Disappointed But Not Hopeless

Y’all I was gonna try and avoid this post and publish this month’s DIY instead — but every time I try to write something else my thoughts take over — can’t avoid reality so I guess this is meant to be. I’m just being honest and hopefully something can be gained from where I’m going with this post.

During the middle of the night, recently, I woke up abruptly, this feeling of ‘unrest and overwhelm’ flooded my mind.

I won’t get terribly political (I hope) but here was some of what was rallying around up there: ‘for crying out-loud my husband works in the oil field, Biden seeks to replace oil with renewable energy…how will that impact our means of providing??…And popularizing abortion — an ugly option that isn’t a part of God’s plan. If you don’t want a baby, don’t have sex…Rape? Convict the criminal, not the innocent baby…there’s always adoption or the Witt residence. The desire to abolish the death penalty for a hardcore criminal but yet give the green flag go for an unborn human to receive the death penalty?? Come on. Call me crazy but I’ll never understand any reason or logic in that. Ever.’

**I’ve heard too many stories of doctors telling mamas their unborn child will be born with defects only to later give birth to a completely whole and healthy baby who grows up to do amazing things...And when the doctor happens to be right, well you go on and love that baby and every breath of their life just the same way Jesus does..

Sometimes it’s battle of the mind field running my life and I just need God to drop a truth-bomb. Because I know those thoughts obviously portray opinion, judgement and disgust.

Here’s what I have to remember: I’m not perfect, nor are my thoughts. I’m desperately in need of saving grace as much as anyone else.

In the quiet hours of the night, minus my busy mind, the Holy Spirit cut in — reminding me of a verse I haven’t read or heard in a very long while:

This verse, with such faultless timing, comes from 2 Chronicles chapter 7 when King Solomon and the people (Israel) had just finished worshiping God at a freshly built temple (a place to worship God) dedicated to Him.

Solomon sends the people home and later the Lord appears to him setting ground rules (including the above verse). He was the leader of what was known to be a stubborn nation and if Solomon followed God’s plan, blessing would come…if not, a nation (Israel) would come to ruin.

Eventually sin ensued and most of the kingdom was lost (see chapter 12). Solomon had lost his way to idols in the form of power, riches, and sexuality and as a result Israel suffered.

I can’t help but notice how applicable this verse is even now, all these years later. That’s the beautiful thing about scripture — it never fades out.

God wants our attention. He wants our hearts. He wants our repentance.

God wants the same requests of us that He asked over Solomon along with Israel.

Our leadership is corrupt. We, as sinful people, are problematic. None of us are perfect.

BUT…

We’ve all been given the same fair opportunity and we all live under the same God-willing expectation:

To humble ourselves. To pray. To seek God’s face. To turn from our wicked ways.

Just as recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Perhaps when we do so, God will hear from Heaven and heal our land…united as one.

Will we act in obedience to God’s direction or push it off just as Solomon did with a trail of destruction dragging behind?

I can only do my part…take up self-control, admit fault, seek forgiveness, cling to God, and aim to do better through His perfection, which is where I’m at right now.

I don’t want to live in anger or disgust and I can only overcome that negative mindset because of God’s goodness, mercy, and grace with grounded faith as I commune with Him.

By my example and others who are on the same page, I pray that a testimony would show to those watching and that a contagious result would follow for His purpose.

I pray that we (as a nation) truly would encourage one another and work toward a turn around — with God as our ultimate leader and hope for healing. Only by His way will we move forward.

Reopening my Etsy Shop on Day 11 of Quarantine

Last week I wrote about my run-in with (or exposure to) Rona which threw me into a 14-day home quarantine.

So far I’ve managed to dodge the bullet and I’m at day 11 still feeling well; no symptoms means no getting tested. Been there, done that with my nursing home hair job as they have to test employees once a month and trust me if you haven’t been tested there is absolutely nothing flattering about someone shoving a six-plus-inch stick up your nose. I don’t think it actually goes six inches or whatever up there BUT nevertheless my brain feels like it wants to sneeze each time afterwards!!

