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!❤️

Meet Taya

After my youngest daughter, McKenzie, caught wind that last week’s post was devoted to my dog (Eli) she asked if her dog could be next in the spotlight of the blog!?

So without delay this post introduces and features…drumroll…the adorable and bubbly — Taya!!

We are absolutely smitten over this girl! She was born in December of 2019 and belonged to my husband’s aunt and uncle as they raise chihuahuas, so she was one of the pups born to their sweet dog Maggie. We could’ve taken her home much earlier than we did but I drug my feet. I was pretty apprehensive about getting her, knowing she’d hair all over! And let me tell you, she does!!! My OCD wants to take over and freak out over the dog hair but if you remember I just finished reading a book about self-control…so now I’m an expert and never struggle with control issues!!…..??……right

Anyway I’m glad I caved because we are having a ball with this girl! She’s a blast!

I wish I could successfully attach some videos but every time something goes awry….I’ll try anyway…right below is what’s hopefully a playable video:

Taya came home to us back in March when the virus was really beginning to change things.

We’re used to having lots of guests over to our place at various times but at that point all visitors came to a halt so she spent months with just our family of five. Finally the weekend of July we had friends over and it was her first taste of life outside the Witt’s. She didn’t care for it. She struggled, super bashful…and still is to this today!!

Every morning “loyal” Taya stands at Mc’s bedroom door gate and prances and whines in anticipation of her favorite human waking up.

She warms my heart!

…It wouldn’t be the purpose of this blog if I didn’t point it back around to Jesus so here’s my devotional thought:

Let’s check out James 1:17

‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Love this verse because the truth is, God is ultimately the reason I can begin to even enjoy life’s blessings (or gifts) such as my special little Eli-dog, Mc’s maniac cutie Taya….and even Paige’s gremlin Maxx….(seriously though he’s rude!)

Those blessings in my life (all of them) I’m thankful for…knowing they’re from Him, but even as much laughter and pleasure as these animals bring me it’s honestly nothing compared to the absolute unfailing gift of joy I have from the Lord.

Keeping inline with the second part of James 1:17 we take into consideration that things change, but God never changes.

The harsh reality is any of my blessings — people, pets, even necessities — none of those are guaranteed to stay. Look around, any of it could be taken away at any time. Just think of the life of Job in the Old Testament. Job lost most everything in a testing of faith but in the midst he held onto trust in the Lord even if it was by a sliver of hope and in the end he was restored with bountiful blessings.

In this very year, as we are undoubtedly seeing a mess of change and trouble, we must remain steadfast to the truth of God’s stability, understanding that Jesus has warned us: “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.” —John 16:33

Placing a firm grip on blessings or what we feel should be unalterable (apart from faith) sets ourselves up for disappointment. But when our faith is established in Him, who is not temporary, we know that though we may endure hardships or losses it will one day be restored to us, if not now then in eternity. Establishing a mindset of devotion to God, trusting and believing in His solidity, we then live out John 16:33 with the spotlight pointed to Him, not solely focused on blessings that will surely change or fade away over time.

Motivated and Persistent

Of our multiple animals, we have a six year old Yorkie, Eli, who I’ve written about in the past. Eli was a gift to me, from my husband, for our tenth wedding anniversary.

For most of his life the poor little guy has had seizures due to a head injury that happened when he was just a puppy which makes him pretty fragile. Long story short, he’d jumped from my arms and smacked his little noggin on our wooden deck outback and from that time on whenever his head (or neck) are impacted you can bet he’ll go right into a seizure. He’s on seizure meds that control ‘random’ seizures (which he was prone to after the head injury) but he still has them when he encounters impact regardless of the meds.

As an example — Eli was sleeping on my bed recently when he heard me come into the house, he got excited and decided he was going to jump down and greet me. I was just walking through the bedroom door and couldn’t catch him in time before he clumsily hit the wood floor with a thud. The seizure that followed was one of his worst and honestly I wasn’t sure he’d come out of it. I prayed in my heart like crazy in the moment, God spared him and as a result Eli is never allowed to be on our bed again…no exceptions!!

He’s stinking cute!

We’ve now bought him a large dog bed and situated it near our bed but it’s taken him some time to get used to. Our bed is pretty high from the floor and this is something we should’ve bought and started years ago.

At nighttime he’s restless for a short while and the little clicking of his paws can be heard as he pitter patters from one side of our bed to the other, hopeful that either my husband or I will lift him up to his preferable place of sleep and familiarity. I feel bad because he doesn’t understand and I miss him cuddling up next to me…although I have been able to sleep better now.

Eli teaches me a “good” lesson applicable to my life as a Christian — I want to be so incredibly dedicated and familiar with Jesus (in my faith and relationship with Him) that I can’t stand to “feel” separated or distanced from Him.

