The Darkness Has Not Overcome the Light

I’m finally feeling back to myself again! Which is a good thing I hope!!

I had Covid over Thanksgiving and man I feel for anyone who battles Covid physically, but for myself it really messed with me mentally—and with my emotions as well.

It was the reality of being secluded from my family (in effort to keep them from getting sick) over a holiday that’s bent on togetherness—that’s what really got to me. And although I tried to stay focused and connected to God through reading His word, devotions, and prayer through it all, Satan managed to squeak his ridiculous way in to play mind-games with me.

I struggled with the realization that my kids are growing up so fast…I worried that I didn’t enjoy them enough as babies…I longed to hug each of them individually and apologize for my crazy mood swings over the years…I feared that I’ve messed them up for future parenting of their own one day…

Forget doctor’s orders to stay hydrated, instead I filled up on shame and regret, even digging up dirt on myself from pre-Christian years and settling on the messy memories I have of childhood trauma. My thoughts felt completely out of my control. A total downward spiral. It was absolutely miserable and ugly. I was devastated and I cried a lot. A lot!

Looking back I can only now see how silly this must seem but it truly felt smothering at the time.

When Satan has his way with our thoughts it can cause those valley-seasons to feel like we’re endlessly cratering. The sense of darkness can seem overwhelming and paralyzing.

BUT THERE’S HOPE WHEN WE REMEMBER JESUSwhen we fix our eyes upward—when we cling to God’s faithfulness and we fill that somber void with His peace—when we remember seasons are only just simply seasons, and new ones are fixing to surface.

Several times during my depressive state, I would literally, pronounce, “get behind me Satan.There is power in our words and putting Jesus in front of everything else makes a profound difference.

Recognizing the struggle and anguish I was experiencing, I focused on verses 4 & 5 from John 1, stating that the darkness has not overcome the light…

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Our tree is now up to celebrate the Christmas season, and goodness the golden-colored lights wrapped around it are such a reminder of the beautiful truth in those verses. It amazes me that such tiny little lights can put out such a bright illumination…at night they cut through the dark effortlessly with such a stark contrast.

What a wonderful portrayal of the very way Jesus operates…He longs to overflow our darkest days with the hope and energy of His light if we’ll allow ourselves that kind of power supply.

Maybe you can relate with me and sometimes experience what feels as if it’s a shortage every now and then but as we stay connected to the Light, the darkness will never, ever overcome…and that’s something worth brightening our outlook!

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“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” —John 8:12

A Cord of Three Strands

This morning my oldest daughter, Paige, had asked if I’d braid her hair. She’s going out for girls’ wrestling this year and has practice today (even though it’s Thanksgiving break) so pulled back hair is her preference.

I found it interesting because at the time she asked, I was reading and studying over Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 which says this:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

When it comes to my daughter wanting her very long hair braided she always requests the help of either her sister or myself. It takes another set of hands to make it happen. It’s teamwork.

Today as I got the privilege of braiding her hair, with some new and fresh insight, I thought about the last part of the verses I’d just read, ‘a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’

Interesting given the fact I’d just woven three sections of hair together similar to a cord formation. The weaving and intertwining of the hair strands keeps it stronger and serves the purpose for which it was meant—to hold together.

Keeping these verses in mind we can circle the encouragement found here—there is strength when partnering up.

Last weekend I tested positive for Covid and to say I accepted the circumstances to follow with ease would be a huge falsity. I was not impressed and am still struggling. Plans were tossed and negative feelings pursued.

My “quarantine” time doesn’t end until Sunday evening. There’s nothing normal about being isolated from family over Thanksgiving break especially in my own home.

Out of respect for my husband and kids I’ve tried to stay to my room but I was really “wrestling” with depressive thoughts so I’ve graduated a bit more to the main areas of the house while wearing a mask. I know this probably doesn’t meet CDC recommendations but out of the personal health of my sanity it is what it is.

I admit this isn’t one of my most happy-go-lucky-post. Actually I always aim to just be as transparent as possible. I share all this though because I’ve been able to reflect on how much people matter to me.

God didn’t design us to be alone. In the beginning of His Word we read in Genesis 2:18, “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” God created woman in effort to reinforce that idea. We know sin ensued shortly after and humanity has suffered the results since. But God didn’t leave us without a Way to overcome…His name is Jesus.

