True Value

micheile-henderson-429858-unsplash
Photo by M. Henderson

Samantha sat crossed-legged in the middle of the bedroom floor. The closet doors open and everything that had occupied the shelves and clothes racks piled onto the bed, the adjacent chair, and the floor.

The image she had worked so hard to create now encircled her.

Samantha pushed her way up the corporate ladder. At 38 she made partner – she had arrived professionally.

And with the prestige of the position, she felt the pressure to look the part. To keep pace with the corporate culture. She lived for work, no time for life.

She had made it!

Yet, I watched as she arranged and rearranged the piles. The sorting and shifting were more than just a task to determine what would stay and what would be given away.

The process allowed Samantha to wrestle with her internal struggle. How do you define true value? How do you reconcile what the world tells you is valuable when you can’t maintain the standards and expectations? How do you embrace a criteria based on looks, status, power, and possessions? Because with time looks fade, status falters, power weakens, and possessions – they break or become obsolete.

Samantha continued to sort until all the piles were neatly organized. The piles on the floor given away and the collection on the bed neatly folded and hung on hangers – all placed back in the closet.

Yet, her struggle continued. How would she find her way forward?

I lived in this world, defining my importance by what I did, how much I could accomplish, my ability to perform. Work consumed me, giving me a false sense of worth. It gave me a footing in the world, and allowed me to make sense of my life experiences – it gave me purpose.

But life happens, I grew older and the pace of work, the stress of travel, and the pressure to take on more forced me to make a change. The thing that had defined me was gone. I was left raw and undefined, forced to look at what was left and given the opportunity to reimagine, redefining my future from a past that in retrospect did not fulfill or satisfy.

As women, we find ourselves facing these types of dilemmas several times throughout the course of our lives. For some, it’s when our children grow up and leave, when we find the first wrinkle, the first age spot, the first…

For others it’s when the career is replaced with retirement; when our ministry, volunteer work, a second career ends and we find ourselves wondering, seeking, and questioning our importance and purpose.

True value is not found in what we do.

It is not found in our possessions, our bank statements, a perfectly decorated home, or a professionally couture wardrobe.

True value is found in whose we are.

We find an interesting story about a woman’s worth in John, chapter 4. In this story, Jesus has an encounter with a rejected and outcast Samaritan woman. Samaritans at that time were a people to be avoided in fact many good Jews would go out of their way to avoid this region.

But Jesus intentionally ventured into this land. He had a critical encounter with a woman that other villagers avoided. She had multiple husbands and the man she currently lived with was not her husband. She was an outcast and knew her place in this society – drawing water from the well at midday to avoid the interaction with others from her community.

This woman had a reputation. Some would say she was unworthy yet, Jesus was determined to meet her, challenge her way of thinking, and offer transformation.

Jesus does the same for each of us. He goes out of His way to have an encounter with us, defining us as important, worthy, and useful. The Samaritan woman went on to evangelize her community – fulfilling her unique purpose from a renewed life.

Her value was found in a relationship with Jesus, not her status in her community.

And He desires the same for us, purpose grown from a relationship with Him, enhanced by our experiences and talents.

Value is not what we do; it is not what we have, or how the world defines importance.

True value comes from a relationship with a risen savior, a transformed life, the acceptance of a new definition that tells us we are valuable in Him.

The Oxford dictionary defines value as

The worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it.

Jesus paid the ultimate price for you and for me – His life.

Our worth in Him is invaluable!

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,

Signature - Allison

Jesus Restores

IMG_20191016_071701447_HDR-PANO
Photo by A. McCormick

Dominique stepped onto the expressway. The sun was starting to crest over the rim of the horizon. The dusty dawn casting shadows on the roadway. Headlights, shadows – so difficult to see.

He had crossed this section of the road hundreds of times. Moving from his homeless camp to the local convenience store, bus stop, and gas station bathroom just a hundred yards away.

But today…

Today would be different.

Dominique stepped onto the roadway, never seen by the oncoming vehicle. He was struck in the northbound lane, thrown into the oncoming traffic and hit a second time.