Like my dog, I want to be so faithful, motivated and persistent in pursuing what brings me comfort and peace. For Eli it’s snuggling in close to my husband or I and falling asleep next to us on our bed or begging relentlessly for canned dog food — and for myself as I work on authentic Christianity it better be my relationship with the Lord that brings me satisfaction and security in my life without hesitation. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions!!

That means that if (or when) I’m putting God second it would bother me so much I’d be stir crazy. When something tries to distract me or come in the way I’d be unsettled. When Satan attempts to send me on a hazardous detour route, I’d notice the red flag warning immediately and head straight to the One who’s already paved the perfect path.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. —Colossians 1:17

Because Eli’s a dog he’s always going to live impulsively by selfish means and very sure-hearted in what he wants even if it’s not always the best choice for him; likewise as a Christian we’re to live selflessly yet with a devoted heart strongly fixed on Jesus…Eventually at bedtime Eli grows tired, loses interest in claiming a spot on our bed, gives in and finally tuckers down into his new, more safe, bed. Contrastively we as Christians can’t choose second best, we must strive ahead determined to keep Jesus first in our lives.

For you, are you persistent in keeping Jesus number one in your life? If not what is standing in the way?

Hello again…finally!!

I ended up taking an unexpected blogging break over the past few weeks…and it feels awkward. I’m almost overwhelmed on where to pickup so I think I’ll post a little picture/description Summer update today and a devotional thought and hopefully (next week) be back to the routine of once-a-week regular posting.

As July hit, quarantine became a long thing of the past in my world, all of a sudden I’ve been bombarded with kid’s sports schedules, an increase in helping with my grandma, a camping trip, 4-h projects and presentations, a plethora of meetings, plus the ability to catch up on hair at the nursing home (something I’ve not been able to do since March, thanks to Covid).

I think I imagined that after quarantine things would slowly be introduced into my calendar again — not at all the case. I was hoping I could gradually welcome these things back in and it would feel like a breath of fresh air but instead it’s quite the opposite, and I can’t seem to catch my breath…to be honest I don’t like it.

While I was reading my Bible recently I came to Acts 16 where Paul and Silas were fulfilling Paul’s second missionary journey. Their mission (this round) was to visit and check-up on the cities that Paul had already preached in through an earlier journey. Reaching Philippi, a Roman ran colony, they faced trouble after Paul called out an evil spirit from a slave woman who was “used” to predict the future. Verse 19 says, “When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.”

They didn’t care that Paul and Silas has just performed a miracle (through God) and meant it for good over this woman. They didn’t care that these men were there to speak ‘Jesus’ to the crowds…they were too wrapped up in worldliness and as a result Paul and Silas suffered under their physical violence and landed behind bars.

Some of us may feel like we’re emotionally echoing the lives of Paul and Silas — like we’re caught behind sturdy immovable bars. With Covid and face masks, perhaps living in the fear of uncertainty or dealing firsthand with racial injustice, or (like me) overwhelmed with a busy schedule, we just can’t seem to shake the locks loose.

Listen, in the messy situation Paul and Silas were dealing with they still didn’t get downhearted; rather they praised and sang hymns to God (vs. 25) even resulting in leading their jailer and his household to Christ in the midst. They found joy in the tribulation.

Here’s my favorite heart-grabbing piece of this story from Acts 16:40, “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.”

Catch those inspiring words from verse 40, ‘they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them’.

You see, when Paul and Silas were finally released from prison they didn’t mope around, they didn’t waste time wandering where to start again. They boldly faced their God-given mission, ‘meeting with their brothers and sisters and encouraging them.’ It would seem (to most) that after enduring such hardship they would be the ones in need of encouragement, but their faith flipped that thought-pattern right around and they embraced the opportunity to be the encouragers and God was glorified because of it.

I don’t know what struggle you may be facing (or what may feel like prison walls) but I pray that we would all have that ‘Paul and Silas mindset’ in trusting and praising the Lord regardless of the obstacle. God is so much more than good enough to stay with us — no matter what side of the bars we’re on. He’ll break them down in His perfect timing but it may not be until we reach Heaven.

When we share stories of God’s faithfulness we encourage others and point to Him, just like Paul and Silas did some 2000 years ago…and note how it’s still talked about all these years later.❤️

Thanks for reading, before I end here’s some of our July adventures:

Cherry picking in the backyard

4th of July celebration

Camping trip

Soccer season

Plus these two (below) actually getting along:

4-h week

Football League (he begged for and now dreads going)

Lastly one of my husband’s best friends passed away this weekend; he was such an amazing man — full of life, loved giving gifts (and a hard time) to anyone, and made the best BBQ food ever…please throw some prayers up for the family and friends of this man.

Sunday a sweet and humble uncle of Nate’s passed away after a long battle with cancer…praise for no more pain or suffering but prayers for peace and healing for family and friends.

Thanks so much!

Removing the Mask

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it felt good.

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

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

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

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

It’s a heartbreaking reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unconditionally Serving Grandma: It Never “Depends”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care friends!❤️

Living on His Plans

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

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

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

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