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

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

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.

The One Thing We Need…

This is gonna be a short and simple post and I’m not sure I’ll post again for a while.

I think so much has become overcomplicated and overwhelming lately in America and all over that I honestly just desire some basic, surefooted instructions…anyone else?

As I sat down this morning to do my Bible study I thought about how I had a choice to make. I could choose to whine around for the umpteenth day in a row and be irritated with the circumstances of our world given the mess of the Coronavirus or I could focus on God’s faithfulness and change my perspective to a positive one. In that moment the words ‘He will renew your strength’ came to mind…I flipped my Bible open to Isaiah 40:31 which says, ‘but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’ Continue reading “The One Thing We Need…”

Why Do You Run?

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

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

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

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

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Just look at his cuteness!

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

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

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

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

It was perfectly scheduled in my control-freak mind.

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

Everything was going just as I had planned.

But after a few minutes something seemed off…

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