Lessons From a Fair Warning and a Dead Chicken

A few months ago a neighbor had staked down a rather peculiar sign in her always pristine front yard, it read:

‘Any chicken found in my yard will be dead meat’

Y’all I wish I had a picture of this but I guess I was too “chicken” to take one, nevertheless you get the idea.

The sign only stayed up a very short while and then it was replaced by warmer days, green grass, and this woman’s crazy mowing obsession.

These houses out where we live are part of a subdivision located outside of town. My husband explains it like we live in a pasture which I would concur. Quite a few people own chickens, some have goats, and there’s even a family with a cow or two at times.

At the beginning of this month, early on a Sunday morning, Nathan and I woke up to gun shots and sprung out of bed to see what the ruckus was. Farm animals out here are normal but gun shots right out in the residential area aren’t at all.

So we’re peering out our windows and much to our surprise we spot a group of chickens on the loose splashing around in the sprinklers of one neighbor’s yard and we’re oohing and ahhing for a second because it was cute and comical but still trying to figure out the gun shots.

I look over to the next neighbor’s property (the one who had a chicken slayer sign up a few months before) and wouldn’t you know there was a large cluster of what appeared to be white feathers on the far south end of her yard. Nathan ran and grabbed a scope from out of his gun safe and like a creep he’s spying out our front window, zeroing in on the lump of white and confirms…a fresh poultry kill…

Chicken dinner anyone?

The red is the chicken, the blue is the trap… Sorry I couldn’t resist adding a picture.

Come to find out, apparently this woman with the insanely well kept yard had an issue with a nearby neighbor (who owns free range chickens minus a white one now) and was not impressed when those chickens would show up at her place and this day she took vengeance.

She actually ended up leaving the dead chicken on her yard for the next two days before chucking it onto its original owner’s driveway. On top of that, immediately after the kill, she created a trap system in the middle of her yard which consisted of a plastic dome container that was propped up and then had a rope connected to it and that rope lead right into the front door of her house. I guess if another chicken was brave enough to step foot into her lawn and happened to make it’s way under the trap she’d pull the rope and the chicken would be trapped inside the dome. More humane than meeting it’s uneven match with a gun I suppose.

Although I don’t agree with how she handled the situation, I’ve gotta give her a little credit because she did after all give a forewarning with the sign..

And here’s where I want to point us to Jesus.

When we read God’s word, all throughout we find truth, promises, hope, grace, mercy, and even forewarnings. The Bible represents all these things.

Pieces of scripture warn us of the consequences and fate of not following Jesus and when we choose to believe and follow then we experience the blessings and joy of a relationship with Him, plus an eternity spent in Heaven.

The deal with my neighbor has brought about some laughs. I joked with my son one day, “hey I dare you to run over and set off the trap unless you’re too chicken.” He didn’t go for it but we did “crack” up over it.

The thing is when it comes to the warnings we read in God’s word that’s one thing my family always takes seriously. There’s no jokes to go along with it.

We all are given the opportunity to read scripture and accept every word of it or reject it.

That chicken trap has now long been taken down from my neighbor’s yard just like the warning sign was removed before the slaughtering ever happened. She followed through just like her sign warned:

‘Any chicken found in my yard will be dead meat’

When we compare this to the way God operates we’ve been given the chance to study scripture and make what we want of the warnings. God will one day judge the world and by our choice we’re either walking toward Him or headed for destruction as the end will inevitably come.

As long as we’re living it’s never too late to turn to Him and take His warning for the benefit it longs to bring and the glory it provides for His purpose.

Have a blessed Memorial weekend y’all. I’m fixing to take my kids tent camping by myself as Nate is out of town. It should be interesting…and no worries my chickens are always locked safely away!

Overcoming the Lies of ‘Not Enough’

Insecurities are no fun, plain and simple, and unfortunately they can fester when least expected.

I’ve made progress in gaining confidence in a couple of “big to me” things over the past few years…

The two newest achievements:

1. I’ve graciously embraced my graying hair—determining it’s much easier to just go gray instead of maintain and apply color to my roots every three weeks to try and conceal grays. And I finally don’t mind how it looks.

