Burnt Popcorn Lessons

Lately I’ve been volunteering to help in our church office on Monday afternoons.

I show up with half my house usually—plus my homeschooled daughter (every now and then). There are times when I have extra task to do while I’m there so I keep busy, other times I’m able to settle in and catch up on a good book or work on a Bible study or other personal things.

Having McKenzie with me I make sure to keep her occupied by leaving schoolwork for the afternoon so she has something to do to pass time.

Last Monday after her and I situated ourselves in the office she declared she was ready for her popcorn snack. She’s pretty serious about popcorn so I headed off to the kitchen immediately with the unpopped bag of popcorn in my hand and an eagerness to please my child as my mission.

All microwaves are different right?!!!

I placed the bag inside, closed the door, and hit the popcorn button…1 minute and 30 seconds…‘that doesn’t seem like it’ll be long enough’…I confidently thought to myself. And when the time was up sure enough there were still many pops happening one right after the other. I determined it was definitely in need of more cook-time and that surely there were unpopped kernels still nestled inside…so within a few seconds I had the microwave fired up again, setting the timer for one minute, and listening closely for the pops to begin again….ten seconds gone by…no pops…ten more seconds…still no pops..burnt scent…yes!!! I removed the bag with a puff of smoke trailing behind but was still hopeful that the contents might be salvageable.

Returning to the office where my sweet and charming girl was waiting for her buttery, salty treat I was greeted instead by an unimpressed, dejected expression followed by, “What did you do, mom?!!?”

The smell of burnt popcorn lingered all around.

I quickly explained and tried to resolve my poor attempt at popcorn-making by deciding I’d sift through the bag to gather any edible pieces, but once I pulled apart the seams, smoke poured out!! And continued to pour out…Y’all this isn’t even me being my overdramatized self, this is 100% serious-me right now!! McKenzie sulked in disgust and I laughed in true Alicia-character, it was all I could do in my humiliation.

Pastor Jeff came down to the office and his look said it all; any question of my craziness he may have ever had well he now had full confirmation. His wife and I are best friends and he knows we’re nuts together but this gave final validation that I’m crazy even without her. Our senior pastor strolled on down to the office as well and gave a chuckle of his own, as did the children’s director (actually she was laughing before she even stepped in).

I was nervous the smoke alarms were gonna sound…in some buildings when that happens the fire department waste no time and shows right up and I absolutely was not okay with that happening.

Each time I’d open the bag to cool, the smoke would billow out. I contemplated what to do…If I put it in the trashcan it might set papers on fire, if I kept it sitting out in the office the smell would choke us out.

I finally rolled it up, clipped it with a clothespin, and shoved it into my lunch bag zipping the top of my lunch bag closed tightly.

The smoke cleared after a while, but my hands smelled of burnt popcorn for the remainder of the afternoon even after washing with soap and water and using hand sanitizer several times.

I share this story with you because later that evening when I told my husband about it I laughed hysterically while McKenzie and I recalled the details — by then McKenzie had finally found laughter in the situation.

But as we explained our afternoon, I soon thought about how this was actually a result of me wanting more!!…unsatisfied with what I’d received.

And on a broader scale there are many times I’m guilty of wanting more…more shoes, more money, more home updates, more gluten-free peach crisp…more popped kernels of popcorn.

But “more” isn’t always in favor with me…because “more” can, at times, be the direct indication of selfishness.

If I want more shoes, then I need more closet space; if I want more home updates then I need more money. More peach-crisp means more sugar intake…you get the idea..

“More” can be overwhelming as it begs to cause discontent in my life and it threatens to take my eyes off Jesus.

Hebrews 13:5 says, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

When the popcorn is burnt beyond rescuing, or the bank account is lingering below comfort, the Ray-ban shades don’t fit our budget, a friendship is faltering — we must remember that God is still God and He alone offers MORE than we could ever imagine to satisfy our greedy tendency.

My desire for more, needs to be wrapped up in wanting more Jesus. Through a healthy relationship in Him, true contentment and satisfaction are found with a lasting fulfillment.

A Thorn In My Flesh

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you know I openly share about past struggles and overcoming adversity through Christ’s strength. I’ve wrote about my failures and the reality of how I used to live one hundred percent in the world and not at all in God’s word.

There are times when Satan still torments my thoughts with shame or regret from my past—and it’s in those moments where I have to press into God’s truth, allow the Holy Spirit to remind me of memorized scripture, and spend time in prayer to counteract and push those thoughts away. I want so badly to not only push them away, but to throw them out, entirely…But I think of Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 12:7b and it helps me sort out my ongoing battle, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” -2 Corinthians 12:7b

The Bible isn’t clear on what Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was, but the phrase was used in a metaphorical state rather than a literal thorn in his flesh. We know this because he refers to the thorn given to him as ‘a messenger of Satan’.

It could have been a physical, spiritual, or mental ailment that Paul dealt with—whatever it was, he was given this “thorn” to keep him from becoming prideful. Paul was commissioned directly by God to spread the gospel and could’ve easily had an opportunity for bragging rights because of it, but the thorn acted as a reminder to not do so.

This thorn must’ve been a constant nagging or nuisance to him. Three times he prayed for it to be removed, yet God refused. (vs. 8)

God had purpose for the thorn in Paul’s flesh and it’s shown as we read and witness Paul’s strong character, humble mannerism, and zealous heart for missionary work.

The fact that Paul’s thorn in the flesh is never thoroughly described (as to what exactly he was dealing with) gives me hope; it makes it easy to relate and apply this scripture-insight to my own struggles.

