December 3, 2013

November Blog Challenge and Life Update

My November blog challenge ended up not being too successful, as you can clearly see.  I often joke that I'm a "slacker" and this failed challenge indeed confirms this.  ;-)  I had the best of intentions when I decided to complete the November blog challenge.  I wanted to make November a month where I really took good note of my life.  This year has been such a whirlwind and unfortunately I didn't write down all of my emotions and happenings as much as I would have liked to.  But life gets busy.  Days turn into weeks and weeks into months.  I want to apologize for not accomplishing all the written tasks in the November challenge, but let me tell you- this month has been absolutely amazing!

Yesterday, I received the FANTASTIC news from my MRI that there is no re-growth of the cancer and the scan looked the same as the one three months ago.  Because of how well I'm responding to the chemo and to go along with research trends, my Oncologist Dr. Hohl decided we should do another four months of Temodar, my chemotherapy pills.  That means I will have done a total of ten months of five nights on,twenty three days off (on top of the two months of five nights on, two nights off) when I'm completely done.  Four more months means I will be done in February.  That will be a wonderful year mark of my cancer discovery!!

God is SO good, let me tell you!  I can't express enough how amazing this journey has been and continues to be.  As Travis, Mom, and I waited for the pharmacist to finish filling my Temodar prescription yesterday, we met a couple sets of really neat people that I will not forget anytime soon.  The gentleman and his wife whom I sparked a conversation with (imagine that... me talking to strangers...) were so friendly and filled with the Spirit that we quickly hit it off.  I ended up putting my hands on his shoulder and praying for him to feel God's presence and peace in his life.  This man was given a 12 week life expectancy due to pancreatic cancer, but he had an attitude like I've never seen- he was so positive and inspiring and he really made an impact on me.  While speaking about our love of Christ and our cancer situations, a young woman sitting on the other side of us interrupted and asked if she heard correctly that I have brain cancer.

This family turned out to be quite the opposite of my new optimistic friend.  She was around my age; 25 I would guess.  Her mother, who looked worn and weak, was sitting in the wheelchair next to her with the young lady's aunt.  Come to find out, this young lady's mom was diagnosed with the exact same tumor as mine 24 years ago.  She made it through with flying colors 24 years ago with no issues.  Since then, she had a pacemaker put in and could no longer have an MRI to follow up yearly with her brain cancer screenings.  A very large tumor re-showed itself this year- 24 YEARS LATER!  She had a really rough surgery and was in a coma for awhile afterwards.  She had to re-learn how to walk and talk and her personality has forever been different, reported her daughter, Megan.  I will never forget the sad look in this worried and worn daughter's eyes.  I prayed for her right there, but knew that if the family and her Mom wouldn't change their negative attitudes and pessimism, there might be little hope.  I gave Megan a huge hug and told her that God was with her and loved her, as she walked away with tears in her eyes.  I pray that I made an impact in her life, at least a much as that family made in mine.

You see, if I can be fortunate enough to make it another 24 years without the re-appearance of another brain tumor, I will be overjoyed and full of praise to our amazing God!  Don't get me wrong, if one chooses to appear before then, I will still continue to be thankful for the life I have been blessed with and the joy God provides.  God used this experience with this pessimistic family to remind me how important it is to maintain my faith and positive attitude through this trial.  Without my full faith in His Power, I am relying on nothing more than a medical miracle.  Without an attitude of thanksgiving, I will soon become weak and no longer able to see all the good that God has provided despite the trials.

I was so blessed to meet both of these families.  Each trip I make to Iowa City seems to get better.  Every time I make that drive, I am reminded how blessed I am.  Here we are, almost ten months since my diagnosis, alive and well.  Content and joyful with the wake up call that this cancer has proved to be in my life.

I have more exciting news to share; As I have told ya'll before, God has been tugging me to venture into the arena of Women's Ministry for awhile and I had given Him a huge "no" as my answer before.  Through this 'great awakening' of mine, I have decided to never tell God "no" again.  A dear friend of mine has set me up to speak at a local church to a group of women about 'Craving God Now'.  This will be my first 'Women's Ministry' speech and will be taking place at Harmony Bible Church in Danville, IA on December 11th at 7:00pm.   Feel free to join us for this exciting moment in my saying YES to God!  Please pray for God to speak through me and for my words to be from Him in order to make a difference in these ladies' lives!

Thank you for all of your encouragement and love you continue to shower me with!  Praise God and Him alone for the difference I am able to make in people's lives; I am simply His instrument.  :-)

Much love,
Alicia

November 5, 2013

Day 5: Five Quotes You Love

1) Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, 'Oh crap!  She's up!'

2) Be the change that you hope to see in the world.

3) People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.  

4) If that's the worst thing that happens to me today, then it's still a good day.  

5) Done is better than perfect.  


Aaaaaand.... Because I love quotes and have lots and lots of them, here's just a few extra: 

6) If you think you're too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.

7) Life isn't about being the best.  It's about being better than you were yesterday

8) Never quit smiling.  You never know what kind of an impact your smile is making.  

9) When you feel like you're drowning in life, don't worry because your lifeguard walks on water. 

November 1, 2013

Day 1 of November Blog Challenge: Your Goals for Next Month

My Goals for next month, December, are to:

purchase all of our Christmas gifts within our budget,

to enjoy the time we get to spend with our family, and

to relax and remember that we're simply celebrating our Savior's birth!

October 31, 2013

November Blog Challenge


  1. Goals for next month
  2. Something you feel strongly about
  3. bullet your whole day
  4. your favorite outfit
  5. 5 quotes you love
  6. How you've changed in the last two years
  7. 10 things about you that people won't expect
  8. Your wish list
  9. 2 emotions that describe your life
  10. 5 places you want to visit
  11. your nicknames
  12. a photo of your from 10 years ago
  13. a picture of the town you grew up in
  14. a picture of the town you live in now
  15. Use the letters in your name to spell out characteristics
  16. a picture of your room
  17. last movie you saw in theater
  18. your favorite season and why
  19. top 5 dream jobs
  20. one thing you're excited for
  21. If you had $10,000 and had to spend it tomorrow, what would you buy?
  22. favorite hobby
  23. 10 favorite songs
  24. favorite recipe
  25. your favorite place to eat
  26. what makes you different from everyone else?
  27. describe your marriage
  28. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
  29. the year you were born
  30. your hopes for your future

October 30, 2013

Dear Tony

Dear Tony,

Travis and I are so fortunate to have you and Kay in our lives!  You both serve as Godly examples for marriage, business, parenting, and being a community leader.  When our church was in need of a worship leader, you stepped up and took the role with great determination and excitement, even though you lacked experience.  You're always there with a smile and encouraging word when a friend is feeling blue.  You listen with great intensity and are willing to give advice as requested.  Thank you for being such a great mentor and friend!