2. I’ve reconciled with my height—the fact that I’m short and any hope of a growth spurt is decades past me. I’m now good with the idea that I won’t even make five foot with heels on because I’m clumsy, usually in a hurry, and quite frankly flats are much more comfortable! I’ve also learned to give grace to my oldest daughter who constantly rubs it in that she’s “reached” her goal and passed me up by a few inches!!

But after way too long of wearyingly tackling those self-made acceptance boosts, unsurprisingly Satan’s blind-sided maneuvers have discreetly slid in (almost like clockwork) with growing irritation in an unavoidable way.

I’m not sure how this came about but in more recent months I’ve now traded the above issues and instead began “picking” on my intellect. I’ve noticed that whether in a small group or large group setting, if the spot light is on me, I’ll give very brief descriptions or answers out of fear my words or stories don’t make sense otherwise.

This is a problem because it causes me to feel self-conscious. I begin feeding into lies like I’m not educated enough for this conversation. I don’t have enough knowledge to respond. My feedback isn’t going to be interesting enough…and as a result I shutdown.

Coming to grips with the idea of this new anxiety I realize I can’t allow it to continue.

I refuse to give Satan the satisfaction of messing with me.

I’ve had to dig to understand where this is rooting from and how to overcome…

I struggle with PTSD from my childhood and in those moments where I wrestle through flashbacks from those younger years it can be tough to not get stuck in the negative memory of it all. Because of my faith in Jesus I’m usually able to quickly identify when my mind is nearing a dark memory lane and I can cut to a happier path mentally.

In those instances I’m able to consider that my life is new because of Jesus. I’m not that old person anymore. I’m forgiven because of Him. None of the yuck from my childhood was what I asked for BUT God has been able to use it for His purpose. Those truths transition my focus toward a positive mindset.

When I think about getting over this new hurdle, this one where I’ve been beating myself up about feeling “not enough” I know that I can only overcome the lies through Jesus and what He says is true about me, similar to the way I handle those childhood flashbacks. I have to remember that God does the following things for me:

He loves me unconditionally. (Romans 8:37-39)

He equips me. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

He gives me wisdom. (James 1:5)

He defines me. (Psalm 139:14)

He has chosen me. (1 Peter 2:9)

These things are not up to me to come up with on my own, they’ve been offered by a loving and compassionate God—all things from and of Him.

Image from YouVersion Bible app

The same way that I can move and think past any negative I experienced as a child, will be and is the same way I can escape from Satan’s deceptive practices…focusing on the truths (not the lies) ushers in a positive mindset.

Maybe you can or have been able to relate to what I’ve been experiencing. Honesty and sharing our struggles with others speaks volumes of healing. I pray you would join me in fighting against the lies of “not enough” and embrace the steadfast truths felt in God’s amazing love and throughout His unfaltering word.

Side note: Here’s how awesome God works…in the heat of really discovering I was battling these new “not enough” lies, God provided. I had only shared with my very-supportive husband my struggle, so no one else knew. In that time, I showed up to a women’s event (a hidden mess inside) and was sitting at the same table as a sweet friend of mine who handed me a gift bag, inside was this t-shirt with much needed words of encouragement!!

Isn’t it awesome how God works? He used my friend’s love to speak exactly to my situation…only He can perfectly put things together in this way…only Him!!

There’s no reason to ever give up because God out-does the hardship every single time…if not now then Heaven-side.

My Own Testimony of Hope in God’s Easter Plan

Through some really traumatic childhood experiences, where blame could be directly targeted to certain individuals, I’ve learned forgiveness by the grace of God in ways that only make sense through Him.

Things that many would’ve deemed unforgivable I was able to humbly hand over to God who replaced those hardships with divine peace.

When I reflect back to those early years of my life, with the wisdom I’ve gained since, I now recognize numbness must have began building as the afflictions happened.

Finding faith years later actually made it very easy to forgive those who were guilty because I was so far-distanced from feeling the hurt I had experienced. God’s goodness in my new-found faith was so powerful and contagious that it exceedingly outweighed the darkness.

The only way I can understand it is because I believe in the beauty of God’s mercy and grace and I see his work upon it without a shadow of a doubt, plus I consider how desperately I’m in need of his forgiveness for my own self-imposed errors.

Forgiveness in those major adversities from my younger years just isn’t something I struggle with.

BUT somehow lately I’ve felt a small nudging of bitterness within me from petty offenses done to me by others more recently.