Anyway quarantine hasn’t been bad but I’m also a homebody so I don’t mind, plus it’s cooled off a bit my way so I’m good staying indoors. My homeschooled girl, Mc, on the other hand is chomping at the bit to get out of the house and go somewhere… ‘like to grandma’s or (her friend) Quency’s’…I hear that at least three times a day!!

So what have I been up to during my time of quarantine you might ask?

Well I’ve organized the pantry, created a simple laundry system for my way-too-small laundry area, re-situated the baskets and their contents in our linen closet, cleaned out and tidied the basement storage room, sanitized surfaces a half a dozen times each day…

Y’all I’m feeling well accomplished!!

That basement storage room was no small task! Boxes of clothes, boxes of junk, boxes of nothing, bags of this and that…stuff collects and builds quickly and I’m not a fan.

When I get out of hock (actually quarantine has been wonderful) my first outing will be to the second hand store to drop off this mess of collections. Technically it’s all still good stuff, it’s just things I’ve grown tired of or the kids have outgrown etc….In a future post I plan to write about getting rid of things and not feeling bad about it, and really just getting to the point of minimal-izing (I might have made that word up).

Sorry mom if anything’s in there that you’ve given to me over the years.

Minimalism is something I’m hugely passionate about!!….But it wasn’t always that way…so if you’ve ever felt in the same boat, take heart, there is hope! I’ll be sharing (in an upcoming post) some of the things that have helped me to throw out “stuff” without feeling like I’m throwing my heart out with them!! Stay tuned for that one!!

OK so in my title I mentioned that I am re-opening my Etsy shop….

I’ll explain. Along with deep cleaning in the basement storage room I had to look my jewelry making supplies right in the eye because they share the same space. I felt like it was taunting me….‘what a waste of money…think of the possibilities…Christmas is right around the corner…’

Sooooo two days ago I took the initiative to clean up that space, hammer out a few pieces of metal, and relist some of my items on my Etsy shop.

Rustic Looks Etsy Shop

I actually plan to open an Instagram account as well which is scary — actually terrifying to me. I like simple and practical so the idea of having a few more social media platforms to operate is somewhat intimidating to me.

However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during 2020 it’s that life is so unpredictable and with that neither of my jobs (substitute teacher or nursing home hair stylist) are providing a stable income. I’ve decided I’m going to make an effort to get a bit more serious about jewelry making and other odds and ends that I may list on Etsy to create a little extra cash flow on my end. Aside from Instagram I’ll advertise on Pinterest as well. That’s one I use already but not necessarily for the benefit of advertising so that’ll be an adventure in itself too!

As I write this post so many motivating Bible verses come to mind but there’s one I want to settle on and highlight:

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

That verse encourages me to do what I feel called to do but also (and most importantly) to just simply trust that God is in control no matter what.

The things we dive into, get involved with, create or take interest in may very well flop — they quite literally may. We’ve seen, and hopefully learned, in 2020 that plans change and uncertainty exist — yet even then God is ALWAYS strong, dependable, and His love is steadfast. He never wanes. Ever.

It’s okay and healthy to have the mindset of motivation as we want to release from what might feel like a gripping year BUT ‘motivation that is moved by Him who leads’ is what will bring us through.

As I venture out to re-open my Etsy shop I want my motivation to be stirred and moved by God. I want to listen and follow His lead. I want even Rustic Looks Etsy Shop to bring glory to Him.

Thanks for reading! Take care!

Rustic Looks Etsy Shop

**Feel free to browse Rustic Looks and share on your social media avenues. Adding new items frequently.

**We give 10% of all sales to charity.

Day 4 of Quarantine

Well hello there!

First off allow me to explain the title to this post. Yes I’m in a fourteen day quarantine, homebound for the next week and a half. I was exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid recently therefore I have to do the “stay-home” procedure — ordered by our local health department.

