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.

Choosing Well

This past week I witnessed my oldest daughter struggle in-between two big choices on each side of her.

She was asked to join her youth group this summer to attend a five-day Christian high school conference by the name of CIY Move, which she hasn’t ever gone to. This is an event held in different areas of the country and I’ve been told it’s absolutely an amazing experience. On the flip side that sweet little conference just happens to land on the very same week as our county fair, and Paige showing her animals for 4H is something she doesn’t take lightly. I remember one summer we were in the middle of moving and by a cluttered state of mind I didn’t get my kids signed up for 4H, I thought I was going to lose my role as mom over that deal!

Needless to say, given the idea these events both take place on the same week Paige would have to end up deciding on just one.

Choices are tough, especially as we age. They say, on average, people are presented with roughly 35,000 conscious choices in one single day goodness no wonder my ‘meat computer’ feels close to fried each evening!!

We choose what time we’re going to wake up in the morning. We choose our clothes…breakfast…hairstyle (this one’s easy for my bald husband). We choose our attitude, and whether we’ll smile, laugh, or frown.

Choices happen all day long, sometimes without us actually even giving much thought at all. I like to think of these as ordinary, everyday choices.

But then there’s those tough decisions, like what my daughter faced this week. I honestly cringed at the idea when I knew I was going to have to let Paige know these two ‘very-important-to her-events’ are happening the same week this summer and she’d have to choose between the two.

You bet when I finally told her, the good old fifteen-year-old floodgates poured open. She took herself and the news straight to her bedroom where I figured she’d remain for the afternoon without any desire to talk this over — ever. BUT when I went to check up on her a bit later she was actually holding up maturely and had let me know she was going to visit with her youth group leader to get her input.

Paige was already beginning the steps of choosing well in what impacted her as a big decision! And she was doing it with a good attitude! As a mom, this is exactly what I wanted to witness.

Decisions like Paige’s often times carry pros and cons and these are definitely worth considering before choosing one way or another.

There are some key Bible verses I like to reflect on when I’m overwhelmed by choice-making:

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Perspective is also important, because even though either of Paige’s two choices would’ve been fine it really comes down to having a glass half-full attitude rather than a glass-half empty one.

We can choose to see the good in all things. Even when the news of cancer comes, we can choose to recognize that God offers the most important healing for our souls in that circumstance. When the decision to move our family from one place to another seems unfavorable but necessary we can choose to remember God will come along regardless. When the pregnancy results in a miscarriage leaving an empty womb, we can choose to trust that God longs to fill our hearts with comfort, growth, and strength in Him.

Those are the tough things — but it comes down to choosing well even in the midst of chaos. When we feel nothing is left we must choose to remember, surrender, and obey to God’s perfect will — choose to believe in His unconditional love for us no matter what else is happening. He already has everything figured out anyway.

And when we miss the better choice we can come humbly to God, rest assured He holds us in the palm of His hands and will show us the better way still. After all we’re perfectly chosen by Him who makes no mistakes. He is the Corrector and Perfecter of all things and no doubt about it — choosing God, His way, and His direction will always be our best decision and can help guide us in everything else.

When I spoke with Paige later that evening she confidently told me she’d decided she was going to CIY this summer. When I asked her what helped her decide so assuredly she simply responded, ‘I just knew I wanted God to come first and felt this was the better choice.’

Oh how this mama’s heart chooses to swell with joy over that beautiful decision…I can’t wait to see how God is going to MOVE in the lives of those teens that week!

Our Sins Are ‘Toast’

Unfortunately burnt toast and burnt whatever happens more often then I’d like to admit in my house.

This was from yesterday morning, and the smoke that ensued caused my twelve year old to gag and ask how much longer till we we’d be leaving for the day.

I seriously just have to laugh it off anymore because it happens in what feels like a millisecond of time and frequently; if I didn’t laugh I’d spend a majority of my time offended.

One moment hunger-craved-food goes into our toaster oven…and the next moment smoke-alarms “long” to sound off wildly…had my family not pulled the batteries months ago after getting irritated with the ear piercing urgent beeping.

I really need to put batteries back in…just in case.

We bought the little toaster oven because of the convenience it offers. I can easily bake or toast non gluten free items in it and then afterwards line the baking tray with fresh foil to make my gluten free daughter’s food without the worry of cross contamination. It really works wonders so long as I pay attention. Literally though I can pop something in, turn around to take care of something else for what I think is just a speck of time, and come back to find a haze of smoke creeping it’s way out followed by a display of well done briquettes. It puts Weber to shame!