Subconsciously I guess I’ve tallied them up and now they slowly ooze over me. This is not an experience I wish to have linger around, and quite possibly it reverts back to PTSD from my little girl years unfortunately.

I’m more aware of hurtful feelings because my mind and heart are grounded to Jesus these days. Words or actions of betrayal are something that don’t just go unnoticed on my radar. I can actually feel and process my hurts at this point of my life, it’s a good thing but God has shown me that often times I react negatively.

That negativity that I’ve started to compile transfers as sin and doesn’t fit the necessary mold of Christianity.

I actually tried to avoid writing this post and even went blank last week to come up with a different post as God continued to gently prod me in this particular direction while I fought against it. I’ve wrestled through the words but have realized the timing of digging through this is perfect.

Because it’s Easter week I’m doing a Bible reading with my family in the mornings and evenings, recounting the last days of Jesus’ life. The lessons to be taken in are refreshing reminders.

When I think about the cross my mind inevitably races to Jesus — his willingness to take our sins upon himself out of a love meant to glorify his Father is the most amazing of phenomenons. Man I just never want to be comfortable enough to take that truth for granted. I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve (personally) allowed him to suffer in vain.

The reality of it comes down to the very fact that Jesus shed his perfect blood and died for those big sins I experienced when I was too young to know better — and he also died for the sins of others that I call petty but still get bent out of shape about. On top of that he died for the sin of bitterness I try and tuck away among my other character flaws.

He died for ALL sin. (1 John 2:2)

Had Jesus’ life completely ended at the cross I would be pointlessly seeking a freeness from my sins…we all would.

But the FULLNESS of the life-giving, glorious hope of the Easter story isn’t nailed and halted at the cross like our sins were…we can’t end therebecause when we look at the big picture we move on from a sacrificial cross that served a holy purpose, to an empty tomb that provides and points to a sacred resurrection celebration!

God doesn’t want us to hold onto sins of any sort, no matter their size or place on our life’s timeline — if he did, there’d have been no reason for Jesus’s death to begin with.

If (as Christians) we are to replicate Jesus’ example of love, obedience and glory to God then my sin-issue of clinging to offenses must give way (John 14-15). Anything other than that takes advantage of God’s mercy and grace.

My goal is to do better in recognizing my irritation in the small things (and the big) before they have a chance to negatively impact my emotions. And to remember that the cross shows the commitment of forgiveness and love our victorious God has for us — in whom there is no place for sin to be found at all.

With every single breath of life I’m blessed with, that’s something I want to continually place my hope in and follow after wholeheartedly!!

He is risen!! Happy Easter!!

Choosing Well

This past week I witnessed my oldest daughter struggle in-between two big choices on each side of her.

She was asked to join her youth group this summer to attend a five-day Christian high school conference by the name of CIY Move, which she hasn’t ever gone to. This is an event held in different areas of the country and I’ve been told it’s absolutely an amazing experience. On the flip side that sweet little conference just happens to land on the very same week as our county fair, and Paige showing her animals for 4H is something she doesn’t take lightly. I remember one summer we were in the middle of moving and by a cluttered state of mind I didn’t get my kids signed up for 4H, I thought I was going to lose my role as mom over that deal!

Needless to say, given the idea these events both take place on the same week Paige would have to end up deciding on just one.

Choices are tough, especially as we age. They say, on average, people are presented with roughly 35,000 conscious choices in one single day goodness no wonder my ‘meat computer’ feels close to fried each evening!!

We choose what time we’re going to wake up in the morning. We choose our clothes…breakfast…hairstyle (this one’s easy for my bald husband). We choose our attitude, and whether we’ll smile, laugh, or frown.

Choices happen all day long, sometimes without us actually even giving much thought at all. I like to think of these as ordinary, everyday choices.

But then there’s those tough decisions, like what my daughter faced this week. I honestly cringed at the idea when I knew I was going to have to let Paige know these two ‘very-important-to her-events’ are happening the same week this summer and she’d have to choose between the two.

You bet when I finally told her, the good old fifteen-year-old floodgates poured open. She took herself and the news straight to her bedroom where I figured she’d remain for the afternoon without any desire to talk this over — ever. BUT when I went to check up on her a bit later she was actually holding up maturely and had let me know she was going to visit with her youth group leader to get her input.

