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!❤️

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

Lessons From a Fair Warning and a Dead Chicken

A few months ago a neighbor had staked down a rather peculiar sign in her always pristine front yard, it read:

‘Any chicken found in my yard will be dead meat’

Y’all I wish I had a picture of this but I guess I was too “chicken” to take one, nevertheless you get the idea.

The sign only stayed up a very short while and then it was replaced by warmer days, green grass, and this woman’s crazy mowing obsession.

These houses out where we live are part of a subdivision located outside of town. My husband explains it like we live in a pasture which I would concur. Quite a few people own chickens, some have goats, and there’s even a family with a cow or two at times.

At the beginning of this month, early on a Sunday morning, Nathan and I woke up to gun shots and sprung out of bed to see what the ruckus was. Farm animals out here are normal but gun shots right out in the residential area aren’t at all.

So we’re peering out our windows and much to our surprise we spot a group of chickens on the loose splashing around in the sprinklers of one neighbor’s yard and we’re oohing and ahhing for a second because it was cute and comical but still trying to figure out the gun shots.

I look over to the next neighbor’s property (the one who had a chicken slayer sign up a few months before) and wouldn’t you know there was a large cluster of what appeared to be white feathers on the far south end of her yard. Nathan ran and grabbed a scope from out of his gun safe and like a creep he’s spying out our front window, zeroing in on the lump of white and confirms…a fresh poultry kill…

Chicken dinner anyone?

The red is the chicken, the blue is the trap… Sorry I couldn’t resist adding a picture.

Come to find out, apparently this woman with the insanely well kept yard had an issue with a nearby neighbor (who owns free range chickens minus a white one now) and was not impressed when those chickens would show up at her place and this day she took vengeance.

She actually ended up leaving the dead chicken on her yard for the next two days before chucking it onto its original owner’s driveway. On top of that, immediately after the kill, she created a trap system in the middle of her yard which consisted of a plastic dome container that was propped up and then had a rope connected to it and that rope lead right into the front door of her house. I guess if another chicken was brave enough to step foot into her lawn and happened to make it’s way under the trap she’d pull the rope and the chicken would be trapped inside the dome. More humane than meeting it’s uneven match with a gun I suppose.

Although I don’t agree with how she handled the situation, I’ve gotta give her a little credit because she did after all give a forewarning with the sign..

And here’s where I want to point us to Jesus.

When we read God’s word, all throughout we find truth, promises, hope, grace, mercy, and even forewarnings. The Bible represents all these things.

Pieces of scripture warn us of the consequences and fate of not following Jesus and when we choose to believe and follow then we experience the blessings and joy of a relationship with Him, plus an eternity spent in Heaven.

The deal with my neighbor has brought about some laughs. I joked with my son one day, “hey I dare you to run over and set off the trap unless you’re too chicken.” He didn’t go for it but we did “crack” up over it.

The thing is when it comes to the warnings we read in God’s word that’s one thing my family always takes seriously. There’s no jokes to go along with it.

We all are given the opportunity to read scripture and accept every word of it or reject it.

That chicken trap has now long been taken down from my neighbor’s yard just like the warning sign was removed before the slaughtering ever happened. She followed through just like her sign warned:

‘Any chicken found in my yard will be dead meat’

When we compare this to the way God operates we’ve been given the chance to study scripture and make what we want of the warnings. God will one day judge the world and by our choice we’re either walking toward Him or headed for destruction as the end will inevitably come.

As long as we’re living it’s never too late to turn to Him and take His warning for the benefit it longs to bring and the glory it provides for His purpose.

Have a blessed Memorial weekend y’all. I’m fixing to take my kids tent camping by myself as Nate is out of town. It should be interesting…and no worries my chickens are always locked safely away!

Always Be Ready…

I spent last week in the beautiful sunshiny state of Florida.

Without even a close contender following, Florida is my most favorite place in the whole wide world. I try to go there every time I get to choose a vacation spot.

This time I was with my mama and my childhood best friend and then my best friend had invited one of her friends.

I’m a little apprehensive to write this post but for the sake of the point I’m trying to make from it I’m gonna go ahead…

I had a conversation while on vacation regarding faith…my Christian views were opposite from this other person’s beliefs. It’s easy and natural for me to discuss my beliefs when others are in agreement with what I believe but when their beliefs oppose mine the conversation that ensues can be kinda difficult.

I won’t go into large detail but there was talk of their “belief in Buddha” and also mention that they’d “never read nor want to read the Bible because it was written by man…and often times pastors are hypocritical.”

You guys!! The coolest thing happened right then and there though…I was actually able to respectfully share my view without stalling on my words. I’m forever saying that I’m a much better writer than talker but this day the Holy Spirit was all over the moment.

