T-Rex Arms VS. Chicken Wings

I’m a week and a half past surgery and as much as I want to move beyond writing or sharing about this chapter in my life, I’m not able to just yet because it’s not quite over. God is still providing teachable moments in this and I feel like it’s not for me to keep for (only) my own growth in faith.

For those who are reading this and missed my post a few weeks ago, I’ll do a quick update. The beginning of September I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. Appointments and treatment plans have moved along quickly and I’m now on the other side of surgery.

A friend asked me recently how I was feeling and I explained, “I’m ready to be past surgery limitations and be on the go but my body is so achy from some doctor restrictions that are in place…” After I finished my usual, overextended words she quickly drew up her own simple words, “so you’re feeling like you’re energy is back, but your strength isn’t?!

Exactly!!” …couldn’t have said it better myself.

And her words are spot on. My energy is there. I’m ready to lift some weights again, get back over to the nursing home to do hair, and take advantage (with a bike ride) of these 70 degree days we’re enjoying here in Nebraska currently.

But with my doctor’s orders (ten pound weight and range of motion restrictions) in place and his timeline in respect—the time is not yet.

I’m gonna give you a quick visual and you can thank me later for the image and laugh! …One of my most important restrictions is that I’m supposed to keep my arms tucked close to my body, no reaching out to the sides.

My doctor, and he’s hilarious, demonstrated how I should keep my arm movements within a limited range. Upon showing and explaining this to my husband to help get the point across of the importance the two of them then concluded that “I need to be using T-Rex arms!!

So I’ve kept T-Rex arms in mind as I’ve went about my days…did you know you can actually sweep the house using T-Rex arms? Me neither but I learned that!!

Let me let you in on a little secret.

T-Rex arms are not natural. They make a person feel confined. They also leave you feeling stiff and sore from the waist up. Especially after a full night’s sleep in that position.

There’s a reason God allows chicken wing movements. It feels freeing and refreshing! And not so constrained.

Chicken wings aren’t in my care plan just yet though—therefore T-Rex arms it is.

It’s ironic to me just how symbolic this is of the Christian walk.

Chicken wings are like those beautiful moments in life where things feel on track. Our relationships are healthy and whole. Our jobs are appreciated and secure. Our bodies are nourished and thriving. Our faith is strong and vibrant. We feel we can confidently stretch and strut over God’s good blessings.

On the other hand, there are times in our life when our hope spirals out of control as we allow fickle, negative feelings to take root. Our prayers go up but sometimes we wrongly deem them as unnoticed. We feel tied down by undesired wrongs that have happened in our life and we’re just waiting to be released from the burden and trials. We feel trapped or restricted.

By analogy this describes T-Rex arms.

Here’s the solid truth though, over any and all thingsGod gives us restrictions for our own good and within His perfect timing He leads us to the other side of adversity.

YouVersion app

For some of us that heavy load may not be lifted until we’re Heaven-bound. Likewise, for all of us, perfection in every single area and detail will come to fruition when we’re Heaven-bound as well.

The wonderful thing is, however, there’s taming available even in the midst of T-Rex arms…

Consider the way the arms are tucked in close at the sides, no flailing allowed. Now picture Jesus as He comes at your side, wrapping His caring arms around you. You’ve ached for so long that His gentle touch feels welcomed and comforting, merciful and grace-filled. His care is more than enough to sustain. No matter your mindset, His love is humbly fiercer than the pain. His steadfastness eases the harsh mentality. It’s His loyalty that calms the rigid edges.

No doubt, He is more than powerful enough to settle even the unruliest of all T-Rex’s.

Hope in Jesus is key.

And the beautiful thing is—hope is held in our hearts not our arms—whether we’re in a place relating to T-Rex arms…or chicken wings…

Have a very blessed weekend!!

Sweet Sixteen

Paige (my oldest daughter) recently asked me if I’d made a birthday post for her since she turned 16 at the end of September.

“Uh…no,” I answered half sheepishly and the other half feeling pleased that she’d want to be included in a blog post.

