The One Who Never Changes

I took one week away from blogging and every time I do this it always seems funny to me on where to pick back up…but a few things come to mind…

First of all WordPress notified me that I’ve been blogging for four years now! Time goes so quickly!!

Along with that the blog has over 700 followers, there’s been 10,000 plus visitors, and I’ve written over 173 posts—so crazy to me! Praying hearts would continue to be reached For His Purpose and I’m also incredibly thankful for the fellowship happening through the blog! Thank you all for being a reason to share my thoughts and share Jesus.

Moving on…

The past few weeks have brought some changes and if I’m honest I’m not a huge fan of change.

Change.

My grandma has been in the nursing home for months now and unfortunately her home must be sold to offset the necessary fees there.

I was offered the chance to choose some of my grandmas things from her home of over fifty years and it was such an uncanny experience rummaging through the house as many things are being sorted and boxed up. Her house was always so cozy and very orderly and now it is anything but.

The turntable pantry that was notorious for its strong scents of ginger and cinnamon and all things baking has now faded to nothing more than an abandoned stale cupboard—not even appealing to a mouse.

The entire house is just so different, it feels so empty and sad.

Here are the few things I chose that are packed with personal sentimental value.

My grandma had a large chicken collection and this is Big Al, one of her favorites. ❤️

I’m gonna miss making memories in my grandma’s house but will hold dearly to the ones I’ve been blessed with over the years.

More change.

Here at my own home, our remodel is nearly complete and while I’m loving how it’s all coming together I’m still trying to bring in that old homey feeling we had before we started. I miss seeing some of the old base colors we had. It just seems so foreign to me right now.

Funny how we get so familiar and comfortable with things…but it’s a reminder to hold earthly things loosely—especially keeping in mind that a house and it’s features is just simply a temporary dwelling until the good Lord calls us to our permanent heavenly home. That’s where our excitement for character and charm should truly fall into place (not in decor and comfort of earthly homes) but instead with a focus upward and becoming more like Christ!

I’ll share photos of our remodel when it’s complete. I know some of you enjoy seeing those before and after house projects.

Changes.

Some recent test results with the doctor show that my health has changed and things will be a bit different for an unknown period. Although I wish it could be avoided, I have such a sweet peace from the Lord in this. I trust so big that He will heal and that I can look at this as an opportunity to grow even closer to Him.

I’ve never been great with patience but I’m praying to be teachable and maybe now my desire (and neglect) to becoming more patient won’t go unchecked, maybe God is using this very obstacle for such a time as this.

In this various season of change I’m holding on to the truth of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Things change, it’s inevitable but God remains the same loyal steadfast God He always was and ever will be—no matter what.

In the areas I’m noticing change I remember that as Christians this earth is not our permanent home and these bodies that are wasting away will one day be restored in the most perfect of ways.

The assurance of God’s unchanging dedication and love for us is what can bring peace to unexpected and inevitable changes in our lives. He is solid and stable. He is wonderfully unchanging.

Weekend blessings to you all!!❤️

Raising Up the Next Generation

There’s an old family church camp about an hour from where we live. It meets just once a year (the last half of July) for ten days and people come and go as they please. Some stay the entire time, some a handful of days, and others just the day or evening.

My girls have enjoyed attending this camp over the past five or six summers. They’ll stay for a week at a time with either my mom or my best friend’s mom who help as children’s craft directors during that time.

Typically I take my girls to camp to drop off or I pick them up at the end of their adventure. I so look forward to these yearly visits, spending the late afternoon and evening taking in the comforting atmosphere of this camp.

Large cedar trees line the north perimeter of the flat buffalo grass campgrounds and at this time of year the surrounding cornfields are tall and green.

Some folks bring an RV and stay on the east side of camp while others rent out cabins on the northwest corner.

I love checking out what activities the kids have been up to and what they’ve been learning in their own little children’s chapel.

Teamwork

Located near the center of the property the old church bell clangs to bring everyone together—announcing wake-up times, service times, and meal times.