Paige was already beginning the steps of choosing well in what impacted her as a big decision! And she was doing it with a good attitude! As a mom, this is exactly what I wanted to witness.

Decisions like Paige’s often times carry pros and cons and these are definitely worth considering before choosing one way or another.

There are some key Bible verses I like to reflect on when I’m overwhelmed by choice-making:

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Perspective is also important, because even though either of Paige’s two choices would’ve been fine it really comes down to having a glass half-full attitude rather than a glass-half empty one.

We can choose to see the good in all things. Even when the news of cancer comes, we can choose to recognize that God offers the most important healing for our souls in that circumstance. When the decision to move our family from one place to another seems unfavorable but necessary we can choose to remember God will come along regardless. When the pregnancy results in a miscarriage leaving an empty womb, we can choose to trust that God longs to fill our hearts with comfort, growth, and strength in Him.

Those are the tough things — but it comes down to choosing well even in the midst of chaos. When we feel nothing is left we must choose to remember, surrender, and obey to God’s perfect will — choose to believe in His unconditional love for us no matter what else is happening. He already has everything figured out anyway.

And when we miss the better choice we can come humbly to God, rest assured He holds us in the palm of His hands and will show us the better way still. After all we’re perfectly chosen by Him who makes no mistakes. He is the Corrector and Perfecter of all things and no doubt about it — choosing God, His way, and His direction will always be our best decision and can help guide us in everything else.

When I spoke with Paige later that evening she confidently told me she’d decided she was going to CIY this summer. When I asked her what helped her decide so assuredly she simply responded, ‘I just knew I wanted God to come first and felt this was the better choice.’

Oh how this mama’s heart chooses to swell with joy over that beautiful decision…I can’t wait to see how God is going to MOVE in the lives of those teens that week!

Our Sins Are ‘Toast’

Unfortunately burnt toast and burnt whatever happens more often then I’d like to admit in my house.

This was from yesterday morning, and the smoke that ensued caused my twelve year old to gag and ask how much longer till we we’d be leaving for the day.

I seriously just have to laugh it off anymore because it happens in what feels like a millisecond of time and frequently; if I didn’t laugh I’d spend a majority of my time offended.

One moment hunger-craved-food goes into our toaster oven…and the next moment smoke-alarms “long” to sound off wildly…had my family not pulled the batteries months ago after getting irritated with the ear piercing urgent beeping.

I really need to put batteries back in…just in case.

We bought the little toaster oven because of the convenience it offers. I can easily bake or toast non gluten free items in it and then afterwards line the baking tray with fresh foil to make my gluten free daughter’s food without the worry of cross contamination. It really works wonders so long as I pay attention. Literally though I can pop something in, turn around to take care of something else for what I think is just a speck of time, and come back to find a haze of smoke creeping it’s way out followed by a display of well done briquettes. It puts Weber to shame!

Side note: Truly the “burnt offerings” as they’ve come to be known at the Witt residence, have something to do with my ADD kicking in (which I’d actually rather refer to as multitasking, it makes me feel a bit more accomplished.) So in hindsight, I realize, I’m to blame for the blackened treasures. The toaster oven is not malfunctioning, it’s the operator!

The uncanny part of me sharing this story is that through this bad habit of burning food I’m actually reminded of how quickly sin can take up space in my life.

There have been times, as a Christian, where I feel so close to God that I forget Satan is always lurking, looking to devour. My Bible reading is meaningful, prayer time is heartfelt, and tithing is passionate and it seems like none of that could go wrong…

But then, as if out of nowhere, a Bible reading gets replaced by an article from CountryLiving, prayer time is interrupted by a Pinterest inspired craft time, and tithing is cut short because of supplies for the Pinterest craft.

And then the grueling process of sin builds; it becomes a gateway for additional slip-ups to come in more prominently — the Pinterest craft doesn’t turn out just right and anger instills, the best friend’s version looks flawless and jealousy emerges…

Can anyone else relate??

Friends what I end up with is anything far from a tasteful dish…

Instead I’ve allowed the sneakiest fox of all known as Satan to have his way with me…

Because once I begin to abandon those good habits I had (with me and Jesus) I become smoldered in a mess of sin.

And it happens in the blink of an eye…just like that burnt toast.

