Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Just for Fun


Today I have a just for funsies blog post.  It's different than my normal posts, but there isn't really any formula to my blogging anyway- so here you go!

Question 1: How tall are you?

5'5"

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

Not really...I sing some, but that's not all that hidden.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

When a blog is completely covered in ads and I'm trying to read it on my phone and end up going to another page or can't scroll because of pop-ups.  Even if it was an article someone recommended I read, if that happens... I usually stop reading. :-/

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

Empty toilet paper rolls that haven't been replaced but have the new toilet paper within reach or sitting on top.  Seriously, you are sitting there anyway if you needed toilet paper, how hard is it to change out the roll?

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

Hmm... I don't know if I could ever pick just one... but there is one that has stood the test of time in that I haven't gotten tired of listening to it since I first heard it in college: "Video" by India Arie

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

I don't have one myself...and I don't spend a whole lot of time on Etsy actually, but I did order this necklace in grey from Happy Little Lovelies and loved it!  

And recently my husband has discovered a shop called 1689 Beard that sales beard oils and beard balm to keep his beard nice and healthy.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

I'm a mom of a toddler-when am I ever alone? haha...  I am a HUGE fan of naps. For him and for me! ;-)  I also started watching "Once Upon a Time" on Netflix last year, but have since caught up with the show that is now on break for summer. :-( So I am looking for a new show that my hubby won't like, to binge watch when I'm alone- any suggestions are welcome...

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Unfortunately, I am a big fan of pretty much all junk food.  Ice cream may be my favorite though, especially if it's homemade.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

No, I do not.

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

Let's see, the Bible is the obvious answer ;-)  for the unobvious, I will say that I really enjoyed You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan.  It is technically a marriage book, but very much focused on your own relationship with Christ first. And I loved it and highly recommend it!  Another nonfiction that I recommend to all single ladies is "Lady in Waiting"- it completely changed my thoughts on "waiting" for a man and the fact that I didn't actually need to have that mindset.
Fiction... hmm, I very much enjoyed the Harry Potter series.  And I like Christian fiction books and I've enjoyed the Veronica Mars books, because I just cannot get enough of that show.  

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

If you know me, this won't surprise you - but I don't really do much make-up or have a big detailed crazy-long beauty routine. But, I will say that anything that allows me to let my hair air dry while accentuating my curls and decreasing the frizz is my favorite! And because I don't wear a lot of make-up, I also really like Mary Kay's Mineral Powder Foundation- it's not liquid and heavy and goopey. Instead it is light and easy! And as a bonus I can use it to put on my mascara because the lid is like a mirror- (because that is seriously all I do- powder foundation and mascara with sunscreen underneath now that I walk outdoors more.)
Hmm, so I guess I did have a favorite or few! 

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

I was offered some home-made cake by a co-worker, when I asked what the occasion was, he said it was his birthday... whoops, sorry...Happy Birthday?! :-/

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Besides water, probably coffee.  You can have it blended, iced, hot, flavored! 

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

Well, I really love the movie "Shag".  I've watched it so many times with my family that not only is it a favorite, but there are so many memories attached to it now! 

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

Well, I went to a very small high school (60 in my graduating class).  That being said, we didn't follow usual social norms of being in one group.  So, I was a Beta Club nerd and Valedictorian, I was a band geek for a couple of years, I was a jock playing volleyball and softball, I was a redneck FFA (Future Farmers of America) president, and I was a class officer and on Homecoming Court... so there you go.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Well, I'm pretty happy where I am...but I would have a house in New York, Ireland, the mountains, and the beach I suppose with a helicopter to get to each quickly, or a jet I guess for Ireland and New York...you know, since we're dreaming! ;-)

Question 17: PC or Mac?

I am a PC fan myself, however when my computer died I became a Mac girl at home since that's what my husband has.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My hubs and I kiss every day so I don't know if that counts... but he sometimes leaves me sweet notes on our dry erase board on the back of the door... which is really pretty sweet since most of my notes to him are a list of things to not forget - that I make at his request! :-D

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Probably Candace Cameron Bure.  

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

Jen Thorn- she constantly encourages and challenges me with her posts.

So there you go all the things you now know about me that you never wanted to! ;-)
And if you have any suggestions for shows to binge watch, blogs to read, hair/beauty products to try, or books to read please share them with me-  I am always open to other's ideas and suggestions!
Have a fabulous day!
Love in Christ, 
Alyson

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

Today is a repost of my Memorial Day post from last year... because I still believe all I said then!  Happy Memorial Day.  Thank you service men, women and families for your service and sacrifice.

Posted originally on May 26, 2014:

For many people, Memorial Day means pools are now open for the season. Beaches are begging to be visited for the weekend. The work week is shorter. And the day isn't complete without cookouts, friends, and fireworks.  And we are truly blessed, that today, we have the freedom to be able to do any of those things.  