As of now I’m feeling alright so I may end up getting out of the woods without a hitch. I do have a high chance of ending up positive so we’re trying to take necessary precautions here in the Witt household. Sanitizing like crazy, social distancing from my family, even masking up in my own home.

It’s such an uncanny feeling.

Here’s a selfie of Nate and I — social distance rule breaking…(Nate’s being a smart aleck with the mask FYI)

I even got shunned to the living room with a twin size mattress while Nate gets the king size bed and our room. I’m still trying to figure out how that makes sense so please don’t judge us.

I’ll explain the no-couch situation some day in a future post…

A few random facts & thoughts:

1. I’ve noticed our ceiling fans and light fixtures REALLY need dusted….but maybe that should wait, don’t want to agitate the lungs by chance…

2. The lady from the health department suggested I have a bathroom separate from the family so I wasted zero time and kicked the girls right out of theirs and took it over as my own!

3. Having my very own bathroom is really nice!!!! I never imagined I would enjoy it this much!!!

4. Sometimes I find myself in the bathroom taking mask breaks.

5. Wednesday morning’s conversation with my husband:

Me (in a muffled voice behind my mask): Hey Nate could you let Max out?

Nathan (whining): Aaaahhhh!!! I have to be a mom and a dad!!

Me: uhh….When did you turn into a mom?

Nathan: Well I have to let the dogs out and make food by myself now!

….Not sure when those two duties ever fell under the “mom-only” category!!?

6. Black Rifle Pumpkin coffee is magical when you mix it with Caramel Macchiato creamer.

7. A research statistic shows 70% of people who tested positive for Covid were faithfully wearing a mask…..so am I producing Rona for myself as I sport my mask within my home?…hmmm…

8. I kinda want to get Rona just to get it done and over with.

9. A close friend of mine texted this the other day, “once you get out of jail (or vacation depending how you look at it) we should get together.”

…Yes please!!!

And this is exactly where I want to turn for a devotional reflection today.

You see, my friend’s words have coated my heart with peace and a goal because the reality is that I have the choice in how I want to view this time.

Jail or vacation…what will my perspective be of it?

And the answer I’m choosing is not to view it as jail, not to count the negatives (and there definitely are some) but rather to focus on the REAL “positives”….like me getting my own bathroom, because that’s been cool.

Lol, no on a serious note though there’s true good in this time of being confined to the house.

As with anything, I can sit (stuck in quarantine) and still praise God because He is good and faithful when I consider that then who am I to even begin to complain. He is who He is, no matter my situation or condition. My circumstances (or yours) don’t ever change who God is.

That truth alone is so soothing to my mind and heart.

Check out some of Paul’s words in the New Testament:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ…I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly. (Ephesians 1:3, 16)

Because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. (Philippians 1:14)

You guys!! Paul was writing those words while literally under house arrest in Rome for preaching Jesus’ name and falling into some religious disputes over it…and yet look at his remarkable encouragement!!

Those words weren’t recorded just to fill up space but rather to fulfill a purpose. I think the beauty and importance in Paul’s frame of mind is that we have the choice to adopt that same mindset for our very own.

Y’all we’re living in some tough times, where we could ALL benefit from a positive perspective. Just the idea of the election and the shape of our nation seems so eerie and off to me this time (regardless of who wins)…like unsettling.

I’m so thankful Jesus is my partner; because of my faith my heart feels prepared.

I can’t imagine life without Him and I hurt for those who don’t have their hope placed in Christ. It’s a mystery to me how people do life without God as their source of guidance and protection. With that I can count it as gain that He is in control and the ultimate leader no matter which way our country heads. I don’t have to worry over the outcome. He is the calm to the crazy.

Side note: Having said that, I’ve done my research and I’m confident in who I’m voting for!! Likewise, I want to encourage you to study up and be sure to vote! I don’t care how mouthy either candidate gets in debating — one has some better morals and values and it doesn’t take much digging to find out who.

This isn’t meant to sound like a political post but rather to encourage in undeniably wild times.