In the dining hall savory down-home meals are served three times a day. And sweet iced tea hits the spot on these hot summer days.

Teens washing dishes after supper

Everywhere you look everything is just filled with remarkable charm and an old soul feeling.

After a full belly in the evening hours church service follows. The camp chapel is this 1950s white, barn-style building filled with traditional wooden pews, large open beams and propped open windows. It’s a Jesus-loving, farmhouse-enthusiast gal’s dream.

Chapel in the background
Chapel, my little nephew

Gospel music is sung from old hymnal books during what’s called Harmony Hour and afterwards the featured camp speaker gives an evening service message.

Worship in the chapel

You guys the entire experience warms my heart. It’s such a tie to nostalgic pieces of history where life was slower paced and electronics weren’t all the hype and distraction of today’s world.

There are kids from toddler age to teen, and adults from early twenties to well seasoned. It’s a beautiful array of generations and seeing the older folks get so excited about the younger kids coming…well there just isn’t anything like it.

I took my girls to camp on Monday afternoon of this past week and I enjoyed all the sweet blessings and soaked in conversations with different age groups.

And I left camp that night with this feeling of communion (not the bread and wine type) but communion that serves in a way where a group of people are gathered and their thoughts share the same likeness—an intimacy pointing to Christ and His love.

When I read my Bible reading the next morning it came from Titus 2; I want to share those words with you (this was Paul encouraging and instructing Titus, a trusted and dependable companion to him).

TITUS 2:

Vs. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Vs. 3-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Vs. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Those verses cause me to reflect on Imperial Valley Holiness Camp—the way they cater to all ages and you literally get to witness the young and old interacting, enjoying, and respecting each other. Those verses are being fulfilled through this camp as an older generation passes down their wisdom, knowledge, and love to a younger one.

You may not be able to visit this camp for yourself but the heart of it lies within the pages of God’s word.

I pray people would flip open their Bibles and read and see for themselves what a life of hope and beauty can be had, our dark world is in desperate need of truth bent on leading the next generations to Christ.

It’s time to rise up, Christians.

A Short Story On Perseverance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One last chance! Mc’s dog, Taya!!

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

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

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

This was Taya the night before the actual dog show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero points docked

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

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

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

Sweet weekend blessings as always!!

Photo from Bible YouVersion

Ready to Spread Gospel News Like Covid News

I’m subbing today and happen to have a quick break, so not much time but enough to share a thought I’ve had this past week…

Has anyone else considered how quickly the news of covid spread?

I’m pretty sure there’s not a soul on earth who hasn’t heard of it. Babies born at this time will probably read in their baby book years from now that their first word spoken was “covid.” Hopefully not, but I feel like it’s presence is that common in our everyday lives and language.

Here’s what has really grabbed my attention thoughif we can spread the details of covid so rapidly why can’t we do the same with the good news of Jesus? Why aren’t we fervently sharing to the ends of the earth the greatest news ever? This is exactly what we’re called to do as Christians!

Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This piece of scripture is referred to as The Great Commission and it was given to the disciples from Jesus himself. The Gospel has indeed spread since that time (2000 years ago) but there are still sooo many who haven’t heard and these verses apply to us to follow through in an effort to get the word out!

When we back up a few chapters in Matthew we find a heads-up glimpse of an end times warning, chapter 24:12-14 says this:

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Those words are also straight from Jesus’ lips to His disciples’ ears and they’re just as much meant for us.

That beginning part doesn’t sound too flattering does it, but I see it rampantly these days, don’t you?

Instead I want to be one who ‘stands firm to the end’ clinging to the hope in Jesus, knowing I’ll be saved. But I want take with me a multitude of others and I’m sure you do too. This will only happen if we as Christians pursue in our mission to share the Gospel message with great intention!

I feel like if we truly take this verse seriously and live it out to the fullest we will be closer yet to seeing it fulfilled — perhaps even in our own lifetime.