Dominique died at the scene, leaving behind the mother of his children, a little boy, and a baby girl.

The morning he was killed, the drivers were blinded by the morning’s darkness.

“I didn’t see him!”

A dark coat. Dusty dawn.

“I couldn’t avoid him!”

They didn’t see him – a blurry image in the roadway.

But that morning Dominique was also blind. Physically sightless due to the roadway conditions and the eyes of his heart blinded by the brokenness of his life, the emptiness that plagued him, and an ever-present sense of frustration and fear. A visual impairment that although sighted, prevented him from fully navigating life.

If we are honest, we also suffer from visual impairments. Impairments that force us to keep areas of our life hidden, out of sight from those closes to us – protecting our image, manipulating others’ perceptions of who we are.

We suffer from a type of blindness that in the quietness of our minds, enslaves us in destructive behaviors, blocks our intimacy with God, and isolates us from those that would support us and hold us accountable.

But just as the sunrise offers light, Jesus offers restoration.

The book of Mark shares a story about Jesus’ interaction with a blind man,

(46) Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. (47) When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

(48) Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

(49) Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” (50) Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

(51) “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

(52) “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:46-52 New International Version (NIV)

The blind man was desperate to be healed. And hearing Jesus was near, he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then he did something interesting, he stood up and went to Jesus. No hesitation and although blind, he found his way to the only One that could address his deepest longing, his greatest need – restored sight. During his encounter, he did not shy away from communicating his needs, “I want to see.” And Jesus healed him, immediately!

I wonder how many times we fail to call out to our Father? How many times do we avoid running to Him? How often do we fail to communicate our needs, our hearts, to the One who has the answers we are desperate to receive?

We reluctantly accept our sightless condition because we don’t want to surrender our wills, our desires, our plans. We want to maintain control.

But Jesus consistently restores. He offers sight for our blindness. Light for the dark places of our souls.

BeLOVED be assured that your Heavenly Father waits to meet you. He waits, at the edge of your heart, to bring light, meet your deepest needs, to illuminate His love for you.

You can confidently approach Him.

You can voice your needs and share the pain.

He waits to restore your sight.

(11) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (12) Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (13) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (14a) I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

Unexpected

aditya-romansa-5zp0jym2w9M-unsplash
Photo by A. Romansa

The text message came across my phone, baby Jana had arrived. She came one day late and it took 13 hours for her to make her journey from the safety of her mother’s womb to the world.

I texted mom and grandma and was off to the hospital to meet this precious little one.

They say all babies are beautiful but Jana is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. She has the perfect shaped head, rosy red cheeks, and this amazing mohawk – curled just right at the top. Her hands are bigger than you would expect. Mom says they are a feature Jana shares with grandma. She will need to grow into those hands.

I held Jana as she napped, sucked her fist, and cooed. The moment couldn’t be any better, a precious blessing nestled in my arms.

After about an hour, I handed Jana back to her mom, hugged them both, and walked out the door. Such a sweet visit, a tiny glimpse of heaven. The peaceful presence of God wrapped in a blanket.

I unlocked the car and sat down – a single tear ran down my cheek, then another, and then more. Such a surprise, my heart ached and sadness filled the interior of the car. I thought I was way beyond the emotional impact my infertility had on my life. No babies from my womb but I know God had a plan.

It was OK because God had a plan.

I am OK because God had a plan.

But the tears continued and the sadness spilled over – creeping outside the boundaries of the car, following me into the house and relentlessly chasing me for days. I prayed, I shared the experience with my husband and close friend. I walked, listened to my favorite worship music, and held back the tears. Even as I write this, I hold back the tears.

It is an interesting dilemma. I know God really does have a purpose for my childlessness. I have seen Him use the sadness and pain to minister to others. I have witnessed His amazing restoration and deliverance in the midst of the circumstance. I know He heals, I’ve lived it. And way down, in the depths of my heart – that place where my brain, heart, and spirit connect to Him, I am at peace. So, why the tears? Why the sadness?