I simply (and kindly) responded something along these lines, “I actually don’t agree with that, the Bible notes that it’s the inspired word of God. Yes, true that pastors can be off because they’re only human, but a good pastor will challenge you to get in the word yourself and find out how it’s speaking to you. For me when I read in the beginning of the Bible and it talks about creation of the world and everything in it and how people came about, and I read about sin entering and forgiveness of sins because of Jesus’ mercy and grace, then I can’t not believe every single part of it. When I read it everything just makes sense to me. It’s like a puzzle that fits together perfectly from start to finish.”

I really don’t know if my words at the time made a difference but I can trust God to do His will and way with how He used me and in His own timing. Ultimately it’s always up to an individual to choose how they will respond to God’s invitation when they hear a message. Without being pushy I can only do my part and then leave it in God’s hands afterwards.

I wasn’t really expecting to have that conversation while vacationing in Florida but in the time since I’ve thought about how incredibly important it is to truly live out the verse from 1 Peter 3:15.

And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. —1 Peter 3:15

Situations like what I described above are why verses like 1 Peter 3:15 are included in God’s word.

As Christians we must be able to open up about our faith and sometimes even defend it, to know and trust what we believe, and be able to share that hope with others in a compassionate way.

As long as we’re breathing and communicating with others the opportunity to share our hope of Jesus always exist…doesn’t matter if we’re in the comfort of our own community or vacationing at our favorite getaway…as Christians we must be ready and willing to share our hope in Him!!

APPLICABLE VERSES:

But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. —1 Peter 3:16

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. —Colossians 4:5-6

Lessons From My Grandma’s Lifeline

On Easter evening my husband, and the kids and I stopped over to my grandma’s to visit for a bit. She was glad to see all of us together because typically it’s just me and one or two kiddos visiting at a time. I made sure she got something to eat for supper and we shared small talk and then went on home.

(Photo taken Easter 2021)

This visit with her makes me want to get better about making every moment count for “good” because you just never know…things can change quickly and without warning!

The next day after visiting my grandma, my mom called early…which isn’t at all normal because my mom would rather sleep till mid morning if the possibility exist…so I mentally braced myself for whatever news was to come.

She told me my grandma had gotten up to go to the bathroom in the early morning hours and had fallen. Her shoulder was broke and she was now in the hospital where she still is as of now.

Thank God when she fell she was wearing her lifeline necklace — the one she grumbled about last year when my mom insisted it’d be best she have one.

In case you don’t know what a lifeline necklace is, it’s this plastic electronic piece with a push button. If an emergency situation occurs the person needing assistance pushes the button and through a speaker system they communicate back and forth with a medical care specialist until help arrives.

Obviously we hoped my grandma wouldn’t have ever needed to use it BUT we are soooo incredibly thankful she had it when she desperately needed it.

I can’t help but think about that name —lifeline.

We all have access to one really…

Hebrews 4:16 says this, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Sounds like a pretty fitting lifeline right?

Approaching God’s throne’ is referring to the very truth that we’re invited to humbly yet boldly come to Him in prayer, trusting He will provide in His own perfect way.

Prayer is our lifeline which connects us to God. The beautiful thing is that we don’t have to wait for an urgent situation to arise in order to use it.

My grandma wore that lifeline necklace faithfully for the past year and it’s presence mattered, it helped her feel safer throughout the time she’s had it.

The same is true for us with prayer as our lifeline to God…BUT the difference is this— my grandma knew she had access to medical care through a push button device because it was a physical piece which she could see and feel.

Prayer, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily something we’re physically reminded to do. Instead we must make a regular, not meaningless, habit of using this lifeline to stay connected to God. Prayer isn’t something we should limit ourselves to only when we’re in dire need.

Let me tell you when my grandma was down, she was down physically and emotionally. She was scared in that moment and knowing her love for God I’m certain her thoughts went to Him. That lifeline hanging close to her heart was surely an answer to prayer in a literal form. She was reminded of it and reached her hand out and clasped hold, pushing that button for help.

That lifeline was something new for her in the sense of her declining health but a lifeline of prayer is something she’s held onto for years. In fact if it wasn’t for her strong faith I may still be lagging in my own.

With my grandma’s situation I’m reminded just how fragile life is. But my hope is placed in Jesus and you can bet I have been and will continue to use the lifeline of prayer in the ups and downs of this crazy thing we call life.

Maybe you’ve been struggling with something but haven’t thought to call out through your God-given lifeline, don’t waste another minute…God is on the other end and He longs to hear from you and comfort you with peace and direction.

Have a blessed weekend!!

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” -Philippians 3:20-21

My Own Testimony of Hope in God’s Easter Plan

Through some really traumatic childhood experiences, where blame could be directly targeted to certain individuals, I’ve learned forgiveness by the grace of God in ways that only make sense through Him.