God bless you,
Alicia

October 7, 2013

You'll Get Through This by Max Lucado

You’ll get through this.
It won’t be painless.
It won’t be quick.
But God will use this mess for good.
Don’t be foolish or na├»ve.
But don’t despair either.
With God’s help, you’ll get through this.

August 27, 2013

Summer 2013 Reflection

The Summer of 2013 has shaped up to be one of my favorites yet!  Our little family created many memories that will last forever and I am glad to share my reflection with you!

It was exciting to have Lucas at the racetrack for the first time this Summer!  Montana brought him to Avon one night to watch our midgets race and he absolutely had a blast!  Imagine that- Lucas liking something with a motor that goes fast?!  :-)

Lucas also spent lots of time in firetrucks in parades this summer.  Grandma Missy and Bill let him ride and throw candy in many parades!

He spent lots of time playing in the park.  And just this week, he got his first big booboo... he fell off the merry-go-round at the Stronghurst Park and had a bloody nose and a scared mommy!  He picked up and brushed off pretty quickly, but his nose is pretty beat up still.  I'm sure that's just the first of many booboos with our fearless little man!

Lucas also spent lots of time this summer in the water.  We discovered that he is actually a fish!  At Kathy's pool, he jumps off the side and goes completely under the water, just to come up laughing.

This summer, we were also blessed by our wonderful family, friends, and community at our benefit.  Because of this event, we were able to pay off all of our medical and hospital bills to date and have savings to help cover my high insurance and future medical bills!  Thank you to everyone who donated, help plan, and came to lavish me with love and support! I love you all!!


In July, my family participated in Relay for Life, which was a heartwarming and special event for me this year!!  I felt so proud to take my "survivor's lap" with a dear friend of mine!

For Lucas' birthday, GT and Montana gave him the day of his dreams.  They took him to the "big TV show" (movie theater) to see Turbo.  GT even got him a Turbo poster to hang in his bedroom!  She said he was very content until his popcorn ran out... He definitely gets that from him Mama.  :-)

Lucas also celebrated his birthday by putting in his two pennies into the church offering during Sunday School, and cherishes his pencil they gave him!

Isn't my two-year-old just so handsome?!  Thank you to Kayla Smith for taking his two year pictures!



Summer 2013 has shaped up to be a wonderful summer, full of great times spent with family and friends!  Our family is so blessed and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of 2013 has in store for us!


August 26, 2013

Surgery 6 Month Mark!

Exactly six months ago, I was sitting in a hotel lobby fretting and praying about my surgery the next day.  You can read all about that experience here.  Yes that's right, tomorrow, August 27th marks 6 months since my brain surgery!  I can't believe how quickly time has passed!  With God as my strength, I was able to come through the hardest adversity of my life thus far, with a smile on my face and a heart full of gladness, peace, and joy!

My prayer through this whole difficulty has been that Christ would be glorified and His light would shine through me.  I continue to strive everyday to be the best example of Christ's love and grace I can be.  I don't follow a set of rules.  I'm not perfect.  I don't worry about crossing out tasks on a Christian to-do list.  I have a passionate love relationship with Jesus Christ and I am alive to serve His people, as He did when he was on this earth!

Friends, that's all being a Christian is all about: Love God, Love Others.  If you don't know Jesus Christ on a deep, personal level and need someone to talk to, I'm here for you.  Know that I care about you; I care about you for all of eternity!  Give up all of your struggles.  This life is hard; it knocks you down and you're just not strong enough to make it through alone.  But we don't have to; we have a Father who wants to take away our pain.  We just have to give up control to Him!

August 11, 2013

Updated Bucket List

I went back on my previous bucket list and updated my desires before I "kick the bucket,"  God willing.  The ones crossed out are complete.  I hope you enjoy reading.
  1. Marry my best friend
  2. Have a child
  3. Buy a house
  4. Jump in puddles with Lucas
  5. Attend a Christian Conference
  6. Get a pedicure
  7. Go to a 49ers game
  8. Play an ultimate prank on Ed
  9. Dance in the rain
  10. Start a non-profit organization
  11. Do karaoke
  12. Fly on an airplane
  13. Adopt a dog
  14. Lead someone to Christ
  15. Go to Dollywood
  16. Write a book
  17. Adopt a child
  18. Rekindle a lost friendship
  19. Be debt free
  20. Write a thank you to a teacher
  21. Construct a family tree
  22. Write a letter to everyone I love
  23. Go to a professional race
  24. Go camping with mom
  25. Go on a mission trip to Haiti
  26. See Aerosmith in concert
  27. Weight 150 pounds
  28. Do a wine tasting
  29. Donate over $500 at once
  30. Drive a racecar
  31. Swim in the ocean
  32. Donate my hair
  33. Host a costume party
  34. Have a tarot card reading
  35. Swim with dolphins
  36. Pay mom back for everything
  37. Get Lasik eye surgery
  38. Plant a tree
  39. Visit Sanju in Nepal
  40. Go on a zip-line
  41. Meet Dolly Parton
  42. Celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary
  43. Go to Disneyland
  44. Visit a chocolate factory
  45. Swim in a pool of ramen noodles
  46. Visit the Holy Land
  47. Celebrate 4th of July in DC
  48. Ride in a hot air balloon
  49. Watch the northern lights in Alaska
  50. Forgive my dad
  51. Make a scrapbook of my life
  52. Plan a family reunion
  53. Make homemade ice cream
  54. Start a collection
  55. Graffiti something
  56. Take a road trip with a group of girlfriends
  57. Go snowboarding
  58. March in a parade for a cause
  59. Go skinny dipping
  60. Have a pen pal
  61. Volunteer in a VA clinic
  62. Give 3 gallons of blood
  63. See my grandkids graduate from college
  64. Build a sand castle
  65. Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
  66. Receive my Master’s Degree
  67. Have a complete address book
  68. Send out Christmas cards to my whole address book
  69. Ride an elephant
  70. Be in the audience of SNL
  71. Play on a Slip N Slide
  72. Ride a horse
  73. Fast for 30 hours
  74. Watch the whole X-Men trilogy in a weekend
  75. See a Broadway musical
  76. Get a mom/daughter tattoo
  77. Take dance lessons
  78. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
  79. Eat a hotdog from a street cart
  80. Give mom a dozen roses
  81. Send a message in a bottle
  82. Visit a crayon factory
  83. Sit on a jury
  84. Take a mud bath
  85. Ride in a gondola
  86. Sleep under the stars
  87. Test drive a car I can’t afford
  88. Have a huge food fight
  89. Spend the whole day in bed
  90. See bagpipers in Scotland
  91. Visit a museum
  92. Ride the biggest roller coaster at the theme park
  93. Have a dress-up tea party
  94. Sit on a rooftop and watch clouds form shapes
  95. Visit a prison
  96. Organize “Angel Tree for Elderly”
  97. Pray continually, love people too much, smile always, and love Jesus passionately!