When we include Jesus in our life, and in our relationships, that cord we read about in Ecclesiastes exist with the type of supernatural strength that points to Him.

Life is for us to do together. To lift one another up. To encourage. To cheer one another on. To smile. To hug. To laugh. To cry. To fellowship. To be in communion.

So even though Thanksgiving has definitely looked and felt very different and has not been my first choice of creating memories in this way, I can focus on the fact that I am blessed beyond measure—I know the importance (without a shadow of a doubt) of how beautiful life is when we are fulfilled by relationships. And the best is with Jesus laced right in the middle.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken…

I pray your Thanksgiving was blessed and (even if it may also look different like mine) that you can turn your focus to the positives with an attitude of gratitude. ❤️

He’s Perfectly Writing Our Story For His Glory

Something that’s making me laugh at myself as I write this is that my post from last week—I changed it up—not even an hour after hitting publish. And I ended up changing not just some of the words but the title as well…

I’d written an analogy regarding T-Rex arms vs. chicken wings (weird, I know…you’d have to read it to get the full idea if you haven’t already). Anyway in the original published post I referred to chicken wings as chicken arms instead…not even thinking twice about it. A little later when I went back to read the posted copy I thought to myself, “Chicken arms? What in the world?

We own chickens and never on God’s green earth have I ever said to my husband, “Hey honey, the chickens are flying out of the coop again, would you go clip their chicken arms?

Never.

So I decided, rightfully that chicken WINGS could not be referred to as chicken arms…and therein lies the reason for my change-up with last week’s post!

Okay I’ll get to the point of today’s post…

…As the author of my blog I get to write how the story goes. I can go back and edit and make corrections or improvements if needed.

Authors do this quite often, it’s the reason we see books that sometimes have the words “updated edition” or “revised copy” across the cover. Alterations have been made or research has allowed for more thorough information or a better explanation so the author provides a modification of the original.

I’m reminded how God is the ‘Author of our Life’ when we choose to put our trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 that idea is worded like this— “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

At that moment we start becoming a better version of ourselves; and rather than trying to write our own stories we learn to surrender the pages of our life to God along with the publishing rights.

With that truth in mind, a plot twist happens within us. Suddenly our “character” is thinking and doing differently in accordance to God’s will. Ultimately, however, He controls and knows what may come or go, just the same way as an author of a book does.

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As God continues to write our story He may include plot twists and turns that we weren’t or aren’t expecting—He has every right to do so, after all He is the one creating and we’re the characters in HIS story. When the unexpected comes up in our lives this doesn’t mean God made an error, rather God sees the climax and the purpose those trials, along the way, may serve.

As our character-being learns to trust and interact with God, our love for Him grows and we learn peace in the rising and falling action of life.

No matter the setting or theme of our current story, we can rest in the comfort of Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Such powerful, hope-filled truth for even the darkest of chapters.

Through scripture, we’re given the resolution (the ending of the story) —as God has revealed to us the beautiful promise of eternity spent in Heaven with Him when we choose to believe in His Son as our Saving Grace. Praise God that when we make that life-changing decision, we open the pages to a never ending sequel that’s perfectly written by the Author of Life and we get to be a part of it! The goodness of Heaven.

…In the meantime we can trust in the assurance of His flawless Word. All glory to Him!❤️

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.

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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!!

Random October Reflections

Boy this month has flown by!! After having surgery this past week I thought I’d keep today’s post simple and share some photos and memories.

My birthday is at the beginning of October and my only “birthday wish” was to hit up my favorite campgrounds (a few hours away from our neck of the woods) where you can camp and also ride four wheelers.

Although we sold our camper last year I still wanted to go for the four wheeler riding so we took a day trip the first weekend of this month. Maybe next year we’ll bring a tent along and make a weekend trip out of it but with the busy Summer we had on the house remodel I felt blessed just to squeeze in the day we got for this!! And with Nebraska’s crazy weather you take advantage of what you can, the weather was in the 70s that day!!!

We celebrated (our oldest daughter) Paige’s 16th birthday with food, family, friends, and limo rides the next weekend!

