Experiencing Blessing After Tragedy

Just a little forewarning, this one’s a bit downcast, the first part of it anyway.

July 8th, 2021.

When I wrote my post last week, I thought the next one I’d be sharing would be me telling about my crazy, spontaneous Texas purchases (which I plan to do tomorrow) but feelings spur and I can’t skip sharing my heart through a blog post today.

Twenty years ago, to the day, my dad passed away—July 8th, 2001.

I’ve shared that story and thoughts through past posts.

For those who don’t know, my dad ran a bit on the wild side through his teen years and most of his adult life. He provided well for our family, adored my mom and us kids but he struggled cutting loose from longtime addictions with alcohol and marijuana.

Finally (in his mid thirties) my dad broke away from the toxicity and traded it for church attendance and an old time hobby of dirt bike racing. Races usually happened on Sundays so church was typically bypassed in the summer months.

My dad had almost two years of racing in (along with no alcohol or drugs) when tragedy hit.

He was racing (October 10th, 1999) at a motocross event and miscalculated a double jump that left him a quadriplegic and ventilator dependent. Nearly two years went by with him living in rehab facilities.

Taken late in 2000

Over the Fourth of July in 2001 we brought my dad home for a visit not knowing it’d be his last. He had an amazing time visiting family and friends, almost as if it were a set up…

I was seventeen at the time and although I called myself a Christian, my life choices were far from a Jesus-like example. I partied like it was a vital necessity to my self-absorbed teenage life. And during my dad’s unbeknownst last visit there was no exception from my obnoxious traits. I just wasn’t present and I couldn’t see past my vain greed.

On Sunday, July 8th 2001, (with my mom and youngest brother along) I was to drive my dad back to Lincoln, NE where he lived for temporary rehab.

Too naïve to recognize how tired I was I fell asleep behind the wheel. I still have flashbacks of my dad yelling my name, “Alicia, Alicia” as he tried to get my attention, that was the last thing I heard him say. My dad didn’t make it—a blessing in disguise I’ve always thought. My mom and brother suffered severe injuries. I was fine but the mental toll still wreaks havoc at times.

There are so many other details and events wrapped up in all of that, it’d honestly take a book to share all of it.

I look back at that time and boy I wish I could’ve shook sense into that teenage girl I used to be. We don’t physically get those opportunities though but that’s where mercy and grace step in.

Tragedies that we are completely unprepared for happen in life and we’re left with a choice—to sulk in misery or surrender to Jesus with confident hope.

When we choose the latter of the two we’re met with peace, comfort, and direction.

It took me a long time to learn that I would need to fully give my life to God in order to feel true contentment.

Yesterday I began a demo project in my home which I’ll share in a future post and the song Broken Vessels by Hillsong came on as I was reflecting on thoughts of my dad and prying up old ceramic tile from our dining area…

My dad was a carpenter and a darn accomplished one at that, I share the same love. Wearing my ridiculous looking safety glasses tears slipped from beneath them as the words from the song echoed in the background…

All these pieces

Broken and scattered

In mercy gathered

Mended and whole

Empty handed

But not forsaken

I’ve been set free

I’ve been set free

Amazing Grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

Oh, I once was lost

But now I am found

Was blind but now I see

Those words have never been truer and more life captivating to me than now. I feel the power in them and the love of Jesus stronger than ever. I indeed once was a broken vessel, without a shadow of a doubt, but God has collected, mended, and filled this vessel with an abundance of beautiful hope and for that I am ever grateful.

I miss my dad as much today as I did twenty years ago but my choices and my mind are so much more clearer and healthier now that I’ve gained Jesus as He helps me navigate.

Sweet friend I don’t know whatever your struggle may be but turn your eyes and heart to the Father and allow Him to soften the rough areas. He will guide and provide. Precious healing is found in the midst…

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.’ —2 Timothy 2:21 ESV

Kitchen Remodel and Thought

Alrighty here’s my ‘positive post’ as promised. Sorry I kind of went on a rant for a moment in that last post but I felt I needed to explain…I actually read through that yesterday and had to go through and delete about a half a dozen “and” words!

Moving along…be ready for lots of pics.

For the past few weeks the husband and I have been at work in the kitchen…no Paula Deen dishes getting whipped up here though…

Instead, what was supposed to be just a few hours of putting up shiplap for backsplash on a Saturday morning turned into a two week long project of sanded cabinets topped with a few coats of fresh paint, which then led to the idea of new wall color and custom floating shelves, topped with a make over on our kitchen door that exits to the garage.

Here was our kitchen before:I decided I was sick of the distressed look so that’s what sparked the decision to paint cabinets at the last minute after the shiplap was put up.

