Resting in God’s Goodness

Hey! Quick post today as I’m off to Vegas 👎🏼this weekend (of all places) for my uncle’s celebration of life. He passed away last year due to a lung disease and side effects of agent orange (Vietnam) but thanks to covid we’ve not been able to gather with family until now.

My Uncle Gary is and will continue to be missed like crazy!!! He was seriously thee most full of life and fun guy I’ve ever met.

xoxo❤️

Last weekend our family spent Labor Day weekend in Colorado at a cabin in the mountains. It was such a much needed time of rejuvenation, even hiking was peaceful and relaxing.

Honestly I’ve felt a wave of trials lately and just when I get back up another wave comes. It’s been a tough season…but God. He is always in the midst of our storms and serves as the best source of a life preserver. Consider how a life vest wraps around us to keep us afloat, God goes deeper by encircling us not only in His arms but graciously holding our hearts and minds as well. We feel and get that blessing as we keep in communion with Him.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says this: ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’

Wow! What hope, strength, and renewal we get from the pages of scripture.

In John 16:33b Jesus reminds us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Though the storm may rage the calm can still be felt, our saving grace is found through Jesus!! His ways are higher and His plans are perfect. His love and mercy never run dry. He is good and He is able.

In Jesus I will place my resting hope.

Colorado pics Labor Day Weekend 2021

The highlight of our trip was seeing this moose within twenty minutes of our arrival at the cabin. People call the lion one of the most majestic animals on earth but I think I beg to differ after this guy strolled gracefully upon our cabin grounds.

He was just so confident and it was incredibly soothing observing him as he made his way to the little pond just steps away from our cabin’s deck.

Have a blessed weekend, I’ll be in crummy Vegas (sorry not a fan at all) but spending time with family that I don’t get to see enough will make the positive difference and focus—and for that I am grateful.❤️

LET GO & LET GOD

I love words which makes sense given the fact I write a blog so when I spotted customizable letter peg boards at Hobby Lobby I knew I’d purchase one eventually—but a couple of years ago when we hosted a foreign exchange student she bought one for me as a Christmas gift unknowingly (to her) that it was a piece I’d been admiring previously.

I remember the first time I was deciding which words I would clip to the board. I wanted something that was simple, truthful, and that spoke boldly to me.

I chose “LET GO & LET GOD.”

For me those words sum up how every concern, fear, worry, or negative that crosses my thoughts should be handled. But I must admit, often times it’s easier to read them than to put them to action.

After that phrase was displayed on the letter board for a few months my always curious exchange student asked me one day if I was ever going to change it to something different.

Honestly I’m not sure I can come up with something more fitting,” I responded.

…And to this day those same words cling to that little gray letter board.

As my husband and I have been currently remodeling our home I’ve rearranged wall decor also and that particular piece has now been transferred from the dining area to a wall in our kitchen.

As I was in the process of moving it, I held the board in my hands and realized that phrase had simply become nothing more than the plaque it stuck to—just another home accessory like the rest of my wall decor. The meaning of those words had lost their luster in the same way most collectables do.

The thought left me with the sting of guilt and I paused on those words…

LET GO & LET GOD

I considered how fragile my heart and feelings have been recently, how stressed I’ve felt lately, and how I’ve been doing anything but “letting go and letting God.

And I realized when we truly consider those words, applying them to an unsettled heart can make a huge difference.

When concern hits, “let go & let God.”

When fear threatens, “let go & let God.”

When worry consumes, “let go & let God.”

What other choice do we have?

As Christians, if we are going to claim faith in Jesus then trusting Him with every area of our lives is something we should be doing also—along with placing control in His perfect plans.

I love Proverbs 3:5-6 for this reminder—

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.

That verse is the beauty behind the deep meaning of, “LET GO & LET GOD.”

I don’t want those words to hang from my wall without grabbing my attention each time I see them. I want them to fall fresh on my heart every time. I want my thoughts to anchor to the value they hold and turn to the God they point to.