I am human, and my humanness desires my will, my way, my timing, my plan. This is a battle for my faithfulness.

In God’s paradigm, our hearts, our connectedness with Him is more important than our comfort or fulfilling our desires. In His economy – we triumph over evil, live with Him for eternity, and He will use everything, all our things, those things that break us to align us with Him.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)

Jana, that beautiful little girl, was such an amazing reminder that God remains in control. He is still on His throne and He loves me more than I can ever understand.

Steffany Gretzinger and Brandon Lake sing a song titled Communion. It is one of the songs I played and repeated so many times after my visit. It reminded me of God’s goodness. The chorus says,

You are closer, closer than my skin. You are in the air I’m breathing in.

Here’s where the dead things come back to living. I feel my heart beating again. It feels so good to know you are my friend.

Tears offer cleansing and once you are washed clean – hope, perspective, courage return.

Dear Sisters, it is ok to cry, to let your fears, frustrations, and pain flow out. It is cleansing. And God waits, to bring life to all that is dead in your life. He gives you another chance, a new chance.

He loves you.

Trust Him.

You are His BeLOVED.

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

God’s Greatest Gift – The Gift of Eternal Life

kira-auf-der-heide-v7jlNFuKF14-unsplash
Photo by Unsplash

I was so excited this Christmas about the gift I selected for my husband! It was something he needed, unexpected, actually something he never considered.

His home office chair was made up of bits and pieces from his previous chair and parts found at a thrift store. It worked and he was excited about his creation.

Yet I noticed that as he spent time in the chair, he slowly lowered. The hydraulics no longer worked. And at 6’2”, you need a chair’s hydraulics to work. Otherwise, you look like a giant sitting in a child’s chair – his knees creeping close to his ears.

So, his present was a leather desk chair. Of course, it came unassembled in a box – a very large heavy box! And when you are trying to surprise a person, a large heavy box is an obstacle.

The store clerk loaded it into my car, it was unloaded at a friend’s house to wrap, reloaded by the same friends, and then I made my way home. Once there, I had this large wrapped present and no way to get in the house.

Standing at the tailgate of my car contemplating my challenge, my husband stepped out of the house. He asked, “Do you need help?” I reluctantly responded “yes,” but added, “don’t shake it” – as if he could really shake this thing.

We got it through the doorway, rested it on the floor near the Christmas tree and stood back to take in the enormity of the box. My husband turned to me and with his boyish smile asked,

What is it?
Is it for me?

I responded, “You’ll have to wait for Christmas day and yes, it is for you.”

For the next few days, he made statements about his present, speculated about its contents, and commented about the size and weight. I would catch him standing and staring at the box and then…

Christmas morning arrived.

He opened the big box last, still no clue about what was inside. His anticipation and excitement broke as he ripped open the wrapping paper to reveal his new office chair.

He was surprised. It was a practical gift; something needed, and quickly became his “best” Christmas gift.

God, in His goodness, gave us some amazing gifts.

He created us in His image, in His likeness – the gift of life. And even when we disobeyed Him, wandering aimlessly through a desert wilderness, He was sovereign. He sent His Son that Christmas morning making a way to reconcile us with God – the gift of new life.

You must understand that from the day God created us, He knew we would reject Him. He was never taken by surprise, never stunned by our actions. He has always known our disobedience would lead to the ultimate sacrifice, the life of His Son.

Hundreds of years before Jesus crucifixion, Isaiah prophesied,

(5) But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (6) We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

(7) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (8) By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. (9) He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

(10) Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. (11) After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53: 5-12 New International Version (NIV)

Take a minute to allow that to sink in. God never had a Plan-B, He has always known – Christmas would lead to crucifixion. A sacrifice that led to the best gift, the gift of eternal life!

Roman’s 5:6-8 says,

(6) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (7) Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. (8) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… (21) so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

NIV

The greatest gift, our sins forgiven and eternal life with our Father.

As we close 2019, I encourage you to remember God’s great love for you. From the creation of the world and throughout history,

He remains close.

He loves you.

You are His BeLOVED!