Like it or not, we’ve all seen how covid news has spread like wildfire…yet even this should give us great hope in understanding that it really is possible then to get the BEST NEWS EVER out and about and to the ends of the earth, but we have to be aware and responsive to our Jesus mission!

For some of us that might be through evangelizing, others through the blogging world or a form of social media…it could be physical mission trips for some. And with covid presenting travel issues it can simply mean we’re witnessing to our neighbors right next door by showing Jesus’ love in tangible ways — a meal, a church invite (even online), helping with snow removal or yard work. There are a ton of ways to show Jesus‘ love and share His message of hope to the ends of the earth.

Praying you’ll join me in spreading the good news of Jesus — that God so loved the world he sent his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16)

#readytospreadgospelnewslikecovidnews

No More ‘Pain in the Neck’

I could probably write every one of my posts each week sharing about an experience from substitute teaching. Maybe that means it’s just that entertaining at times or there are an endless amount of life lessons offered when I’m at the schools.

Just yesterday I was teaching p.e. again and we were in an intense game of line tag when a little brown haired gal (cute as ever) quickly but cautiously made her way to me. She was holding her neck with both hands and the words that poured from her panicked voice were this:

“My neck is hurting and I can’t move it!! It hurts really bad!!”

She paused for a few seconds and seemed to examine my expression and then without wasting another moment she dramatically blurted out, “I think it’s broke! I think my neck is broken!!”

Side-note: You guys here’s why I shouldn’t be allowed to adult most days because for a half a second I entertained the idea; I was like “oh shoot what if it actually is!?”

I’m a bit sensitive about neck injuries ever since my dad’s dirt bike racing accident that left him a quadriplegic, so I’m gonna give myself the benefit of a fair excuse.

I gathered myself and asked her what happened and if she could turn her neck slowly from side to side. I’m assuming she must have strained her neck a bit when she was running and that was the cause. Calmly and rationally we made ‘headway’ and determined her neck was in fact still intact and she’d be alright. After the reassurance, off she ran for more line tag just like that!!

Boy can I ever relate to the symbolic storyline of that whole deal when I compare it to the things I’ve freaked out about throughout different stages of life.

I was a skilled self-diagnosed hypochondriac for years…worrying about anything from my children’s health to well-being, to what people thought of me, to finances, to my premature gray hair which by the way was probably multiplying rapidly because of my worrying…the list “went” on…

And quite frankly it all made up my own definition of a pain in the neck.

I’ve come so far away from those worries…except my soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old driving in a few months…that one I’m still working on letting Jesus take the wheel entirely. I’m getting closer with this too though!

After reflecting on the “broken neck” scene from yesterday and because of the over the top drama I laugh just a smidge and it causes me to ask one question…

How many of our worries are all done in vain?

As I’ve looked back and taken inventory over how God has seen me through my trials, I’ve noticed that not one of the things I’ve ever given worry to have actually prevailed. Ever! The odds of victory are in God’s favor. They’re not for me to chase!

Some of the very first verses that I memorized when I came to faith and realized God’s word is the answer in all situations were on the topic of overcoming worry:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6

Give all your worries and your cares to God for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

Those, among a few others, were such a blessing of truth and still speak to me today when I tend to wander away from practicality.

Just like I had to comfort that young fretting sweetie in my p.e. class yesterday during our game, God is always available and willing to do the same for us, no matter the amount of physical or emotional pain we struggle with. He’s a Perfect Healer and we can find relief from our burdens through worship, fellowship with other believers, prayer, and reading His word!

Tag, you’re it!! Let’s not waste any more time in unproductive worry when there’s so much more to life! To Him be the glory!!

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

Happy New Year

Happy New Year shout out to all of For His Purpose readers!!

Thank you so much for the love, support, encouragement, and conversation I’ve witnessed through this blog. Never did I imagine when I started keeping a blog a few years ago that it would grow to over 500 ‘followers’…I hate using that term but for lack of better words I’ll let it fly today.

