A Cord of Three Strands

This morning my oldest daughter, Paige, had asked if I’d braid her hair. She’s going out for girls’ wrestling this year and has practice today (even though it’s Thanksgiving break) so pulled back hair is her preference.

I found it interesting because at the time she asked, I was reading and studying over Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 which says this:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

When it comes to my daughter wanting her very long hair braided she always requests the help of either her sister or myself. It takes another set of hands to make it happen. It’s teamwork.

Today as I got the privilege of braiding her hair, with some new and fresh insight, I thought about the last part of the verses I’d just read, ‘a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.’

Interesting given the fact I’d just woven three sections of hair together similar to a cord formation. The weaving and intertwining of the hair strands keeps it stronger and serves the purpose for which it was meant—to hold together.

Keeping these verses in mind we can circle the encouragement found here—there is strength when partnering up.

Last weekend I tested positive for Covid and to say I accepted the circumstances to follow with ease would be a huge falsity. I was not impressed and am still struggling. Plans were tossed and negative feelings pursued.

My “quarantine” time doesn’t end until Sunday evening. There’s nothing normal about being isolated from family over Thanksgiving break especially in my own home.

Out of respect for my husband and kids I’ve tried to stay to my room but I was really “wrestling” with depressive thoughts so I’ve graduated a bit more to the main areas of the house while wearing a mask. I know this probably doesn’t meet CDC recommendations but out of the personal health of my sanity it is what it is.

I admit this isn’t one of my most happy-go-lucky-post. Actually I always aim to just be as transparent as possible. I share all this though because I’ve been able to reflect on how much people matter to me.

God didn’t design us to be alone. In the beginning of His Word we read in Genesis 2:18, “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” God created woman in effort to reinforce that idea. We know sin ensued shortly after and humanity has suffered the results since. But God didn’t leave us without a Way to overcome…His name is Jesus.

When we include Jesus in our life, and in our relationships, that cord we read about in Ecclesiastes exist with the type of supernatural strength that points to Him.

Life is for us to do together. To lift one another up. To encourage. To cheer one another on. To smile. To hug. To laugh. To cry. To fellowship. To be in communion.

So even though Thanksgiving has definitely looked and felt very different and has not been my first choice of creating memories in this way, I can focus on the fact that I am blessed beyond measure—I know the importance (without a shadow of a doubt) of how beautiful life is when we are fulfilled by relationships. And the best is with Jesus laced right in the middle.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken…

I pray your Thanksgiving was blessed and (even if it may also look different like mine) that you can turn your focus to the positives with an attitude of gratitude. ❤️

He’s Perfectly Writing Our Story For His Glory

Something that’s making me laugh at myself as I write this is that my post from last week—I changed it up—not even an hour after hitting publish. And I ended up changing not just some of the words but the title as well…

I’d written an analogy regarding T-Rex arms vs. chicken wings (weird, I know…you’d have to read it to get the full idea if you haven’t already). Anyway in the original published post I referred to chicken wings as chicken arms instead…not even thinking twice about it. A little later when I went back to read the posted copy I thought to myself, “Chicken arms? What in the world?

We own chickens and never on God’s green earth have I ever said to my husband, “Hey honey, the chickens are flying out of the coop again, would you go clip their chicken arms?

Never.

So I decided, rightfully that chicken WINGS could not be referred to as chicken arms…and therein lies the reason for my change-up with last week’s post!

Okay I’ll get to the point of today’s post…

…As the author of my blog I get to write how the story goes. I can go back and edit and make corrections or improvements if needed.

Authors do this quite often, it’s the reason we see books that sometimes have the words “updated edition” or “revised copy” across the cover. Alterations have been made or research has allowed for more thorough information or a better explanation so the author provides a modification of the original.

I’m reminded how God is the ‘Author of our Life’ when we choose to put our trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17 that idea is worded like this— “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

At that moment we start becoming a better version of ourselves; and rather than trying to write our own stories we learn to surrender the pages of our life to God along with the publishing rights.

With that truth in mind, a plot twist happens within us. Suddenly our “character” is thinking and doing differently in accordance to God’s will. Ultimately, however, He controls and knows what may come or go, just the same way as an author of a book does.

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As God continues to write our story He may include plot twists and turns that we weren’t or aren’t expecting—He has every right to do so, after all He is the one creating and we’re the characters in HIS story. When the unexpected comes up in our lives this doesn’t mean God made an error, rather God sees the climax and the purpose those trials, along the way, may serve.

