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

16 Marriage Tips by Nate and Alicia

Tomorrow, September 25, puts Nate and I at number sixteen for our anniversary years so I thought it’d be fun to create a blog post offering sixteen marriage tips or pieces of advice. And I got Nate in on it too!!

Newlyweds, kids or no kids, empty nesters — hope these tips are helpful!

They’re listed in no specific order by the way.

1. Discuss your own love language with one another and speak each other’s as well. Super important!!!

Which of these makes you feel loved by your spouse and which one makes your spouse feel loved — Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, or Physical Touch

2. Do projects together.

Whether it’s just hanging up shelves or building a she-shed for your lady, create and work alongside one another. It’s awesome to be able to step back and admire your work later on.

3. Put your spouse’s needs before kiddos.

I know this is a hard one but if you think about it you and your lovey came before your kids…

So (for example) when entering the house from work greet each other with a hello and kiss first and foremost and then move on to the kids. From this one act your kiddos will see that your marriage is healthy, in order, and that you two are the bosses. It will also help them feel that they’re in a safe zone and well taken care of. Kids thrive off of peace and orderly conduct.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’ — Ephesians 5:22-24

4. Laugh. Don’t be too serious.

This was a text between Nate and I one time which isn’t out of the normal. We can be serious but I’m 40% sure that we’re silly a majority of the time.

5. Have date nights. (copyrighted by Nate)

Seriously your children need to know and witness that mom and dad are happily married, healthy, and in love. Set an example by doing little dates, even if those dates can only happen at home.

Drink a cup of coffee in the mornings, workout, take a walk, rub each other’s feet (I “stink” at doing this one)

Make little points to be connecting with one another so your children can see this happening.

6. Take care of one another in helpful ways.

Examples: Whoever has time be the one to make breakfasts, help with dish duty, wash or vacuum the other one’s car, switch laundry over or fold clothes, sweep/mop, etc.

I promise if you make a habit of chiming in on these little chores your spouse will notice!

7. Encourage with notes or texts. Give compliments.

Recently one morning I went into the bathroom and found this sweet note Nate had hung on the mirror. He came up with the idea on his own…and I probably skipped putting on blush that day!!

8. Thank your spouse.

When you notice or appreciate the good they do (or them helping out) don’t take those moments for granted. Let your spouse know your appreciation.

*Side-note: Nate and I attended a marriage conference last year and the couple who were speaking told us that after doing a recent study it showed that ‘men actually feel most loved and appreciated when their spouse simply and genuinely acknowledges their good work and then thanks them.’

9. Team work.

Make the bed together, cook/bake together, clean together, do yard work together, budget together, etc.

Don’t miss that word — “together”.

10. Respect one another so you both feel loved.

Value one another’s opinions/advice. Be supportive of emotions and concerns.

Nate suggested to remember “happy wife, happy life” …I’m gonna rename this though because I think it needs to be two-way so I’m going with “happy spouse, happy house”.

11. Communicate well.

Listen to each other. Ask questions. Seek marriage counseling if needed.

12. Entertain one another’s interests.

They say opposites attract. If your spouse enjoys things that don’t quite appeal to you do them anyway!! …garage saleing, hunting, golfing, shopping, etc.

13. Start a new hobby TOGETHER.

…frisbee golf, Nate said clogging (where you do some folk dancing, I think he’s just being a nerd but now he’s google searching it as I’m writing) learn an instrument, etc.

14. For the Christian couple do a Bible study, just the two of you alone or in a small group through a church setting.

And if you’re not Christians go check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

15. Always say I love you before bed or when leaving each other for work or wherever.

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” —Ephesians 4:26

16. And yes I’m gonna go here — I don’t care if physical touch is a love language of yours or not — MAKE LOVE!!

No extra commentary needed for this one.

Well except that the Bible even says to:

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” — 1 Corinthians 7:5

All of these tips take patience and practice. This list is not exhaustive and definitely not perfected by us, but it’s things Nate and I strive to accomplish. By doing these things we build our relationship and also help our three attentive mockers know what to look for one day in a future spouse.

I love you Nathan! Thank you for encouraging me as a writer, wife, and mother! You (and our faith in Jesus) are my favorite piece to sixteen years of marriage!!

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.

Unconditionally Serving Grandma: It Never “Depends”

I’ve needed the important reminder of being a good servant as I’ve cared for my grandma over the past month. Looking after her has been challenging!

There are visits (y’all will think I’m crazy) when I make a beeline straight into her kitchen just moments after arriving and head right to the Lazy Susan cabinet, which she’s used as a pantry for years. I quickly crouch down, open the door, close my eyes, and let the longtime scent of spices mixed with baking products flood over me and it takes me back to happier days when I was just a little girl making sweet memories with my grandma in the kitchen.