A quick fun-fact I praise God for is that in the almost 150 posts I’ve written there has been over 7,000 visitors to the blog and I have never, ever had one negative comment left on my blog…ever! It’s always been nothing but encouragement and thank you’s!

And for that I’m so incredibly grateful because you guys don’t understand how much it encourages me to write and then to have someone leave a comment saying those words blessed them in a remarkably relatable way! Praise be to God!! I’ve been through some tough times, much of which has spilled out in my posts — blogging has played a huge part in helping me heal and I’m thanking you along with Jesus for helping me make a message out of a mess!

Y’all are amazing!

One last thing that has been on my heart lately is that with any New Year always comes talk of New Year’s resolutions.

I set goals at this time of the year and what bothers me is that I feel I’m guilty of becoming narrowed in on a calendar date and if you’re like me you can relate to this…There’s something catchy and refreshing to grabbing hold of January 1st and thinking ‘now is the time to go all out, to strive for that expectation, to set the bar high and be all in.’ What happens, at times, is by the second or third week the “set-prize” somehow manages to lose its luster and suddenly dreams are crushed and goals are kissed goodbye.

I’m in need of some extra motivation. When the downward spiral starts to slide in and take away my plan or focus I want to be ready…and just maybe you get what I’m saying and can benefit too!

Here are a few tips I came up with to help keep us on track:

Share your goals with someone. It’s super sweet to have someone help hold you accountable. Whether it’s a year long Bible reading plan, healthier eating habits, an exercise program you want to tackle this year let someone help you build your passion.

Write it down, even daily if you need to. There’s something about writing words down and rereading them (daily) that is powerful.

Understand that foul-ups are gonna happen. Mouthwatering Cherry Cheesecake is gonna outclass a day of workout at times and that’s okay. When this happens just pick up where you left off…which leads me to my next tip and sort of the main point of my post:

If you come up with a random new goal on any given date…the 26th day of March or the 18th of November…whatever day it may be and you decide there’s a new goal you want in your life don’t waste another moment, don’t wait for the first of the year to come around. Start that hope-driven vision ASAP! Any day is as good as January 1st and it’s never too late to go for the goal.

We’ve got this!!

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10

Disappointed But Not Hopeless

Y’all I was gonna try and avoid this post and publish this month’s DIY instead — but every time I try to write something else my thoughts take over — can’t avoid reality so I guess this is meant to be. I’m just being honest and hopefully something can be gained from where I’m going with this post.

During the middle of the night, recently, I woke up abruptly, this feeling of ‘unrest and overwhelm’ flooded my mind.

I won’t get terribly political (I hope) but here was some of what was rallying around up there: ‘for crying out-loud my husband works in the oil field, Biden seeks to replace oil with renewable energy…how will that impact our means of providing??…And popularizing abortion — an ugly option that isn’t a part of God’s plan. If you don’t want a baby, don’t have sex…Rape? Convict the criminal, not the innocent baby…there’s always adoption or the Witt residence. The desire to abolish the death penalty for a hardcore criminal but yet give the green flag go for an unborn human to receive the death penalty?? Come on. Call me crazy but I’ll never understand any reason or logic in that. Ever.’

**I’ve heard too many stories of doctors telling mamas their unborn child will be born with defects only to later give birth to a completely whole and healthy baby who grows up to do amazing things...And when the doctor happens to be right, well you go on and love that baby and every breath of their life just the same way Jesus does..

Sometimes it’s battle of the mind field running my life and I just need God to drop a truth-bomb. Because I know those thoughts obviously portray opinion, judgement and disgust.

Here’s what I have to remember: I’m not perfect, nor are my thoughts. I’m desperately in need of saving grace as much as anyone else.

In the quiet hours of the night, minus my busy mind, the Holy Spirit cut in — reminding me of a verse I haven’t read or heard in a very long while:

This verse, with such faultless timing, comes from 2 Chronicles chapter 7 when King Solomon and the people (Israel) had just finished worshiping God at a freshly built temple (a place to worship God) dedicated to Him.