There’s not a one of us who doesn’t struggle at some period or another, but it’s when we take a wavering mindset heavenward that we see a quicker path of healing. When we turn to God with a “let go & let God” attitude we are met with beautiful mercy and grace.

This is something that is very much in my own need of practice just as much as it might be yours. I pray that as we face difficulties or control-freak antics it would be without hesitation that we would counteract by letting go and letting God.

Sweet Labor Day weekend blessings to you all! I’m headed to the mountains for a much needed getaway with my family and some amazing friends of ours.

Until next time!❤️

Spending Quiet Time With God

During a women’s Bible study I used to be a part of we talked at one gathering about intentionally spending more quiet time connecting with God. Some women were already making this happen daily but many others admitted they were struggling to make it happen at all and they longed to make a change in this area.

Daily time with God (and honestly all-day-long connection with Him) is something I crave otherwise if I skip out I’m a bigger mess than I am naturally, my day feels unorderly, and the people I interact with probably question my desire of love and care.

This wasn’t something I was always great with but like my post from last week about habits, this is one of those habits I’m sooo thankful I started!

There’s a verse that reminds me just how beneficial it is to seek God from the start of the day—in the early waking moments.

Psalm 90:14 says this—

“O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

Pic from YouVersion app

That word ‘satisfy’ catches my attention. The Hebrew translation reads it as saga and it means ‘to be fulfilled.’

I think if we’re honest we all long for fulfillment. Often times though we’re guilty of looking for it where it was never meant to be found—through bank accounts, exercise plans, food, relationships, and so on.

But through God’s word we learn that genuine fulfillment comes through Him, and by digging into His word. This is where our mind and heart’s satisfaction becomes truly fulfilled and in return we express an outward joy.

And notice that verse includes ‘morning’ as a time reference…the thing is when we kick off our morning with God (even just a small heartfelt prayer, a devotion, time reading His word) then we set our day up with hope, encouragement, and Jesus to get us through the rest of the day…all our days!! There’s still a good chance we’ll encounter problems throughout our day but when (or if we do) we’re more likely to reflect on Jesus and handle those curve balls with a better outlook.

Here are some ways to begin and run the day with Jesus (I’m preaching to myself here too because these ideas are just as much meant for my motivation as they are for the next person).

  • Wake up just a little earlier, before distractions undoubtedly slip in and get into God’s word! We will feel much more refreshed from this act, over a few more moments of sleep!
  • Spend time quietly in prayer and praise while waking and when getting ready for the day.
  • Begin a Bible reading plan from the You Version app or use a physical Bible. The You Version app always includes a verse of the day and I love if I’m in a hurry and need some reflection and inspiration to check out the verse because it’s so quick and convenient but incredibly helpful!
  • Subscribe to a daily email devotion: thelife.com this one my husband uses or Proverbs31.org is the one I use.
  • Turn on worship music while getting ready for the day, while driving, or at work, etc.

These things have helped me so much in my faith and growing closer to God, along with writing and blogging. Some days I have more time than other days to spend in quiet time with God or studying scripture but even a little bit makes a huge difference.

God gives us an abundance of resources to draw closer to Him and feel His presence but we have to choose to make it happen!

I would love to know if you have other ways of connecting with God, leave a comment… and as always sweet weekend blessings!!

Taking Inventory On Our Habits

Well I’m pleased to say I’ve had a better week than the last two. Despite a mini water park voluntarily emerging in my basement yesterday, this week has still been good.

…We’ve been working on a house project and with that we had our washer and dryer permanently moved from upstairs to the basement to allow more space. After a week of working smoothly the sump pump (which is supposed to push water out of the basement) backed up and we ended up with water pooling up on the utility room floor and seeping into the hallway. It could’ve been much worse but thankfully my husband noticed it early, located the issue and it should be back in working order soon!

As our house remodel has been underway, I’ve been consistently reminded of the word “habit”.

First off the idea of moving the washer and dryer to the basement to begin with seemed ironic to me from a reasonable point of view because having them upstairs sounds pretty convenient right? When the washer and dryer are steps away from the dining room table you’d think a person could create an effective system out of that.

And I’m sure most people could.

Not me though.