Sometimes I just need reminded of who it is I’m serving.

…Still the same precious grandma just very dependent these days.There are instances where she ask me the same question seventeen plus times, days when she calls me four times in a row but she’s trying to phone my mom, and moments where she repeatedly tells me she’s just ready to go be with Jesus.

Side note: I don’t even think I’m being my typical exaggerated self with that last statement!!!

All of that (together) takes a toll on my “only” granddaughter heart. It’s hard to see someone I admire slip away, going from self-sufficient to considerably insufficient.

Recently (with perfect timing) our pastor’s sermon came from John 13 where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, demonstrating the love in His faithful servant’s heart.

In Bible times footwashing was a lowly job household servants took up when guests arrived. By Jesus’ willingness to wash His disciples’ feet He showed a humble example of equality, not considering Himself above others.

Let’s set the tone by checking out Jesus’ words (to the disciples) in verses 13-16:

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Ahhhh what timely words given the condition of our nation…Amen?!

And verse 17 follows up by saying, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Reading those verses in context allows us to see that Jesus didn’t look at this seemingly unpleasant task as burdensome but rather as a defining teachable moment, filled with blessing.

Overall it was the idea of serving others without applicable conditions, and it still fully applies as an inspiring example to us today.

I want to passionately and actively live out Jesus’ heart-actions, every single time I show up at my grandma’s house.

I learned “Jesus” from my grandma as a child and now I want to do my best to show her “Jesus” right back! Even if it means I’m a 36 year old hauling Depends around in my grocery cart or adding yet another package of toilet paper to her overwhelming stash in the bathroom’s linen closet…or emptying the trash can when it’s not even half full because she’s obsessive over it.

Serving my grandma is an opportunity to echo Jesus’ ways — and staying in His word, reading stories such as John 13, motivates me to want to serve exceedingly and abundantly well, bringing glory to Him all the while!

…This afternoon I’ll head over to my grandma’s to take her to another doctor’s appointment; but today I’m just gonna happen to bring along a foot bath and spa products as well…

CHALLENGE: Take time to find someone to serve as you go about your weekend, surely blessing will be in the midst…and then share your ‘serving story’ with me in the blog’s comment area!!

Take care friends!❤️

The Wild Joy of Mothering and Prayer

Yesterday morning as I worked through my independent Bible study at the kitchen counter, I could hear the voices of my children connecting together — grouped up in my youngest daughter’s room the three of them laughed in between small talk and LEGO building.

Like music to my ears (hearing them bond) I shot up a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness to the One who encourages loving relationships. I thanked God for the laughter, for zero arguing and that the Holy Spirit would flood that room with joy. I closed with a blessed feeling of Amen.

No joke within seconds my boy comes storming out of his sister’s bedroom — head down, arms crossed tightly to his chest and feet stomping madly as he made a beeline straight for his basement bedroom.

Yup I’ve seen this move a thousand and one times before…

“Dude! Please get back here so we can talk about this situation, and when you come right away it shows me respect!” I pleaded.

With that, he turns around before hitting the steps and marches straight over to where I sat on the kitchen stool waiting.

“What in the world happened?…I just finished offering up a prayer of thanksgiving that y’all were getting along so well and I even boldly requested that Satan stay the heck out of that room, so how did things turn south so suddenly?” I spouted out calmly but rationally.

Our eyes met and a sly smile spread across my son’s playful face immediately, followed by — “I was just kidding mom, we’re fine!”

Goodness! Isn’t mothering full of surprises? Continue reading “The Wild Joy of Mothering and Prayer”

His Words Always Guarantee Truth

A few years ago my family was fixing to head to our favorite camping spot for Labor Day weekend. Out of excitement with the thought of our adventure I scrambled around the house to take care of last minute things before leaving.

In the midst of my hustle and bustle my little seizure filled Yorkie (Eli) ended up under my feet and I tripped over him. He rolled, must’ve bonked his poor noggin and went straight into a seizure. A very loooong seizure — one that sent me into a panic and directly to the phone to call our vet clinic.

“Red Willow Animal Clinic, how may I help you?” the woman on the other end began.

“I just kicked my dog!!!!! …And now he’s having a really bad seizure!!” I explained hysterically.

There was a “paws” before the woman on the other end of the line instructed me on what to do and set up an appointment for the next week to get Eli in for x-rays of his neck area.

Side note: Every time Eli’s neck gets jarred just right it sends him straight into a seizure but normally they don’t last that long.

