Use the (Clipper) Guard…

Oh boy I’m almost ashamed to write this — but last Thursday was, as usual, hair day at the nursing home for me. I showed up physically prepared but for some reason my haircuts on the residents weren’t going smoothly. It was, as some say, literally a bad hair day.

Friends, I knew it was bad when an elderly, frail man took a seat and I began buzzing what little hair was there. While free-handing with my little clippers and no attached guard I got a bit too close and scalped the poor fella!! …Just a little area but scalped nevertheless.

Most are probably familiar with clipper guards but if not I’ll quickly elaborate. Guards are used as an attachment on clippers and quite handy when you’re cutting the hair real short. They act as sort of a safety method and help control how long or short the haircut will be…that is if you choose to use them…

Immediately after my haircut-foul my mind raced to the fact that we don’t have to do life on the edge, nor solo, or at risk — instead God acts as our guard.

Check out these verses; the first one uses the word ‘guard’ and the other ones strongly imply it’s importance.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” —2 Thessalonians 3:3

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” —Psalm 3:3-5

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” —Psalm 32:7

The following Sunday when our pastor gave his message I sat in awe as his words on healthy boundaries poured over my heart. It was so similar to where my mind had been focused in light of concentrating on that one simple yet profound word: guard.

God longs to guard our minds and our hearts over fears, hurt, and failures but we must be willing to attach to Him. Just like I have a choice in using or not using the guard on my haircutting clippers (taking the chance of styling a bad hair day if I refuse to use one) we have one of the most important choices each and every day…will we attach to God as our guard or risk going alone?

The beautiful thing is that even when we choose against His guard and end up in regret it’s still never too late…

Remember I mentioned my neglect of using the clipper guard on my little old man, well I was thankfully able to blend over the hair and cover up my mistake to the point the haircut looked normal.

Consider the idea that at times we try and do life without God yet once we become aware of our egotism and call upon Him He is quick to come to the rescue, saving us from ourselves and stepping in as our guard. Every. Single. Time…no questions asked. Surely the best form of God’s guard shows up through Jesus (in the act of the cross) saving us from the punishment of our sins as we choose to trust and believe.

Because He loves us that much.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.’ —Isaiah 54:10

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16

Getting Over Those Toxic Thoughts That’ll Drive You Crazy

My almost fifteen year old daughter, Paige, is now old enough to drive with a school permit to and from school since we live outside of town.

That thought doesn’t at all settle well with me.

When I was seventeen my family was involved in a horrible car accident that took my father’s life…sometimes my mind trails back to that blacktop road and that ugly scene that forever changed my little world…

Now that my oldest child is behind the wheel I’ve struggled. I have such an uneasy feeling at the idea of my girl driving to school without an adult in the vehicle (or anywhere for that matter once she gets her actual driver’s license.)

In fact Paige has technically been of age for the past year to use the school permit and I have yet to allow it to happen. My mama bear instinct just wants to jump in and take over. As she’s practiced driving with her dad and I she’s done well, but I just can’t seem to get over that large bump in the road of my messy mind — the one of her driving without us in the seat next to her.

So I’m working on my thought patterns and I’m in a new book by Jennie Allen titled, Get Out of Your Head. Jennie shares about her own struggles in life and writes about the idea of overcoming those thoughts that lead to a negative downward spiral.

I love the words from 2 Corinthians 10 verses 3 through 5 where Paul writes, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

I have to truly live out taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ, especially the negative ones I have lately of my teenage daughter driving.

Jennie uses these verses of Paul’s in her book to magnify just how important, necessary, and doable it is ‘to destroy the lies that dominate our thought patterns.’

Remember I mentioned that I can’t get over Paige driving without an adult in the vehicle, that’s where my hang up happens…but the truth is she is so covered in security because Jesus is with her all the time…in or out of the car…and the bottom line is He’s by far a better protector than I can (or will) ever be.

