A Solid Foundation

Last Saturday my husband and I ventured out to his great grandparent’s retired farmstead to cut firewood. Since I’m no Paul Bunyan I let Nate do the wood cutting and in the meantime I went and explored, (no worries I helped carry and load the wood later). This is probably my third time throughout the past ten years nosing around this particular property…but for me it never gets old. I feel like there’s always some new little nook or cranny just waiting to be stumbled upon or observed. And safety precautions….well out there you just have to enter at your own risk…

Seeing all the antiqued equipment and many dilapidated structures is proof enough that the work in those days was no doubt extensive yet the idea of it creates such a desirable nostalgic feeling deep within me.

As I light-footedly stepped throughout the worn out abandoned house I began thinking about how back in the eighties it was still being occupied.

Walking through each room I paid close to attention to the dingy furniture still perfectly placed in the rooms in which they belonged. Boxes filled with dusty magazines lined the walls and light from the sun pierced through openings in the roof and crumbled ceilings.

Once I made my way back outside I wandered through tall grasses and faltered over broken tree branches.

While crouching under cratered beams in the chicken coop and weathered barn I imagined the numerous chickens and calves that surely occupied the area at one point.

It’s crazy how quickly a house, building, property, etc can become so run down once neglected; it takes just a very short amount of time.

I’m reminded of how this can be so symbolic of the heart and soul as well. I’ve noticed that when I’m not making it a priority to attentively focus and get into God’s word daily then the healthy spiritual condition of myself starts to slip and I mentally begin falling to pieces, similar to the family’s old farmstead.

I love these practical verses below (from Proverbs 4) to help keep on track:

‘My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.

Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.’ -Proverbs 4:20-27

As I keep my mind focused on God I do better mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The same is true of anyone who refers to themselves as a Christian.

At the end of Luke 6 (I’ll paraphrase) Jesus says through a parable that those who hear His words and put them into practice are like a man building a house, who digs down deep and lays the foundation on a rock, and when the flood comes the house cannot be shaken by the torrent because it was well built. Verse 49 follows with this: “But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Goodness the imagery of those verses compared to venturing through a barren farmstead speaks boldly (and with warning) through sunken floors and cracked foundations…

As interesting as it is roaming the premises, it also serves as a stark encouragement that my faith can’t endure through negligence and never wants to be represented like a house built without a solid foundation.

Making time to get closer to Jesus helps me maintain a healthier me—and then my heart is truly grounded on a solid foundation that doesn’t settle on a chance of coming apart haphazardly. This type of committed growing-faith requires care and dedication from deep within in order to stand firmly against all odds.

Patience Required

I was introduced to someone this past year and as necessary have needed to maintain communication and a relationship (with this person) due to responsibility.

This relationship has absolutely tore me to pieces as we haven’t connected too well.

There have been times I feel like I’m walking on egg shells—not knowing if the next thing I say is going to offend or build positive character…wondering if my quirky demeanor was understood or rejected…if the quietness of this person is caused by something I’ve done or if it’s just a normal characteristic of theirs.

It’s interesting because I had plenty of time to prepare for our meeting one another. I can literally remember beforehand praying the words “God help us to show (said person) an amazing Jesus. Help us to not miss the opportunity for *** to see you through our family, for your glory…” and now here we are months in and goodness as my patience has been tested, stretched, and grown I’m the one experiencing Jesus in a whole new way. I’m praying with 100% reliance on God to work through me and in this.

In the past I’ve probably been guilty of praying yet doubting God’s capability or His timing, and not fully trusting God with my request…but this has been such an incredible game changer. Yes this experience has caused me more mental battles than I could’ve ever imagined possible, more tears of frustration, or worry of failure…BUT, with that, I’ve been challenged to press into God on a deeper level and hold onto His word as I study scripture to live out peaceful hope.

This morning as I was reading a devotion I came across Matthew 7; verses 1-5 say this, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, and all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite? First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Ouch…conviction time.

Although I have many times felt confused or irritated by this relationship, and have had to pray repeatedly for more grace, these verses grab my heart with conviction and remind me that God is in this and it’s not for me to judge or try to figure out all the details.