But, let us not forget what Memorial Day is really for- it was established as a day to remember and honor the many men and women who died while serving in the military.  You may not be personally associated with anyone who has ever served in the military, but there are many families who know first hand the sacrifices that are made by not only the soldiers, but also their families.  There are long hours of training and many days they spend separated from their families.  And for some, the ultimate sacrifice of their life has been given.




So whether you have a cookout, go to the beach, or place a US flag on the grave of a fallen soldier please take just a moment to remember the many men and women who gave their lives for your freedom. I encourage you to thank God for them and to pray for the families they left behind.  And also, pray for the safety of those who are currently serving and their families.


Love in Christ,

Alyson

Friday, May 22, 2015

When Life Knocks You Down

Sometimes life just stinks... It just does. You don't get the promotion you were counting on.  Your car breaks down. There is an illness or disease.  Whatever it is, it completely takes you down.

So what do you do when you get knocked down?  Well, as we've always been taught... you get back up again.  There was even a song by Chumbawamba (seriously didn't know that was their name, had to look that one up) about it in the 90's- "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never going keep me down..."

If that was as easy as it was, I guess I could stop writing right here.  But it's not that easy.  Sometimes you not only feel knocked down, but there seems to be one thing after another that keep knocking you back down no matter how hard you are trying to get up.  Picture an ocean current that has you flipping and rolling all over the place.

It seems easier at these times to just give up.  To throw yourself a pity party and call it a day, week, or even a year.  BUT, does giving up make it any better?  Are you happier?  Are you missing out because you decided to quit?

It's been a pretty blah couple of weeks for me- hence this post. And the problem is that when the first blow came, I said all the "right" things and told myself what I needed to do (let it go - I even sang it!) but I didn't.  And then the next wave hit and I lost my temper- all over my poor husband. Then the next and the next.  Until I woke up Thursday morning sure that it was Friday and then devastated (ok not really, but pretty bummed) when I realized that I had 2 more work days instead of one.  Because I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally spent.

But here's the thing, if I stay in this defeated state then even small things that can typically roll off my back with no second thought feel like 50 pound weights added to my shoulders.  And I don't know about you, but I don't have any desire to carry around any extra weight!

So, what do I do?  Well, I pray.  I cry out to Jesus.  He already knows what's been happening and God's been allowing it. Now if that makes you feel angry or betrayed by God- then first tell him that.  But make sure you go to step 2 which is ask what He wants to teach you through it.

God isn't some puppet-master who doesn't care about his creation.  He obviously cares very much- He sent his only son to die for us!  And there are things we may have to go through because the world has been broken by sin and because God is refining us and developing our faith.

Step 2 can also (and usually does) include intentional specific Bible study and talking with a trusted wiser brother/sister in Christ.  And step 3 is about praising and thanking God.  This doesn't mean you are healed, over it, moving on- this is when you are still in that place of unrest. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances.  I know easier said than done.  But before you write it off, I encourage you to give it a try.


When we are rejoicing, praying and giving thanks our focus is redirected off of ourselves and back where it belongs- on Jesus.  When I focus on Jesus and all he is and all he endured my troubles become just what they are- momentary in light of eternity.  We can't lose sight of the Gospel because that is our purpose and mission on earth- to spread the good news to all the earth so that people's lives will be saved for eternity!

I believe that Satan takes joy in our complaining and wallowing.  Because when we are stuck in that place we aren't sharing the hope, peace, and love that comes from knowing Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord.

So as I stated before, sometimes life really does stink.  Sometimes stuff happens and it literally and figuratively knocks you flat on your butt.  But don't stay there. Get back up and continue the journey.  Praise God through it.  Pray through it. Give thanks through it.  And continue to focus on God and how good, mighty, awesome, powerful, loving, merciful and sovereign He is instead of focusing on yourself.

Love in Christ, 

Alyson



Friday, May 15, 2015

Old Habits are Hard to Break

I am quite a metaphorical person, as in I love using commonly known ideas or situations as a comparison to aid in the understanding of more difficult concepts. If that didn't make sense, bear with me and perhaps it will in a minute...

Last summer the manufacturer of my contact lenses stopped making the brand of contacts I had been wearing for over ten years.  I was quite bummed because they were a great fit.  But in my quest to find new contacts, with each new pair I tried, my eyes started being itchy and red and I was unable to keep the contact in for longer than a day and half.  For someone who leaves there contacts in for weeks at a time this was quite inconvenient, not to mention painful.  After several eye doctor visits, while taking time off work, and changing solution and contacts I was still having the issue.  So last autumn I started wearing my glasses exclusively... until a week ago, when I put in my contacts to take my son to a swim party.

Since then I have been back to wearing my contacts (thankfully with no eye issues).  The crazy thing is, that even though I don't have my glasses on, I still find myself reaching up to adjust them.  At night I go to take them off and during the day I attempt to push them up my nose- but they aren't even there!

One time after it happened it made me think of how we are as Christians when we are dealing with our sin.  Our sins can really affect our day to day activities not to mention our emotions and reactions.  And even if we have repented of the sin and are praying and reading scripture so that Jesus can have victory over the sin, our old habits are hard to break.  We must be on guard every day, dying to our flesh (those sin natures we are born with), and living for Christ who gave us new birth making us new creations.