So here was the first step with the shiplap backsplash:For the shiplap we used plywood that Nate cut into 4 inch strips. We painted it, nailed it up with the nail gun and then touched up any nail spots. My excitement lasted for not even a half a second before I decided cabinets were getting painted and all the other hoo-ha.

For the paint on the cabinets I bought a pricey specialty chalk paint from an area seller which was worth every penny spent. It’s called Frenchic Al Fresco, originating from France and I might as well just say it: it’s like a drop of Heaven landed right in the paint can. This stuff glides on smooth as butter, leaving zero streaks or clumps. It also doesn’t require a sealer and can be used outdoors as well.

I’ve messed with other chalk paints but they’ve really been to no avail. This stuff will always be my new go-to every time I paint a piece of furniture.

The floating shelves came about as a result of me wanting to allow a little more natural light to spill into our kitchen, so we removed a few cabinets and replaced with an open shelf concept:

Click this link for the DIY YouTube video Nate used for the floating shelves if you’re interested.

This was the final look after shiplap, cabinets, wall color, and shelves were done. But there was one thing still bothering me…

That darn garage door…such an eyesore…so I got ahold of a tattoo artist (from the area) who’s shop has been closed over the past few months with the virus mess. She’s actually been supplementing income by using her talent to paint customer’s windows, outdoor concrete walls, and sidewalks so I figured why not add a garage door to her art gallery showcase. Click that link to see the local gazette write up featuring Ginny, she’s such an amazing gal. We had an awesome time visiting, plus I took her on a tour of our “impostering farm” afterwards which she absolutely loved.

I’m kind of a nut for wildflowers and they go with the whole farmhouse thing so the flowers are a combination of some of my favorites — sunflowers, poppies, and daises.

K so this is the FOR REAL FINAL look now:

Next up will be that kitchen table project!!…right Nate!?😊

***Without the cost of the door we spent under $200 for this entire kitchen makeover. Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or need tips if you’re considering tackling your own DIY kitchen remodel.***

Bare with me, here comes my devotional thought…

I keep standing in my kitchen thinking I can’t even believe this is mine, like I’m “wowed” by the fact that this Pinterest inspired style has taken up residency in my own house…and here it is — at the core truth it’s honestly just a trivial, little earthly thing…nothing fancy…nothing flashy…at all…but I love it!! And in the midst of my awe I’m reminded how God feels about each one of us. He graciously proclaims His love over us even though we hold onto physical and emotional scars and wounds that beg to lie and tell us we’re unlovable, even though our mouths disregard the warnings of James 3, and even though we mess up repeatedly. Right?

Just like my kitchen, no one is really that fancy or flashy because of our natural sin nature, we’re all prone to it. And if a person struggles with that fact, they should consider that even in a “state-of-the-art kitchen” or just a “plain ordinary one,” grease still splatters and cookie-crumbs fall to the floor when either type of kitchen is serving its purpose…

Check out our hope in Ephesians 2:4-5, and soak up these words with me:

“But because of His great love for us, God, who was rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.”

Two words, mercy and grace.

Mess ups, failures, flaws and all…God shows us a better way of life through Christ and He believes that, despite our shortcomings, we are worth more than we could ever fathom. How many of us would willingly give up our own Son on an old wooden cross for another’s life?

But God.

Because of you, because of me. Because of His love for us.

Rather than gushing over my freshly remodeled kitchen…when I stand within its white walls and pleasant charm I want it to serve as a reminder and be whisked by the fact that God loves me exceedingly and abundantly, even though I’m nothing fancy or flashy — I’m good enough for Him!

Thanks for reading today, have an amazing week!!❤️

Drive It Like You Own It

This isn’t the post I intended on writing this week…but when God prompts I’ve learned to respond so here we go…

I’ve been driving my husband’s ginormous truck for the past week now, my grocery getter is out of commission for the time being.

Before I get to the point of this post let me tell you a few of the issues I have with this truck: first off, Nate has it all jacked up, so for a mama who never quite made it to five foot it’s not really ideal. Secondly the other day when I subbed for P.E. class I had driven the truck to work and it just so happens there’s a sticker placed perfectly in the center of the back glass of an AR rifle. My husband is an avid hunter, sorry PETA….anyway when I pulled up to the school I thought about how this sticker may be offensive, therefore I was slightly paranoid for the next few hours that the school principal might show up in the gym and interrogate me, thankfully nothing ever came of it.