July 12, 2013

"I Wish" Poem from a Friend

I got an email from a friend today and I hope it touches you as much as it did me:

This is a poem I've shared over the years.  The link with the story is at the bottom.  I think you of all people will appreciate it.  You take care and I will continue to pray GOD will heal you completely!


I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much
bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."



May 27, 2013

Dear Donna

Dear Donna,

We had a rocky beginning; I was young and stubborn and thought I knew everything.  I'm so glad that we have repaired our relationship and I want you to know that I am fortunate that we have you in our lives.

You are such a giving woman; always thinking about ways you can make others' lives better.  You're always more than willing to help with church activities like VBS, serving on mission trips, and the LOVE committee.

You're also one of the most outgoing and friendly women I know and I look up to the way you have a knack for making friends with a complete stranger.  (Even if it does drive Montana crazy that you're always talking to random people... haha).

I love how you're always teaching Lucas manners and lessons; thank you for helping us prepare him for life by teaching him valuable skills!  He loves spending time with you and the cat cats!  :-)

Travis and I are glad that you're a huge part of our lives!  Thank you for being such a giving, compassionate woman!

With love,
Alicia

May 17, 2013

Dear Anna

Dear Anna,

Although you will never read this letter, I pray that God read it aloud to you in Heaven so that you know how much of a difference you made in my life.  We moved into that dumpy, torn up house right beside you when I was just 7 years old.  I will never forget the first time I remember seeing you; you were out raking leaves and had a fun bandanna wrapped around your head.  You invited me to come over and jump in your leaf pile, a fun event that would soon become a tradition every time you raked your leaves.  Then you would rake them all in a long line in the ditch and would let me stand with you and watch as you burned those leaves to dust.

You probably didn't think much of those days spent in our front yards.  But those moments meant the world to me as a young child from a dysfunctional family.  Our shared yard served as my retreat at times.  You were my calm, peace and I loved spending time with you.  Despite our age difference, I considered you a dear friend.

Anna, I want to thank you for introducing me to our church.  Without your invitation, I would have never spent weeks at VBS learning about Jesus, becoming close friends with those who would later lead me to a personal relationship with Him.  I credit you for planting a seed in me, through your sincere love for me.  You took the time to talk with me, teach me, and love me.  Thank you so much!

I will never forget your last few months of life on this earth.  My heart ached deeply when you became ill.  By that point, you were family to Mom and I.  We had spent many hot days raking leaves and many cold winters jumping in snow piles together.  I knew you on a deep, personal level.  You had told me stories of your difficulties, in losing your husband and son, and your joys; your children, grandchildren, successes, and love for Jesus.  Those nights where I would bring you leftovers from our supper meant the world to me.  Although you were frail and weak, you always invited me in and let me share my happenings of the day.  I hope that those moments were as special to you as they were for me.

I know that I will see you again one day, when God calls me to my forever home.  I hope God built our mansions side-by-side, so that we can catch up on lost time.  You will always hold a special spot in my heart, Anna.  Thank you for making such a difference in the life of a small neighbor girl!

With love,
Alicia

May 16, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap

Today Danielle and I made my second batch of homemade laundry soap.  It is such a wonderful and easy recipe that I wanted to share with you.  I found it last year on the Duggar Family website and we haven't paid for laundry soap in over a year!  Feel free to whip up your own batch!  Here's the recipe: 


4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Meijer.com). Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

*Just a tip: Walmart bakery has 5 gallon buckets that their frosting comes in and if you ask them nicely, they will give you one for FREE!  

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

To say it bluntly, you have made an absolute mess of your life.  Your selfishness and addictive personality have gotten you into some terrible situations and I fear that you don't even realize how awful the life you're living really is.  I remember a time in your life where you were successful; you had a beautiful wife and young daughter, a thriving carpet business, and life was good.  Because of your addiction and pride, all of those good things are gone.

You are not invincible!  One day, the way you're living will catch up to you.  Death is inevitable, but the way you are living is encouraging it to come sooner.  All of us have an option on where we would like to spend eternity.  I pray that you change your life and learn to rely on Christ before your time comes to cross over into the other side of eternity.

Dad, you will never be able to overcome your addictions and life issues on your own.  You simply aren't strong enough.  None of us have the strength to change our sinful ways of living on our own.  The only way you can have hope to overcome your disease is through giving up control; allow Jesus to truly work in you and develop a personal relationship with the only true Savior.  Drugs and alcohol won't save you.  Sex and women won't save you.  Religion and rule following won't save you. The only thing that can bring you out of the mess you're in is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Dad, seek Him out.  TRULY search for Him; not just to gain good behavior points in prison, but in order to really develop a friendship with Him!

