Relating to Max (Paige’s dog)

Max, my daughter’s dog, only weighs a whopping three pounds but the little guy has the demeanor of a bulldog…most of the time…

I took this video (above…actually I’m not linking the video because it’s messing up my post) earlier this year where he’d somehow gotten over to our coffee table but now wanted back to the couch but couldn’t bring himself to take the step to do so.

Fear separated him from what he so desperately desired.

I consider the times where I’ve mentally visited that same posture — resistant to take the leap but desperately wanting to get to the other side.

For me, fear was my hangup just like with Max but mine was long-lasting instead.

Our lack of faith or trust plays out in the form of emotions like fear, anger, anxiety…and the bottom line is it points back to an error in our relationship with Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3 says, ‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

When I wrote ‘I’m Over You, Fear’ (last October) God did such an amazing work in me.

That word, fear, had hovered over me for years and years so that it had became so ingrained in me that I would, by habit, set myself up for failure. It was last year when I finally began to search my heart to figure out the problem and what I came to was that I had allowed different circumstances (from over the years) to define me which caused deep rooted fear as my internal self-label. I was living through built-up, unfortunate insecurities rather than releasing Satan’s stronghold to God — subconsciously resistant to giving them to Him for the benefit of peace and healing.

I look back and can’t believe how much time I let pass under the pressure of fear.

I know I write about fear a lot, but I do so because I realize how much of an issue it is for myself and so many others! Just this year, in 2020 alone, I’ve had multiple conversations with friends and complete strangers finally opening up about their real and ongoing struggle with fear.

The truth is…we can combat fear!! But we need to be intentional in pursuing Christ! Our relationship with Him needs to be alive and active, and the most important part of our lives.

Listen, Max didn’t get back over to the couch until my husband picked him up and moved him there. Max needed a helper and the same is true for us.

We must connect with God.

We need to understand that though our battles aren’t in our favor (it could be in the form of declining health, friendships on the brink, rocky careers — whatever area we need help) our faith will absolutely not fail when we’re making a daily conscious effort to connect with God.

He brings us peace and comfort if we will allow it and He’s big enough to handle us along with our problems!

Connecting with God looks like quiet time in prayer and reading His word. But it also includes listening to Him speak over our fears or whatever those feelings might be.

Listen to God speak over us.

Sometimes God answers our heart’s discontent through His word and prayer — other times through a Sunday morning church service, or through the wise words of a Christian friend.

Share our heart/feelings.

We knew Max was in distress because he unashamedly cried out in need, making his request known.

Allow your feelings to be made known to God and those He has placed in your life that you trust. Fellowship with other believers can be emotionally and spiritually therapeutic.

Joyfully soak in encouragement.

Max loves and finds comfort through my daughter’s voice, especially when Paige really sugar coats it with some baby talk…he listens excitedly then and it is a huge encouragement to him. Now God most likely won’t baby talk to us but we are His children and when we choose to listen He speaks truth and wise direction over us (in various ways) as our Heavenly Father.

We find encouragement through connecting with God, listening to Him speak truth over our emotions, and sharing our heart with those we trust. When we’re encouraged we believe there’s purpose and reason to celebrate! When we discover how freeing it is to be released from negative feelings we should desire more of God.

Maintain our relationship with God.

Max is so devoted to Paige it’s almost repulsive. All of Max’s fear and anxiety melts away the moment she scoops him up close to her. He usually puts up a rigid front against the rest of the family because he wants her to himself. He loves Paige that much. This I don’t recommend BUT in the same sense our daily relationship with God should be the dedication Max shows to Paige. We should want to be protective of our time with God, not becoming lenient.

Paige’s dog has developed a trust in her because the two of them pour love into one another and he faithfully follows her footsteps as his “choice person”.

I get it — because I get better, not perfect but better, at giving up my insecurities when I closely walk with Jesus…my choice person.

Our love for God, others, and self grows stronger the more we understand, develop and maintain positive habits learned from following Jesus.

Like Max, I too know I want to get to the secure side…and when I make my goals spoken and known I overcome the adversity with God right in the midst of it all.

I don’t want to write a story of fear but instead a story of faith.

Applicable verse:

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. —Psalm 94:19

Getting Over Those Toxic Thoughts That’ll Drive You Crazy

My almost fifteen year old daughter, Paige, is now old enough to drive with a school permit to and from school since we live outside of town.

That thought doesn’t at all settle well with me.

When I was seventeen my family was involved in a horrible car accident that took my father’s life…sometimes my mind trails back to that blacktop road and that ugly scene that forever changed my little world…

Now that my oldest child is behind the wheel I’ve struggled. I have such an uneasy feeling at the idea of my girl driving to school without an adult in the vehicle (or anywhere for that matter once she gets her actual driver’s license.)