Friends, fear and negative thinking don’t have to be a part of our daily routine. There is magnificent hope when we’re fixed on Jesus — when a mess swirls around us or the unexpected takes up residency within our own homes, work, or lives —even then, we can choose to be optimistic by relying on Jesus!

Though this world is troubled, He is still in control and seated on the throne.

John 16:33 says this: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

When we turn to God we find stability, security, and support to wipe away the mundane parts of life that long to overwhelm us.

A positive mentality, focused on Christ and His words of truth, ‘trumps’ the disorder and unforeseen in our lives — every single time.

Scripture proves itself so. The answers to our problems and the encouragement needed are written and found there-in. Join me by opening your Bible each day and pouring comfort and hope into your heart…it’s just what the Great Physician ordered for each of us. How will you respond?

Take care,

Alicia

DIY Reusable Outdoor Pumpkins

Happy Fall y’all!! I know I’ve mentioned a time or twenty that I LOVE the Autumn season — not just because I like how that word sounds (because I REALLY do) but because it’s so darn beautiful. The golden tones crowning the tops of trees, cooler evenings, and the wisping and whirling of leaves as they gracefully fall to the ground in a collection of warm colors. It’s a beauty that quickly comes and goes so it’s a sweet reminder of the truth that we must not take time for granted.

Along with Autumn I also love to penny pinch so today we’re going to jump right into this month’s DIY — decorative wood pumpkins!!

That’s right..wood pumpkins! And I will tell you that for the past two years I have yet to purchase a pumpkin because of these charming little gems. Don’t get me wrong if there was a pumpkin patch in the area where I live I’d be all over the Fall stereotype of selecting the perfect pumpkin to take home and adorn my front step but Walmart hardly counts so alas I’m choosing to use wood pumpkins instead…year after year after year…

If you’re interested, let’s get started!

Supplies needed:

4×4 cut at various lengths (4” to 10” pieces recommended) **garden timbers work well also

Drill

Acrylic paint or outdoor paint and brush

Stick for the stems (about 2”)

Fabric (thin burlap rope) to tie around the stem (cut to approximately 1” by 7”)

Outdoor clear spray sealer (for added durability)

Directions:

First you will cut your pumpkins to your desired length.

Then drill a hole at the top (in the center) for the stem about a half inch deep; be sure it is drilled to the size of the stick’s circumference that you are using. It’s also time to paint the pumpkin (or you can leave it the natural wood color).

Once the paint is dry glue the stem into the hole at the top and then tie your fabric piece around the stem to finish it off.

**For added protection from weathering you can spray a coat of outdoor clear sealer over your pumpkins before placing them outdoors for the Fall season each year.

That’s it folks!! Easy breezy!

And now I’m off to enjoy a weekend away with a bestie so I’m gonna keep this post real short and sweet!!

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Use the (Clipper) Guard…

Oh boy I’m almost ashamed to write this — but last Thursday was, as usual, hair day at the nursing home for me. I showed up physically prepared but for some reason my haircuts on the residents weren’t going smoothly. It was, as some say, literally a bad hair day.

Friends, I knew it was bad when an elderly, frail man took a seat and I began buzzing what little hair was there. While free-handing with my little clippers and no attached guard I got a bit too close and scalped the poor fella!! …Just a little area but scalped nevertheless.

Most are probably familiar with clipper guards but if not I’ll quickly elaborate. Guards are used as an attachment on clippers and quite handy when you’re cutting the hair real short. They act as sort of a safety method and help control how long or short the haircut will be…that is if you choose to use them…

Immediately after my haircut-foul my mind raced to the fact that we don’t have to do life on the edge, nor solo, or at risk — instead God acts as our guard.

Check out these verses; the first one uses the word ‘guard’ and the other ones strongly imply it’s importance.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” —2 Thessalonians 3:3

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” —Psalm 3:3-5

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” —Psalm 32:7

The following Sunday when our pastor gave his message I sat in awe as his words on healthy boundaries poured over my heart. It was so similar to where my mind had been focused in light of concentrating on that one simple yet profound word: guard.