Dad, I want you to know that I have forgiven you.  I've forgiven you for the time you called me a loser and told me that 'I would amount to nothing in my life, just like my loser mom.'  I have forgiven you for not being there for me; at my graduations, my wedding, and to see Lucas being born.  I have forgiven you for causing years of sleepless nights due to screaming matches in the living room, and for the many times I witnessed you beating Mom until she was black and blue.  I forgive you, not because you deserve forgiveness; rather, I forgive you because I myself have been forgiven.  Christ died for me, and He died for even you. He died for us when we were still sinners.  I have been forgiven and now I am doing the same for you.

More than forgiving you, I thank you; I thank you for making me strong.  I thank you for me having to learn early on in my life to rely on my Heavenly Father who was always present. And I thank you for bringing Mom and I close.

I pray daily for you, Dad.  It's not too late to change. God loves you just as much as He loves me and if you were willing, He would walk you through your struggles until you were clean and sober.  You just need a willing heart and need to rely on good, Godly mentors and God himself to pull you through.

Please know that despite all you have put me through, I will always have room for you in my heart.  I must protect my heart and my family, though.  That's why I can't get too close to you right now.  As I have told you many times before, I would gladly accept you back into my life if you could come to me with your NA/AA sponsors and tell me that you've been clean and sober for 3 or 5 years.  Until then though, I must keep my distance.  For now, I will continue to pray that God stir and soften your heart, in order that He may enter in.

Many blessings,
Alicia

May 14, 2013

Dear Montana

Dear Montana,

It's perfect timing to write this letter to you the week before you graduate from high school.  I have been a part of your life now for over eight years, and it's been such a joy to see you develop into the young woman you are today.  I am so proud to call you my sister and my friend!

You're everything I wish I would have been my senior year of high school.  While many of your friends are 'living it up' and partying, you have maintained a level head and have focused on school, meaningful friendships, and forming lasting memories in a good, wholesome way.  Montana, I can't tell you enough how proud I am of the choices you are making!  Keep that focus as you head into college and you will do wonderfully.

Make sure to pick your friends wisely as you head into the next chapter of your life.  Seek out trustworthy, Christian friends from the beginning and your college life will be way more enjoyable.  And make sure to keep your beautiful smile and positive attitude.  Most of all, make sure to hang onto Jesus for strength during this busy time of your life.  Keep Him as your rock and make Him a priority and He will help you do great things!

Know that I'm only a phone call away and that I'm always up to hearing from you.  I'm going to miss you like crazy girl! Travis, Lucas, and I will have to get used to making the trip through Iowa to see you, because Lucas will be missing his Aunt Tana!  But until Fall, we will definitely have to make some awesome summer memories!!!  :-)

Much love,
Alicia



May 12, 2013

Dear Danielle

Dear Danielle,

I truly feel like God brought you to the middle of nowhere so you could find not only your husband, but also your best friend.  Our friendship was definitely crafted in Heaven and God was probably laughing hysterically as He directed our lives to find each other.   You know, He has that sort of sense of humor.  I know that because He created people like you and I!  :-)

I am so thankful that I have you in my life!  We've weathered many storms together and I love knowing that I always have a trusted friend to vent to, a shoulder to cry on, and a pal to laugh hysterically with.  You are one of the most loving, compassionate people I know; you're always thinking of and doing nice things for others and I truly admire this quality in you.  You challenge me to be a better woman; challenging me in my weaknesses and holding me accountable when I need.

You are a wonderful mother, wife, and friend and I am so proud to call you my best friend!!  I look forward to many more years of laughter, tears, and love!  May God continue to bless our friendship!

Much love,
Alicia

May 10, 2013

Dear Mom


Dear Mom,

I'm sure you've heard the saying before: "The only thing better than having you for a Mom is my children having you for a Grandma."  Let me tell you how true this statement is!

I am so proud to be your daughter; you've taught me the value of hard work, caring for those around me, and enjoying each God-given day.  You've always encouraged me to reach for the moon and to try my hardest in everything; my hard work ethic most certainly comes from you modeling it for me!  You've always encouraged me to love and serve those around me, always putting others first.  Thank you for instilling this value in me from a young age!  I love being able to serve our community with you.  And you have always encouraged me to stay positive and keep smiling, even when life hands you lemons.  You have persevered through so much in your life and each trial made you stronger and I remember you always maintained your loving, positive attitude.  That's why I'm able to face the challenges of my life now; My amazing Mom modeled for me how to persevere and grow through struggles.

Mom, we are so blessed to have you in our lives.  I thank God each day for you!  Please always know how special you are to us!  I love you!

Much love and many hugs and kisses,
Alicia

May 6, 2013

Dear Lucas

Dear Lucas,

I am so proud to be your Mommy!  You are the most handsome, energetic, and curious little boy I have ever met!  Even though your adventurous spirit sometimes wears me out, it is so neat to see you learn and develop into a smart young boy.

Right now, you're learning to be independent, so you're challenging everything that Mommy and Daddy say.  But it's important for you to learn that we are just giving you guidelines and boundaries in order for you to stay safe and to set a standard for the future.

We are trying our best to teach you to be a good boy and to love God.  I want you to learn to be respectful to those you're around and to have a big heart for others.  Most of all, though, I want you to love Jesus passionately.  I don't want you to just go through the motions of Christianity; I want you to have a personal relationship with God when you get older.  If you ever have questions about your faith, know that you can come to us and we will try our best to answer them.

Lucas, I pray often for your future; for the friends you will have, the girl you will marry, and the career you will choose.  I know that God has great things in store for your future.  Please lean on Him to guide you.  Choose your friends wisely, and ask God to provide you the proper wife.  I'm not sure what career you will choose, but I know if you keep your outgoing and fun personality and rely on God to lead you, you will surely succeed.  Work hard at whatever you do, as though you're doing it all for God.  Be a man of your word and always be an encouragement to those around you.

Please know that your Mommy loves you so much!  No matter what mistakes or bad choices you may make in your life, I will love you the same.  Everyday until I take my last breathe, I will be here to listen, hug, encourage, and love you.

