Light Against Darkness

As a licensed cosmetologist I’m required to complete eight hours of continuing education every other year. This coming Fall I’d planned to attend an in-person class like usual, but with the virus things ended up different. Now we have to complete the hours at home by watching videos (on our own time) with the instructors demonstrating the latest hair styles on mannequin heads.

I’ve actually benefited more this way because there’s only one stylist at a time creating a color or cut (not two or three all doing their thing) so it’s been easier to focus and gain some takeaways. Normally at the hair shows it’s too busy and I’m distracted and find entertainment through Pinterest or balancing my checkbook etc.

While watching one of the color lesson videos recently I admired the stylist’ work as she demonstrated the trendy process of a darker color underneath with some pastel colors overtop.

It wasn’t a style we see much of where I live although it was still intriguing…however it was her explanation of the process that caused my heart to get involved and reflect on her words… “The way that you can see darkness is to have something light lay next to it.”

She was obviously and ‘simply’ referring to the contrasting of light and dark hair color she’d just created, but my mind and heart raced straight to the parallel of our sin-darkness in comparison to the light of hope we have through Jesus.

…okay so I guess I did get distracted after all even with the videos…

But follow me here — sometimes we can’t see the darkness of our sin until we experience and are exposed to light — it’s then we’re able to see just how dark our situation or sin really is.

At times our sin is obvious; we know we’re doing wrong but we keep stumbling in it because of our brokenness. Other times we’ve become immune and have gotten so far away from the light or truth of God’s word that we fail to even recognize the danger at all.
Contrarily some have never learned the truth of Jesus, therefore oblivious to wrongdoings. There’s usually an idea of positive versus negative “morals” but the separation of light and dark in a spiritual sense isn’t known and as a result isn’t a consideration for correction.

We moved to a subdivision outside of town a few years ago and one of the things that I loved about it was the fact that at night it’s incredibly dark considering how many houses are in our neighborhood. No one ‘used’ nighttime yard lights…and for myself I can definitely sleep better when it’s pitch black, therein lies my reasoning for celebration.

That changed around a year ago when one of the neighbors put up a large floodlight at the top of his new metal building. The light pierces the darkness of night and brightly spills right through the window and straight into my bedroom. Seriously if any future NASA landings on the moon happen, this thing will probably grab their attention as they look back down at earth…it’s that ridiculous.

Light has power and boldness and I’ve had to use my irritation of the neighbor’s “nightlight” as a good reminder that light is able to overcome darkness.

Side-note: Over the past year I’ve known my neighbor’s shop light was gonna some how make it into the blog!!

There are so many versus on light and darkness throughout the Bible that it’s hard to pinpoint one as key, but I feel like John’s words in 1 John 1:5-7 are quite applicable:

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you: that God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

In the words of a talented high-end hair stylist:

“The way that you can see darkness is to have something light lay next to it.”

At times we risk darkness because we aren’t in the light of Jesus as we should be. The way to get there is by connecting to a power source: reading our Bibles, worship, connecting with other believers, prayer…that light we experience is like a wake up call for us; it’s then that we see just how much we truly need light as a source of life, over the sin of darkness.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. —John 1:5

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.

Just So You Know

I’m pretty excited to share my next post with you! (The ‘happy’ one I’ll put up after this one…)

But let me just say I honestly feel like I can’t even post that next one without feeling a little bit guilty. And that’s unfair and sickening to me.

Because of the ridiculous rioting taking place it begs and tries to halt life, everyone’s life…bringing attention to the negative…and I’m just not going to revolve my blog around such nonsense. I have future posts planned that have nothing to do with the latest in news and yet there’s a lie trying to fester within me that keeps saying ‘my posts should only give thought and focus to the mess that’s currently happening.’ …Well that mess has Satan’s ‘yuck’ written all over it. I’m not saying I should be totally ignoring that lie, but I’m not about to feel like I shouldn’t be able to be excited and enjoying life just because of other’s poor decisions and dealings. I shouldn’t have to feel like all of my posts need to wrap around that situation or that if they don’t then I’m being insensitive.

I get the frustration. I get seeking justice. I get the protest. I get speaking out, but doing so with peace!! My heart breaks for the hurt of others. I FULLY want to see each and every person treated fairly and equally…but my posts will absolutely not get hung up feeling like I can’t write or share about the positive things that excite me nevertheless just because of this ongoing madness.

With that, it is my prayer that all people would seek Jesus — replicating His love for others. This might be my only post that ever mentions the latest news and that’s okay, I know where my heart lies. ❤️🙏

Finishing up I’ll leave you with a picture of our family spending Friday evening with some of our best family friends, who adopted four Haitian kids a few years ago.

When people have a discrimination issue they certainly miss out on some of the best, beautiful memories and moments that can happen. These kids are such an awesome blessing in my life and to my own kids as well. We’re so thankful to know and love them!

…and yes their mama gave me permission to post the pic and added through her own words that, “kids are such a shining example of God’s desire for us and they accept people how God created them.”

Thanks for reading friends, take care!

‘He has told you, O man what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ —Micah 6:8

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”

The Wild Joy of Mothering and Prayer

Yesterday morning as I worked through my independent Bible study at the kitchen counter, I could hear the voices of my children connecting together — grouped up in my youngest daughter’s room the three of them laughed in between small talk and LEGO building.

Like music to my ears (hearing them bond) I shot up a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness to the One who encourages loving relationships. I thanked God for the laughter, for zero arguing and that the Holy Spirit would flood that room with joy. I closed with a blessed feeling of Amen.

No joke within seconds my boy comes storming out of his sister’s bedroom — head down, arms crossed tightly to his chest and feet stomping madly as he made a beeline straight for his basement bedroom.