In fact Paige has technically been of age for the past year to use the school permit and I have yet to allow it to happen. My mama bear instinct just wants to jump in and take over. As she’s practiced driving with her dad and I she’s done well, but I just can’t seem to get over that large bump in the road of my messy mind — the one of her driving without us in the seat next to her.

So I’m working on my thought patterns and I’m in a new book by Jennie Allen titled, Get Out of Your Head. Jennie shares about her own struggles in life and writes about the idea of overcoming those thoughts that lead to a negative downward spiral.

I love the words from 2 Corinthians 10 verses 3 through 5 where Paul writes, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

I have to truly live out taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ, especially the negative ones I have lately of my teenage daughter driving.

Jennie uses these verses of Paul’s in her book to magnify just how important, necessary, and doable it is ‘to destroy the lies that dominate our thought patterns.’

Remember I mentioned that I can’t get over Paige driving without an adult in the vehicle, that’s where my hang up happens…but the truth is she is so covered in security because Jesus is with her all the time…in or out of the car…and the bottom line is He’s by far a better protector than I can (or will) ever be.

That’s a thought I have to hold tightly to otherwise I’m setting myself up for failure and I’ll be darned if Paige nabs hold of my anxiety for herself.

This book of Jennie’s challenges me to ‘interrupt negative thought patterns’ by remembering ‘I have a choice.’

I have a choice.

I can choose to trust Jesus more than the obstacle. I can choose to believe He is perfectly in control. I can choose to love that His word navigates me along a trustworthy path…otherwise the most notable “driving log” is going to be the one where I drive myself and my family crazy.

Y’all I don’t know if you’re facing a struggle of some sort, if you’re trying to take matters in your own hands (or out of your daughter’s) but getting into scripture and reading Christian resources is absolutely hands down beneficial to our faith.

Click here to purchase a copy of Jennie’s book: Get Out of Your Head

I may not be quite ready to let Paige have a go on her own just yet but I’m getting closer and the more I ride alongside her the more I see her improving and I become more comfortable with the idea of her driving alone soon. It’s so ironically beautiful because it reminds me of the fact that the more time I spend in prayer, God’s word, and with fellow believers the more comfortable and closer I feel to Jesus. With out a doubt I know I’m on the right road even given the turns and bumps along the way because the truth is those obstacles give way for the opportunity of perseverance through Him. And though struggles are never much fun, we have the choice ultimately to let Jesus take the wheel (spiritually) over our fears or messes every time!!

Awe just look at her sweet face…she was appalled that I took that picture!❤️

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.

I’m Over You Fear!

Forewarning: this is a sensitive one…

Maybe you’ve noticed my absence in writing lately. I’ve honestly been trying to avoid this post and I haven’t been able to write anything else in the meantime…but I can feel the Holy Spirit whispering “write this out!!!”

So I’m going to be obedient — here we go…

“Why do you care what anyone else thinks about you?” she asked, almost begging it out of me with deep concern.

My eyes zeroed in on hers and my words went something like this as I revealed to yet another friend my very real and ongoing personal struggle , “I don’t know, I guess it goes back to my people-pleasing motives. As much as I want to think it doesn’t, I suppose the sexual abuse from my childhood probably messes with me still, subconsciously…and that’s why I’m bothered if I think someone has a problem with me.”

That conversation between my friend and I isn’t too terribly seasoned, the words of encouragement she spoke over me as we visited are still fresh on my mind.

Fear is something I struggle with almost daily. And fear of acceptance is my biggest battle.

I want people to accept me for who I am. I don’t want to let them down. I want them to be pleased with who I’ve become.

There are times when I feel like I’m okay and other times when I think I could largely benefit from temporarily living in a mental institute to sort out and nullify my crazy. My friend had caught me on a not-so-good day. Continue reading “I’m Over You Fear!”

A High, Low, and a Funny

3ED6D797-AE3C-4C5E-B52C-64F8CDB523E9
Photography taken by R. Peters

At our house we’ve adopted a great conversation starter when we gather around the table for dinner at the end of the day. Each of us verbally notes our high for the day, then our low, and lastly the funny of our day. It always amazes me how some days we’ve spent all day together yet each of us has something different to point out. Side note: sometimes when it’s my husband’s turn to state his high for the day he’ll keenly rattle off the “high temperature” for the day…before giving us his true answer.☺️

These table conversations are important because they cause us to know one another’s hearts, feelings, cares, and concerns a little more. Our kids enjoy the idea of being the only one in the “family spotlight” for a few moments during their turn, highlighting whatever it is for the day that stuck out most to them. Often times these smaller talks lead to larger discussions, taking it to a deeper level where we can really reflect, analyze, and engage with one another.