I love you sweet child,
Mommy

May 4, 2013

Dear Travis

Dear Travis,

I am so glad that God brought us together, over eight years ago!  We've been through so much since you asked me back in 2005 if I would "go to prom and maybe, uh, date."  I am so proud to be married to you; I truly admire your loyalty, strength, and humor.  You are able to weather even the worst of storms like a rock, holding your composure and patience.  I am so proud of how you have handled my health difficulties.  You've been right by my side the whole time, nursing me back to health.  When we took our vows three years ago, I know that you truly meant the "in sickness and health" part of them!  I want to thank you for being so loyal and strong!  You work so hard to provide for our family.  And even though I often complain about you not spending as much uninterrupted time with Lucas and I as I would prefer, I am so fortunate that you are such a hard worker!  You also have an amazing way of making me laugh, even when I'm trying hard to have a lousy day.  Your wittiness and crazy sense of humor brighten each day.  You're also the best daddy in the world.  You have such patience and grace with Lucas and I love how you are teaching him to treat me with respect.  I know this will carry over into his dating relationships.  I'm proud that you are so excited to teach him how to fix things, handle money, and love Jesus.  I know that with him having a dad so involved and loving, Lucas will turn out wonderfully.  I just hope one day he becomes as great of a man as you are!

Thank you for loving me, Travis.  I thank God daily for placing you in my life.  I love you!

Alicia

May 1, 2013

10 Letters

Over the next ten posts, I will be sharing letters written to special people in my life.  I think it's so important to tell people how much they mean to you while you still have an opportunity, so that's my goal.  I will write the letter to many people that I care about; they've either inspired me, shaped me, encouraged me, or I've looked up to them.  After writing the letter, it's my desire to share it with them, if I'm able.  Here is the list of whom I will write each letter to:

  1. Dear Travis
  2. Dear Lucas
  3. Dear Mom
  4. Dear Danielle
  5. Dear Montana
  6. Dear Dad
  7. Dear Anna
  8. Dear Donna
  9. Dear Tony
  10. Dear Bev

April 27, 2013

Busyness: An Idol in My Life?

"How are you today?" she asked me.  "Oh, just crazy busy," I respond.  It's expected in our society, almost seen as the only way to live life.  If you're not busy, you're seen by many as not productive and sometimes even lazy.  I've been thinking a great deal about busyness lately, digging deep into God's Word to see what He says about the topic.  And I have come to realize that busyness might just be an enemy of God. 

This hasn't been an easy realization, though.  You see, I have lived my life around frenzied activity, moving from one task to the next so quickly that I can barely breathe.  I viewed downtime as wasted time, rather than as a way to re-boot and re-charge.  This has been my way of life since I was a child; always on the move and getting things accomplished.  But for many, including myself at times, a life of busyness leads to an accumulation of skills for personal achievement, but neglects the cultivation of godly character and a personal relationship with God.

I don't know about you, but the last thing I need or want is for anything to get in the way of my relationship with my Savior and Friend!  But as I reflect on how I have been living my life, in a frenzied non-stop way, I realize that busyness has indeed become an idol for me and I believe the same is true for many of you reading this.

How has it become an idol for me, you ask?  An idol is anything that absorbs your heart more than God or anything that you seek to fulfill you.  In my life, I have filled my days with busyness mainly because I hate being alone and I'm seeking fulfillment somehow from my tasks and deeds, rather than from God's goodness.  My heart is more absorbed by my to-do list than developing a Godly character and building a relationship with him.

In Luke 10, Jesus corrected Martha when her busyness got in the way of spending time with Christ.  While Mary sat at Jesus' feet, soaking in his wisdom, Martha was busy making preparations for the day.  Martha approached Jesus and asked him if he cared that her sister had left her to do all the work by herself and requested that he ask Mary to assist her.  "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many tings, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)

I don't know about you, but when I get busy, my priorities are thrown out the window.  I'm too tired in the morning to get out of bed in order to sit down with my Bible open and spend quality time with God.  My evenings are filled with meetings and computer work, so time with my husband and son becomes slim.  I don't have time to spend with my best friend/accountability partner, and we start drifting.  We need to first order our priorities and then slow down enough to remember them, so that we give our best time and effort to what matters most in life.

Psalm 39:6 says: Man is a mere phantom, as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. 

As mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends, we often find it hard to say no.  We know in our hearts that we're too busy already, but when asked to sit on a church committee, community board, or volunteer at our kids' classroom event, we say yes because we know it will make a positive difference in our community.  It's important for us, as Christians to make a positive difference, but even the most 'holy' of activities can quickly turn into burdens when they take away from our quiet time with God.  Serving in ministry to others, encouraging the sick and elderly, being productive at your job, and many other tasks on our agendas all have merit. But none of these should be done at the expense of our relationship with Christ.  We need to guard our precious alone time with God. 

Even Jesus himself knew how important quiet time with God is.  In Luke 5:16, we are told that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."  We need to follow Christ's example and spend time in prayer and devotion with God.

I am slowly learning how to fill my hours with God, rather than on worldly tasks; putting Christ in His rightful place in my life.  Will you join with me as I develop in this way?

April 21, 2013

Parenting Realization

Lucas is an absolute joy; he has such a fun, crazy personality and is full of energy.  He's so curious and ready to learn.  He's such a blessing in my life and I am so proud to be his mom.  But sometimes, Lucas is difficult.  And as he's getting into his second year, I am definitely understanding the "terrible twos."  He's so independent and wants to do everything his way and on his terms.  Sometimes, it's hard to not view him as a hassle, instead of the blessing he really is.  And my attitude toward him can quickly turn to just pointing out all the "nos" rather than engaging him and guiding him and really helping him blossom.

I have been thinking and praying a great deal about our parenting, as Lucas enters this new stage in his life.  And I have come to the realization that I need to start viewing Lucas as a flower; a flower doesn't develop and bloom by being yelled at or by its' owner being impatient.  Flowers bloom when you purposely and patiently nurture it.  So, I'm going to focus more on how I respond to Lucas, in a more purposeful and patient way.  I need to work on me and the way I respond to him first, and hopefully he will therefore learn how to better handle his frustrations as a toddler.