Things that many would’ve deemed unforgivable I was able to humbly hand over to God who replaced those hardships with divine peace.

When I reflect back to those early years of my life, with the wisdom I’ve gained since, I now recognize numbness must have began building as the afflictions happened.

Finding faith years later actually made it very easy to forgive those who were guilty because I was so far-distanced from feeling the hurt I had experienced. God’s goodness in my new-found faith was so powerful and contagious that it exceedingly outweighed the darkness.

The only way I can understand it is because I believe in the beauty of God’s mercy and grace and I see his work upon it without a shadow of a doubt, plus I consider how desperately I’m in need of his forgiveness for my own self-imposed errors.

Forgiveness in those major adversities from my younger years just isn’t something I struggle with.

BUT somehow lately I’ve felt a small nudging of bitterness within me from petty offenses done to me by others more recently.

Subconsciously I guess I’ve tallied them up and now they slowly ooze over me. This is not an experience I wish to have linger around, and quite possibly it reverts back to PTSD from my little girl years unfortunately.

I’m more aware of hurtful feelings because my mind and heart are grounded to Jesus these days. Words or actions of betrayal are something that don’t just go unnoticed on my radar. I can actually feel and process my hurts at this point of my life, it’s a good thing but God has shown me that often times I react negatively.

That negativity that I’ve started to compile transfers as sin and doesn’t fit the necessary mold of Christianity.

I actually tried to avoid writing this post and even went blank last week to come up with a different post as God continued to gently prod me in this particular direction while I fought against it. I’ve wrestled through the words but have realized the timing of digging through this is perfect.

Because it’s Easter week I’m doing a Bible reading with my family in the mornings and evenings, recounting the last days of Jesus’ life. The lessons to be taken in are refreshing reminders.

When I think about the cross my mind inevitably races to Jesus — his willingness to take our sins upon himself out of a love meant to glorify his Father is the most amazing of phenomenons. Man I just never want to be comfortable enough to take that truth for granted. I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve (personally) allowed him to suffer in vain.

The reality of it comes down to the very fact that Jesus shed his perfect blood and died for those big sins I experienced when I was too young to know better — and he also died for the sins of others that I call petty but still get bent out of shape about. On top of that he died for the sin of bitterness I try and tuck away among my other character flaws.

He died for ALL sin. (1 John 2:2)

Had Jesus’ life completely ended at the cross I would be pointlessly seeking a freeness from my sins…we all would.

But the FULLNESS of the life-giving, glorious hope of the Easter story isn’t nailed and halted at the cross like our sins were…we can’t end therebecause when we look at the big picture we move on from a sacrificial cross that served a holy purpose, to an empty tomb that provides and points to a sacred resurrection celebration!

God doesn’t want us to hold onto sins of any sort, no matter their size or place on our life’s timeline — if he did, there’d have been no reason for Jesus’s death to begin with.

If (as Christians) we are to replicate Jesus’ example of love, obedience and glory to God then my sin-issue of clinging to offenses must give way (John 14-15). Anything other than that takes advantage of God’s mercy and grace.

My goal is to do better in recognizing my irritation in the small things (and the big) before they have a chance to negatively impact my emotions. And to remember that the cross shows the commitment of forgiveness and love our victorious God has for us — in whom there is no place for sin to be found at all.

With every single breath of life I’m blessed with, that’s something I want to continually place my hope in and follow after wholeheartedly!!

He is risen!! Happy Easter!!

No More ‘Pain in the Neck’

I could probably write every one of my posts each week sharing about an experience from substitute teaching. Maybe that means it’s just that entertaining at times or there are an endless amount of life lessons offered when I’m at the schools.

Just yesterday I was teaching p.e. again and we were in an intense game of line tag when a little brown haired gal (cute as ever) quickly but cautiously made her way to me. She was holding her neck with both hands and the words that poured from her panicked voice were this:

“My neck is hurting and I can’t move it!! It hurts really bad!!”

She paused for a few seconds and seemed to examine my expression and then without wasting another moment she dramatically blurted out, “I think it’s broke! I think my neck is broken!!”

Side-note: You guys here’s why I shouldn’t be allowed to adult most days because for a half a second I entertained the idea; I was like “oh shoot what if it actually is!?”

I’m a bit sensitive about neck injuries ever since my dad’s dirt bike racing accident that left him a quadriplegic, so I’m gonna give myself the benefit of a fair excuse.

I gathered myself and asked her what happened and if she could turn her neck slowly from side to side. I’m assuming she must have strained her neck a bit when she was running and that was the cause. Calmly and rationally we made ‘headway’ and determined her neck was in fact still intact and she’d be alright. After the reassurance, off she ran for more line tag just like that!!

Boy can I ever relate to the symbolic storyline of that whole deal when I compare it to the things I’ve freaked out about throughout different stages of life.