The good intentions are there, but if I don’t pay attention with care and concern sometimes those good intentions are scorched over with no forewarning.

Thankfully we serve a God who isn’t a fan of sin (and probably not burnt toast either). He’s not around to hang out for those things. He’s a God full of mercy and grace, and even re-do’s.

Which brings me to my point…

Whenever I end up with burnt toast, I remove it from the heat source, set it on a plate to cool off, and then I ditch that burnt toast to the trashcan faster than it took to burn it!! And I begin again — this next time with more attentiveness.

And you know something? I’m convinced God has a likeness with us and our sin nature and His way comes readily and unconditionally every time. He intervenes, carries us as we vent, shows us the correct path while our other one trails in the dust behind and then He leads us closer and nearer to Heaven’s perfect banquet, lovingly prepared by Him.

And that’s a feast I never want to miss out on.

Father God, you are so good to us. Our mess of sin, no matter how dark, is nothing compared to your gracious love. You desire to come to our rescue and you want nothing more than to have each of us as your very own. Thank you for never giving up on us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ —Hebrews 8:12

Temi from ‘Christian Mommas’ Blog

Blogging (through WordPress) has given me the opportunity to read, follow, and interact with many other bloggers all over the world. It’s been neat to connect with people in this way.

To pick up encouragement along this journey and also dish it out is such a two way blessing.

One of the first blogs I began following when I started on WordPress a few years ago belongs to Temi who writes at christianmommas.com

The name (almost) says it all but while you may think “oh well I’m not a mom yet…or my kids are already out of the house…I’m a dad…etc” don’t let the name keep you from checking Temi’s blog out! It’s packed with humble encouragement and love; and though the focus is geared toward Christian parenting there’s life lessons of faith tucked away that are applicable for anyone and all life experiences — momma or not!

Christianmommas.com was created by Temi but she also has a team of other like-minded women sharing their testimonies of God’s mercy and grace through motherhood on her blog as well. Their posts really are a charming treasure filled with hope pointing to Jesus!

Last Summer I had the chance to read a book authored by Temi — ‘A Christian Mother’s Creed’ available on Amazon here. Such a great read where she shares how her experience as a U.S. Army veteran helped shape her dedication to be the best Christian mother she could possibly be. She meshes the idea of life as a soldier with life as a Christian mother —comparing the two with Christian values and Biblical principles, knowing that this world is full of battles but striving for kingdom-bound children nevertheless — trusting God has the ultimate victory already! When we parent and do life with Him we get to experience that truth firsthand.

Recently Temi expanded her creative talent by opening an Etsy shop (Shop Christian Mommas) where she is selling artwork in the form of greeting cards, wall art, phone screensavers, and more. On her blog she featured a giveaway last month and after commenting on her post she let me know I had won her giveaway in the form of a $25 gift card to her shop.

Here’s what I chose from her shop:

5×7 inch devotional cards…to remind me of God’s goodness.

The phrases on the devotional cards reflect a Bible verse and can work as conversation starters as I hang them up around my house. And since a Bible reference is noted on each one it also encourages me to look those verses up and study them deeper!

I hope you’ll check out Temi’s blog, Etsy shop, or her book!! This lovely lady is on a roll for His purpose and there’s no stopping her!! Have a wonderful rest of your week and sweet blessings!!

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. —Proverbs 31:30-31

TEMI’S BLOG link

TEMI’S BOOK link ‘A Christian Mother’s Creed’

TEMI’S ETSY SHOP link

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.

Motivated and Persistent

Of our multiple animals, we have a six year old Yorkie, Eli, who I’ve written about in the past. Eli was a gift to me, from my husband, for our tenth wedding anniversary.

For most of his life the poor little guy has had seizures due to a head injury that happened when he was just a puppy which makes him pretty fragile. Long story short, he’d jumped from my arms and smacked his little noggin on our wooden deck outback and from that time on whenever his head (or neck) are impacted you can bet he’ll go right into a seizure. He’s on seizure meds that control ‘random’ seizures (which he was prone to after the head injury) but he still has them when he encounters impact regardless of the meds.