I operate on distraction mode…usually…so often times when I’d make it a point to do the laundry (when it was upstairs) I’d be interrupted by something else and not great about sticking with my task of washing clothes.

I’d deeply formed a bad habit.

But I knew, like all routines, a new habit was possible once they were moved downstairs and I could train myself to do better. And up until yesterday’s messy surprise I had!! I actually look forward to doing laundry now that it’s in the basement. Weird.

Our remodel has brought a lot of changes and things have been temporarily put in new places. Two of those things are the dogs’ food and water dishes and our kitchen trash can.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve went to throw something away and been reminded that the trash can is no longer in the same spot.

And it’s been funny watching the dogs jet over to their “refueling station” only to do a quick u-turn remembering that their dishes have been relocated to my bedroom for the time being.

None of these mindless habits are such a big deal that I’ll lose sleep over them but it shows how easily routines stick, for better or worse.

We all fall into the patterns of habit—physical or mental habits. Good habits. And not so good habits.

Sometimes we become so comfortable in our ways that we can’t easily recognize when we’ve gotten in the rut of a bad habit.

We must intentionally take inventory noticing if those traits are healthy or not.

When it comes to bad habits Paul has some thoughts to share with us and some follow up advice. Let’s check out what he says in Romans chapter 7.

That’s a whole lotta “I’s” and “do’s” and “not’s” and “sin,” right?! But what Paul is saying is that he recognizes some bad habits have taken shape in his life and he wants to deal with them.

In verse 21b Paul sums up those verses above by saying this: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”

I so get this issue! Can anyone else relate with Paul and I?

So many things I get frustrated about with myself. In this type of ‘game’ I’m my own worst enemy at times. Forget the sidelines, I’m right there catching the negatives that Satan’s throwing.

This piece of scripture Paul writes is one of my favorites and I’ve made a GOOD HABIT of coming back to it time and time again because reminders are good and necessary.

Verses 24 and 25 are where the answer dominates the obstacle of a bad habit—whatever it might be: “What a wretched man am I! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

That right there is the solution—Jesus Christ brings us to the other side of our bad habits. He is our rescuefrom the negatives, from sin, from the bad habits we’ve fallen into Jesus will help us overcome.

Sweet friends whatever the struggle might be, we need to make a positive habit of going to Jesus again and again so we echo His example of healthy Christian living! He is our strength and hope, and following Him is a habit I never want to take for granted!!

Weekend blessings to you all!❤️

Scripture Memorization

Last week was a bit rough and I’m not sure this one has been much better.

If you remember from my post last Friday we had this rabbit at our house that my daughter was pet sitting for someone, it ended up getting sick and I shared a post about patience and prayer with the hope that it was getting healthier. Friday night came and the poor thing declined rapidly and didn’t make it. So awkward having to call the family and tell them.

Then just when I’d been thinking Paige’s driving was also getting better (which is necessary as she turns 16 the end of September)…while in town one day she was inches away from smacking a post at Walmart while backing up, then pulled out in front of somebody when coming away from the bank, and two blocks later she stopped at a red light and then got ready to take off again (like it was a stop sign). All within a half hour. Yikes, this girl! Not sure I’m gonna be able to graduate her from the school bus to her own set of wheels!

Another part of my week consisted of me receiving a phone call with an unexpected job offer. I accepted right on the spot because I felt it was a God thing, then after two days decided it was probably not a good choice so I fired myself and felt horrible making the phone call to let this lady know I wasn’t taking the job after all. Humiliating.

On top of that I’ve been stressed over our house project (installing ceramic flooring)—it hasn’t been without it’s share of trouble. And I currently have my fridge, stove, and kitchen table all in my living room while we replace floor so the entire process feels unorganized, crazy, and really time consuming.

None of these things are over-the-top traumatic but with them stress heightens and vulnerability unveils.

As my heart has felt unsettled and my mind has drifted from peace lately I know how pertinent it is to stay connected to Jesus.

Two verses have helped steady my emotions:

Give all your worries and your cares to God for he cares about you. —1 Peter 5:7

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. —Psalm 138:8

I love the simplicity of those verses yet the deep comfort and certain truth they provide.