I have also discovered that he needs more quality time with his mama.  His love language is most certainly quality time and in the past, I have not focused on providing him with enough quality time.  Even on nights and days when we are together, I'm not all that purposeful about getting down to play with him and be on his level.  I'm always getting work done or working around the house or busy some other way, not being intentional in spending time with him.  So, I am going to focus more on providing him with this time he so craves.

Travis and I have made a decision to start being WAY more purposeful in what we say to him and do with Lucas.  Please pray for us as we learn to be more effective parents for Lucas.  


God is teaching me to slow down and savor my time.  Savor my time with Him... Savior my time with Travis... Savior my time with Lucas....  Thank you God!  

April 13, 2013

Tell How Much God Has Done For You

Luke 8:39 says, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. 

I am the only one who can tell my story.  No one else is equipped to adequately describe the wonderful things that have changed in my life since I surrendered my life to Christ.  Christ has done great things in my life, and I now have the privilege of sharing that good news with all that I come into contact with! 

God spoke to me, "Alicia, go back" in my hospital room that day not long ago.  I will continue to spread all over how much Jesus has done for me, just like the man in Luke 8! 

Will you also be like the man in Luke 8?  I challenge you to join with me, as we share our stories of how Jesus has changed our lives! 

April 12, 2013

Stronger

Lyrics to "Stronger" by Mandisa
Hey, heard you were up all night
Thinking about how your world ain't right
And you wonder if things will ever get better
And you're asking why is it always raining on you
When all you want is just a little good news
Instead of standing there stuck out in the weather

Oh, don't hang your head
It's gonna end
God's right there
Even if it's hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
And things can only get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger
Gonna make you stronger, stronger, stronger
Believe me, this is gonna make you ...

Try and do the best you can
Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
Oh, lift your head it's gonna end
God's right there
Even when you just can't feel Him
I promise you that He still cares

'Cause if He started this work in your life
He will be faithful to complete it
If only you believe it
He knows how much it hurts
And I'm sure that He's gonna help you get through this

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
In time it's gonna get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger

Hey, heard you were up all night
Thinking about how your world ain't right
And you wonder if things will ever get better
And you're asking why is it always raining on you
When all you want is just a little good news
Instead of standing there stuck out in the weather

Oh, don't hang your head
It's gonna end
God's right there
Even if it's hard to see Him
I promise you that He still cares

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
And things can only get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger
Gonna make you stronger, stronger, stronger
Believe me, this is gonna make you ...

Try and do the best you can
Hold on and let Him hold your hand
And go on and fall into the arms of Jesus
Oh, lift your head it's gonna end
God's right there
Even when you just can't feel Him
I promise you that He still cares

'Cause if He started this work in your life
He will be faithful to complete it
If only you believe it
He knows how much it hurts
And I'm sure that He's gonna help you get through this

When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
In time it's gonna get better
Believe me
This is gonna make you stronger

April 1, 2013

Strong Enough

"Strong Enough"  lyrics by Matthew West
You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

Well, maybe
Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up

Cause when I'm finally
Finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
and you are strong
When I am weak

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough

March 30, 2013

Meeting the Supernatural

I didn't know whether I believed in this before it happened to me.  After telling my Pastor, who called it an epiphany event, he gently said some people may not believe me and may even think I'm crazy.  I'm willing to risk that, if telling my story leads even one person to Christ. 

Let me set the stage; I had brain surgery on Wednesday, February 27th.  I was in ICU overnight and on Thursday was transferred to the neurological recovery unit.  I hadn't slept well on Wednesday night and was very tired and droggy, so decided I needed a nap.  Travis needed a break, so Danielle came in to sit with me.  She said I was asleep only about 15 minutes, but let me tell you, this was the best sleep of my life! 

I met the supernatural, right there in my hospital room!  I can visualize it like it was today; I was sitting there with an image, a lighted being.  I can't describe it to you any other way.  This creation was just simply a bright light.  I'm not sure if this was an angel or Jesus, but no matter which, he was sent to my room from God.  He reached out with his hand and firmly grabbed my hand in comfort and gently whispered, "Alicia, go back."

I quickly rose from my sleep and all I could do was smile and stare at my hand.  Danielle was alarmed and asked if I was alright.  All I could do was say "I just met Jesus" and smile.  She just sat there and listened as I shared with her what had just occurred. 

Then, she shared how the night before my surgery, she had done some meditating in God's Word in order to have some verses to share with me.  Our plan had been for me to call her that evening if I needed encouragement or for her to pray with me.  The verse that God kept placing on her heart was Isaiah 41:13; "For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you." 

God works in amazing ways.  He shows us His power and strength through every opportunity.  He uses everything in believer's lives- and often the difficult things- to remake them, to transform them into being more like Jesus.  Everything that happens to us-the good, the easy, the difficult, the grief, the joy, the pain- has one purpose and that's to shape us into being more like Christ! 

I am absolutely sure that God was showing me through this meeting with the supernatural that He needs me down here on earth; to show more people His love and to teach people that this life isn't all there is.  And He will walk with me, holding my hand as I go.  Because of that meeting, I am more on fire than ever. 

My prayer now is that of Paul, when he asked the church in Ephesians 6 to pray that his words may be from God and bold.  I pray that God gives me boldness and His words, as I go out and speak as an ambassador for Christ!  Please pray this prayer for me as well.  Thank you, friends.

God bless,
Alicia

March 27, 2013

He is my potter, I am his masterpiece

Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

God uses everything in his followers lives, very often the difficult things, to remake them, to transform them into being more like Jesus.  Everything that happens to us; the good, the easy, the difficult, the grief, the joy, the pain; it all has one purpose and that's to shape us into being more like Christ! 

That's what God is doing in me through all of this.  He's shaping and molding me.  He is my potter and I am his masterpiece.  He's transforming me and working on my heart, making me more like Jesus each day.  I will never be able to successfully be just like Christ; I am a sinner.  But through prayer and study, I can try my hardest to live as he lived his life. 

And again, that takes me back to Galatians 5:22, the fruits of the spirit. 