Blessings,

Signature - Allison


If you’ve never received Jesus as your personal Savior. It’s a simple heart-felt prayer away (a conversation with Jesus). You can pray something like this,
Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner. Please forgive my sins. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I want to leave my old life and cling to you. Please come into my heart and direct my life. I trust you as my Lord and Savior. Amen

If you have prayed that prayer, please leave a comment and let me know. I would love to pray for you.

God’s Second Gift – The Gift of New Life

kira-auf-der-heide-011sVzyYxvM-unsplash
Photo by Unsplash

Christmas is 2-days away and I am so excited about sharing time with my husband.

We’ve celebrated with family and friends and now we get a chance to slow down, light a fire in the fireplace, cuddle together on the couch, and reflect on all the blessings, the gifts, God has given us this year.

You see it’s been one of those years that cause you to take notice. It forced us to take a deep breath. It tested our faith and it drove us to abandon our pride and self-reliance.

This year, God gave us an amazing gift, the gift of new life. Wrapped in the hands of a skilled surgeon, a new artery replacing the one that had blocked my heart.

I am grateful.

We are thankful.

I am forever changed.

Some 2000 years ago, a new life was born in a humble stable. Wrapped in cloth and placed in a manger, a baby – the Savior of the world.

His parents hovered close; they had encountered the angels and listened intently when told about His purpose. What a life-altering gift that first Christmas.

I doubt anyone witnessing this infant fully grasped the enormity of the event. Jesus, God’s own son, taking on human form to offer a broken world new life.

(4) But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. (6) Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (7) So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7 New International Version (NIV)

Through Jesus’ birth that Christmas morning, we are heirs, sons, daughters, and a child of God. Our gift is a life transformed, becoming more and more like our Father. No longer enslaved by sin, controlled by our fears, confined to the world’s definitions, or imprisoned by unattainable expectations. Our faith and trust in Jesus bring newness.

This Christmas, I hope you take a few minutes to step away from the demands of the holiday and reflect on the gift God has given you.

You are loved.

You are a daughter of The King.

You are His BeLOVED.

Blessings – Merry Christmas!

Signature - Allison

God’s First Gift – The Gift of Life

kira-auf-der-heide-8mj-o2H5PKE-unsplash
Photo from Unsplash

If we are honest, Christmas is hard!

The shopping, cooking, parties, cards, expectations, unmet expectations, and inevitable disappointments. All condensed into a 4-week period. There is just not enough time to make it all fit and sometimes not sufficient emotional capital to address all the needs.

Christmas can be challenging!

I think one of my challenges is finding the perfect gift. One that tells the person I have thought about you. I care about you. You are special to me.

Particularly hard is shopping for the young adults in my life and those that already have enough and have asked for “no more.”

This year, I tried to maneuver around the shopping trials and made most of the presents for family and close friends. And because family and chosen family live in other states, I placed my treasures in cute gift bags, packed them in boxes, drove them to the shipping store, and prayed they arrive before Christmas day.

During this season, I am drawn to the manger scene. Baby Jesus, shepherds, and that bright shining star. But long before the Wise Men offered their precious presents, before an untimely trip to Bethlehem, before Mary and Joseph, God gave us His first gift. The gift of life.

(26) Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and overall the creatures that move along the ground.”

(27) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

(28) God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:26 – 28

God gave each of us an amazing gift – the gift of life. He chose us to occupy space and time with Him. He offered us intimacy, relationship, a garden filled with His created beauty, communion with our Creator. And then He offered us purpose – multiply, fill the earth, and rule over it.

Genesis 2:7 shares,

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Can you imagine the scene? God kneeling on the ground. He scoops dirt from the earth and forms a man. He then bends close and breathes life into his lungs. A creation of love – the first human. The origin of our lives.

And then,

(21) …God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. (22) Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Genesis 2:21-22

God fashioned you and me (woman) out of the man he formed, a single rib – our life.

This Christmas season let us not forget that we are God’s creation, shaped in His image, bearing His likeness. He gave us life that creation day and He continues to give us life today, directing our paths, providing for our futures.