As our character-being learns to trust and interact with God, our love for Him grows and we learn peace in the rising and falling action of life.

No matter the setting or theme of our current story, we can rest in the comfort of Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Such powerful, hope-filled truth for even the darkest of chapters.

Through scripture, we’re given the resolution (the ending of the story) —as God has revealed to us the beautiful promise of eternity spent in Heaven with Him when we choose to believe in His Son as our Saving Grace. Praise God that when we make that life-changing decision, we open the pages to a never ending sequel that’s perfectly written by the Author of Life and we get to be a part of it! The goodness of Heaven.

…In the meantime we can trust in the assurance of His flawless Word. All glory to Him!❤️

T-Rex Arms VS. Chicken Wings

I’m a week and a half past surgery and as much as I want to move beyond writing or sharing about this chapter in my life, I’m not able to just yet because it’s not quite over. God is still providing teachable moments in this and I feel like it’s not for me to keep for (only) my own growth in faith.

For those who are reading this and missed my post a few weeks ago, I’ll do a quick update. The beginning of September I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. Appointments and treatment plans have moved along quickly and I’m now on the other side of surgery.

A friend asked me recently how I was feeling and I explained, “I’m ready to be past surgery limitations and be on the go but my body is so achy from some doctor restrictions that are in place…” After I finished my usual, overextended words she quickly drew up her own simple words, “so you’re feeling like you’re energy is back, but your strength isn’t?!

Exactly!!” …couldn’t have said it better myself.

And her words are spot on. My energy is there. I’m ready to lift some weights again, get back over to the nursing home to do hair, and take advantage (with a bike ride) of these 70 degree days we’re enjoying here in Nebraska currently.

But with my doctor’s orders (ten pound weight and range of motion restrictions) in place and his timeline in respect—the time is not yet.

I’m gonna give you a quick visual and you can thank me later for the image and laugh! …One of my most important restrictions is that I’m supposed to keep my arms tucked close to my body, no reaching out to the sides.

My doctor, and he’s hilarious, demonstrated how I should keep my arm movements within a limited range. Upon showing and explaining this to my husband to help get the point across of the importance the two of them then concluded that “I need to be using T-Rex arms!!

So I’ve kept T-Rex arms in mind as I’ve went about my days…did you know you can actually sweep the house using T-Rex arms? Me neither but I learned that!!

Let me let you in on a little secret.

T-Rex arms are not natural. They make a person feel confined. They also leave you feeling stiff and sore from the waist up. Especially after a full night’s sleep in that position.

There’s a reason God allows chicken wing movements. It feels freeing and refreshing! And not so constrained.

Chicken wings aren’t in my care plan just yet though—therefore T-Rex arms it is.

It’s ironic to me just how symbolic this is of the Christian walk.

Chicken wings are like those beautiful moments in life where things feel on track. Our relationships are healthy and whole. Our jobs are appreciated and secure. Our bodies are nourished and thriving. Our faith is strong and vibrant. We feel we can confidently stretch and strut over God’s good blessings.

On the other hand, there are times in our life when our hope spirals out of control as we allow fickle, negative feelings to take root. Our prayers go up but sometimes we wrongly deem them as unnoticed. We feel tied down by undesired wrongs that have happened in our life and we’re just waiting to be released from the burden and trials. We feel trapped or restricted.

By analogy this describes T-Rex arms.

Here’s the solid truth though, over any and all thingsGod gives us restrictions for our own good and within His perfect timing He leads us to the other side of adversity.

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For some of us that heavy load may not be lifted until we’re Heaven-bound. Likewise, for all of us, perfection in every single area and detail will come to fruition when we’re Heaven-bound as well.

The wonderful thing is, however, there’s taming available even in the midst of T-Rex arms…

Consider the way the arms are tucked in close at the sides, no flailing allowed. Now picture Jesus as He comes at your side, wrapping His caring arms around you. You’ve ached for so long that His gentle touch feels welcomed and comforting, merciful and grace-filled. His care is more than enough to sustain. No matter your mindset, His love is humbly fiercer than the pain. His steadfastness eases the harsh mentality. It’s His loyalty that calms the rigid edges.

No doubt, He is more than powerful enough to settle even the unruliest of all T-Rex’s.