Solomon sends the people home and later the Lord appears to him setting ground rules (including the above verse). He was the leader of what was known to be a stubborn nation and if Solomon followed God’s plan, blessing would come…if not, a nation (Israel) would come to ruin.

Eventually sin ensued and most of the kingdom was lost (see chapter 12). Solomon had lost his way to idols in the form of power, riches, and sexuality and as a result Israel suffered.

I can’t help but notice how applicable this verse is even now, all these years later. That’s the beautiful thing about scripture — it never fades out.

God wants our attention. He wants our hearts. He wants our repentance.

God wants the same requests of us that He asked over Solomon along with Israel.

Our leadership is corrupt. We, as sinful people, are problematic. None of us are perfect.

BUT…

We’ve all been given the same fair opportunity and we all live under the same God-willing expectation:

To humble ourselves. To pray. To seek God’s face. To turn from our wicked ways.

Just as recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Perhaps when we do so, God will hear from Heaven and heal our land…united as one.

Will we act in obedience to God’s direction or push it off just as Solomon did with a trail of destruction dragging behind?

I can only do my part…take up self-control, admit fault, seek forgiveness, cling to God, and aim to do better through His perfection, which is where I’m at right now.

I don’t want to live in anger or disgust and I can only overcome that negative mindset because of God’s goodness, mercy, and grace with grounded faith as I commune with Him.

By my example and others who are on the same page, I pray that a testimony would show to those watching and that a contagious result would follow for His purpose.

I pray that we (as a nation) truly would encourage one another and work toward a turn around — with God as our ultimate leader and hope for healing. Only by His way will we move forward.

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

Choosing Positive Thinking

One of the benefits of following Christ is that we get to take on the perspective and mind of Him.

Those unfortunate circumstances we experience throughout life we can choose to dwell in the yuck or counteract with truth of what God would say over them.

For me this is what that might look like

Growing up with a mom who has epilepsy I could choose to focus on how scared I was every time she’d have a seizure when I was a kid — but instead I’m learning that in my adult life I have compassion and understanding for others as a result.

The multiple situations of sexual abuse in my childhood years — I’m reminded of the many times I’ve now been able to connect with other girls and women who have experienced the same nonsense; conversation has formed a bond between us.

Participating in the party scene as a teen and in my early twenties is such a regret of mine but I love how I can look back and see how God grabbed my attention and changed my life, turned me to Him and has given me several opportunities to speak my story out these days and turn the glory to Him.

Negative thoughts are exhausting but the good news is we can actually get to a point where we adopt and desire a positive mindset no matter the circumstances. And I feel like as Christians we’re blessed with a clearer opportunity to do so, more so than someone who’s not following Jesus. Those who don’t know the freedom offered through God do not understand “true release” from the burden.

I have a best friend who is a volleyball coach —

one of her player’s parents mocks her, ridicules her, and degrades her weekly — accusing her of being a poor coach.

When I see my sweet friend I see a woman of strength and perseverance. Someone with dedication and commitment and a huge heart for the Lord. The only way and reason she pushes through is because her hope is placed in Christ. She chooses to believe His word of truth over the lies of someone else’s sin.

Maybe there’s a negative thought pattern, a festering lie, or mental battle taking root in your life — to overcome fill up on what Jesus says is true about you and take on His mindset to knock down the negatives.

Romans 12:2 says:

‘Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.’

God’s word tells and shows us that we are able to overcome, Romans 12:2 is just one example of many.

We can make the choice to surround ourselves in healthy Christian friendships, daily prayer and scripture. Listen to worship music. Seek out a good Christian counselor if needed…Renewal of the mind in a positive Christ-like way is sure to inhabit our thoughts once we make a desired habit of doing these things regularly.

Negative scenes are bound to play out this side of heaven, but when we fully navigate with ‘Christ in us’ our thought patterns won’t align with the chaos.

Do yourself a favor today and tomorrow and every day following — be thankful, respectful and sensible of the life God has breathed in you — and waste no more time feeding Satan’s senseless antics.

…I’ll be doing the same.