As I mentioned this deal has tore me to pieces but the beautiful thing is when something important to God gets torn up, purposeful rebuilding happens. I’ve seen it in my marriage, through people who have overcome addiction and given their life to Christ. There’s evidence all throughout the Bible—look at the hardships and later success of Joseph (Genesis 37-50), or the devotion of Daniel regardless of the adversity he faced (book of Daniel), and even the sins of David yet the remorse and heart for God he had (Psalm 51).

…all torn apart (emotionally) and nevertheless beautifully rebuilt.

There is definitely something for me to learn through this, especially in the area of patience. And recently, as time has passed, I’ve seen positive changes on both sides, surely God is at work…I can actually feel this relationship gradually twisting from acquaintance to friendship and God alone is to be glorified for answering prayer.

Sharing this post causes me to feel a little guilty…but I’ve noticed that when I put my thoughts to the blogging world I’m then held accountable on a different level and honestly that’s what I need right now.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year if I don’t post again soon!!❤️

-Alicia

Quiet Time Necessity

Sometimes when I substitute teach, my job assignment stretches beyond the classroom.

Recently I ended up in the school’s lunchroom to supervise bubbly elementary students. An extended squirming hand raised high let’s the adults know when attention is needed—usually indicating milk cartons are being stubborn and extra help is needed in opening them, maybe a kiddo wants permission to pass on their veggies, or he or she is ready to dump their tray once they’ve finished eating.

While I helped a few weeks ago, a hand went up and I walked over.

A little girl, probably second grade, looked up at me with sad eyes and I knew we weren’t dealing with regular lunch issues. I knelt down beside her and asked what was wrong. With tears welled in the corners of her eyes she spoke through pouty lips, “I want to sit alone right now.”

“Well why? What’s going on?” I asked with concern.

The tiny voice responded, “I’m just sad, it’s too loud in here, and I want to be alone.”

“If you sit alone though, then you’ll be lonely.” I stated with matter of fact reasoning.

“But that’s what I want! I want to be lonely,” she persistently replied.

In my unprofessional opinion I’m not sure anyone chooses to want to be ‘lonely’…Determined to get down to the core problem I asked the light-pink shirted cutie if there was something causing her sadness and she revealed that her great grandpa had passed away and she was missing him. Together we decided she could stay seated where she was and didn’t need to visit with anyone around her, she could just sit quietly—reflecting on the good-time memories she had with him.

Seeing someone hurt is hard. I want to be able to fix the worry, the trouble, the pain—and bring it all to an end. But at times, a little alone time is honestly the best option. It’s there that we can take a deep breath, quietly sort thoughts, and recollect a positive mindset.

As a Christian I thoroughly look forward to my own “quiet time”. I’m addicted to it in a healthy sense and when I don’t get it I’m kind of a mess. Having quiet time (or me time) means I can spend time, not technically alone, but with Jesus—studying His word and embracing scripture that deals with my matters. It’s then that I find soul-quenching refreshment and the most beautiful thing about it is…I’m left satisfied. Every. Single. Time.

Jesus set the perfect example for us as He purposefully spent quiet time with the Lord in prayer and then reconnected with his followers shortly after, surely feeling a deep sense of fulfillment after doing so.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” -Matthew 26:36

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. -Luke 5:16

When we follow Jesus’ footsteps and mimic his character (spending time before the Lord) we too can find ourselves feeling refreshed—replacing disappointment with contentment, and sorrow with gladness.

…Later that afternoon when I ended up back in the classroom, I heard some giggling coming from the hallway. Turning my attention toward the laughter I saw a once teary-eyed girl from the lunchroom now walking beside a friend…with a large grin spread across her sweet face.

This time when her hand went up she gave an excited, big wave and quickly I returned one—thankful to see her in such a delighted, cheerful spirit.

Sometimes just a bit of quiet time followed with a mixture of friendship and laughter can make all the difference in creating a positive outcome…but the best kind of “alone time” is no doubt when we invite God to be a part of it.