Hope in Jesus is key.

And the beautiful thing is—hope is held in our hearts not our arms—whether we’re in a place relating to T-Rex arms…or chicken wings…

Have a very blessed weekend!!

Breast Cancer Awareness and Sharing My Story

I wasn’t sure if any of this was ever going to make it to the blog but when the Holy Spirit prompts I’m understanding it’s probably a wise choice to follow suit…

The beginning of September I felt a lump in my armpit area and wasted zero time having it checked out. The nurse practitioner I saw was on top of things and ordered blood tests and a mammogram which led to an ultrasound and biopsy.

When the results came back the next week I was asked to come into the clinic so they could go over them with me. In my typical-quirky-impatient-Alicia manner this was my response, “Oh man! Isn’t that not a good thing when you call me to come in and discuss results!? Can’t you just tell me over the phone first?”

A clear but gentle “no” followed, and within 20 minutes I learned (in person) the biopsy showed stage one breast cancer.

I’ve had several doctor appointments in the time since. They’ll remove the tumor and whatever necessary lymph nodes this Wednesday and then I’ll have radiation for a treatment plan.

It’s been awkward knowing when or if I should tell people because I’d strongly felt like Satan was whispering ‘if you tell people then you’re seeking attention, and it’s only stage one anyways.’

With a welcomed exchange, however, I’ve recently felt God’s nudging—‘don’t waste an opportunity for people to reach out to Me in prayer’…and I definitely want to be respectful of those who want to do just that.

God deserves the outreach of prayer and also the praise that it’s only stage one and the other blessings I’ve counted!

I’m thanking Him for this cancer being caught so early, for my husband’s amazing insurance that the kids and I got on just this year, for the caring doctors and nurses I’ve met so far and for God working in me in the area of patience—I’m finally grabbing onto that fruit of the spirit!! Patience has never come easy for me but I’m now noticing how valuable it is!

My journey in this is (looking) much shorter and milder than what so many others experience and while I’m thankful for an easier diagnosis than what could be, I also don’t want to miss the chance to grow from it either. I want to be mindful of others who are going through the same process or whose results are much more advanced and less tolerable.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been guilty in the past at almost becoming passive in recognizing its public campaigns.

This disease can wreak havoc in people’s lives and now that I’m on this side I’m appreciating things I overlooked before like Breast Cancer Awareness artwork on some of the local business windows in our small town, and mammogram advertisements in news articles and magazines, and the encouragement to get checked because ‘early detection is best.

I’m pouring out sensitive, direct prayers over those struggling with cancer of all kinds. Their families need lifted up in prayer also. No more of those genericGod, be with those who are dealing with sickness” prayers.

Sometimes you don’t realize the depth of another’s hardships until you walk in the trenches of a similar path.

It’s in the trench where your eyes need to be lifted—your hope fixed upward toward a way out. A Saving Grace—His name is Jesus. He leads and answers in His own perfect way but we must choose to trust and follow along with His plan.

Bible YouVersion

None of us are immune to difficulty…whether it’s cancer, losing a loved one, relationship-conflict, financial hardship, whatever it might be—the trial may be different but the feelings we experience are relatable. Opening up and lifting one another up in prayer is a beautiful regimen offered from the Great Physician—let’s not miss the opportunity.

Sweet weekend blessings as always.❤️

Sweet Sixteen

Paige (my oldest daughter) recently asked me if I’d made a birthday post for her since she turned 16 at the end of September.

“Uh…no,” I answered half sheepishly and the other half feeling pleased that she’d want to be included in a blog post.

With all due respect we actually only had her birthday celebration just last Saturday—so in order to give the full effect it’s better that I waited until now to write this—that way I can include all of the fun from her party!

But before I share those photos I want to first say how much I love this girl with a little encouragement…

To you Miss Paige:

If music counts as a love language that’s yours! Your love for music is truly a gift from God. The way you include a melody in almost every conversation is music to my ears. I know you didn’t get your voice talent from me (LOL) but it’s a beautiful part of your character. Never stop singing girl!!

On another note your laughter is contagious and I am so thankful to be a part of it!

Your dream, since age 5, to become a veterinarian one day has been sweet to see you hang onto. I’m thankful our special-needs-Yorkies haven’t exhausted that interest!! Your love of Science, learning, and animals are keeping you headed toward the goal. Keep those awesome grades up, you’re doing amazing!!