Please don’t lose sight with the busyness of the Christmas season, the gift-giving, the parties, the expectations, and inevitable disappointments, that 1000s of years ago, God gave us the most amazing gift – the gift of life.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
James 1:17

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

I Need More…

kira-auf-der-heide-BkigsnKJK34-unsplash
Photo by Unsplash

Sami couldn’t have been much older than 3, tugging at her mom’s hand and pointing in the direction of Santa’s workshop. Mom was trying to finish her conversation with the sales clerk but Sami would not be ignored.

They finally made their way to the end of the line and settled behind a snake of excited squiggling toddlers. Each made their way to Santa’s lap, a coaxed whisper in his ear, and a candy cane to complete their visit. Stepping off the stage, each running with excitement to the waiting arms of family.

Sami walked up the steps, mounted Santa’s knee and announced to the crowd what she wanted for Christmas. No whisper, no coaxed conversation – she shouted clearly for all to hear.

To the surprise of her mother, the list included a baby brother – his name will be James just like her Grandpa, a fairy doll set, and a new goldfish. Goldie, her previous goldfish, was found floating upside down in his bowl and was sent to heaven by way of a flush. The crowd chuckled and then froze at Sami’s next statement,

I need more JESUS!

Santa looked a little puzzled. What do you say to a child that wants more Jesus?

Sami smiled and scooted off Santa’s lap, collected her candy cane and made her way back to mom. Mom bent down and gave her a hug, then stood and clarified,

Cheez-Its, she loves them; we’ve run out!

The crowd let out a collective giggle, Sami walked away, candy cane in hand.

Sami was unaware of the truth she had shared with her sweet mispronunciation. But such a profound reality innocently spoken.

I don’t know about you but this Christmas, I need more Jesus!

Replacing the seduction of the world, with the satisfaction that He is enough. Substituting the hustle with the beauty of time spent in His presence, available to hear a Word, gain a glimpse of eternity. I need to move my attention off my expectations and wants, refocusing the minutes of my days on all He has done, His provision, His future promises.

What a perfect Christmas gift, more Jesus.

In Galatians 4:3-7 we get a glimpse at the gift of Jesus,

(3) And that is the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to Jewish laws and rituals, for we thought they could save us. (4) But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, (5) to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own sons. (6) And because we are his sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so now we can rightly speak of God as our dear Father. (7) Now we are no longer slaves but God’s own sons. And since we are his sons, everything he has belongs to us, for that is the way God planned.

Living Bible (TLB)

That first Christmas God gave us the ultimate gift, His Son. And every Christmas since that day, His precious gift remains available to us.

For some, the gift remains unopened. If the truth were told, they don’t even see the humble package. They scan the stack of gifts, drawn to the shiny boxes, the fancy packaging, those that sparkle of gold and silver.

Some open His gift, trying it on to see if it fits, and later decide to re-gift it. They recognize it will require sacrifice. They can’t appreciate the value, the great price paid.

A few unwrap the gift and immediately recognize the treasure inside. They are overwhelmed by its beauty and value, moved to tears for being offered such a cherished present.

As you navigate this Christmas season, I encourage you to reflect on why you celebrate. Evaluate if you need more Jesus this year and consider slowing down a little to enjoy the extravagant gift you’ve been given.

My prayer for you is that you have received the precious gift of Jesus, recognize the treasure you’ve been given and share your gift with those around you.

Blessings,

Signature - Allison


Over the next three weeks, we will look at three gifts God has given us. We will take time to unwrap each precious package and discover the depth of God’s love and care for each of us.

As we focus on these extravagant gifts, I invite you to shift your focus from Christmas as it has been to Christmas as it can be. A Christmas filled with more of Jesus.

I am excited to unpack the gift of Jesus with you.

No. One. Asked.

cristian-newman-wGKCaRbElmk-unsplash
Photo by C. Newman

I was 17 the first time I married. He was the big man on campus and his attention made me feel special, important. We were married for just under 6-months – the marriage annulled, both of us going our separate ways.