With all due respect we actually only had her birthday celebration just last Saturday—so in order to give the full effect it’s better that I waited until now to write this—that way I can include all of the fun from her party!

But before I share those photos I want to first say how much I love this girl with a little encouragement…

To you Miss Paige:

If music counts as a love language that’s yours! Your love for music is truly a gift from God. The way you include a melody in almost every conversation is music to my ears. I know you didn’t get your voice talent from me (LOL) but it’s a beautiful part of your character. Never stop singing girl!!

On another note your laughter is contagious and I am so thankful to be a part of it!

Your dream, since age 5, to become a veterinarian one day has been sweet to see you hang onto. I’m thankful our special-needs-Yorkies haven’t exhausted that interest!! Your love of Science, learning, and animals are keeping you headed toward the goal. Keep those awesome grades up, you’re doing amazing!!

You get giddy talking about our large family—all of Papa’s siblings and the dozens upon dozens of cousins you have as a result. The way you get excited about family is heartwarming to me.

And within our own home, even though you pick on your siblings you have a sweet spot for them too that reminds me you’d go to bat for them every time if ever needed. It’s the big sister cliche that says, “it’s okay if I mess with them, but no one else better!” You have that down well but you can lighten up on the first part. 😉

You are a spitfire for sure and goodness we butt heads at times but I know God has big plans for you girl. He will use your ambition for His glory!! Continue reading His word so you know Him better and love Him more and live out His example.

May your faith become completely and solely your own—which I truly believe you’re understanding this concept well. You’re not saved under anyone else’s doing—Dad and I can lead and point you to Jesus but you must claim Jesus as Lord and Savior by your own will (for eternal salvation) as you’ve already done.

We’re here to help encourage, build you up in your faith, and hold you accountable but your responsibility is to never let go of Him.

As you grow I’m so thankful to be a witness of your testimony. It is my prayer that you always walk closely with Jesus, clinging to the hope only He offers. Remember that in this world you will have trouble but Jesus has overcome, the victory is already His and you are a beautiful part of His glorious kingdom!

We love you like ‘crazy’ girl!!!

Oh and one more thing, you’re driving has come a long ways…Praise God for that!!!

To my sweet blog readers, thank you for helping celebrate Paige with me. Sweet weekend blessings y’all!!!

Oh Brother! Let’s Talk Laughter

I recently ran across some notes that I’ve kept where I’ve jotted down funny things my youngest brother has said over the past year or so, and it seems like as good a day as any to share them with y’all.

I’ve wrote about my brother in past blogs before, so some of you will be familiar with him and his mannerism.

A quick catch-up or refresher if needed though: My brother’s name is Jeffrey and this year he turned 31. At ten years old Jeffrey suffered brain trauma from a life changing car accident our family was in; as a result he has short term memory loss, epilepsy, and requires a caregiver 24/7. Overall he does well for himself and even in his off-moments he’s pleasantly confused. He keeps us laughing and has helped create some of the greatest memories for our family. And best of all, despite Jeffrey’s setbacks, he loves Jesus like crazy!

I really wish I could put audio to these quotes and stories I’m about to share because it may be the drawn out, dramatic way Jeffrey says things that makes it so hilarious but either way I hope you get a good chuckle!!

One day I informed Jeffrey we were having Lil Smokies for a snack and asked if he’d like some… “Alicia you know I don’t smoke!!”

This summer I was talking about how our Pastor Jeff used to be a band teacher and when my brother (who I sometimes call Jeff) caught wind of it he asked, “Alicia (insert thought provoking pause) what..did I used to be a band teacher?”

Once when we were sitting at the dinner table playing a game of Apples to Apples, Jeffrey kept tapping my husband’s foot repeatedly and Nathan (God bless him he usually has so much patience with my brother) blurted out “stop playing footsie with me or I’ll break it!” …Jeffrey’s response: “Then I’m gonna smack your butt!”

Another time, actually probably every time he visits— “Hey Jeffrey put your shoes over yonder please.” Jeffrey: “Over younger? Alicia what?”