You get giddy talking about our large family—all of Papa’s siblings and the dozens upon dozens of cousins you have as a result. The way you get excited about family is heartwarming to me.

And within our own home, even though you pick on your siblings you have a sweet spot for them too that reminds me you’d go to bat for them every time if ever needed. It’s the big sister cliche that says, “it’s okay if I mess with them, but no one else better!” You have that down well but you can lighten up on the first part. 😉

You are a spitfire for sure and goodness we butt heads at times but I know God has big plans for you girl. He will use your ambition for His glory!! Continue reading His word so you know Him better and love Him more and live out His example.

May your faith become completely and solely your own—which I truly believe you’re understanding this concept well. You’re not saved under anyone else’s doing—Dad and I can lead and point you to Jesus but you must claim Jesus as Lord and Savior by your own will (for eternal salvation) as you’ve already done.

We’re here to help encourage, build you up in your faith, and hold you accountable but your responsibility is to never let go of Him.

As you grow I’m so thankful to be a witness of your testimony. It is my prayer that you always walk closely with Jesus, clinging to the hope only He offers. Remember that in this world you will have trouble but Jesus has overcome, the victory is already His and you are a beautiful part of His glorious kingdom!

We love you like ‘crazy’ girl!!!

Oh and one more thing, you’re driving has come a long ways…Praise God for that!!!

To my sweet blog readers, thank you for helping celebrate Paige with me. Sweet weekend blessings y’all!!!

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!!❤️

Taking Inventory On Our Habits

Well I’m pleased to say I’ve had a better week than the last two. Despite a mini water park voluntarily emerging in my basement yesterday, this week has still been good.

…We’ve been working on a house project and with that we had our washer and dryer permanently moved from upstairs to the basement to allow more space. After a week of working smoothly the sump pump (which is supposed to push water out of the basement) backed up and we ended up with water pooling up on the utility room floor and seeping into the hallway. It could’ve been much worse but thankfully my husband noticed it early, located the issue and it should be back in working order soon!

As our house remodel has been underway, I’ve been consistently reminded of the word “habit”.

First off the idea of moving the washer and dryer to the basement to begin with seemed ironic to me from a reasonable point of view because having them upstairs sounds pretty convenient right? When the washer and dryer are steps away from the dining room table you’d think a person could create an effective system out of that.

And I’m sure most people could.

Not me though.

I operate on distraction mode…usually…so often times when I’d make it a point to do the laundry (when it was upstairs) I’d be interrupted by something else and not great about sticking with my task of washing clothes.

I’d deeply formed a bad habit.

But I knew, like all routines, a new habit was possible once they were moved downstairs and I could train myself to do better. And up until yesterday’s messy surprise I had!! I actually look forward to doing laundry now that it’s in the basement. Weird.

Our remodel has brought a lot of changes and things have been temporarily put in new places. Two of those things are the dogs’ food and water dishes and our kitchen trash can.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve went to throw something away and been reminded that the trash can is no longer in the same spot.

And it’s been funny watching the dogs jet over to their “refueling station” only to do a quick u-turn remembering that their dishes have been relocated to my bedroom for the time being.

None of these mindless habits are such a big deal that I’ll lose sleep over them but it shows how easily routines stick, for better or worse.

We all fall into the patterns of habit—physical or mental habits. Good habits. And not so good habits.

Sometimes we become so comfortable in our ways that we can’t easily recognize when we’ve gotten in the rut of a bad habit.

We must intentionally take inventory noticing if those traits are healthy or not.

When it comes to bad habits Paul has some thoughts to share with us and some follow up advice. Let’s check out what he says in Romans chapter 7.

That’s a whole lotta “I’s” and “do’s” and “not’s” and “sin,” right?! But what Paul is saying is that he recognizes some bad habits have taken shape in his life and he wants to deal with them.

In verse 21b Paul sums up those verses above by saying this: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”

I so get this issue! Can anyone else relate with Paul and I?

So many things I get frustrated about with myself. In this type of ‘game’ I’m my own worst enemy at times. Forget the sidelines, I’m right there catching the negatives that Satan’s throwing.

This piece of scripture Paul writes is one of my favorites and I’ve made a GOOD HABIT of coming back to it time and time again because reminders are good and necessary.