…Now this next part I’m dishing out for free, for your entertainment and pleasure…on Wednesday I stopped at the bank and decided it’d be best for me to run inside rather than attempt the drive-thru for fear of wiping out the building (or the truck). As I was getting ready to leave the lobby, our banker greeted me and casually asked, “Can I watch you get back into that truck?” ….ummm great grief, are you kidding me?!! Thanks for making it even more awkward lady!!… Continue reading “Drive It Like You Own It”

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”

Weeding With Purpose

Surrounding our front patio are a variety of colorful flowers—and oftentimes, nestled snug within, are gobs of weeds…it depends on how busy I get with life as to how well my flowerbed fares. In fact the weeds had become such a distraction (recently) that any pleasure and beauty of the flowers could be easily overlooked. Thankfully the other morning I finally made time to get out there and pull those pesty weeds!

With every pull and tug the area began to shape up nicely. The irises stood taller in their purple splendor, the salvia seemed fuller with its many leaves being able to spread out, and the roses now look as if they’re bursting with the anticipation of revealing their soft, velvety petals before too long. And my favorite, mums, now have room to expand as they work on growing bigger so they can fully impress me come Autumn when their flowers finally bloom.

Y’all the pulling-weeds-part is tough work though!! I about landed on my bottom more than a handful of times! Goodness! Continue reading “Weeding With Purpose”

More Grace

Mother’s Day has just passed and although I enjoyed my day, this past week has challenged me to consider that perhaps I expect too much from my kids.
It’s good to want to see my children make right choices, to want them to try harder in school, and to do well in life, and love Jesus like crazy. But sometimes my expectations reach beyond what really matters and other times I fail to adequately communicate what I expect and just assume they already know.

Within the past few weeks my oldest daughter has misplaced the new jacket her dad and I recently bought her, and I’ve been annoyed by this; not just a little annoyed either. I’ve managed to get my daughter annoyed now also with my constant nagging, “did you leave it at school?” I’ll ask her one day, and then the next day, “maybe it got left at church?!”…“how about in the vehicle?!”

More than likely at this point, my poor girl (mentally) eats, sleeps, and drinks this jacket because of all my harping.
Chalk up another “mom-fail.”
Can I make matters worse?…Yes!!! Because let me not forget to mention that I’m ridiculously frugal and the jacket was an Old Navy clearance and cost only $5.97. I know you’re reading this and probably thinking ‘then just go buy a new one’ and I would…maybe, but we live a few hours away from the store, so whining about it seems like the logical and mature adult-way to handle this situation…
Now if there wasn’t a lesson to be learned in this I wouldn’t waste my time writing about it of course….sooooo guess who recently lost their water bottle? (the water bottle they’re obsessed with—the one they take everywhere—the water bottle that if two fills of it are drank each day, her daily water-drinking goal is met…)
Me!!!!

Continue reading “More Grace”

Spring Cleaning: Out Satan!

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write due to a combination of super busy and miserably sick, and learning a new phone system!!!! (I’m still not even sure this will show correctly to my ‘email followers’; if you’re interested you may need to click into the link and read it from the blog’s website).

In the midst of all of the crazy, some really cool things have been happening…

I began guitar lessons a few weeks ago, something I have wanted to do for years now. I’m hoping one day I’ll hear my husband say, “good job honey!”…instead of, “it sounds like you’re strangling a cat.” He’s right though!! I’ll be strumming along nice and lovely…and then all of a sudden out of nowhere, “rrrreerrr”…not music to my ears or anyone else’s to say the least, but I have a fantastic guitar instructor and therefore I’m hopeful this will all get “harmonized” in due time.

Also I took a spiritual gifts test recently with the rest of my co-youth group leaders and discovered that my top strong points are exhortation (encouragement), serving, and hospitality. This has helped me know myself just a little more!

ENCOURAGEMENT seems fitting since I’ve referred to myself as my kids’ biggest cheerleader, including my husband’s. I’ve even poured that encouragement out on my classroom kids as I sub and my youth kids as I help lead them—kids and adults alike need rooted on!!

SERVING comes in as I get involved in mission trips, community service projects, and local outreach programs.

And HOSPITALITY has shown up as our family has held youth group events at our home, hosted the most amazing foreign exchange student, and entertained numerous guests between large birthday parties and dinner dates.

I have provided a link if anyone is interested in taking this spiritual gifts test: http://ebcrochester.org/misc/php/LifeWaySpiritualGiftsSurvey.php

**side note: there’s a huge difference between spiritual gifts and talents! In quick summary, God gives both; a talent can be possessed by anyone as the result of genetics and/or training, whereas a spiritual gift is the result of the Holy Spirit’s power at work in a believer. Romans 12:6-8, 1st Corinthians 12:4-11, Ephesians 4:11-13

Next, since garage sale season is among us, I browsed a few the other day. I was set out for mason jars to use for canning purposes and found NOT a single one; however, nearing the end of my search I came across what resembled more of a “garbage sale” than a garage sale and I spotted this little gem: Continue reading “Spring Cleaning: Out Satan!”