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control

God is moving in my heart and shaping me into a more Christ-like woman.  I pray that I can show each of these fruits in my life each day.  I am so thankful for Jesus' willingness to come show us how to live our lives and for dying and taking my sin, so that I am hopeful of meeting my Creator one day.  He did this for you, as well. You just need to accept him as the Lord of your life and you can also look forward to the beauty of our Creator! 

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for giving me life.  Thank you for sending your only son, so precious and perfect, to die and take my sin.  As I live my life, I pray that I don't allow things of this Earth to get in the way of my relationship with you.  I pray for you to speak through me and that I can speak with boldness all the days of my life.  Please keep Satan away from me.  I feel the spiritual battle around me, but with your strength, he cannot touch me.  His negative words cannot discourage me because you are mightier!  Thank you Lord for listening to my pleas. 
Amen

March 26, 2013

Update

We decided that since it's been almost a month (a month tomorrow actually) since my surgery, I should be fine not having someone with me all the time.  Our community and church has been amazing, in providing all of our meals since we have been home.  Danielle, my super amazing best friend, also worked out a schedule so that I had people sitting with me and helping me with things around the house until I felt strong enough to be home by myself.  I have honestly been going stir-crazy not being out and about and working!  My radiation nurse encouraged me to be as active as I feel I can be and I will know my limit.  So, this week I have been working from home lots and I have even gone in a couple times to work! I'm so excited!  I really missed my Oaklane family!! 

Just so you are aware, I made my decision on chemotherapy.  It really wasn't too difficult of a decision, after I started researching and praying about it.  I figure let's tackle this with all the resources we have available to us.  Yes, I may have days where I don't feel well and we will have to be slightly more conscious of the people I'm exposed to.  But in all honesty, like the nurse said, we are fortunate that it's getting to be Springtime and flu season has passed; all in God's timing! 

So, we go up on Friday for a radiation "verification" session, where they make sure the mask and mouth piece fit and are all aligned properly with the radiation beams.  And my first actual day of both radiation and chemotherapy is Monday, April 1st! 

Tonight, Danielle is hosting the first planning meeting for my benefit that her and my family and friends are throwing, in order to raise funds for my medical bills.  It's strange, but I have no doubt that all will work out financially.  I was nervous about it all right after we got home from the hospital; you see, we haven't gotten all that far in the Dave Ramsey baby steps.  Even though we were working hard to pay off debt, we still have quite a bit left to pay down.  And after I logged into my online health insurance claims website and saw that many of the amounts billed to my insurance were posted, totally over $80,000, I honestly started to get a little worried.  But all Travis could do was laugh.  He just kept telling me that "God will provide." After lots of prayer and my husband holding me accountable, we both feel at such peace with the bills.  If I've learned anything from this experience, it's that I'm not in control, God is.  And I need to trust in his provision for us. 

Matthew 6:26-27 says, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" 

I hope you have a wonderful last week of March, friends!  Remember to live your life for Christ and that you are not in control.  :-) 

God bless,
Alicia

God will provide us all our needs! 

March 16, 2013

Big Decision

We went to Iowa City yesterday to meet with our team of specialists.  I love my radiation doctor!  He explained the process so clearly and answered all of my questions.  I will start radiation probably the last week Monday of March.  It will last 7 weeks and I will go Monday-Friday to Iowa City.  I choose to complete this at Iowa City instead of Burlington, because the machines are much different; the one in Iowa City is more precise and targeted, hopefully causing less damage to healthy cells.  My Grandpa and Grandma Phillips, who have experience with the Iowa City Cancer Center due to her having cancer, have offered to take me to treatments 2-3 days per week.  This takes a large burden off of us, because it is going to get expensive to drive to Iowa City each day.  I'm super excited that they will be taking me some, too, because growing up we weren't all that close.  This will be such a wonderful opportunity to get closer to them!  So, I will work on getting a schedule made up, with who will fill in the gaps on the other days of the week.  I'm hoping we can find friends and family to drive me up in my vehicle the other days. 

After that wonderful appointment with radiation, we met with an older doctor in Chemotherapy.  With my type of brain cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma grade 3), there is not a great deal of research that's been done in the field.  For a grade 4 cancer of the same type, doctors have a very clear cut action plan, but not so much with my grade 3.  After the doctor tried explaining the cancer and the research (in a way that was way above our heads), we almost left the appointment more confused than we entered.  But we asked to talk to the nurse and she really cleared up lots of our fears and questions.  The downfalls to doing them simultaneously is that it may lower my immune system, so we would need to be more careful about keeping me healthy and it may cause some issues with low blood platelet counts.  The main reason to do chemo, in conjunction with radiation is: They were able to remove 95% of the tumor during surgery, but there is around 5% left and the cells may choose to divide quickly, causing another tumor to form.  The chemo may help kill these extra cancer cells before they split.  If I choose to go the chemo route, as well, I would start on the first day of radiation.  It involves just taking one chemo pill per night before bed, at the same time.  I would do chemo all throughout radiation, so for 7 weeks.  And then for another 6 months after radiation. 

This chemotherapy plan is better than some, in my opinion, because at least I get to take it at home and if I start feeling bad, at least I would be home and comfortable.  The more I think and pray about it and do my own research, the more I lean towards just doing it and tackling this cancer with everything we've got! 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!  Please continue to pray for God to be glorified through this situation! 

March 9, 2013

Attitude

I came upon this peom today and it touched me, so I thought I would share with you.  Have a wonderful day, dear friends!  God bless you today! 
 
"ATTITUDE"
A simple peom by Charles Swindoll

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes”

March 8, 2013

Take My Life And Let It Be

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

March 7, 2013

God's Not Finished With Me Yet

Last night, I went to sleep meditating on Galatians 5:22: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." 

This verse hit me in a deep and sincere way last night.  How many people do you think that we come into contact with each day take the time to dig into their Bibles, to really know and appreciate the man of Christ, to learn who He was and what seperated Him from everyone else?!  Most people may think they understand who Christ was; Maybe he was a nice man who walked this earth and did some amazing miracles and gave his time to widows and sick people.  They might see him as a "Mother Teresa" type figure; a do-gooder, a Saint and a prophet.