As an example — Eli was sleeping on my bed recently when he heard me come into the house, he got excited and decided he was going to jump down and greet me. I was just walking through the bedroom door and couldn’t catch him in time before he clumsily hit the wood floor with a thud. The seizure that followed was one of his worst and honestly I wasn’t sure he’d come out of it. I prayed in my heart like crazy in the moment, God spared him and as a result Eli is never allowed to be on our bed again…no exceptions!!

He’s stinking cute!

We’ve now bought him a large dog bed and situated it near our bed but it’s taken him some time to get used to. Our bed is pretty high from the floor and this is something we should’ve bought and started years ago.

At nighttime he’s restless for a short while and the little clicking of his paws can be heard as he pitter patters from one side of our bed to the other, hopeful that either my husband or I will lift him up to his preferable place of sleep and familiarity. I feel bad because he doesn’t understand and I miss him cuddling up next to me…although I have been able to sleep better now.

Eli teaches me a “good” lesson applicable to my life as a Christian — I want to be so incredibly dedicated and familiar with Jesus (in my faith and relationship with Him) that I can’t stand to “feel” separated or distanced from Him.

Like my dog, I want to be so faithful, motivated and persistent in pursuing what brings me comfort and peace. For Eli it’s snuggling in close to my husband or I and falling asleep next to us on our bed or begging relentlessly for canned dog food — and for myself as I work on authentic Christianity it better be my relationship with the Lord that brings me satisfaction and security in my life without hesitation. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions!!

That means that if (or when) I’m putting God second it would bother me so much I’d be stir crazy. When something tries to distract me or come in the way I’d be unsettled. When Satan attempts to send me on a hazardous detour route, I’d notice the red flag warning immediately and head straight to the One who’s already paved the perfect path.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. —Colossians 1:17

Because Eli’s a dog he’s always going to live impulsively by selfish means and very sure-hearted in what he wants even if it’s not always the best choice for him; likewise as a Christian we’re to live selflessly yet with a devoted heart strongly fixed on Jesus…Eventually at bedtime Eli grows tired, loses interest in claiming a spot on our bed, gives in and finally tuckers down into his new, more safe, bed. Contrastively we as Christians can’t choose second best, we must strive ahead determined to keep Jesus first in our lives.

For you, are you persistent in keeping Jesus number one in your life? If not what is standing in the way?

Light Against Darkness

As a licensed cosmetologist I’m required to complete eight hours of continuing education every other year. This coming Fall I’d planned to attend an in-person class like usual, but with the virus things ended up different. Now we have to complete the hours at home by watching videos (on our own time) with the instructors demonstrating the latest hair styles on mannequin heads.

I’ve actually benefited more this way because there’s only one stylist at a time creating a color or cut (not two or three all doing their thing) so it’s been easier to focus and gain some takeaways. Normally at the hair shows it’s too busy and I’m distracted and find entertainment through Pinterest or balancing my checkbook etc.

While watching one of the color lesson videos recently I admired the stylist’ work as she demonstrated the trendy process of a darker color underneath with some pastel colors overtop.

It wasn’t a style we see much of where I live although it was still intriguing…however it was her explanation of the process that caused my heart to get involved and reflect on her words… “The way that you can see darkness is to have something light lay next to it.”

She was obviously and ‘simply’ referring to the contrasting of light and dark hair color she’d just created, but my mind and heart raced straight to the parallel of our sin-darkness in comparison to the light of hope we have through Jesus.

…okay so I guess I did get distracted after all even with the videos…

But follow me here — sometimes we can’t see the darkness of our sin until we experience and are exposed to light — it’s then we’re able to see just how dark our situation or sin really is.

At times our sin is obvious; we know we’re doing wrong but we keep stumbling in it because of our brokenness. Other times we’ve become immune and have gotten so far away from the light or truth of God’s word that we fail to even recognize the danger at all.
Contrarily some have never learned the truth of Jesus, therefore oblivious to wrongdoings. There’s usually an idea of positive versus negative “morals” but the separation of light and dark in a spiritual sense isn’t known and as a result isn’t a consideration for correction.

We moved to a subdivision outside of town a few years ago and one of the things that I loved about it was the fact that at night it’s incredibly dark considering how many houses are in our neighborhood. No one ‘used’ nighttime yard lights…and for myself I can definitely sleep better when it’s pitch black, therein lies my reasoning for celebration.