God longs for us to go to Him with our troubles, fears, and worries. He meets us in our place of discontent offering us compassion and hope as a remedy.

When I began having those feelings of weakness and doubt through my current struggles I was immediately drawn to scripture that I’ve memorized over time. These pieces of scripture have taken the edge off my fragile mindset as the Holy Spirit lays comfort on my weary soul.

The importance of scripture memorization became clear to me when I first started getting real about my faith in my late twenties. There were so many obstacles in my way at the time and goodness was God’s word such a guide as I traveled a new-to-me path. Since that time I’ve continued to learn new scripture and memorize it.

What I love is that even though difficulties can seem overwhelming and impulsive, God’s word is solid and sure, and it offers direction over the twist and turns of life. There is literally a verse to cover any difficulty we face.

Often times the Holy Spirit will lead and remind me of a verse I have tucked in my heart and I’ll rest in those words of peace. If my mind feels absolutely blank I’ll simply do a quick Google search typing in something like, ‘Bible verses on worry’ (or whatever the topic/concern might be).

Over time, as I’ve memorized scripture I’ve recorded them on paper and I’ll periodically reread the verses and references to keep them fresh in my heart.

Here’s an example:

She’s a bit worn and in need of a reprint but still efficient.

Since the verses are aligned in one column, and the references in another, I can fold my paper so I can flip back and forth making sure I’m recalling each of them correctly.

So I might look at the reference side only and choose Romans 3:23 and then I’ll quote that verse and if I need to double check it I can flip back to the verse side to be sure I’m right.

There are many different memorization tools (flash card style, games, apps, etc.)—some work better for one person than another.

Hiding God’s word in our heart is a lifeline to Him. It’s incredibly useful and a sweet part of our relationship with Him as well.

When the darkness rises it’s such a blessing to choose God’s words of encouragement to rest in. Our situation may continue in gloom for a time but the trial fades as we walk opposite of it’s direction and intently in His—eventually we see the Light of His glory brighten.

I will continue to reflect on His word in the midst of my frustrations and even after—and whatever it might be that you’re experiencing I pray you’d be sparked to do the same.

Sweet blessings!

Learning Patience in Prayer Over a Rabbit…(what a weird title)

This past summer we’ve been taking care of a pet rabbit for a family (that we don’t at all know) as they’ve been out of state.

In early June my oldest daughter, Paige, received a call from a lady asking if she’d watch this rabbit of theirs and Paige accepted…for what she thought was just going to be a long weekend pet-sitting job.

Communication skills are and have been a large work in progress with our darling Paige…

When this woman showed up with her bunny she also brought along its living quarters, a very VERY big package of bedding, a few bags of bunny litter (yes it’s potty trained), and enough food for a whole herd of rabbits, as well as a tub of accessories.

Immediately I gathered that this was no weekend visit we were preparing for.

After chatting with the woman a bit I learned that her little fur friend would be with us much longer than Paige had understood over the initial phone call—for months she’d be with us in fact.

We never did ask the name because personally I was trying to process the idea that we’d involuntarily committed to this indoor rabbit’s extended stay.

I ended up calling her Kaytee, however, because the brand name on her water bottle has this name and I thought it seemed fitting.

Kaytee is not the kindest bunny; she’s sassy, threatens to bite, and when we put her outdoors to run in our fenced in grass area she’ll literally grunt and then lunge at us like a four legged chainsaw when we’re ready to bring her back inside—it’s entertaining, comical, and terrifying all at the same time.

Overall things have gone well having Kaytee in our home…until this past week.

Her food and water went untouched, she seemed sluggish, and her droppings weren’t typical looking. I contacted her owner to let her know I’d be taking the bunny to the vet immediately.

After iv fluids, two shots, and some follow up nutritional supplements the vet sent us home along with a warning that we weren’t out of the woods yet and only time would tell.

Time.

Time requires patience.

Like Paige struggles with quality communication, I struggle with zero patience.