That’s a thought I have to hold tightly to otherwise I’m setting myself up for failure and I’ll be darned if Paige nabs hold of my anxiety for herself.

This book of Jennie’s challenges me to ‘interrupt negative thought patterns’ by remembering ‘I have a choice.’

I have a choice.

I can choose to trust Jesus more than the obstacle. I can choose to believe He is perfectly in control. I can choose to love that His word navigates me along a trustworthy path…otherwise the most notable “driving log” is going to be the one where I drive myself and my family crazy.

Y’all I don’t know if you’re facing a struggle of some sort, if you’re trying to take matters in your own hands (or out of your daughter’s) but getting into scripture and reading Christian resources is absolutely hands down beneficial to our faith.

Click here to purchase a copy of Jennie’s book: Get Out of Your Head

I may not be quite ready to let Paige have a go on her own just yet but I’m getting closer and the more I ride alongside her the more I see her improving and I become more comfortable with the idea of her driving alone soon. It’s so ironically beautiful because it reminds me of the fact that the more time I spend in prayer, God’s word, and with fellow believers the more comfortable and closer I feel to Jesus. With out a doubt I know I’m on the right road even given the turns and bumps along the way because the truth is those obstacles give way for the opportunity of perseverance through Him. And though struggles are never much fun, we have the choice ultimately to let Jesus take the wheel (spiritually) over our fears or messes every time!!

Awe just look at her sweet face…she was appalled that I took that picture!❤️

Motivated and Persistent

Of our multiple animals, we have a six year old Yorkie, Eli, who I’ve written about in the past. Eli was a gift to me, from my husband, for our tenth wedding anniversary.

For most of his life the poor little guy has had seizures due to a head injury that happened when he was just a puppy which makes him pretty fragile. Long story short, he’d jumped from my arms and smacked his little noggin on our wooden deck outback and from that time on whenever his head (or neck) are impacted you can bet he’ll go right into a seizure. He’s on seizure meds that control ‘random’ seizures (which he was prone to after the head injury) but he still has them when he encounters impact regardless of the meds.

As an example — Eli was sleeping on my bed recently when he heard me come into the house, he got excited and decided he was going to jump down and greet me. I was just walking through the bedroom door and couldn’t catch him in time before he clumsily hit the wood floor with a thud. The seizure that followed was one of his worst and honestly I wasn’t sure he’d come out of it. I prayed in my heart like crazy in the moment, God spared him and as a result Eli is never allowed to be on our bed again…no exceptions!!

He’s stinking cute!

We’ve now bought him a large dog bed and situated it near our bed but it’s taken him some time to get used to. Our bed is pretty high from the floor and this is something we should’ve bought and started years ago.

At nighttime he’s restless for a short while and the little clicking of his paws can be heard as he pitter patters from one side of our bed to the other, hopeful that either my husband or I will lift him up to his preferable place of sleep and familiarity. I feel bad because he doesn’t understand and I miss him cuddling up next to me…although I have been able to sleep better now.

Eli teaches me a “good” lesson applicable to my life as a Christian — I want to be so incredibly dedicated and familiar with Jesus (in my faith and relationship with Him) that I can’t stand to “feel” separated or distanced from Him.

Like my dog, I want to be so faithful, motivated and persistent in pursuing what brings me comfort and peace. For Eli it’s snuggling in close to my husband or I and falling asleep next to us on our bed or begging relentlessly for canned dog food — and for myself as I work on authentic Christianity it better be my relationship with the Lord that brings me satisfaction and security in my life without hesitation. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions!!