God longs to guard our minds and our hearts over fears, hurt, and failures but we must be willing to attach to Him. Just like I have a choice in using or not using the guard on my haircutting clippers (taking the chance of styling a bad hair day if I refuse to use one) we have one of the most important choices each and every day…will we attach to God as our guard or risk going alone?

The beautiful thing is that even when we choose against His guard and end up in regret it’s still never too late…

Remember I mentioned my neglect of using the clipper guard on my little old man, well I was thankfully able to blend over the hair and cover up my mistake to the point the haircut looked normal.

Consider the idea that at times we try and do life without God yet once we become aware of our egotism and call upon Him He is quick to come to the rescue, saving us from ourselves and stepping in as our guard. Every. Single. Time…no questions asked. Surely the best form of God’s guard shows up through Jesus (in the act of the cross) saving us from the punishment of our sins as we choose to trust and believe.

Because He loves us that much.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.’ —Isaiah 54:10

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

16 Marriage Tips by Nate and Alicia

Tomorrow, September 25, puts Nate and I at number sixteen for our anniversary years so I thought it’d be fun to create a blog post offering sixteen marriage tips or pieces of advice. And I got Nate in on it too!!

Newlyweds, kids or no kids, empty nesters — hope these tips are helpful!

They’re listed in no specific order by the way.

1. Discuss your own love language with one another and speak each other’s as well. Super important!!!

Which of these makes you feel loved by your spouse and which one makes your spouse feel loved — Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, or Physical Touch

2. Do projects together.

Whether it’s just hanging up shelves or building a she-shed for your lady, create and work alongside one another. It’s awesome to be able to step back and admire your work later on.

3. Put your spouse’s needs before kiddos.

I know this is a hard one but if you think about it you and your lovey came before your kids…

So (for example) when entering the house from work greet each other with a hello and kiss first and foremost and then move on to the kids. From this one act your kiddos will see that your marriage is healthy, in order, and that you two are the bosses. It will also help them feel that they’re in a safe zone and well taken care of. Kids thrive off of peace and orderly conduct.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’ — Ephesians 5:22-24

4. Laugh. Don’t be too serious.

This was a text between Nate and I one time which isn’t out of the normal. We can be serious but I’m 40% sure that we’re silly a majority of the time.

5. Have date nights. (copyrighted by Nate)

Seriously your children need to know and witness that mom and dad are happily married, healthy, and in love. Set an example by doing little dates, even if those dates can only happen at home.

Drink a cup of coffee in the mornings, workout, take a walk, rub each other’s feet (I “stink” at doing this one)

Make little points to be connecting with one another so your children can see this happening.

6. Take care of one another in helpful ways.

Examples: Whoever has time be the one to make breakfasts, help with dish duty, wash or vacuum the other one’s car, switch laundry over or fold clothes, sweep/mop, etc.

I promise if you make a habit of chiming in on these little chores your spouse will notice!

7. Encourage with notes or texts. Give compliments.

Recently one morning I went into the bathroom and found this sweet note Nate had hung on the mirror. He came up with the idea on his own…and I probably skipped putting on blush that day!!

8. Thank your spouse.

When you notice or appreciate the good they do (or them helping out) don’t take those moments for granted. Let your spouse know your appreciation.

*Side-note: Nate and I attended a marriage conference last year and the couple who were speaking told us that after doing a recent study it showed that ‘men actually feel most loved and appreciated when their spouse simply and genuinely acknowledges their good work and then thanks them.’

9. Team work.

Make the bed together, cook/bake together, clean together, do yard work together, budget together, etc.

Don’t miss that word — “together”.

10. Respect one another so you both feel loved.

Value one another’s opinions/advice. Be supportive of emotions and concerns.

Nate suggested to remember “happy wife, happy life” …I’m gonna rename this though because I think it needs to be two-way so I’m going with “happy spouse, happy house”.