After I hung up with the vet clinic’s receptionist it occurred to me how I had incorrectly explained the scenario with my poor dog…great grief I just told her I kicked my dog…seriously?!…my family wasn’t at all surprised because they’ve grown use to my unfailing ability of impatience and not thinking before I speak.

In the time since that phone call I’ve thought about how extremely important it is to convey messages and communicate well. Continue reading “His Words Always Guarantee Truth”

Hope Through Unity

Several years ago my oldest daughter and I had the opportunity to travel to Acuña, Mexico with my husband’s aunt and uncle. We were joining up with men, women, and children of all ages from all over America as part of a missionary group with an organization by the name of Casas Por Cristo (Houses for Christ). Their main goal is to share Jesus’ love by blessing and serving a family in need through a house building project in one of their designated building-locations.

When we all arrived in Acuña we had a large group of around 100 volunteers with a gymnasium that served as our gathering hub for sleep, food, cold showers, and devotions. We were split into even groups on the first day so a total of five homes would be built in Acuña over a four day period.Our team of twenty-ish made an immediate connection with the same like-minded purpose — to mesh work and Jesus’ love through building a house for a sweet Hispanic family…and goodness the family was precious.

The father and son worked on what would become their new home right along side our team, while the mother and grandmother made it a priority to fill us up everyday on authentic local dishes and Mexican hot cocoa and donuts. Side note: If you’ve never had Mexican hot cocoa you’re missing out! It’s actually available in Walmart stores so make sure to treat yourself!As we came to the end of our mission trip, with the house nearly completed, there was a moment where we all gathered for a dedication ceremony.

David, our Casas Por Christo team leader, translated what the Hispanic father wanted so desperately for our team to know. Continue reading “Hope Through Unity”

It’s Okay to Admit When We’re Not Okay

I’ve been kind of a mess lately.

I’ve had corrupt thoughts when I should’ve taken them captive to make them obedient to Him.

I’ve been impatient when I should’ve just prayed.

Spoken words I shouldn’t have while praises were never considered.

Even now this isn’t how I’d love to start off a post but reality and truth must trump comfort if thriving-hope is sought.

I’ve felt lost, confused, and hopeless—empty, reckless, and careless.

Someone recently suggested that it seems I’m overwhelming myself with too much busyness. Ya that could be.

I haven’t been able to navigate through my heart to limit my emotions and concerns.

I humbly share this with you though because in the midst of my crummy attitude I’ve continued to read from God’s word—studying scripture, and reading daily devotions regardless.

And here’s the verse that continually sweeps across my thoughts:

‘So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’ —Isaiah 55:11 Continue reading “It’s Okay to Admit When We’re Not Okay”

The Matthew Project

…Where to even begin this post?…I’m currently taking a class by the name of Perspectives, some of you may be familiar with the name. It’s probably one of the most challenging (yet spiritually rewarding) classes I’ve ever taken — lots of reading, extra studying, and gobs of extensive vocabulary that I’m not always familiar with. This class thoroughly drives home the point of seeing Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19 come to fruition as Christians literally live out these scriptures by fulfilling the calling in each of our lives.

Matthew 24:14 And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 28:19 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.

When our lives follow Jesus and we have a healthy relationship and right standing with Him, we as Christians know how incredibly important Matthew 24:14 truly is. And we longingly look forward to the day of Jesus’ return. In the meantime however Matthew 28:19 absolutely has to be happening and requires our obedience!

As I’ve studied in Perspectives, my little self-focused world has been rocked in a huge way as I gain a new “perspective” on my role in helping to spread God’s word to the ends of the earth…even if it’s just right in my own community — which brings me to the idea of this very post.

K stay with me!! Continue reading “The Matthew Project”

He❤️rt Lessons

This is my son Warren’s first year in public school and he’s loving it! In fact the other day I casually asked him if he wanted to be in public school or homeschooled again and he informed me that no way was he doing school at home again… “sorry mom,” he said, “but I can actually understand math now!” …well okay then son!

This past week they had to make Valentine boxes. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it for the sake of this post but I wasn’t that organized and it’s at school now, so no picture at the moment. He made a shoebox to look like a Pokeball (Pokémon) by painting it with red, white, and black. It turned out nice and was super simple. I bought him a large bag of individually packaged Skittles candies with Valentine cards to attach and pass out for their class party.

The evening that he made out the Valentine cards he happened to have his homeschooled sister help with the job. I didn’t think anything of it and heard the two of them spouting out his classmate’s names along with teacher’s names as they wrote them out. Continue reading “He❤️rt Lessons”