A She Shed in the Making part 1

In my last post I announced Nathan is building a she shed for me…I also wrote (by accident) that it was for our ten year anniversary. My husband quickly informed me after reading my post that it should’ve said fifteen year anniversary, not ten. Oops! And then he also reminded me of the wonderful gift he surprised me with for our ten year anniversary…

Nate and I were newlyweds and I can remember the first time I ever spotted a Yorkie, I thought “I need to get me one of those!!!” I BEGGED Nathan for nearly ten years…now we have a sweet and tiny, seizure-filled, five year old Eli who literally falls over at the drop of a feather with fright! Goodness I just love him! He’s so darn cute!! Nate calls him a genetic mutation but I know he actually thinks the world of him!😉

So now for the fifteen year gift…my husband said to me a few months ago he wanted to build me a she shed as an anniversary present. My exact words: “a sh-what?!” I had no clue about these little gems and as he began to describe the possibilities a “she shed” offers I jumped right on the trendy bandwagon.

Just Pinterest or google she shed if you don’t know, and your search will render all sorts of overwhelming results. It’s creative, weird, and exciting all at the same time! I kinda feel like I’m getting my very own ‘mom’s little playhouse’.

We discussed size, material preference, location, and everything else in between.

I’m always amazed at what my husband is capable of doing outside of his oil field work so I cheer him on enthusiastically. Men need that, and in a marriage conference Nathan and I recently attended I learned that a majority of men would rather hear the words “thank you and good job!” over “I love you!” They often identify their worth in this way. I’ve done both for years but this helped me be even more mindful of how important it is to encourage and to be sure to not take for granted the good things he does for our family and especially with this sweet she shed gesture he’s working on.

The number one question I’ve been asked by family and friends, “what are you going to do with your she shed?” And to be honest this was a concern of mine from the get go. I’m not great at accepting gifts but when I saw how excited Nate was to make this for me I was determined to graciously accept it but also wanted to be sure I would use it, it wouldn’t go to waste, and it would serve a purpose. Continue reading “A She Shed in the Making part 1”

Autumn Updates 2019

Whew! It’s been a while!

After that last (deep-thought) post I wrote I’ve honestly just had to take a break and continue to work on myself—my mental health, my heart—and I can honestly say I feel sooooo amazingly good. I’m in a good place right now—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ll share more on this in a future post but right now I just want to share (with y’all) some other fun updates happening in our household currently.

Nate and I had our 15 year anniversary/fall party last month and had over sixty of our family and friends show up! It was a ton of fun! We probably should’ve had it catered because I felt like Nathan and I were so busy with food prep, etc. that it was hard to visit with everyone. I had a lot of people tell me in the days following that they had such a good time and that fellowship happened — regardless of how unorganized I felt like it was; I guess I was the only one who noticed.❤️

Continue reading “Autumn Updates 2019”

Burnt Popcorn Lessons

Lately I’ve been volunteering to help in our church office on Monday afternoons.

I show up with half my house usually—plus my homeschooled daughter (every now and then). There are times when I have extra task to do while I’m there so I keep busy, other times I’m able to settle in and catch up on a good book or work on a Bible study or other personal things.

Having McKenzie with me I make sure to keep her occupied by leaving schoolwork for the afternoon so she has something to do to pass time.

Last Monday after her and I situated ourselves in the office she declared she was ready for her popcorn snack. She’s pretty serious about popcorn so I headed off to the kitchen immediately with the unpopped bag of popcorn in my hand and an eagerness to please my child as my mission.

All microwaves are different right?!!! Continue reading “Burnt Popcorn Lessons”

Avoiding Fourth of July Freak Outs

I was running late, which is more normal for me than not, unfortunately. The kids had stayed the night at my mom’s and my girls and I were supposed to be involved in a running event that was taking place sooner than I cared to acknowledge.

It happened to be the Fourth of July and my attitude was on the edge of rupturing and popping with the best of any ear-piercing firecrackers.

When I’m running late I just get bent out of shape, and anyone around me reaps the negative results. This was one of those times—one where I felt ready to burst and far from control of anything reasonably manageable.

I rushed into my mom’s house to grab my daughters so we could quickly make it to the park where the race was to begin in ten minutes. My sass-tude finally caved and wildly flared when I walked in to everyone still sleeping!

Like a string of black-cats that had just been lit, I set fire with my words! “Why in the world are y’all still sleeping?!! We have to be there in ten minutes!! If you’re coming with me then get up and get going!! Hurry up!!!”

You know the saying ‘dynamite comes in small packages’…that was me right then—except I’d bypassed any caution tags and went full on explosive. Continue reading “Avoiding Fourth of July Freak Outs”