Because absolutely no concern of ours is too insignificant for God, I prayed a lot over this rabbit—that God would please just heal it; but I also knew patience would be key.

And knowing I needed some encouragement in the area of patience (while waiting on this rabbit’s outcome) I pulled up my Bible app to do some studying over that difficult-for-me word.

Patience.

Isn’t it just like God to speak to our heart when we’ve finally quieted our whirling thoughts?

You guys!! The verse of the day on my Bible app was this:

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” —Psalm 130:5

Bible YouVersion App

Time. Wait. Patience.

Those words aren’t always graciously welcomed in my little ‘Alicia world.’

But that sweet verse reminds me that while waiting for God to answer prayers, hope is found in His word and His word points to Him.

Profoundly beautiful.

Praise God Kaytee appears to have made a positive turnaround and will go in for a check up today to evaluate her health.

A quickly answered prayer in this case.

I’ve been around long enough to know though that waiting sometimes never produces an answered prayer—and that can be a tough truth to swallow, one that can cause bitterness even.

When I think about this from God’s view I consider the countless times He’s waited on me…to come to faith, to learn patience, to fully trust, the list goes on…and yet He’s never given up on me even though these things haven’t all come to fruition.

I want to echo His consistency.

Ephesians 5:1 says this, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children,”

When we commit to following God’s example—His leading—we learn to walk, talk, and do life with patience filling our mind and heart through whatever issue comes our way. This truth is where hope hushes the trial and prayers become selflessly surrendered to fall under God’s will rather than our own. Patience is needed in our prayers and it requires a decent amount of trust but the lesson and peace gained in the midst of our struggle makes the wait worthwhile…I don’t know about you but that type of God-focused path is one I want to “hop” on!

Sweet blessings friends, thank you for reading!!

God, you’ve provided us with your word, which is choke-full of direction and hope and we are so incredibly blessed to have such encouragement straight from your heart. Thank you for answered prayers; help us to be patient as we wait on other prayers, just as you’ve had to be with us at times. You are an amazing example and I thank you for showing us your Way. Amen.

A Christian Brother

This past weekend we had my youngest brother (Jeffrey) staying at our house while my mom was at church camp. My brother suffered a brain injury from a car accident twenty years ago therefore he needs a caregiver 24/7.

I’ve wrote about Jeffrey a few years ago in a post called Furry Pinball and Faith. Funny title, I know…but the furry pinball was where I described my mom’s spastic Pomeranian and his wild antics. And the faith part was about my brother’s love for Jesus. That post was me sharing on the time I watched the two of them simultaneously for half a week…which I will never do again.

This brings me back to today’s post.

My family and I had Jeffrey for the weekend while my other brother (Johnny and his family) ended up with my mom’s dog, Beardsley. I stopped by Johnny’s house one day last week and ya I definitely got the better end of that deal. Beardsley is crazy. Nothing has changed.

While Jeffrey was with us his 31st birthday landed on Friday, July 23rd so we celebrated by making a cake and then had a birthday party afterwards.

Most of Jeffrey’s birthday gifts were puzzles. This is something he loves doing and has over 150 hanging up in his little apartment. However this particular birthday he was banking on receiving a Huskers book and after all the gifts were opened it didn’t get past him that there was no Huskers book.

This became a problem…all weekend long…regardless of Jeffrey’s short term memory loss there was absolutely no forgetting that the number one item on his wishlist was nowhere in his “presents/presence.”

With my best effort I tried distracting him from the thought of this unpurchased gift but as the weekend progressed so did his irritation.

Several times I reminded him that he could put the book on his Christmas wishlist and in return he very relentlessly and expectantly reminded me that mom might have another surprise waiting for him at home…

I talked to him about the sin struggle of lust—desiring something you don’t have and how that can interfere with your heart’s peace.

I also tried convincing him that the Huskers haven’t even been too great at football for a while now…that didn’t work either. (BTW things may be looking up for them this year).

In the midst of his disappointment though, I noticed Jeffrey praying at random times throughout his stay.