Side note: Truly the “burnt offerings” as they’ve come to be known at the Witt residence, have something to do with my ADD kicking in (which I’d actually rather refer to as multitasking, it makes me feel a bit more accomplished.) So in hindsight, I realize, I’m to blame for the blackened treasures. The toaster oven is not malfunctioning, it’s the operator!

The uncanny part of me sharing this story is that through this bad habit of burning food I’m actually reminded of how quickly sin can take up space in my life.

There have been times, as a Christian, where I feel so close to God that I forget Satan is always lurking, looking to devour. My Bible reading is meaningful, prayer time is heartfelt, and tithing is passionate and it seems like none of that could go wrong…

But then, as if out of nowhere, a Bible reading gets replaced by an article from CountryLiving, prayer time is interrupted by a Pinterest inspired craft time, and tithing is cut short because of supplies for the Pinterest craft.

And then the grueling process of sin builds; it becomes a gateway for additional slip-ups to come in more prominently — the Pinterest craft doesn’t turn out just right and anger instills, the best friend’s version looks flawless and jealousy emerges…

Can anyone else relate??

Friends what I end up with is anything far from a tasteful dish…

Instead I’ve allowed the sneakiest fox of all known as Satan to have his way with me…

Because once I begin to abandon those good habits I had (with me and Jesus) I become smoldered in a mess of sin.

And it happens in the blink of an eye…just like that burnt toast.

The good intentions are there, but if I don’t pay attention with care and concern sometimes those good intentions are scorched over with no forewarning.

Thankfully we serve a God who isn’t a fan of sin (and probably not burnt toast either). He’s not around to hang out for those things. He’s a God full of mercy and grace, and even re-do’s.

Which brings me to my point…

Whenever I end up with burnt toast, I remove it from the heat source, set it on a plate to cool off, and then I ditch that burnt toast to the trashcan faster than it took to burn it!! And I begin again — this next time with more attentiveness.

And you know something? I’m convinced God has a likeness with us and our sin nature and His way comes readily and unconditionally every time. He intervenes, carries us as we vent, shows us the correct path while our other one trails in the dust behind and then He leads us closer and nearer to Heaven’s perfect banquet, lovingly prepared by Him.

And that’s a feast I never want to miss out on.

Father God, you are so good to us. Our mess of sin, no matter how dark, is nothing compared to your gracious love. You desire to come to our rescue and you want nothing more than to have each of us as your very own. Thank you for never giving up on us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ —Hebrews 8:12

What are you putting off?

The lifeteam I’m a part of was gathered around my pastor’s kitchen table Sunday evening like we do each week. This evening though we all took turns sharing about our younger years mixed with faith.

At my turn, I confessed that I literally remember thinking (while I was a teenager) ‘yeah I believe in God, without a doubt, but right now I’m just living life a bit on the wild side and probably when I’m older (like late thirties) I’ll settle down and get real about my faith’.

That was seriously my thoughts as a teen.

Boy how naive!!

I’m thankful God grabbed my attention much earlier than what I had plans for. In my mid to late twenties I finally began to realize there was more to life than ‘Alicia’s world’ and thanks be to Him there’s been no turning back!!

In the past I’ve written about my daughter, McKenzie, with her celiac disease. And real quick if you’re not familiar with celiac disease it’s when your body can’t digest gluten which is found in wheat products. Now that she’s been diagnosed for nearly two years we’ve been careful to watch her diet, keeping it free from gluten.

To add to the restrictions, Mc is an extremely picky eater. She didn’t come by her nickname ‘Picky Micky’ by accident. This girl of mine has pretty slim food preferences and ever since she became gluten free we couldn’t get her to try gluten free bread!!

That is until a few months ago.

She finally caved to bread when I convinced her that a gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich is hands down a mouth watering comfort food that’ll surely hit the spot especially when you dunk it into a steamy bowl of homemade savory tomato soup!!

Now if she had her way that’d probably be her only lunch choice!

Isn’t it interesting how we tend to put things off — things that have the potential to be of or for our benefit?

It may seem a far stretch to compare Mc’s situation to me putting my faith off but it goes to show how widespread this idea can be.

Maybe you can relate…maybe you’ve been putting off a new hobby you’d like to check out, or neglecting to mend a broken friendship, perhaps you’ve been continually postponing a trip to the doctor for fear what the prognosis might be…your hang up could be addiction (of any form) and you just can’t break-free yet you so desperately desire to…or maybe you’re like I was with my faith as a teen…

NONE of us are getting any younger. Not one of us. And there’s ALWAYS good to be sought, we just have to be compliant to nurture hints of positive feelings.

Check out Ephesians 5:15-17 with me:

‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.’

Good words, right?

God’s word shows us to use opportunities and time wisely.