Yup I’ve seen this move a thousand and one times before…

“Dude! Please get back here so we can talk about this situation, and when you come right away it shows me respect!” I pleaded.

With that, he turns around before hitting the steps and marches straight over to where I sat on the kitchen stool waiting.

“What in the world happened?…I just finished offering up a prayer of thanksgiving that y’all were getting along so well and I even boldly requested that Satan stay the heck out of that room, so how did things turn south so suddenly?” I spouted out calmly but rationally.

Our eyes met and a sly smile spread across my son’s playful face immediately, followed by — “I was just kidding mom, we’re fine!”

Goodness! Isn’t mothering full of surprises? Continue reading “The Wild Joy of Mothering and Prayer”

Hope Through Unity

Several years ago my oldest daughter and I had the opportunity to travel to Acuña, Mexico with my husband’s aunt and uncle. We were joining up with men, women, and children of all ages from all over America as part of a missionary group with an organization by the name of Casas Por Cristo (Houses for Christ). Their main goal is to share Jesus’ love by blessing and serving a family in need through a house building project in one of their designated building-locations.

When we all arrived in Acuña we had a large group of around 100 volunteers with a gymnasium that served as our gathering hub for sleep, food, cold showers, and devotions. We were split into even groups on the first day so a total of five homes would be built in Acuña over a four day period.Our team of twenty-ish made an immediate connection with the same like-minded purpose — to mesh work and Jesus’ love through building a house for a sweet Hispanic family…and goodness the family was precious.

The father and son worked on what would become their new home right along side our team, while the mother and grandmother made it a priority to fill us up everyday on authentic local dishes and Mexican hot cocoa and donuts. Side note: If you’ve never had Mexican hot cocoa you’re missing out! It’s actually available in Walmart stores so make sure to treat yourself!As we came to the end of our mission trip, with the house nearly completed, there was a moment where we all gathered for a dedication ceremony.

David, our Casas Por Christo team leader, translated what the Hispanic father wanted so desperately for our team to know. Continue reading “Hope Through Unity”

Be Alert and of Sober Mind

Note: All of this is written with the respect of prayer for those who are suffering firsthand with sickness or loss of a loved one due to Coronavirus. My hope is that this is all quickly resolved to alleviate the added stress that has impacted many.

With amusement parks shut down due to Covid-19 I’ve been thinking who needs Disneyland anyway when there’s a wave of roller coaster emotions right in my own home!?

After I hit publish on last week’s post I was bound and determined to keep my positive upbeat vibe going that I was feeling, but Satan came in quick like a wrecking ball…man I get tired of him. I’ve intended to enjoy this downtime, making the most of it by spending time creating memories of healthy bonding with my family.

A far cry from reality…

Since that last post I’ve dealt with lots of unexpected..a mess of canceling travel plans through Expedia, transitioning my grandma from her home into a nursing home, and trying to figure out and set up my kids new elearning school schedule…holy moly that last challenge has brought full assurance that I am absolutely not tech savvy at all! Surprised I can even maintain this blog!

Overall I have the choice to keep a positive attitude regardless, but sometimes I get overwhelmed with change and forget to take my stress to the Lord immediately. On the other hand I neglect to remain aware that Satan is always on the prowl, even when (actually especially when) I’m at my highest points.

The other day I was thinking how in the world did my household dramatically go from happy, silly, and dancing like no one was watching last week (see last post with video) to whining, bickering, and a lack of mercy and grace with one another in a matter of one day…??

With perfect timing the words “he prowls around…looking for someone to devour” quickly swept in over my thoughts so I pulled out my trusty and faithful “Thought-navigator” and turned to 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” This was exactly what I needed reminded of — to consciously stay alert of Satan’s scheme-filled tactics 24-7.

I couldn’t just cut that idea off right there, I had to read the entire context of the passage.

The words surrounding 1 Peter 5:8 are so encouraging and applicable to what we’re all dealing with that I’m super excited to share them with you: Continue reading “Be Alert and of Sober Mind”

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…”

It’s Okay to Admit When We’re Not Okay

I’ve been kind of a mess lately.

I’ve had corrupt thoughts when I should’ve taken them captive to make them obedient to Him.

I’ve been impatient when I should’ve just prayed.

Spoken words I shouldn’t have while praises were never considered.

Even now this isn’t how I’d love to start off a post but reality and truth must trump comfort if thriving-hope is sought.

I’ve felt lost, confused, and hopeless—empty, reckless, and careless.

Someone recently suggested that it seems I’m overwhelming myself with too much busyness. Ya that could be.

I haven’t been able to navigate through my heart to limit my emotions and concerns.

I humbly share this with you though because in the midst of my crummy attitude I’ve continued to read from God’s word—studying scripture, and reading daily devotions regardless.

And here’s the verse that continually sweeps across my thoughts:

‘So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’ —Isaiah 55:11 Continue reading “It’s Okay to Admit When We’re Not Okay”

Keeping the Christmas Spirit Going

It seems like once the New Year arrives people have often times moved beyond the Christmas spirit or season and are now fixated on new beginnings, keeping trendy resolutions, and sometimes creating outlandish goals for the upcoming year.

It’s almost as if the New Year pours in and Christmas is drowned out, right?

I’m seriously as guilty as they come with quickly moving on to my New Year resolutions.

In fact, a few weeks ago my husband commented that he wanted to start running to help get in shape. But then nothing came of it. Oddly enough some of our good friends contacted us the other day asking if we’d like to participate in a half marathon happening at the beginning of May. With the idea of motivation to spur us along in our new goal of running this year, we reluctantly committed…so now we’re signed up to compete in this half marathon that we’re absolutely (equally) unprepared for and clueless about.😂 Continue reading “Keeping the Christmas Spirit Going”