That means that if (or when) I’m putting God second it would bother me so much I’d be stir crazy. When something tries to distract me or come in the way I’d be unsettled. When Satan attempts to send me on a hazardous detour route, I’d notice the red flag warning immediately and head straight to the One who’s already paved the perfect path.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. —Colossians 1:17

Because Eli’s a dog he’s always going to live impulsively by selfish means and very sure-hearted in what he wants even if it’s not always the best choice for him; likewise as a Christian we’re to live selflessly yet with a devoted heart strongly fixed on Jesus…Eventually at bedtime Eli grows tired, loses interest in claiming a spot on our bed, gives in and finally tuckers down into his new, more safe, bed. Contrastively we as Christians can’t choose second best, we must strive ahead determined to keep Jesus first in our lives.

For you, are you persistent in keeping Jesus number one in your life? If not what is standing in the way?

Hello again…finally!!

I ended up taking an unexpected blogging break over the past few weeks…and it feels awkward. I’m almost overwhelmed on where to pickup so I think I’ll post a little picture/description Summer update today and a devotional thought and hopefully (next week) be back to the routine of once-a-week regular posting.

As July hit, quarantine became a long thing of the past in my world, all of a sudden I’ve been bombarded with kid’s sports schedules, an increase in helping with my grandma, a camping trip, 4-h projects and presentations, a plethora of meetings, plus the ability to catch up on hair at the nursing home (something I’ve not been able to do since March, thanks to Covid).

I think I imagined that after quarantine things would slowly be introduced into my calendar again — not at all the case. I was hoping I could gradually welcome these things back in and it would feel like a breath of fresh air but instead it’s quite the opposite, and I can’t seem to catch my breath…to be honest I don’t like it.

While I was reading my Bible recently I came to Acts 16 where Paul and Silas were fulfilling Paul’s second missionary journey. Their mission (this round) was to visit and check-up on the cities that Paul had already preached in through an earlier journey. Reaching Philippi, a Roman ran colony, they faced trouble after Paul called out an evil spirit from a slave woman who was “used” to predict the future. Verse 19 says, “When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.”

They didn’t care that Paul and Silas has just performed a miracle (through God) and meant it for good over this woman. They didn’t care that these men were there to speak ‘Jesus’ to the crowds…they were too wrapped up in worldliness and as a result Paul and Silas suffered under their physical violence and landed behind bars.

Some of us may feel like we’re emotionally echoing the lives of Paul and Silas — like we’re caught behind sturdy immovable bars. With Covid and face masks, perhaps living in the fear of uncertainty or dealing firsthand with racial injustice, or (like me) overwhelmed with a busy schedule, we just can’t seem to shake the locks loose.

Listen, in the messy situation Paul and Silas were dealing with they still didn’t get downhearted; rather they praised and sang hymns to God (vs. 25) even resulting in leading their jailer and his household to Christ in the midst. They found joy in the tribulation.

Here’s my favorite heart-grabbing piece of this story from Acts 16:40, “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left.”

Catch those inspiring words from verse 40, ‘they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them’.

You see, when Paul and Silas were finally released from prison they didn’t mope around, they didn’t waste time wandering where to start again. They boldly faced their God-given mission, ‘meeting with their brothers and sisters and encouraging them.’ It would seem (to most) that after enduring such hardship they would be the ones in need of encouragement, but their faith flipped that thought-pattern right around and they embraced the opportunity to be the encouragers and God was glorified because of it.

I don’t know what struggle you may be facing (or what may feel like prison walls) but I pray that we would all have that ‘Paul and Silas mindset’ in trusting and praising the Lord regardless of the obstacle. God is so much more than good enough to stay with us — no matter what side of the bars we’re on. He’ll break them down in His perfect timing but it may not be until we reach Heaven.

When we share stories of God’s faithfulness we encourage others and point to Him, just like Paul and Silas did some 2000 years ago…and note how it’s still talked about all these years later.❤️

Thanks for reading, before I end here’s some of our July adventures:

Cherry picking in the backyard

4th of July celebration

Camping trip

Soccer season

Plus these two (below) actually getting along:

4-h week

Football League (he begged for and now dreads going)

Lastly one of my husband’s best friends passed away this weekend; he was such an amazing man — full of life, loved giving gifts (and a hard time) to anyone, and made the best BBQ food ever…please throw some prayers up for the family and friends of this man.