My older sister was married at 17. Her marriage lasted some 20+ years, time devoured by mental and physical abuse. The cruelty ending with her husband’s death.

Our brother, the middle child, left the house at 17. A life of drug and alcohol abuse. He struggled until cancer took him home.

I look back at my 17-year-old self and wonder why my parents never asked, “Why are you getting married?” Actually, why didn’t anyone ask?

I’m not trying to shirk my responsibility but I was a naïve 17-year-old. I had no worldly experience. In fact, my ex-husband was my first love. I could have used some guidance, wisdom, a little direction.

If anyone had inquired, if anyone had questioned my decision, I would never have married. Even on my wedding day, I was confused and questioned if this was the right decision but…

NO. ONE. ASKED.

I recently talked to my sister about her experience. I wondered if our parents offered her advice when she decided to marry. Her response, no – not a word!

The pattern repeats.

Unfortunately, I was not able to pose this question to my brother. But observing the interaction between my parents and him, there was no counseling, no tough discussions, nothing as his abuse consumed him.

Today, I have the opportunity to mentor young people. It is one of my greatest joys and honestly a source of significant heartbreak. I have learned to probe. Even when it’s hard, I ask.

You never know how one conversation, or the lack of, can influence a person’s life.

Janice was excited about the birth of her second baby. She had been clean and sober during her pregnancy and commented often that this little one gave her a reason to stay clean. This baby saved her life.

For months following the baby’s birth, Janice was the model of motherhood. She read all the childrearing books, attended baby development classes, and safety proofed the house.

She adored her baby!

When her little one was nearing their first birthday, Janice shared with a friend she wanted to have a little fun. She was confident that a few days of drugs and partying wouldn’t hurt. She was convinced that she was strong enough, in control – returning to her addiction would have no effect.

Janice packed up her little ones, took them to a friend’s house, and left in search of her preferred drug.

Janice’s fun ended in an overdose.

No one asked. No one challenged her reasoning.

Please consider asking those you love, those you are close to, those you mentor, coach, and share life with the hard questions. Risk the possibility of rejection and embarrassment, lives are at stake.

And when you are brave and speak into another’s life, make certain you do so without judgment. Please don’t shame, demean, or devalue the person. More than likely, they have already placed themselves in a prison of guilt and remorse.

A hand on the shoulder, a gentle touch when the tears arrive, they need you present, engaged, available. They need you to listen, really listen, and present questions that help direct them to what they already suspect.

At 17, in my young adult years, even today, I need someone to ask. And if you are being honest you probably need someone to ask. Someone willing to love you enough to hold you accountable, challenge your decisions, comfort you when you’re confused.

Please be open to their love-filled enquires – no defensiveness, open, willing to receive.

And remember just as you remain open to the input of family and friends, stay sensitive to God’s whisper. He longs to gently direct. He petitions us to consider His ways, His thoughts, His motivations and when we do, He provides the clarity we need to navigate our journey.

I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.

Psalm 32:8 Living Bible (TLB)

BeLOVED, find the courage to ask those you love, those that cross your path, the difficult questions and as you walk through life, find the courage and humility to respond to the direction you receive.

Be Blessed,

Signature - Allison

Thankful

cayla1-C5nJ0GhmLAU-unsplash
Photo by Unsplash

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!

There is no fan-fare, no gifts, and no pressure to out-perform last year. That’s probably why I like it so much – a simple holiday that asks us to take time to reflect and consider our blessings.

Thankful is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as,

Conscious of benefit received, expressive of thanks, well pleased.

To be thankful is practicing an acute awareness, recognizing the benefits we have received from our experiences. And then, expressing thanks, resting in the outcome.

It’s easy to be thankful when life is moving along effortlessly. But expressing thanks and resting in the outcomes is more difficult when there is a bump in the path and life is jolted off-course.

This year my life has been filled with bumps and being grateful for outcomes seems a little much. But at the same time, this year has deepened my appreciation for the small things – time spent with my husband, a cup of tea with a dear friend, a telephone conversation with my sister, a river walk with our fur baby.