I was a skilled self-diagnosed hypochondriac for years…worrying about anything from my children’s health to well-being, to what people thought of me, to finances, to my premature gray hair which by the way was probably multiplying rapidly because of my worrying…the list “went” on…

And quite frankly it all made up my own definition of a pain in the neck.

I’ve come so far away from those worries…except my soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old driving in a few months…that one I’m still working on letting Jesus take the wheel entirely. I’m getting closer with this too though!

After reflecting on the “broken neck” scene from yesterday and because of the over the top drama I laugh just a smidge and it causes me to ask one question…

How many of our worries are all done in vain?

As I’ve looked back and taken inventory over how God has seen me through my trials, I’ve noticed that not one of the things I’ve ever given worry to have actually prevailed. Ever! The odds of victory are in God’s favor. They’re not for me to chase!

Some of the very first verses that I memorized when I came to faith and realized God’s word is the answer in all situations were on the topic of overcoming worry:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6

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

Those, among a few others, were such a blessing of truth and still speak to me today when I tend to wander away from practicality.

Just like I had to comfort that young fretting sweetie in my p.e. class yesterday during our game, God is always available and willing to do the same for us, no matter the amount of physical or emotional pain we struggle with. He’s a Perfect Healer and we can find relief from our burdens through worship, fellowship with other believers, prayer, and reading His word!

Tag, you’re it!! Let’s not waste any more time in unproductive worry when there’s so much more to life! To Him be the glory!!

Lessons from Grandpa Fred’s ‘Early’ Turn Signal

Every once in a while I reminisce back to the days of my early teen years. Often times that’s a mess of shame but there’s one memory that makes me smile or laugh out loud every time…

My best friend’s grandpa used to take her and I and another one of our friends to youth group a few towns away from where we grew up. I think her grandpa must’ve went to a Bible study group during that same time so it worked out pretty well.

The funny part about it is that he’d put his turn signal on in his classy white Lincoln Town car blocks before we’d ever get to the turn that lead to the church. I’d like to think it was because he was proudly but humbly letting people know where we were headed. Realistically that probably wasn’t the case — but either way (between sips of fruit flavored soda pop that he had treated us to) we’d quietly crack up because of his very early turn signal. I don’t think he ever caught on to our snickering…if so he never let us know.

I wish I could say I remember more about my time spent once we actually got to the church but unfortunately I was too self absorbed at that point of my life and probably present for the socializing more than anything.

Lately I’ve been substitute teaching over in that same little town where I used to hit up youth group and as I pull into town I can’t help but think about Grandpa Fred’s drastic turn signal antics.

It’s amusing to me that this memory comes to mind of all things and so I challenged myself to reflect and dig in a bit.

When driving, a turn signal serves as a warning for good purpose — for safety and protection.

The interesting thing is, that flashing signal before the turn is similar to the way God works. When we read His word, all throughout we see warnings and directions for our benefit, in effort to guide our lives before we step into trouble.

I praise God for that; it helps me navigate on the straight but narrow path.

There are times though when God’s warning signal is flashing and I choose to ignore or reject it. I fail to resort in putting His good word before life obstacles. When I deviate away I’m lost in twists, turns, and dead-ends.

In Psalm 25 verses 8-11 we read, ‘Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.’

Those words above remind me that scripture is the place to find instruction and guidance for my life, recognizing that I’m a sinner in need of His direction.

And then let’s check out Romans 15:4

‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.’

I love the inspiration packed into every one of those words.

When we consider the way the turn signal serves as a blessing for not only ourselves but others as well it pairs up with what we find as we read on in Romans 15…

Verses 5 & 6 have this to say: ‘May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Notice how Paul’s words here are portraying the idea that when we are obedient to the Lord’s ways it should show in our behavior towards others. Obedience for ourselves and looking out for others is a way to glorify God, sort of this positive domino effect objective.

The same is true with using a turn signal. The advantage in its use is that it’s causing us to be other’s-focused whether we’ve thought about it or not. It does ourselves well when used, but the benefit it serves to others is just as huge. There’s two-way gratuity in it. Likewise God’s word guides and protects us and then we have the opportunity to share that blessing with others.

Looking back at Grandpa Fred’s early turn signal habit does my heart good.

The whole point in that half an hour drive was to deliver a few wild (and for the most part clueless girls) over to youth group — and himself to Bible study.

At the time we may have been giddy with excitement about a turn signal getting clicked on blocks before the turn but in hindsight Grandpa’s focus wasn’t caught up in a turn signal at all. Instead he knew that the real destination was all about ‘driving our faith.’

…Just as though God’s word guides us with ‘signal warnings’ throughout — the real effort is to navigate us closer and nearer to Jesus and His likeness, with our final destination Heaven-bound.

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

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