11. Communicate well.

Listen to each other. Ask questions. Seek marriage counseling if needed.

12. Entertain one another’s interests.

They say opposites attract. If your spouse enjoys things that don’t quite appeal to you do them anyway!! …garage saleing, hunting, golfing, shopping, etc.

13. Start a new hobby TOGETHER.

…frisbee golf, Nate said clogging (where you do some folk dancing, I think he’s just being a nerd but now he’s google searching it as I’m writing) learn an instrument, etc.

14. For the Christian couple do a Bible study, just the two of you alone or in a small group through a church setting.

And if you’re not Christians go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

15. Always say I love you before bed or when leaving each other for work or wherever.

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” —Ephesians 4:26

16. And yes I’m gonna go here — I don’t care if physical touch is a love language of yours or not — MAKE LOVE!!

No extra commentary needed for this one.

Well except that the Bible even says to:

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” — 1 Corinthians 7:5

All of these tips take patience and practice. This list is not exhaustive and definitely not perfected by us, but it’s things Nate and I strive to accomplish. By doing these things we build our relationship and also help our three attentive mockers know what to look for one day in a future spouse.

I love you Nathan! Thank you for encouraging me as a writer, wife, and mother! You (and our faith in Jesus) are my favorite piece to sixteen years of marriage!!

Choosing Positive Thinking

One of the benefits of following Christ is that we get to take on the perspective and mind of Him.

Those unfortunate circumstances we experience throughout life we can choose to dwell in the yuck or counteract with truth of what God would say over them.

For me this is what that might look like

Growing up with a mom who has epilepsy I could choose to focus on how scared I was every time she’d have a seizure when I was a kid — but instead I’m learning that in my adult life I have compassion and understanding for others as a result.

The multiple situations of sexual abuse in my childhood years — I’m reminded of the many times I’ve now been able to connect with other girls and women who have experienced the same nonsense; conversation has formed a bond between us.

Participating in the party scene as a teen and in my early twenties is such a regret of mine but I love how I can look back and see how God grabbed my attention and changed my life, turned me to Him and has given me several opportunities to speak my story out these days and turn the glory to Him.

Negative thoughts are exhausting but the good news is we can actually get to a point where we adopt and desire a positive mindset no matter the circumstances. And I feel like as Christians we’re blessed with a clearer opportunity to do so, more so than someone who’s not following Jesus. Those who don’t know the freedom offered through God do not understand “true release” from the burden.

I have a best friend who is a volleyball coach —

one of her player’s parents mocks her, ridicules her, and degrades her weekly — accusing her of being a poor coach.

When I see my sweet friend I see a woman of strength and perseverance. Someone with dedication and commitment and a huge heart for the Lord. The only way and reason she pushes through is because her hope is placed in Christ. She chooses to believe His word of truth over the lies of someone else’s sin.

Maybe there’s a negative thought pattern, a festering lie, or mental battle taking root in your life — to overcome fill up on what Jesus says is true about you and take on His mindset to knock down the negatives.

Romans 12:2 says:

‘Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.’

God’s word tells and shows us that we are able to overcome, Romans 12:2 is just one example of many.

We can make the choice to surround ourselves in healthy Christian friendships, daily prayer and scripture. Listen to worship music. Seek out a good Christian counselor if needed…Renewal of the mind in a positive Christ-like way is sure to inhabit our thoughts once we make a desired habit of doing these things regularly.

Negative scenes are bound to play out this side of heaven, but when we fully navigate with ‘Christ in us’ our thought patterns won’t align with the chaos.

Do yourself a favor today and tomorrow and every day following — be thankful, respectful and sensible of the life God has breathed in you — and waste no more time feeding Satan’s senseless antics.

…I’ll be doing the same.