Since you and I most likely won’t be sharing dinner any time soon I thought I’d share my high, low, and funny over this past week (via the blog). Please feel free to do the same in the comment section below if you wish. Continue reading “A High, Low, and a Funny”

Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*This is part 3 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 2 are located at the bottom of this post

Growing up I took for granted the idea of family time and commitment. We had many fun times, but I failed to place much value on our years together while they were occurring.

AB98AAF1-3A61-4951-88F2-020EEDAAA123
Winter of 1999-a few months after my dad’s motorcycle accident

I’ve managed to mentally revisit and collect the moments we spent together and I hold on to those precious memories now.

I can also identify our number one struggle as well. We believed in God, but we were far from a relationship with Jesus, therefore our family-dynamic suffered in following Christian morals, which led to lenient parenting. Often times I was absent—drinking and partying with friends. House rules and expectations were shallow for me; late nights and a selfish mentality were abundant. Mistakes and poor choices were high as I ran wild.

It wasn’t until I was married with three young children and in my mid-twenties that I recognized the hurt and brokenness in me. I thought I could fix it on my own and I tried for the next five years.

I watched as my mother, meanwhile, had found healing over my father’s death by seeking Christ. I remember relying heavily on her for wisdom during that trying period and she pointed me to Jesus every time.

And then one day I finally submitted… Continue reading “Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)”

Part 2: Remembering My Dad (story)

As the years move on, I slip further away from memories of my dad. In this crazy, busy world I must intentionally reminisce of our times together or I risk altogether losing the memory of the sweet time we had together…”

639A5B15-4867-436F-91D8-A949151DCE35.jpeg
October of 1983-mom, dad and I

*This is part 2 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 3 are located at the bottom of this post

My father was not perfect, as no one is, but he was incredibly good to my mom, brothers, and me; hard-working and courageous and taking pride in caring for his family and looking after my epileptic mother. He struggled with drug and alcohol addictions for most of my younger years but eventually abandoned the two and in the mix found out who his true friends were. He began attending church regularly with my mom and us kids but soon afterward discovered an interest in an old-time hobby of his…

Dirt bike racing.

6D2A7447-B3FF-4FDB-A5AB-8F69096E5F7D.jpeg
Summer 1999-Photos from top left clockwise: mom, dad racing, brothers, me

Since the races were on Sunday mornings our church attendance as a family declined, while race attendance increased. The end of my dad’s first race season came in October of 1999 along with the abrupt end to his new hobby. Our lives were forever changed when a miscalculated double-jump left my father with a broken neck—paralyzed and ventilator dependent.

image
Christmas of 2000-our last family photo

During that time my dad lived hours away in an assisted health facility for proper care. We visited him often, but tragedy would strike again not even two years after the motorcycle accident.

We brought my dad home to visit for the Fourth of July weekend, upon returning him back to his “rehab-home” I fell asleep behind the wheel. My father didn’t survive the car accident. I was just seventeen at the time, my dad only thirty-nine.

A life cut far too short.

In an uncanny way, that accident was a blessing in disguise—that morning my dad had told my mom he ‘didn’t like living this way, that he was thankful she was the one caring for him over the weekend, but he didn’t want to live this way anymore…’

Whew..deep breath..heavy heart..

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*Part 3 follows with the lessons and faith I’ve found since my dad’s passing

Part 1: Remembering My Dad (poetry)

*This is part 1 of a 3 part series- links to parts 2 and 3 are located at the bottom of this post

I must admit with all honesty, and with a guilty conscience, that poems are not always my favorite thing to read or write.

I sometimes think they sound a bit gushy or sappy. Maybe it’s because in my daily language I don’t use the kind of effusive talk which is typically involved with poetry.

However—I truly do appreciate and respect the effectiveness in expressing and communicating deep thoughts through a poem, thoughts that may not have been conveyed otherwise. It’s for that very reason, I take advantage of the power of poetic writing. The idea of  describing emotions in few words, in a simple yet meaningful way, is appealing to me, for sure. Regardless of how corny the words may sound at times, poems make for a great opportunity to share true passions, experiences, and feelings in a practical, heartfelt manner.

With the Father’s Day celebration among us, I took to honoring my dad (who passed away when I was seventeen) by writing a poem:

DAD

Hunting, fishing, camping, riding—
Things you loved to do;
Family and friends—
Loved being with you.

Thankful for the years together we spent, Blessed for how they went.

Home early you left to be with Jesus,
Some days I still search for reasons.

The Father of you and I—
Our Father in Heaven,
He knows our time here,
He knows when He’ll call us there.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

Those memories I have of you,
The Lord truly blessed.
Those memories I have of you,
Are no doubt some of my best.