Pushing my faith off as a teen was one of my most ignorant choices. Gratefully God had a plan much better than mine as He does for all of us.

I’ve come along far in my faith but will most certainly always have space to grow. Something I’d like to get better at is sharing my faith with others in person, not just through my words in a blog.

What about you — is there something in your life, something pulling at your heart in an immutable way that you just haven’t been courageous enough to explore but you have a probing interest to?

We must be willing to step into God’s will, for His purpose… Brave enough to try something new… Bold enough to ask for direction and encouragement… Blatant enough to tell others about it…

When I spoke up last Sunday in Lifeteam, opening up about my past faith and even some of my current strengths and struggles, it felt natural and right, there was nothing to lose. I wasn’t at risk of ‘putting off’ a good thing. It was a feeling of accomplishment where relationships have a chance to grow.

Sweet friends, I just want to encourage you in whatever it is you might be putting off — waste time no longer, seek out God and His ways and simply go for it with His lead.

Teach us to number our days, that we gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Where Are You Humble Hearts?

Photo & verse from You Version Bible app

A while ago I wrote about my poor little Eli dog; our Yorkie who is medicated for seizures and jumps wildly at the drop of a feather with anxiety.

If you missed that post I’ll update you real quick:

In July of last year we made it a rule that Eli can’t be on our bed or the couch or anywhere that’s more than a few inches off the floor unless someone is holding him. The reason being, when Eli ends up somewhere like that he’ll jump down without thinking twice, smack his baby noggin, and go straight into a seizure. I’m not even exaggerating at all. But I’m super stoked to report that he actually hasn’t had one single seizure since enforcing this rule.

Subsequently my dog wants absolutely nothing to do with me, like he completely resents me over this deal. He mopes around the house more often than not. Anything other than moping, is him sleeping or spastically eating canned dog food.

If a dog can experience confusion and perhaps depression, Eli’s there.

Sad right?

And try as I might, because Eli’s a dog, I just can’t convince him that this is in fact for his own good.

Boy how symbolic this has been of my own walk with God at times. There have been seasons in life where God has put up roadblocks and warnings for the benefit of my own good, but I’ve completely missed acknowledging the betterment of it all.

Instead there’s almost this questioning attitude toward God, similar to Eli’s behavior with me.

I’m thinking more recently how so many of us feel disappointed regarding the election outcome and how our government stands at this point. There’s a lot of unrest and discouragement within many of us, especially as Christians.

But…as I’ve pondered these things two words have come to mind: submission and humbleness.

And (to my surprise) when I studied the word submission here’s one of the top scripture write-ups that showed up — repeatedly.

Romans 13:1-7

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Notice those words Paul used…respecthonor…and those words were in reference to governing authorities. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like the sound of that right now.

I realize Paul was writing encouragement to those of his own time but I believe this piece is included in the Bible for our present good and direction too.

Obviously if government is forcing us to disobey God we are not called to do so. On the flip side we must try to live at peace so long as there’s no conflict to our beliefs as Christians.

We may not like where things are headed but there are going to be some things in place that we can’t get around. I’m not a fan at all when I think of the likelihood of paying higher taxes. This is where submission plays in, like it or not…but it’s what God’s word shows us to do.

Contrastingly a mental red flag goes up as I consider the government approval on abortion support, a topic I strongly disagree with. In this very thing I have every right to stand against this idea but I must do so responsibly, not irrationally. Thinking of things like this takes courage and a humble approach. But we do these things for God — not man, not government.

Our SUBMISSION must always be built from the foundation of God’s ways, anything that goes against His way gives us the opportunity to HUMBLY take a standpoint from His angle hoping to show others Jesus in the midst.

I’ve heard my kids spew words of irritation and hate too much lately regarding their concerns, probably much of what they’ve heard from their Dad and me. I can’t be raising hostile hearts. My home needs to be a place for kindness, not madness.

Perhaps this election was put into place as a time for us to practice humbleness and to stretch our faith in the Lord — full reliance on God and His truth sounds pretty obedient and desirable to me.

We need the direction of God’s word in our lives, otherwise we’re rampant cannonballs just waiting to unleash…which brings me back to my sweet little Eli. No doubt my dog is distressed over changes in his own tiny world BUT the thing about Eli is that he remains calm and cool through it all which in turn is furthering his life. He may be a touch on the edge of defiance towards me right now but I wouldn’t ever desert him regardless…neither will God with any of us as we submit humbly — solely keeping inline with His word.

Together let’s pray for hearts that represent Christ well during these times.

Rejection to Blessing

What I’m about to share has been such a valuable lesson learned.

We had a really sweet Christmas spent with loved ones, delicious food, and a strong sense of Jesus’ love because He’s the reason we celebrate this season.