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

August DIY Patio Benches

Okay so I really had to convince myself that these benches were what I was going to post for my monthly DIY and after 29 days I finally caved. I have some fall decor DIYs whipped up and apparently I’m getting some Autumn fever so I just about featured one of those instead but decided next month would be more timely for a craft like that. The good news is when September hits I can post the DIY early in the month since it’s ready and I won’t do my regular Procrastinator-Alicia style…like I’m doing now!

August’ DIY project is so super simple I could probably just post pics with no words and y’all could put it together. But for the sake of “writing” a blog I won’t.

These DIY benches will make for a great way to sit outdoors and enjoy the cool crisp Fall mornings (right around the corner) while sipping a steamy cup of coffee, gather friends and family during an evening of BBQ and entertainment, or even to stretch out on for an afternoon catnap…I’ve actually done that last one a time or two.

Here’s what you’ll need for this sweet little patio transformation…and I apologize ahead of time for the horrible pictures, the sun has been shining bright which I’m thankful for but the lighting is pretty harsh in the photos:

Two 3×12 wood planks (at your preferred length, ours measure 4 foot on one and 6 foot on the other)

8 to 12 cinder blocks (8 for the benches, 4 more if you decide to do the planter)

Sander/ 60 grit sand paper

One rag for wiping dust

Two cotton rags for staining and sealing (cotton t-shirt works well)

Wood stain (your choice of color)

Polyurethane (I prefer this over polyacrylic which tends to yellow over time)

First off sand the planks so they’re smooth, the last thing you want is risking splinters when you put these benches to use later!

Wipe the dust off from using the sander and prop your planks up against something that won’t matter if it gets stain on it (scrap wood works well).

Wearing gloves wipe the stain onto the wood plank using gentle, even strokes and applying it in the direction of the wood grain.

**Side note #1: If you do end up with stain or polyurethane on you, you can use a rag and mineral spirits to remove the stickiness.

You’ll want to apply one layer of stain and allow about an hour of dry time afterwards, then add another coat and finally a third coat after an hour of dry time in between.

Wait at least 24 hours before applying the polyurethane.

Just the same process as the stain you’ll want to wipe the polyurethane (aka sealer) across the plank, again in the same direction as the wood grain. This is an important step to do as it helps aid in protecting your wood pieces from inevitable weathering.

Three coats is a good rule of thumb with at least an hour dry time in between; my husband would actually tell you to lightly sand and wipe down in between the three coats of sealer once they’re dry but I’m not going to get that finicky since this is an outdoor project. I will mention that sealing is something you’ll probably want to repeat once a year (a bit of sanding first, followed by a few coats of sealer).

Lastly you’ll want to stack up the blocks (two high) and position them the correct distance apart (the length of the plank apart) use a tape measure if needed. You could line them up evenly with the edge of the board meeting the edge of the cinder block (like we did, see next photo below) or you could do overhang.

**Side-note #2: Kittens aren’t a necessary requirement for this project…more on her and her brother in a future post…

I mentioned the extra 4 blocks in the items needed list and that’s if you want to do a planter. I’ll just include pictures to show you how that looks — pretty self explanatory (visually). The soil in those planters does not go all the way down to the patio concrete because we have the bottom cinder blocks turned the opposite way which you can see in the photos below.

***On the planter the bottom two cinder blocks have the holes facing outward but the top layer of two blocks are facing upward which gives the option to create the planter.

And here’s the final finished project!!

What I love about this “patio furniture” is the fact that it’s super cost effective, durable, and low maintenance. Literally this “patio furniture” cost me around $20 to make after paying for the stain and sealer. Nate picked up the planks from his job as they were no longer needed and the cinder blocks came from his folks’ place.

Perhaps one day, if I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll sew a rectangle cushion to set on top of each bench, but for now I’m just going to rely on the God given one I alre…….nevermind I’ll hold that thought…

…Speaking of Him I’ll leave you with an encouraging verse and well blessings!!

2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”

That word, faith, is where the true Christian meets authenticity in their relationship with Jesus. That word changes my life in a beautiful way everyday!

Take care y’all! And as usual let me know if you end up creating this DIY!

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!❤️