Some days reflecting back on those years,
Leaves me in tears.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

His ways aren’t for me to question,
But His words are for me to rest in.

Our Father in Heaven had a plan
When he made you my dad;
He brought me to you
to share as a daughter.

The Lord knew of our fun to be had.
He knew all our family would do.
He knew you’d love us like crazy too.

So it’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

F21A2625-328B-4822-AE4C-45D8C7686BCD
Dad and I..I was maybe 4 years old here

As the years move on, I slip further away from memories of my dad. In this crazy, busy world I must intentionally reminisce of our times together or I risk altogether losing the memory of the sweet time we had together…

*Part 2 follows with my dad’s story and part 3 with the lessons I’ve learned as a result

Why Do You Run?

This is a longer post, but I’ve tried to keep my posts at under a thousand words (many times) and well, I’ve decided I can’t do it! I only post once every week or two so it makes it seem justified I suppose. Blessings and hope you enjoy…

My favorite little fur-friend is covered in silver and tan color, weighs a whopping four pounds, mimics a bulldog stance with his front legs, possesses separation anxiety, and usually has a seizure once or twice a week. (We joke as a family that he inherited seizures from my mom and youngest brother who also have them.)

His name is Eli, but sometimes we call him Liza Jane, E Bug, E.B…

He’s our family dog—A three year old, purebred Yorkie who will never be used for breeding stock because of his many flaws; but in our eyes he’s perfect!

371B11CE-2023-4D91-8069-A6DF6F2CA5C0.jpeg
Just look at his cuteness!

On a busy Monday morning, with joint effort, my kids and I packed their small luggage bags into the back of my “mom van.” They were going to be staying the week at grandma’s so they could participate in Vacation Bible School (VBS) at the church she attends. After what seemed like we had just loaded everything they own (except for bedroom furniture) we set out on our twenty-minute drive to my small hometown.

On the drive I ran through my mind my perfectly planned Monday morning…

  • Drop the kids off at church for VBS
  • drive to mom’s
  • unload handfuls of bags
  • unload more and more bags
  • Spend a few minutes sorting paperwork
  • Visit with my younger brother all the while
  • Take Eli for a walk on the nearby walking trail

Afterwards it would be time to pick up kids from church, head to afternoon dentist appointments, and thereafter the kids would land at my mom’s so they could enjoy a combination of Grandma, zero chores, and Vacation Bible School, all for a full week!

It was perfectly scheduled in my control-freak mind.

We soon made it to the church and I dropped the kids off. Then I headed to the little house I grew up in where I was greeted by my brother who helped me carry gobs of bags inside.

Everything was going just as I had planned.

But after a few minutes something seemed off…

Eli? Where was Eli?…If I was going to stick to my “perfectly planned” itinerary I would need my dog for my walk that was scheduled to happen shortly. Continue reading “Why Do You Run?”

Jesus in the Center

C954C19E-2714-4638-8D6E-B18DB7ABCBCDAround the Easter holiday I came across an article where the author wrote: “Sorry Christians, but there’s only one reason I get excited about Easter, and it has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with those chocolate eggs filled with caramel in the center!”

…Hmmm, okay, those are pretty tasty, I’ll give you that, I thought to myself…

Not wanting to stir up any trouble, I quietly backed out of the website without making a “peep”…yes, I’ve included a few puns:/ lol.

But I couldn’t shake what I’d read, mainly because (forgive me while I challenge this mindset) mouth-watering, delicate chocolates can be bought year-round in any given grocery store—like there are whole isles devoted to sweet treats in a variety of chocolate smothered choices!! And Ghirardelli chocolates with the creamy caramel inside are available any day of the year and in my opinion they have it figured out just right, and they “beat” chocolate caramel Easter eggs anytime; so to get incredibly excited and hyped up over these “cheap” eggs I guess I don’t understand that. Further yet, to give more credit and recognition to chocolate eggs over Jesus during the Easter celebration or ANYTIME, I just can’t process that.

Realistically speaking, I just think it’s sad.

Obviously this person is far from Jesus, but it doesn’t mean he or she is unreachable. The truth is there are millions of others out there who are more excited over “chocolate” than Jesus, it may just be in a more subtle manner.

As a Christian I’m optimistic and realize everyone is capable of being saved if they’re willing. No one is too far from saving; it’s just some are looking for life to satisfy through a “chocolate-fix” rather than relishing in the everlasting sweetness that Jesus provides.

Where is the hope found when you function in a facade that way?

When I look back at my life before I came to Christ, I see a mess of “chocolate fixes.” As a teen and in my twenties I only knew and believed in Jesus as God’s son, but I was so far away from a genuine relationship with Him at that time. Continue reading “Jesus in the Center”