Curiously I listened in as he quietly whispered words of hope to the Lord…

As frustrated as he was over the absence of the Huskers book Jeffrey really just wanted to keep his cool, to hold onto self-control, and to not cause problems. He knew exchanging his personal concerns for truths from God was the best answer to calm his discontent.

And as much of a challenge as it can be for Jeffrey to stay positive as he wrestles negative emotions the same can be true for me also. However I saw in my brother what I often times lack—more often than not when I’m struggling I vent carelessly and prolongedly.

Jeffrey set and showed me a better example.

His issue didn’t go away but prayer became his frequent way out as he stayed connected to God with a commitment that he knew was bigger and better than his problem.

Psalm 55:22 says this, ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.’

Oh if we would all passionately live by and allow those words to ground us, a changed lifestyle and mindset would do us well and bless us abundantly.

…There’s much good to be learned and echoed when we observe a Christian brother’s faithful path.

P.S. When I finally visited with my mom at the end of the weekend she had plans all along to order the Huskers book but just hadn’t had a chance to! No worries though, some valuable lessons were ‘scored’ in the meantime.❤️

Raising Up the Next Generation

There’s an old family church camp about an hour from where we live. It meets just once a year (the last half of July) for ten days and people come and go as they please. Some stay the entire time, some a handful of days, and others just the day or evening.

My girls have enjoyed attending this camp over the past five or six summers. They’ll stay for a week at a time with either my mom or my best friend’s mom who help as children’s craft directors during that time.

Typically I take my girls to camp to drop off or I pick them up at the end of their adventure. I so look forward to these yearly visits, spending the late afternoon and evening taking in the comforting atmosphere of this camp.

Large cedar trees line the north perimeter of the flat buffalo grass campgrounds and at this time of year the surrounding cornfields are tall and green.

Some folks bring an RV and stay on the east side of camp while others rent out cabins on the northwest corner.

I love checking out what activities the kids have been up to and what they’ve been learning in their own little children’s chapel.

Teamwork

Located near the center of the property the old church bell clangs to bring everyone together—announcing wake-up times, service times, and meal times.

In the dining hall savory down-home meals are served three times a day. And sweet iced tea hits the spot on these hot summer days.

Teens washing dishes after supper

Everywhere you look everything is just filled with remarkable charm and an old soul feeling.

After a full belly in the evening hours church service follows. The camp chapel is this 1950s white, barn-style building filled with traditional wooden pews, large open beams and propped open windows. It’s a Jesus-loving, farmhouse-enthusiast gal’s dream.

Chapel in the background
Chapel, my little nephew

Gospel music is sung from old hymnal books during what’s called Harmony Hour and afterwards the featured camp speaker gives an evening service message.

Worship in the chapel

You guys the entire experience warms my heart. It’s such a tie to nostalgic pieces of history where life was slower paced and electronics weren’t all the hype and distraction of today’s world.

There are kids from toddler age to teen, and adults from early twenties to well seasoned. It’s a beautiful array of generations and seeing the older folks get so excited about the younger kids coming…well there just isn’t anything like it.

I took my girls to camp on Monday afternoon of this past week and I enjoyed all the sweet blessings and soaked in conversations with different age groups.

And I left camp that night with this feeling of communion (not the bread and wine type) but communion that serves in a way where a group of people are gathered and their thoughts share the same likeness—an intimacy pointing to Christ and His love.

When I read my Bible reading the next morning it came from Titus 2; I want to share those words with you (this was Paul encouraging and instructing Titus, a trusted and dependable companion to him).

TITUS 2:

Vs. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Vs. 3-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Vs. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Those verses cause me to reflect on Imperial Valley Holiness Camp—the way they cater to all ages and you literally get to witness the young and old interacting, enjoying, and respecting each other. Those verses are being fulfilled through this camp as an older generation passes down their wisdom, knowledge, and love to a younger one.

You may not be able to visit this camp for yourself but the heart of it lies within the pages of God’s word.

I pray people would flip open their Bibles and read and see for themselves what a life of hope and beauty can be had, our dark world is in desperate need of truth bent on leading the next generations to Christ.

It’s time to rise up, Christians.