Priceless gifts I’ve often taken for granted.

That’s the funny thing about adversity, the bumps we encounter in life, it brings perspective. With each new challenge, a new opportunity to trust God, reach out to loved ones, and wait for the thankful (the blessing will be revealed).

I challenged myself to take time and reflect on the year. Look for the blessings that resulted from this year’s bruises.

I am thankful for:

  • Jesus – He willingly sacrificed glory to occupy our world, die for my sin, and gift me eternity
  • A husband that is kind and gentle, a man that loves me unconditionally
  • The heartbeat I feel in my chest
  • Family, extended family, chosen family all filling me with joy, holding me accountable, and challenging me to listen for God’s leading
  • The ability to see the morning sunrise, smell the woody pines, ear the birds’ wings as they fly overhead
  • Retirement – a pace of life that allows me to just “be”
  • Writing, sharing words that hopefully inspire and challenge

Thanksgiving is a few days away. I encourage you to take time over the course of the week to find a quiet place and reflect on your year.

Perhaps you’ve had a few bumps, some major challenges, or maybe life has been simple and kind. Wherever you find yourself, look for the blessings, identify why you are thankful and then write it down. Consider sharing your list with those that mean the most to you.

Wishing you God’s blessing this Thanksgiving.

Be Blessed,

Signature - Allison

Jesus on Demand

greyson-joralemon-dDvR7eD6pf8-unsplash 2
Photo by G. Joralemon

My husband and I started our Christmas planning this week. We thought it was about time given it is only 5 weeks and a few days away.

The stores have been stocked since September and the reminders are starting to hit our email inbox – online stores asking us to shop again.

One of our favorite things to do is to decorate our home. We decided this year we would go big and have a company hang our lights. We have a steep roof pitch and neither of us wanted to risk a fall or a broken something – just easier to have the professionals tackle it.

My husband called around and you probably already know this – it is EXPENSIVE! They try to soften the blow by telling you that subsequent years are cheaper but we decided to do it ourselves.

So, I’ve had this bright idea for a few years to build a manger. I love the manger scene. During the Christmas season, I have them scattered all around the house. Some are rustic – hand-carved, others are intricate sculptures but all tell the story of our Savior’s birth.

Well, I convinced my husband to build a manger. Honestly, it didn’t take much arm-twisting. He likes a challenge.

We collected some scrap lumber from a nearby construction site and we built a manger. I have to admit it turned out pretty nice, life-size, sturdy, worthy of hay, and…

Oh, what am I going to put in this manger? I hadn’t thought it through to that level. So, of course, I started looking online for a baby Jesus – Amazon, Hallmark, Hobby Lobby and then I came across the most interesting ad. The ad boasted,

Baby Jesus on Demand!

I clicked the link and sure enough, there He was lying innocently on the page. The ad went on to say I could have Him here in just a day – Jesus on DEMAND today.

I wonder if that isn’t how we think of Jesus. His sole purpose, to respond instantly to our requests. On-call Jesus, at the snap of our fingers.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I get comfortable. If honest, I get complacent going about my business and pushing Jesus to the back of my mind, my heart, my attention. But when life gets complicated or my plans fail then I want Jesus to show up now, help me now – at my disposal.

During the holiday season, the pressures to do more, buy more, visit more, attend more, can press Jesus to the margins of our hearts. He no longer is the focal point of the celebration season but a mere decoration – placed in the manger neatly displayed on the entryway table.

What would happen if this Christmas we invite Jesus to be the center of our celebration? What if we slowed down this season and spent time with King Jesus. And perhaps after December 25 comes and goes, we ask Him to stay the focal point of our lives?

James 4:7-8a reminds us,

(7) So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (8) And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you.

As you prepare for this celebration season, I encourage you to draw near to the most precious gift you will ever receive, Jesus. Please don’t push Him to the periphery of your mind but invite Him near.

He waits for you.

He longs for a relationship. He loves you!

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

Finding our true value and purpose in Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:17