The third weekend of October our junior high youth group headed up to Camp Comeca—this is our fourth (maybe fifth?) year with this camp. Loads of fun and growing faith!! My two youngest kiddos (McKenzie and Warren) both got to go!

And Mc squeezed in some baking that Sunday afternoon. We love this time of year—leaves changing colors, baking, cozy sweaters and warm blankets!!

This past weekend our family hosted our annual Fall party. This is the fifth year we’ve done this—lots of family and friends, smoked pork loin, yummy potluck style side-dishes, hayrack rides, fellowship—quite a blessing!!

And this last weekend of October I plan to rest!! I had surgery on Wednesday which I wrote about in last Friday’s post so now it’s time to recuperate!

One of my best friends had given me a gift bag full of goodies the day before surgery and attached scripture to each item:

The one scripture that has really spoken to me is this:

I’m gonna wrap up by leaving you with the same encouragement as well!!

Have a blessed weekend!!

Breast Cancer Awareness and Sharing My Story

I wasn’t sure if any of this was ever going to make it to the blog but when the Holy Spirit prompts I’m understanding it’s probably a wise choice to follow suit…

The beginning of September I felt a lump in my armpit area and wasted zero time having it checked out. The nurse practitioner I saw was on top of things and ordered blood tests and a mammogram which led to an ultrasound and biopsy.

When the results came back the next week I was asked to come into the clinic so they could go over them with me. In my typical-quirky-impatient-Alicia manner this was my response, “Oh man! Isn’t that not a good thing when you call me to come in and discuss results!? Can’t you just tell me over the phone first?”

A clear but gentle “no” followed, and within 20 minutes I learned (in person) the biopsy showed stage one breast cancer.

I’ve had several doctor appointments in the time since. They’ll remove the tumor and whatever necessary lymph nodes this Wednesday and then I’ll have radiation for a treatment plan.

It’s been awkward knowing when or if I should tell people because I’d strongly felt like Satan was whispering ‘if you tell people then you’re seeking attention, and it’s only stage one anyways.’

With a welcomed exchange, however, I’ve recently felt God’s nudging—‘don’t waste an opportunity for people to reach out to Me in prayer’…and I definitely want to be respectful of those who want to do just that.

God deserves the outreach of prayer and also the praise that it’s only stage one and the other blessings I’ve counted!

I’m thanking Him for this cancer being caught so early, for my husband’s amazing insurance that the kids and I got on just this year, for the caring doctors and nurses I’ve met so far and for God working in me in the area of patience—I’m finally grabbing onto that fruit of the spirit!! Patience has never come easy for me but I’m now noticing how valuable it is!

My journey in this is (looking) much shorter and milder than what so many others experience and while I’m thankful for an easier diagnosis than what could be, I also don’t want to miss the chance to grow from it either. I want to be mindful of others who are going through the same process or whose results are much more advanced and less tolerable.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been guilty in the past at almost becoming passive in recognizing its public campaigns.

This disease can wreak havoc in people’s lives and now that I’m on this side I’m appreciating things I overlooked before like Breast Cancer Awareness artwork on some of the local business windows in our small town, and mammogram advertisements in news articles and magazines, and the encouragement to get checked because ‘early detection is best.

I’m pouring out sensitive, direct prayers over those struggling with cancer of all kinds. Their families need lifted up in prayer also. No more of those genericGod, be with those who are dealing with sickness” prayers.

Sometimes you don’t realize the depth of another’s hardships until you walk in the trenches of a similar path.

It’s in the trench where your eyes need to be lifted—your hope fixed upward toward a way out. A Saving Grace—His name is Jesus. He leads and answers in His own perfect way but we must choose to trust and follow along with His plan.

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None of us are immune to difficulty…whether it’s cancer, losing a loved one, relationship-conflict, financial hardship, whatever it might be—the trial may be different but the feelings we experience are relatable. Opening up and lifting one another up in prayer is a beautiful regimen offered from the Great Physician—let’s not miss the opportunity.

Sweet weekend blessings as always.❤️

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!!

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.❤️

A Short Story On Perseverance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One last chance! Mc’s dog, Taya!!

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

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

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

This was Taya the night before the actual dog show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero points docked

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

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

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

Sweet weekend blessings as always!!

Photo from Bible YouVersion
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