A Short Story On Perseverance

Well this is county fair week in the little town I grew up in and even though we’ve moved to a different county my kids still prefer to do 4H at our old stomping grounds.

Secretly I think it’s because the county we live in now is larger so there’d be more competition which equals ‘more intimidating’. Anyways the fact that the two counties share a border means my kids can show at either place and they always choose the former which is fine.

Paige actually didn’t show/enter anything this year because she’s been at a church youth retreat (CIY MOVE) on the other side of the state all week. I’ve talked to her a few times and also read through the studies they’re going through…some good and deep stuff!! Can’t wait to see how God is going to be moving in Paige!!

Warren is “meh” about 4H every single year so he opted to not show or enter anything this year and I’d rather not argue with him. If they had something that included sports with a ball (preferably a soccer ball) he’d be all in, but nope.

McKenzie, however, was the only reason the county fair made our summer calendar. Normally we haul gobs of handmade items over to the 4H exhibit hall, mainly McKenzie’s creations, but this year she decided she only wanted to show her dog, a bunny, and enter one home design project. No chickens this year. Easy enough.

She showed her rabbit for the first time last year and received a Grand Champion ribbon so this year she practiced quite a bit and was feeling good about it. Last week came though and we noticed the poor sweet bunny had something funny going on with his fur so he’s now being treated and in isolation from the other buns so no showing him.

The one home design project (a cute, little succulent arrangement) she had went south when one of the plants died a few weeks ago so that was also a no show.

One last chance! Mc’s dog, Taya!!

McKenzie hasn’t ever shown a dog so she began practicing agility (an obstacle course) at home with Taya clear back last fall. Taya caught on quickly but when group practice started a few months ago and she had to be around other dogs she was rather sassy toward them.

She also wasn’t a fan of the “pause box” at the fairgrounds. Theirs is a wooden box she’s to jump onto and then sit down for five seconds and she was shooting 50% at actually doing that. The one we use at home is a square made of pvc pipe and once she jumps into the square and sits down her little tush is on grass (not a hard platform)…she prefers the grass of course.

She also prefers to cooperate when it’s convenient for herself.

This was Taya the night before the actual dog show.

Poor Mc was almost ready to call the whole thing quits.

At home we ended up placing boards inside the pvc square to resemble the fairgrounds’ set up and used lots of “Beggin-strip” motivation to finally get her to sit in the pause box and better prepare her for the real deal.

The morning of the dog show came and so did Taya’s sasstude. She was doing her goofy rooster-mimic-bark at every dog in sight…except for this one tiny Yorkie that I’m pretty sure she was mistaking for her fur pal, Eli (who we’d left at home).

When it was time for her practice run Taya pranced onto the pause box and stubbornly stood while Mc tried to coax her into sitting. Taya just wasn’t having it so Mc gently tapped her back to remind her and Taya followed orders reluctantly. However, points are docked for touch, slow time, disobedience etc so if a win was gonna happen Taya was gonna have to step it up.

While they stood in line again waiting to run their final (one and only) ‘judged’ performance I reminded Mc that she’s tried her hardest with Taya and whatever will be will be. She’d either crush it or she’d march to the beat of her own drum…either way it’d be a show!

The judge prompted McKenzie and Taya to begin and Taya went out guns blazing! She’d spotted my mother-in-law in the bleachers across the way and she’s absolutely smitten over her so her energy was full throttle to get to her!

Thankfully McKenzie was on to her dog’s crazy antics and was able to casually pull her back into focus without the judge being able to notice what was actually taking place, in hindsight this helped speed up her time!

Taya had made the first jump and the boardwalk with ease and when she came to the pause box it felt like time literally paused, I shot up a quick, “Lord if you could help with this—but if not it’s still all good.

To my surprise, and McKenzie’s also, Taya hopped right onto the black wooden pause box and plopped her bottom straight down without hinderance, the judge counted down “5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Go.” And then off they went to finish the course with a jump, tunnel run, and one final jump.

Zero points docked

It was probably the best run-through Taya has ever done for Mc.

Perseverance paid off and the Grand Champion placement the two of them ended up with was well deserved!!!