Further on in verse 9 God drops this unarguable declaration on Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul doesn’t make any attempt to resist, rather his immediate and confident response in verse 10 is this: “That is why, for Christ sake, I delight in weaknesses, and insults, and hardships, in persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Don’t miss those words. A humble Paul sets a perfect example submitting to God’s will, nevertheless, with a thorn in tote and a messy past behind him—knowing his strength is because of Christ.

I know I’m not alone in my struggles. Those words of understanding between God and Paul are as much for Paul’s encouragement as they are for us. Some of you reading this post and these scripture verses right now are suffering mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally just like I do at times and we need to hold onto the promise of hope held in these verses.

Let’s back up just one more time to what God proclaimed over Paul in verse 9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Whew!! Good stuff.

This means that even in my weakness, in your weakness…God’s mercy and grace remain—regardless of negative circumstances.

At times my husband and I want nothing more than to pack up and move away from these old stomping grounds of ours. A chance at a fresh start where no one knows our past. We live in the very place where we once ran wild…but every attempt we’ve ever made toward moving away has always been shot down.

And in the midst of that I can feel God’s leading over our lives: ‘Right here is where I’ve placed you, and here is where you’ll stay. In this place, at this time, is where I’ll use you…even when you feel weak…I’ll use you for My purpose, through My power and My strength.’

…I’m in awe when I evaluate and take inventory of the ways He indeed has used us—regardless of our vulnerability, weaknesses, or insecurities.

I feel grateful as I teach 4th and 5th graders each Sunday morning at church, honored to help lead youth group over a bunch of crazy jr. high kids, and humbled when I take the opportunity to share God’s word with others…all for His purpose…even if it means I must do it with a thorn in my flesh.

God’s power transcends my weakness every time.

Wednesday night Pastor Trevor talked to our youth kiddos about ‘putting your past behind you and moving into the future with God at the top,’ and I want to leave you with the very words he gave them, “Getting past your past, means giving God your present.” …Goodness, I just love the simple, straightforward truth in that message!❤️

I’m heading to a lake-house cabin this afternoon for a relaxing weekend with some good friends from church, looking forward to it!! Hoping you all have a blessed weekend as well!!

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Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you Vivian from God’s Whispers of Truth for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I always enjoy reading your blog for sweet inspiration and encouragement!

Be sure to check out Vivian’s blog if you haven’t already. Click on the link above and then read her “my story” page under the menu option and you’ll be hooked—you’ll see for yourself what a brave warrior she truly is.

About the Sunshine award:

This award is given to creative, positive and cheerful bloggers by other bloggers as a token of appreciation and admiration.

Here are the rules:

• Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.

• Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.

• Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

• Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

I’ll answer the questions Vivian had for me first:

1) What is the bible verse/passage which you turn to the most for comfort?

I’m obsessed with Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength‘….probably because it was the first verse that spoke to my broken, lost heart at the time, it grabbed me and directed my attention to God, and still has a grip on me. It was also the first verse I memorized on my own without someone else’s input or influence. Continue reading “Sunshine Blogger Award”

Furry Pinball and Faith

My girls spent the past week at church camp with my mom…in return I watched my (special needs) brother for her…and her crazy, wiry, ball-of-fire dog.

**don’t let his cute looks deceive you**

My brother was the easy part, but the dog (Beardsley) exhausted his stay after the first five minutes when he marched into my home like he owned the place and wanted to mark his territory. That was Friday evening.

Saturday he barked most of the day.

Sunday, before church, my husband and son went on a high speed chase after him on foot for 45 minutes; he’d slipped out the door and thinks this kind of thing is a game. In reality the only one enjoying their self is the dog.

Early Monday morning we put Beardsley out to potty and within minutes the neighbor pounded on our door like the police to dramatically inform us the dog was obnoxiously barking…thank you Captain Obvious. Continue reading “Furry Pinball and Faith”

Oh This Ladder! (Poetry)

If you read my post last week you know that I acquired a ladder that my dad used to use for his construction business—it’s not just any ordinary ladder—it’s rustic and wooden, and has a lot of wear and tear.

This was super exciting for me because my dad has been gone for nearly twenty years…meanwhile this ladder has just been hanging out in his retired garage…BUT I salvaged it! Continue reading “Oh This Ladder! (Poetry)”

I’m So Glad You’re The One Taking Care Of Me Today (PART 2)

Losing someone unexpectedly is one of the hardest parts of life.

There’s the ‘what if’ questions…

What if (he or she) was still here? What if I could’ve told them what I didn’t get to? Or what if I’d have been more present?

I wrote in PART ONE of this post that my dad, in his helpless, quadriplegic body, looked my mom in the eyes the day he died and said, “I’m so glad you’re the one taking care of me today.”

What if, like my dad, I looked at the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty?

What if I focused on the sweet memories I have of my dad? What if I held onto the time I spent with him, rather than dreaming of times that never got to happen?

Well, what if???Continue reading “I’m So Glad You’re The One Taking Care Of Me Today (PART 2)”

I’m So Glad You’re The One Taking Care Of Me Today (PART 1)

Warning: Sensitive material for some

It’s been eighteen years (today) since my dad died. It’s hard to even put those words together. He’s someone who hasn’t made it easy to ‘just get over.’

When you love someone so much and then lose them, it changes everything.

I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts the story of my dad, but for new blog followers and my own thought process (and anyone else) here we go…. Continue reading “I’m So Glad You’re The One Taking Care Of Me Today (PART 1)”