But Jesus was so much Greater!    He was so much greater than a good man, a man of healing, forgiveness, and compassion.  We're talking about the Ultimate SON of GOD here!!  Jesus Christ was absolutely perfect- he sat at the right hand of God in Heaven!  He had the perfect body and lived in a perfect world with no sin or sickness and was able to worship our Creator all day long.  How absolutely amazing is that visual?! 

Because of sin brought into this world, Christ willingly gave it all up, though.  God gave Him the Ultimate Mission and Jesus took it on humbly and with 100% fervant and fire. 

You see, we have all sinned.  We all deserve to die and live forever in Hell.  Having decent morals, trying to be good, and keeping the 10 commandments does not excuse our sin.  No one has been able to fully uphold all of God's Will, except Christ Jesus himself.  But our Creator deeply desires a personal relationship with us.

Jesus, being fully God, came to this earth to serve as a replacement for us.   He knew that He had to send the Perfect sacrifice, in His Son.  "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.  He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24).  Since no human being is inherently righteous, no one can enter into fellowship with God on his or her own.  A person's most basic spiritual need is to be reconciled to God, to be made right and whole before God.  The sole answer to our dilemma is found in Christ, who justifies us in God's sight through our faith in Him. 

John 3:16-17 clearly states that: "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. For God shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."  Through Jesus Christ's death and burial, we have the hope of meeting our Creator one day!  We must commit to follow him completely, though!  That is my challenge to you today, as well as myself. 

I woke up this morning with these words on my heart: "I'm not finished with you yet."  I know that we have a great battle ahead of us right now.  Yes, I have cancer; big deal.  The important thing is this: God has a huge voice for me to speak up for Him, right now, in the present!  He's not finished with me yet and has super extradordinary things in my future!  He is bigger than this! 

I meditated on those fruits of the spirit last night from Galatians, and know that I personally will live each day in such a way that those around me see Christ.  I commit today to live a full life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Will you take this challenge with me today?!  Will you live your life from this point forward in such a way that those around you actually SEE Jesus in you!?!

I hope you are challenged today and get some inspiration from this song, as I do: Wait and See by Brandon Heath.  This song is wonderful to just listen to when it seems like your life isn't what you thought it would be... But to remember that God is in control and He does have a plan, even if we can't see what it is right now. 
God bless you all,
Alicia

February 26, 2013

Encouragement Through This Storm

I had a slight break down today.  It didn't last long though... The devil was once again trying to get a foothold and get me doubting.  I was tired, not feeling well, and emotional.  So I cried.  And cried.  And then called Danielle.  I am SO thankful for her friendship!!  She isn't just my best friend, though; she's my sister, counselor, accountability partner, and mostly, one of the deepest Christian women I know.  I know that I can always count on her to lift me up!  So, I called Danielle...

After admitting to her my fear of tomorrow and admitting that I just didn't feel as strong as I needed to be, she comforted me, provided me with the wisdom that I needed to immeditely turn to God's Word after getting off the phone, and we talked about something her and I both separately have been feeling.  Just a bit of background that only Danielle and Travis know- over the past year or maybe even longer, I had been thinking about women's ministry as a career path.  I love getting up in front of groups of people and presenting a great message, I love encouraging women and helping them realize their full potential, and I knew deep down that God was calling me to do something.  So a few months ago, I started a young women's Bible Study at my church.  We've had decent attendance and it's a wonderful blessing to facilitate this.  But I've always felt God calling me to do more; I truly believe God is calling me write a book and/or travel and share God's Word at women's conferences and churches around the country.  Danielle and I have talked about this often and I've always come up with substancial excuses: what could I possibly have to speak to these women about that will challenge them in a new way?!  I didn't have a 'platform.' Financially, we just needed me to have a consistent, full-time paycheck.  We didn't have enough faith to allow God to work.  The excuses went on and on... Well, after this health experience, I would say God might have a perfect plan; I now have a platform and enough faith to immediately say "yes, God" rather than "let me see what I can do, God."  This provided me with such encouragement!  God is in complete control of this situation, and because of this experience, I will be more on fire than ever for Christ! 

After I got off phone with her, I dove directly into God's Holy Word.  As I prayed and worshipped God through studying, all I could do is cry out and raise my hands to a Holy God.  Confessing my sins and devoting my whole being to His servanthood, I felt God's presence in the lobby of our hotel!  I flipped my Bible open and started reading the first thing I could find...

"No on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border bwetween Samaria and Galilee.  As he was going into a village, ten men who had leporacy met him.  They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice.  Jesus, Master, have pity on us!  When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yoursevles to the priests.  And as they went, they were cleansed.  One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him- and he was a Smaritan.  Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?  The he said to him, 'Rise and go: your faith has made you well."  ~Luke 17:11-19
Rise and go: your faith has made you well. 
Then I read: "Then they came to Jericho.  As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that is was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"  Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and said, "Call him."  So they called ot the blind man, "Cheer up!  On your feet!  He's calling you."  Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  "What do you want me to do for you? Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."  "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." Immediately, he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.  ~Mark 10: 46-52
Go, your faith has healed you. 
Finally, I read: "While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, 'My daughter has just died.  But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.'  Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.  Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, 'If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.' Jesus turned and saw her.  "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you."  And the woman was healed from that moment.  When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead, but asleep."  But they laughed at him.  After the crowd has been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spead through all that region.  ~Matthew 9:18-26
Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.

I've heard it said that God never gives you more than you can handle.  But wait, I'm here to say that maybe He does...  You see, I'm a stubborn, independent woman.  I like to be in total control.  I'm talented and educated and it's easy to lean on my own understanding.  I think that maybe God had no choice but to give me more than I can handle.  So I admit it, I can't control this situation; I am unable to do this one on my own.  I have no choice but to rely on God!!  :-)  I'm thinking He knows what He's doin', how about you?!  So, I'm awake to His awesomeness now!  He's got my attention!  And now I'm giving it all to Him.  I have complete faith that He is alive and moving and has a huge plan for my future.  And like I read in my study, I know that by that faith in God, I will be healed of this! 

Thank you to all of my supportive family, friends, church family, and community for lifting me up in prayers!  I appreciate all of your encouraging words and thoughts.  I'm going to come thorugh this with a wonderful testimony to share, so look out!  :-) 

God bless,
Alicia