Jeffrey stayed with us over the weekend in July while my mom was at church camp and one evening I made ‘pigs in a blanket’ and when I told him what I was making he asked if I called them “kids in a blanket?”

My daughter (Paige) was coughing a lot one day and Jeffrey (after a hard stare) asked, “so Paige do you have the Coronavirus?”

More random Jeffrey quotes:

“I don’t want any sugar because I don’t want to be getting a cavity. Yeah I have been keeping the cavities in my teeth straightened out.”

“Hey Alicia, can I get some cough syrup? I’m just having this cough that I want to get rid of but I think it’s maybe because I talk too much.”

“Hey is this like a Jesus-shirt because it has fish on it?” (Pointing to the button-up shirt he was wearing)

“Well at least I’m not coughing on the food because I don’t want to be spreading germs—spreading the Coronavirus.”

“I’m trying to remember this thing I was going to tell you, but it fell out of my head.”

God’s word reminds us that laughter is a gift from Him. When our family gathers and laughter oozes through our celebrations it’s such a blessing from God. I’m thankful for the unique opportunity I have in experiencing life with Jeffrey and seeing God in the midst. Memories are best-made from a joyful heart allowing a contagious impact.

Applicable verses:

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. James 5:13

I probably never would’ve thought to note some of Jeffrey’s words but there happens to be a fellow blogger (Patty) who writes about life with her adult son who is autistic and epileptic. She’s shared many “talking points” in different posts about the numerous, hilarious things her son (Aaron) has said over time and it inspired me to share about Jeffrey’s words.

The name of Patty’s blog He Said What speaks for its self and will leave you with cozy feelings of hope and love as her reflections point to Jesus. The stories she shares are so relatable to life with my brother and her faith in Jesus is a blessed encouragement to me! Go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.❤️

http://www.hesaidwhatks.blog/He Said What

As always sweet weekend blessings!!

Our House Remodel—Hopeful Living

We recently (praise God) finished our house remodel!

It was interesting because as we were in the first few minutes of this project I told my husband how cool I thought it would be for us to ‘get rid of our current jobs and start a husband and wife business in house remodeling.’…

Side-note: There is a huge need…around our area if you need house projects professionally done you’re looking at being put on a few months long waiting list. Fortunately we’re DIYer fans so we were able to cut the wait and the costs and do the work ourselves; however after this remodel we may rethink some of our love of DIYs next time. This one was labor and mental-toll intensive!!

We got a few days into our renovations (tearing up old ceramic tile and chiseling up backer board covered in dusty mortar) and I confidently retracted my desire of ever wanting to start our own construction business.

It was some of the hardest most tedious work I’ve ever done, and my husband and children would all quickly attest. Needless to say we won’t be giving the Gaines’ a run for their money.

Break time..sneaking candy

The ideas of interior design etc may come to me, or I may drive by a house that looks flip-worthy, but hopefully those will just be fleeing thoughts. Nate can keep to oil-fielding (I might’ve made that word up) and I’ll continue substitute teaching and fixing old lady hair at the nursing home.

A quick run-down of our remodel process:

  • Removed door & floor trim & painted with Magnolia Home Paint (amazing paint, thick coverage, my trim looks like it was store-bought already painted)
  • Removed old doors
  • Tore out old ceramic tile in kitchen/dining area
  • Moved washer and dryer to basement
  • Cleaned floors thoroughly
  • Mortared and screwed down backer board
  • Began systematically laying new ceramic tile
  • Removed laminate floor in living room
  • Picked up where we left off to complete the ceramic tile in living room area
  • Turned old pantry closet into an open coffee bar
  • Moved fridge & new pantry into old washer & dryer area
  • Put trim back up as the finished flooring allowed
  • Hung new doors & finished trim work
  • Cleaned & placed furniture
  • Relaxed and smiled that it’s finally done!
Coffee bar before
Pantry before
Old washer/dryer area
New fridge/pantry area
Coffee bar after
Before
After
Before
After
After

It really has been such a blessing to have the ability to do this house project ourselves and now to have it complete and enjoy it. The work was exhausting and overwhelming on most days, but the finished product has been rewarding and worth the time and wait.