Verses 24 and 25 are where the answer dominates the obstacle of a bad habit—whatever it might be: “What a wretched man am I! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

That right there is the solution—Jesus Christ brings us to the other side of our bad habits. He is our rescuefrom the negatives, from sin, from the bad habits we’ve fallen into Jesus will help us overcome.

Sweet friends whatever the struggle might be, we need to make a positive habit of going to Jesus again and again so we echo His example of healthy Christian living! He is our strength and hope, and following Him is a habit I never want to take for granted!!

Weekend blessings to you all!❤️

Learning Patience in Prayer Over a Rabbit…(what a weird title)

This past summer we’ve been taking care of a pet rabbit for a family (that we don’t at all know) as they’ve been out of state.

In early June my oldest daughter, Paige, received a call from a lady asking if she’d watch this rabbit of theirs and Paige accepted…for what she thought was just going to be a long weekend pet-sitting job.

Communication skills are and have been a large work in progress with our darling Paige…

When this woman showed up with her bunny she also brought along its living quarters, a very VERY big package of bedding, a few bags of bunny litter (yes it’s potty trained), and enough food for a whole herd of rabbits, as well as a tub of accessories.

Immediately I gathered that this was no weekend visit we were preparing for.

After chatting with the woman a bit I learned that her little fur friend would be with us much longer than Paige had understood over the initial phone call—for months she’d be with us in fact.

We never did ask the name because personally I was trying to process the idea that we’d involuntarily committed to this indoor rabbit’s extended stay.

I ended up calling her Kaytee, however, because the brand name on her water bottle has this name and I thought it seemed fitting.

Kaytee is not the kindest bunny; she’s sassy, threatens to bite, and when we put her outdoors to run in our fenced in grass area she’ll literally grunt and then lunge at us like a four legged chainsaw when we’re ready to bring her back inside—it’s entertaining, comical, and terrifying all at the same time.

Overall things have gone well having Kaytee in our home…until this past week.

Her food and water went untouched, she seemed sluggish, and her droppings weren’t typical looking. I contacted her owner to let her know I’d be taking the bunny to the vet immediately.

After iv fluids, two shots, and some follow up nutritional supplements the vet sent us home along with a warning that we weren’t out of the woods yet and only time would tell.

Time.

Time requires patience.

Like Paige struggles with quality communication, I struggle with zero patience.

Because absolutely no concern of ours is too insignificant for God, I prayed a lot over this rabbit—that God would please just heal it; but I also knew patience would be key.

And knowing I needed some encouragement in the area of patience (while waiting on this rabbit’s outcome) I pulled up my Bible app to do some studying over that difficult-for-me word.

Patience.

Isn’t it just like God to speak to our heart when we’ve finally quieted our whirling thoughts?

You guys!! The verse of the day on my Bible app was this:

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” —Psalm 130:5

Bible YouVersion App

Time. Wait. Patience.

Those words aren’t always graciously welcomed in my little ‘Alicia world.’

But that sweet verse reminds me that while waiting for God to answer prayers, hope is found in His word and His word points to Him.

Profoundly beautiful.

Praise God Kaytee appears to have made a positive turnaround and will go in for a check up today to evaluate her health.

A quickly answered prayer in this case.

I’ve been around long enough to know though that waiting sometimes never produces an answered prayer—and that can be a tough truth to swallow, one that can cause bitterness even.

When I think about this from God’s view I consider the countless times He’s waited on me…to come to faith, to learn patience, to fully trust, the list goes on…and yet He’s never given up on me even though these things haven’t all come to fruition.

I want to echo His consistency.

Ephesians 5:1 says this, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children,”

When we commit to following God’s example—His leading—we learn to walk, talk, and do life with patience filling our mind and heart through whatever issue comes our way. This truth is where hope hushes the trial and prayers become selflessly surrendered to fall under God’s will rather than our own. Patience is needed in our prayers and it requires a decent amount of trust but the lesson and peace gained in the midst of our struggle makes the wait worthwhile…I don’t know about you but that type of God-focused path is one I want to “hop” on!

Sweet blessings friends, thank you for reading!!

God, you’ve provided us with your word, which is choke-full of direction and hope and we are so incredibly blessed to have such encouragement straight from your heart. Thank you for answered prayers; help us to be patient as we wait on other prayers, just as you’ve had to be with us at times. You are an amazing example and I thank you for showing us your Way. Amen.

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.

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