How many times do we just react a certain way because we always have even when we know we shouldn't.

It's a bit of an over simplified metaphor for such a complex issue as sin, but the craziest things remind me of spiritual things and I just roll with it.  And lucky you, because I have a blog, you get to hear (read) about it!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and perhaps even catch yourself starting to fall into the habits of your old self and stopping in your tracks by remembering that you are a new creation!

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why is Being a Christian Hard Sometimes?


Why is being a Christian so hard?  It didn't seem to be as difficult when I was younger.  Shouldn't it be easier to be more Christlike the more mature I become in my faith?

When I was little, I seriously thought that the older I got the easier life became... walking is much easier than crawling, and growing taller meant I could reach things with more ease.  Obviously this idea of ease with age was thwarted some when Algebra was introduced with end of grade tests and puberty, then college and bills and finally an adult- "Can't nobody tell me what to do anymore!"  But as all adults over the age of 22 know, the added responsibilities that you now have, actually keep you more focused and grounded than your 21 year old self thought they would.

So what does this have to do with being a Christian? Well, I'll tell you...

When we are new believers, likened to babies on milk, we are taking it all in, soaking it up like a sponge.  We are hungry and can't get full. And with each new truth we grasp, we grow and progress in our faith journey.  As we start getting more into the solid food (deeper truths) of God's word there may be some bumps in the road that are opportunities for our faith to be honed and strengthened. Through them, we start to fully believe that God is who He says He is because He has proven himself faithful. I believe there are some believers who stay in this place for a long time... I know I did.  I wanted to learn from others and read devotion books and basically have someone else digest the more difficult concepts of scripture and then spit it out to me in succinct bullet pointed form that I could easily accept without too much digestion on my part.

Now, hear me when I say this that I am not opposed to devotion books or teachers or pastors.  I think those things are very helpful, and I think teachers and pastors are vital to our knowledge and understanding.  But, there comes a time in a believer's life where they have to make a decision.  Not the decision of belief- that one's already done if you are Christian.  The decision I'm referring to is the one where you decide that you want to really be all that you were created to be.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we were created with a purpose- a purpose that God has already planned for us: "For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them."  In actuality, all Christians should continue to mature and live in this purpose.

And not to scare you but this is the part where being a Christian becomes the most difficult... but it's also the most amazing (on earth because it gets way better in heaven).  But this takes us back to the original question.  And in my (completely unauthoritative, I'm a sinner too) humble opinion being a Christian is harder now because we are more aware of our sin. And if we truly want to walk in the purpose God has prepared for us then we don't want that sin to hinder us.

The Bible obviously has many passages that speak of putting sin to death and walking in the light. But one of my favorites is in Hebrews 12.  The author has just finished listing the members of the faith hall of fame in chapter 11 and he starts chapter 12 by saying in verse one: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (NIV)

Following the example of those saints who came before, we are to throw off our sin and run with perseverance! But it doesn't stop there-- in verse two we are told that the way we run the race is by keeping our focus on Jesus and in doing so we will not be discouraged but can take heart and have encouragement: "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (Hebrews 12:3-4 NIV) 

I just want to throw a "Booom!" on the end of that- it's like the author is saying being a Christian is hard, don't make it tougher by trying to run it entangled in sin- it needs to be removed first... look to Jesus- at least you aren't having to shed your blood for it like he did! Boom- sin can be defeated and we don't even have to shed our blood for it because boom- Jesus already did that for us!

You may be wondering how it gets better than that and it doesn't, but the rest is still pretty good, so go ahead over right now and read Chapter 12 of Hebrews...seriously, I'll wait here, you go there and read it but come back. ;-)

If you really read it, (which I hope you did) then you saw the part that also makes being a Christian seem difficult- God is disciplining us. This is not God smiting us or condemning us for every wrong thing we do- so DO NOT get that picture in your head.  God isn't condemning, he's correcting.  Because sin leads to death and destruction and God wants more for his children.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

So let's go back for a minute to the metaphor of the race we are running... to run a race well there is training involved and you need to discipline your body to be able to run the race with perseverance. This training/discipline hurts but it is for the greater purpose of not only running the race but finishing the race strong.  If we stay in the place of stagnant faith that I mentioned before then we are barely running the race.  It doesn't mean we sin less or that it isn't still there entangling us- if my shoe strings were tied together, I still may be able to walk, but I wouldn't be able to run with strength and with purpose or with perseverance.

So yeah, being a Christian can seem difficult.  But we cannot lose sight of the hope we have in Jesus. When we focus on him and the work he accomplished on the cross our hardships pale in comparison and we are reminded that they are light and temporary in light of our full glorious eternity in his presence!  So let's run this race with hope and strength and perseverance.  Let's face those sins and repent of them so they no longer hinder us.  And let's focus on Jesus, the perfect example and the perfecter of our faith.


Love in Christ,

Alyson