Remember—whatever challenge it is you may be facing it needs a heart fixed on perseverance, and starts with bringing Jesus right in the midst!

Sweet weekend blessings as always!!

Photo from Bible YouVersion

Experiencing Blessing After Tragedy

Just a little forewarning, this one’s a bit downcast, the first part of it anyway.

July 8th, 2021.

When I wrote my post last week, I thought the next one I’d be sharing would be me telling about my crazy, spontaneous Texas purchases (which I plan to do tomorrow) but feelings spur and I can’t skip sharing my heart through a blog post today.

Twenty years ago, to the day, my dad passed away—July 8th, 2001.

I’ve shared that story and thoughts through past posts.

For those who don’t know, my dad ran a bit on the wild side through his teen years and most of his adult life. He provided well for our family, adored my mom and us kids but he struggled cutting loose from longtime addictions with alcohol and marijuana.

Finally (in his mid thirties) my dad broke away from the toxicity and traded it for church attendance and an old time hobby of dirt bike racing. Races usually happened on Sundays so church was typically bypassed in the summer months.

My dad had almost two years of racing in (along with no alcohol or drugs) when tragedy hit.

He was racing (October 10th, 1999) at a motocross event and miscalculated a double jump that left him a quadriplegic and ventilator dependent. Nearly two years went by with him living in rehab facilities.

Taken late in 2000

Over the Fourth of July in 2001 we brought my dad home for a visit not knowing it’d be his last. He had an amazing time visiting family and friends, almost as if it were a set up…

I was seventeen at the time and although I called myself a Christian, my life choices were far from a Jesus-like example. I partied like it was a vital necessity to my self-absorbed teenage life. And during my dad’s unbeknownst last visit there was no exception from my obnoxious traits. I just wasn’t present and I couldn’t see past my vain greed.

On Sunday, July 8th 2001, (with my mom and youngest brother along) I was to drive my dad back to Lincoln, NE where he lived for temporary rehab.

Too naïve to recognize how tired I was I fell asleep behind the wheel. I still have flashbacks of my dad yelling my name, “Alicia, Alicia” as he tried to get my attention, that was the last thing I heard him say. My dad didn’t make it—a blessing in disguise I’ve always thought. My mom and brother suffered severe injuries. I was fine but the mental toll still wreaks havoc at times.

There are so many other details and events wrapped up in all of that, it’d honestly take a book to share all of it.

I look back at that time and boy I wish I could’ve shook sense into that teenage girl I used to be. We don’t physically get those opportunities though but that’s where mercy and grace step in.

Tragedies that we are completely unprepared for happen in life and we’re left with a choice—to sulk in misery or surrender to Jesus with confident hope.

When we choose the latter of the two we’re met with peace, comfort, and direction.

It took me a long time to learn that I would need to fully give my life to God in order to feel true contentment.

Yesterday I began a demo project in my home which I’ll share in a future post and the song Broken Vessels by Hillsong came on as I was reflecting on thoughts of my dad and prying up old ceramic tile from our dining area…

My dad was a carpenter and a darn accomplished one at that, I share the same love. Wearing my ridiculous looking safety glasses tears slipped from beneath them as the words from the song echoed in the background…

All these pieces

Broken and scattered

In mercy gathered

Mended and whole

Empty handed

But not forsaken

I’ve been set free

I’ve been set free

Amazing Grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

Oh, I once was lost

But now I am found

Was blind but now I see

Those words have never been truer and more life captivating to me than now. I feel the power in them and the love of Jesus stronger than ever. I indeed once was a broken vessel, without a shadow of a doubt, but God has collected, mended, and filled this vessel with an abundance of beautiful hope and for that I am ever grateful.

I miss my dad as much today as I did twenty years ago but my choices and my mind are so much more clearer and healthier now that I’ve gained Jesus as He helps me navigate.

Sweet friend I don’t know whatever your struggle may be but turn your eyes and heart to the Father and allow Him to soften the rough areas. He will guide and provide. Precious healing is found in the midst…

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.’ —2 Timothy 2:21 ESV