.

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