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.

Keeping the Christmas Spirit Going

It seems like once the New Year arrives people have often times moved beyond the Christmas spirit or season and are now fixated on new beginnings, keeping trendy resolutions, and sometimes creating outlandish goals for the upcoming year.

It’s almost as if the New Year pours in and Christmas is drowned out, right?

I’m seriously as guilty as they come with quickly moving on to my New Year resolutions.

In fact, a few weeks ago my husband commented that he wanted to start running to help get in shape. But then nothing came of it. Oddly enough some of our good friends contacted us the other day asking if we’d like to participate in a half marathon happening at the beginning of May. With the idea of motivation to spur us along in our new goal of running this year, we reluctantly committed…so now we’re signed up to compete in this half marathon that we’re absolutely (equally) unprepared for and clueless about.😂

In entertaining the process of training I honestly don’t want to get too hung up on this new adventure of ours. Yes I will train by coming up with a workout plan that fits my lifestyle, and I’ll watch my food intake and how my body reacts, etc. My overall strategy will be to focus on those physical elements rather than the mental-side of things. Because I know that if I concentrate on how crazy it seems (for me) to run thirteen miles on a Sunday morning in a few more months (when I’m currently out of shape), then that could seriously mess with my mindset — leading me to pre-self-elimination from the race, rather than a finish line destination.

OK so going back to that Christmas spirit thing…several times during the month of December I made it a point to read through Luke chapter 2 (Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth) and verse 20 caught my attention every single time. It says this: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Goodness I just love those words!! These shepherds had just witnessed the very first Christmas, firsthand, as they visited a Baby Jesus born in Bethlehem. We see by the words in verse 20 that afterwards the shepherds returned back to their regular business — but not unchanged!!! They were glorifying and praising God because of what they had experienced. The shepherds were, no doubt, sharing this unique adrenaline-rushing, exciting birth announcement with others.

What’s more, is that if we back up a few verses we know that the shepherds had had an encounter with angels before they went to see Baby Jesus. I’m going to paraphrase to shorten and explain the setting…while the shepherds saw Baby Jesus they spread the words of what they had been told by the angels; they shared with those around them that the angels had referred to Jesus as their “Savior” and “Messiah.” And then verse 18 says, “All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

Don’t miss the beauty in these words…ALL who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Whew!! I gotta take a minute to soak that up. I love it.

We, as Christians, are given the same opportunity to share the Christmas spirit with others just like the shepherds chose to do, so long ago. All it takes is for us to be mindful of the Christmas story and be willing to pass that story on (regardless of the technical Christmas-calendar-date) …or even share with someone how Jesus is working in our lives. For the shepherds, spreading the word made a huge “Christmas spirit” impact, not only for them, but in the lives of those around them.

The thing is, making New Year’s resolutions, healthy changes, and fun goals are all fine…BUT we must remember how important it is to keep the Christmas spirit active and alive all year.

If I get too hung up on my goals then I get distracted or side-tracked and risk limiting the Christmas season to really just the month of December. I believe the purpose of the Christmas spirit isn’t meant to be set to just a particular season, but rather a powerful reason to make Christ known anytime of the year.

It’s a bold, true, and shareable story that can change lives if we’re willing to feel it in our hearts and live it out — even in the midst of New Year’s resolutions beckoning our attention.

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

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”

I’m Over You Fear!

Forewarning: this is a sensitive one…

Maybe you’ve noticed my absence in writing lately. I’ve honestly been trying to avoid this post and I haven’t been able to write anything else in the meantime…but I can feel the Holy Spirit whispering “write this out!!!”

So I’m going to be obedient — here we go…

“Why do you care what anyone else thinks about you?” she asked, almost begging it out of me with deep concern.

My eyes zeroed in on hers and my words went something like this as I revealed to yet another friend my very real and ongoing personal struggle , “I don’t know, I guess it goes back to my people-pleasing motives. As much as I want to think it doesn’t, I suppose the sexual abuse from my childhood probably messes with me still, subconsciously…and that’s why I’m bothered if I think someone has a problem with me.”

That conversation between my friend and I isn’t too terribly seasoned, the words of encouragement she spoke over me as we visited are still fresh on my mind.

Fear is something I struggle with almost daily. And fear of acceptance is my biggest battle.

I want people to accept me for who I am. I don’t want to let them down. I want them to be pleased with who I’ve become.

There are times when I feel like I’m okay and other times when I think I could largely benefit from temporarily living in a mental institute to sort out and nullify my crazy. My friend had caught me on a not-so-good day. Continue reading “I’m Over You Fear!”

In Honor of 9/11

***If time is an issue don’t even read my blog post, just go straight down to the video and be sure to watch the whole thing; it’s an incredible testimony of a man (pilot) who was originally scheduled to fly the first plane to crash on 9/11.***

When Nate and I first began homeschooling our kids we attended an annual homeschool conference every Spring. We had some best friends who would also go and we’d all make a long weekend out of it, enjoying adult company with one another. Some of our best memories have come from those days.

During the time that we’d spend at the actual conference I’m pretty sure the guys found most of their entertainment counting the number of pregnant women and sneaking catnaps hoping us wives wouldn’t notice. Each year the homeschool conference would host a guest speaker and to be honest some years were better than others depending on who was speaking, so I could actually understand the catnaps — but when Nate snores it’s loud…and in a room filled with scholarly people it’s embarrassing and not acceptable regardless of whoever’s speaking.

One year a husband and wife, Steve and Megan Schneibner, shared the stage and gave advice from their own experiences as homeschool parents of eight. As a couple they travel extensively — teaching on marriage, parenting, and discipleship and have authored several books and studies. I recall their talk-sessions as humbling, motivational, and filled with wisdom and if I remember right their talks even held my hubby’s interest!

But what has stuck with me the most was Steve’s remarkable story; I’ve attached a video — an interview where Steve describes the direct impact 9/11 had on his life.

***Info collected from familyconferences.org***

‘Steve Schneibner feels like he is living on borrowed time. He was initially scheduled to fly AA flight 11 on September 11, 2001, the first of four planes to be hijacked on that fateful day. Through a divine set of circumstances, Steve was bumped from that flight the night before by a more senior pilot…’

Schneibner’s strong Christian character and Biblical worldview make his experience an inspiring, heart-warming testimony to his faith. The video interview is about ten minutes long — well worth the time and honor to the 9/11 event.

I hope you’ll take time to watch!!❤️

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you Vivian from God’s Whispers of Truth for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I always enjoy reading your blog for sweet inspiration and encouragement!

Be sure to check out Vivian’s blog if you haven’t already. Click on the link above and then read her “my story” page under the menu option and you’ll be hooked—you’ll see for yourself what a brave warrior she truly is.

About the Sunshine award:

This award is given to creative, positive and cheerful bloggers by other bloggers as a token of appreciation and admiration.

Here are the rules:

• Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.

• Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.

• Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

• Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

I’ll answer the questions Vivian had for me first:

1) What is the bible verse/passage which you turn to the most for comfort?

I’m obsessed with Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength‘….probably because it was the first verse that spoke to my broken, lost heart at the time, it grabbed me and directed my attention to God, and still has a grip on me. It was also the first verse I memorized on my own without someone else’s input or influence. Continue reading “Sunshine Blogger Award”