Sounds pretty good so far right?

It was, until the Monday morning after Christmas arrived along with a certain Fed Ex drop-off to my house. I knew what it was before even opening the door to retrieve the delivery. It came in two packages actually and they were both decent sized.

My husband had been excitedly building me up for a Christmas gift that he had chosen for me — and even though it was coming a few days late he thoroughly expected me to share the same joy and an equal amount of excitement as he had about giving me this gift.

And now here it had come, perfectly intact and waiting to be opened…I, however, reluctantly placed the two boxes on the floor of my living room, wondering if at any point my anticipation of the contents would grow.

Here’s the secret…I knew what was in each of the boxes because in my husband’s two week long excitement he caved and told me what he’d gotten me…in the larger box sat a cricut (craft) machine and in the other box were all kinds of paper accessories and tools to be used with the machine.

You’d think with me being a craft junkie I’d have been bursting at the seams —that I would’ve flagged the Fed Ex guy down long before he turned onto my little dirt road, tore into his truck, and rifled through his deliveries, grabbed my boxes and had them opened and my cricut to use before making it back into my house!!

But that was not at all the case and here was my hang up…my mom has a Cricut and I make it a point to get together with her a few times a year (at her house) to make projects. It’s super special to me and I look forward to those times.

The thought of having my own Cricut overwhelmed me in the fact that I was nervous I wouldn’t use my own enough and that it would be a waste. Or that suddenly my love of going to my mom’s to ‘create’ may dissipate because I might as well use my own machine, at my own home.

I was also irritated because I’d wanted to cancel Internet after this pandemic stuff recedes and we wouldn’t need it for school anymore, but the Cricut only works with Internet so there went my hope of canceling soon and on top of that the Cricut uses a program in accordance with a monthly fee…for a thrifty spender this goes against all my self-made budget rules.

You guys I was a ridiculous mess because while those thoughts flooded my mind I also felt extremely guilty because here my amazing, thoughtful husband had just spent his own “fun money” on me and I was an unappreciative basket case…or more accurately a cold-hearted jerk.

Later that afternoon I finally had the boxes opened and the Cricut and accessories out but my whining sat on full display right along with my generous Christmas present.

Within hours I’d determined I wasn’t going to keep it, I’d package it up and ship it back to Cricut the next morning…I’d even emailed the company to tell them I needed a return started and I’d also contacted a woman who owns a local craft store to see if she had any interest in it. To send the boxes back was going to cost over $80 in shipping so my disappointment grew even more.

I went to bed annoyed of the Cricut…and myself just as much.

Tuesday morning I still felt the same but I was absolutely determined to have God help me see the big picture and sort out my crazy!!

I started thinking about how He gives me unconditional love, an abundance of mercy and grace, the ability to write, and blessing after beautiful blessing…time and time again. All of these most wonderful gifts God gives me graciously and without hesitation.

I know without a doubt I’ve taken any of those things for granted…more than once…more times than I can count.

And when I really think about it, it hurts my heart to think of people who aren’t believers — those who never accept, experience, or choose to receive God’s good gifts.

On top of all of that, God has also given me a charming husband who was so stoked to give me a Christmas present and yet my mindset was to push it away, just as I’ve done in my gifts from God at times.

…The funny part is I never heard from Cricut about returning the machine nor did the local craft store lady get back to me. These two things plus my mom speaking practicality to me validated that I should keep the Christmas gift and enjoy it!! Plus the internet has truly been helpful so it’ll stay as well — and mom and I are sharing the cost of the monthly Cricut program fee and it’s features.

The truth is none of us know how long we have on this earth. To not enjoy the blessings or gifts we receive from others and especially from God is absolutely foolish. (Side-note: Those are partial words from my mom’s wisdom that I gathered.)

I can choose to focus on petty earthly expectations and risk missing the blessings, or I can take a look at how God works through gifts of all sorts and enjoy seeing His goodness.

Although I am now thoroughly excited about my Cricut and currently have plans to make about a half a dozen things —most importantly is that it’s always the giver that’s the best part of our lives. And when we consider God’s giving to us we’re pointed to the love of Jesus…a gift that never runs dry and never disappoints.

Have you chosen to receive His gift?

Here are a few things I’ve made from my mom’s Cricut in the past:

Today I have plans to head over to my moms with my computer. I’ll create a few things there but then cut them from my own Cricut machine at home later on…so we’re still getting together, having fun, and creating crafts and memories! I’m looking forward to it!!

Take me to Alicia’s Etsy shop

If you’re interested in having a custom sign made, message me in my Etsy shop or on the blog I’d be happy to help!!❤️

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!