That changed around a year ago when one of the neighbors put up a large floodlight at the top of his new metal building. The light pierces the darkness of night and brightly spills right through the window and straight into my bedroom. Seriously if any future NASA landings on the moon happen, this thing will probably grab their attention as they look back down at earth…it’s that ridiculous.

Light has power and boldness and I’ve had to use my irritation of the neighbor’s “nightlight” as a good reminder that light is able to overcome darkness.

Side-note: Over the past year I’ve known my neighbor’s shop light was gonna some how make it into the blog!!

There are so many versus on light and darkness throughout the Bible that it’s hard to pinpoint one as key, but I feel like John’s words in 1 John 1:5-7 are quite applicable:

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you: that God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

In the words of a talented high-end hair stylist:

“The way that you can see darkness is to have something light lay next to it.”

At times we risk darkness because we aren’t in the light of Jesus as we should be. The way to get there is by connecting to a power source: reading our Bibles, worship, connecting with other believers, prayer…that light we experience is like a wake up call for us; it’s then that we see just how much we truly need light as a source of life, over the sin of darkness.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. —John 1:5

Removing the Mask

Incase you hadn’t read last week’s post, my grandma ended up sick a few months ago, to the point she spent some time in the nursing home…she’s home again now. Since then I’ve been helping with housework, grocery shopping and errands, and running her to doctor visits.

I’ve not been staying caught up on the Covid hype these days (besides praying over the situation) but I’m well aware that mask are required (no exceptions!!) when visiting the health clinic my grandma goes to each week. The first time I took her to an appointment there was another little old lady who entered the building without wearing one and caused quite a fuss which helped me see that I definitely won’t be trying that anytime soon! Needless to say, she was masked along with the rest of the waiting patients within seconds!

I usually walk my grandma into the clinic to help her get checked in, all along the bottom half of my face remains covered with a handmade mask. It’s one I purposefully sewed for these doctor visits with my grandma. It’s kinda cute if one could ever be, but it’s uncomfortable and a chore to wear; the moment I walk out of the clinic doors I happily peel it from my face and ears and wait in the car until my grandma’s appointment is finished.

Masks are something I’ve been familiar with long before Rona was ever a thing. There was a time I made a habit of wearing a “mental mask” every time I’d step into the presence of public. To anyone who didn’t know me well it looked as if I was healthy — wearing a smile and confidence all the while.

But the truth is that mask I habitually wore covered shame, regret, fear, anxiety and was as high maintenance as they come.

It honestly wasn’t until I began writing again and started this blog that little by little with each word and post that my miraged mask started coming apart one ingrained thread at a time.

And it felt good.

Every feeling, emotion, and experience poured out in this blog has helped encourage this idea of unmasking blocked pain and has brought me closer to Jesus as I learn to let go of hidden feelings.

Our youth pastor had us play a game via Zoom last month where our kiddos had to guess if the celebrity in the picture was smiling or frowning behind a “virtual” mask that had been placed over their nose and mouth. The kids would guess and then Pastor Trevor would click to the next slide where it showed that same celebrity photo but this time the virtual mask had been removed, revealing their actual look. In most of the “masked photos” you couldn’t tell at all if he or she was smiling, straight faced or frowning when their face was covered.

My point is that while mask cover facial expressions — mental mask disguise raw emotions.

…But hiding our trouble can cause us to give way to dishonesty.

It’s a heartbreaking reality.

And I just wonder how many others have been walking around mentally masked (with a mislead feeling of safety) way before this virus showed up?

Friend, if that happens to be you I want to encourage you with a few verses:

1 Peter 5:7-10 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.”

Writing (which has been therapeutic for me) doesn’t have to be your thing, but going to Jesus (with your afflictions) should be! He is our ultimate cure and promise of hope and mending.

While health mask are “debatably” meant to protect, mental mask destroy opportunities of healing through their ability of false representation.

When we follow Jesus, get into the Word of God, connect in prayers and worship, and form Christian friendships we unravel tightly woven threads of past hindrance and unveil the beauty of the heart in our radiant faces created by a God who never intended for us to be masked with emotional seclusion.

Rather than covering our feelings (risking truth and freedom from burden) let’s embrace our Jesus who will guide and direct us in removing those self-fabricated emotional mask…His love for us through the blood shed on the cross is really the only perfect covering we should desire.