Sunday a sweet and humble uncle of Nate’s passed away after a long battle with cancer…praise for no more pain or suffering but prayers for peace and healing for family and friends.

Thanks so much!

Light Against Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living on His Plans

When people talk about how they can’t wait for life to return to “normal”, I mentally stand on the other side thinking: ‘but I’m not 100% okay with the old kind of normal, the pre-covid normal…What changes do I want to see made within my family for our “future normal”…What is it that I want to grasp as a spiritually beneficial takeaway from this unique time?’…Because I don’t want to revert back to my Alicia’s world, impatient, on the go self when things do return to “normal”…my true colors usually show up best with a well thought out detailed itinerary…that’s part of my control girl flaw.

I’m trying to figure out how to mesh this current lifestyle (the things I’ve learned during my coronavirus-downtime) with what’s to come when life eventually does return to “fast-paced normal”…and the idea of loosening my firm grip on ‘itinerary-style-planning’ definitely needs to be part of a wiser planning method for myself.

We’ve all seen firsthand now how things can dramatically change in a matter of day to day living.

I have to laugh in spite of myself — back in late February, before I even knew the word coronavirus existed, I had sat down at my kitchen table and counted through my calendar all the days that I had marked down to substitute teach, and there were many. And in my eyes I was seeing dollar signs and the amount of money that I’d be able to tuck into savings to put towards a trip our family has/had scheduled this summer. In the midst of counting sub days I literally thought of how foolish it seemed because subconsciously I knew something could come up and any of those days could be taken from me, none of them were necessarily ever guaranteed to stay locked in. Sure enough every single one of them was canceled out through the end of the school year due to the virus. Continue reading “Living on His Plans”

The Wild Joy of Mothering and Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Finished She Shed part 2

Last Fall I posted A She Shed in the Making part 1 where I shared that Nathan had this brilliant idea to build me a she shed as a fifteenth anniversary gift! I’m pretty sure by the time we hit up the building material store he was wishing he’d have never entertained the idea…but alas six months later the she shed is pleasantly finished! When my husband started it at the end of last year the weather turned pretty cold so he made sure he got it buttoned up on the outside and the inside waited until warmer days over the past month. I’ll share photos and let them do the talking.

Also if you’ve hit up this post due to a tag-link and are in the midst of planning or building a she shed then WELCOME!! Let us know if you have any questions or need hints on how to go about this or that. We have quite a few cost saver tips too!

Continue reading “A Finished She Shed part 2”

His Words Always Guarantee Truth

A few years ago my family was fixing to head to our favorite camping spot for Labor Day weekend. Out of excitement with the thought of our adventure I scrambled around the house to take care of last minute things before leaving.

In the midst of my hustle and bustle my little seizure filled Yorkie (Eli) ended up under my feet and I tripped over him. He rolled, must’ve bonked his poor noggin and went straight into a seizure. A very loooong seizure — one that sent me into a panic and directly to the phone to call our vet clinic.

“Red Willow Animal Clinic, how may I help you?” the woman on the other end began.

“I just kicked my dog!!!!! …And now he’s having a really bad seizure!!” I explained hysterically.

There was a “paws” before the woman on the other end of the line instructed me on what to do and set up an appointment for the next week to get Eli in for x-rays of his neck area.

Side note: Every time Eli’s neck gets jarred just right it sends him straight into a seizure but normally they don’t last that long.

After I hung up with the vet clinic’s receptionist it occurred to me how I had incorrectly explained the scenario with my poor dog…great grief I just told her I kicked my dog…seriously?!…my family wasn’t at all surprised because they’ve grown use to my unfailing ability of impatience and not thinking before I speak.

In the time since that phone call I’ve thought about how extremely important it is to convey messages and communicate well. Continue reading “His Words Always Guarantee Truth”

Hope Through Unity

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

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

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

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