The Christian walk pleads the same concept—there are seasons and even moments that may feel overbearing but God remains in the midst, always extending a rescue and a better outlook with our hearts fixed on Him and His eternal offering.

This earthly life doesn’t promise an easy ticket just like my house project never promised ease.

James 1:12 is such a sweet reminder of God‘s goodness though,Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’

When our focus is on Jesus first and foremost and the fact that Heaven is our eternal comfort it makes our current burdens seem much lighter and hope takes its spot in graciously prevailing.

We actually do have some other things around the house that eventually we want to do (some exterior work, swap out bathtubs, finish our basement hallway ceiling…) BUT for now those things will wait because our DIY ambition level has hit a record low and is in recharge mode for an unknown length of time, in the meantime we will rest in the Lord’s perfect faithfulness.

Have an amazing and blessed weekend!

The One Who Never Changes

I took one week away from blogging and every time I do this it always seems funny to me on where to pick back up…but a few things come to mind…

First of all WordPress notified me that I’ve been blogging for four years now! Time goes so quickly!!

Along with that the blog has over 700 followers, there’s been 10,000 plus visitors, and I’ve written over 173 posts—so crazy to me! Praying hearts would continue to be reached For His Purpose and I’m also incredibly thankful for the fellowship happening through the blog! Thank you all for being a reason to share my thoughts and share Jesus.

Moving on…

The past few weeks have brought some changes and if I’m honest I’m not a huge fan of change.

Change.

My grandma has been in the nursing home for months now and unfortunately her home must be sold to offset the necessary fees there.

I was offered the chance to choose some of my grandmas things from her home of over fifty years and it was such an uncanny experience rummaging through the house as many things are being sorted and boxed up. Her house was always so cozy and very orderly and now it is anything but.

The turntable pantry that was notorious for its strong scents of ginger and cinnamon and all things baking has now faded to nothing more than an abandoned stale cupboard—not even appealing to a mouse.

The entire house is just so different, it feels so empty and sad.

Here are the few things I chose that are packed with personal sentimental value.

My grandma had a large chicken collection and this is Big Al, one of her favorites. ❤️

I’m gonna miss making memories in my grandma’s house but will hold dearly to the ones I’ve been blessed with over the years.

More change.

Here at my own home, our remodel is nearly complete and while I’m loving how it’s all coming together I’m still trying to bring in that old homey feeling we had before we started. I miss seeing some of the old base colors we had. It just seems so foreign to me right now.

Funny how we get so familiar and comfortable with things…but it’s a reminder to hold earthly things loosely—especially keeping in mind that a house and it’s features is just simply a temporary dwelling until the good Lord calls us to our permanent heavenly home. That’s where our excitement for character and charm should truly fall into place (not in decor and comfort of earthly homes) but instead with a focus upward and becoming more like Christ!

I’ll share photos of our remodel when it’s complete. I know some of you enjoy seeing those before and after house projects.

Changes.

Some recent test results with the doctor show that my health has changed and things will be a bit different for an unknown period. Although I wish it could be avoided, I have such a sweet peace from the Lord in this. I trust so big that He will heal and that I can look at this as an opportunity to grow even closer to Him.

I’ve never been great with patience but I’m praying to be teachable and maybe now my desire (and neglect) to becoming more patient won’t go unchecked, maybe God is using this very obstacle for such a time as this.

In this various season of change I’m holding on to the truth of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Things change, it’s inevitable but God remains the same loyal steadfast God He always was and ever will be—no matter what.

In the areas I’m noticing change I remember that as Christians this earth is not our permanent home and these bodies that are wasting away will one day be restored in the most perfect of ways.

The assurance of God’s unchanging dedication and love for us is what can bring peace to unexpected and inevitable changes in our lives. He is solid and stable. He is wonderfully unchanging.

Weekend blessings to you all!!❤️

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.❤️

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!!

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.

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

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