Thursday, August 27, 2015

I've got spirit! But is it the right one?

The last post I wrote was the day my Nana died. *sigh* I didn't realize that until just now. Fitting, though, since, when I was bawling my eyes out on my front porch yesterday, I wanted to call and talk to her SO BADLY. But of course, that's not possible...so more tears.

Ya'll God moved in my life and heart yesterday in a way that sinks way down deep into my core.

I haven't shared much of what I've felt lately because...I'm thriving, right? So NOW, my life has to be perfect, or people won't want to try Thrive. If I'm struggling, they may not think it works.

In retrospect, that's the dumbest conclusion EVER. I LOVE Thrive, it has changed my life, but ya'll, they're supplements, not Jesus. 

Anyway, back to my issues. I have been struggling a lot lately. I can't seem to connect sometimes...a lot of the times. Not with the kids, Josiah, or even with God. I'm trying and PRAYING, but to no avail. 

It came to a head yesterday...thus, the boohooing on my front porch after SCREAMING at my kids, a scene that's been all too common this week. I've noticed that the angry episodes and inability to connect are getting worse, particularly, prior to and during my monthly cycles.

I contacted a friend who asked me to meet for lunch, and on the way, I returned a call to my upline, Wendy. We talked about business for a few minutes, and then I spilled my heart out to her. I told her about it getting worse around my period and because of that, I'm thinking about getting my Mirena IUD taken out. I started to go into why THAT scared me when she stopped me...COLD.

She told me about a friend who had Mirena, who had the exact same symptoms. She said the doctor told her there was NO way it could be the IUD, so they tested her for all kinds of things. Finally, she had it removed...and it righted a vast majority of her issues.

I knew immediately that's what I needed to do.

I started to tell her that, but I also told her I was REALLY scared because I'm afraid of getting pregnant again, which makes me feel even worse because I KNOW Josiah wants more babies if possible...but I don't know that I do. I mean...I would LOVE any baby I have, but ugh...mother of SIX?! I'm just terrified.

She stopped me again.

She said, (and I paraphrase), Alissa, I know you love God and how dedicated you are, but all I hear from you right now is a spirit of fear, not trust in our Sovereign God.

And oh...how I cried.

She's right. I knew it immediately, DEEP DOWN in my soul, I knew she was right. I am living with a foreign object in me that is wreaking havoc on my body because I don't trust God enough to give me the right amount of babies. I don't trust him to give me what I need to handle any situation he gives me.

Oddly, I wrote about this just over one year ago (you can read that here). I remembered as soon as she said it, and I felt peace...the peace that passes all understanding. The peace that you get when you truly hand your worries over to our Sovereign God.

Peace.

My friend I met for lunch confirmed some of the stuff she was telling me, and then I called another friend who did the same.

THIS, ya'll...this is why you just can't be a lone reed, drifting through this ugly, dark world. We need other like-minded and like-souled individuals to guide us, to show us where we're being blind to our own sins and failures...so we can grow.

I am so grateful.

Let it also be known, that I tell people to "just trust God" All. The. Time. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of my heart and mind, I knew what I was doing wrong, but sometimes it's so easy to turn a blind eye to our fears. 365 times the Bible tells us not to be afraid...and yet...I think it's what Christians, the people who should struggle the least, wrestle with most.

So, I'm going to to make an appointment to get this Mirena out. I don't know what's going to happen from there, but I know God will guide us and helps us, no matter what. It's a REALLY good feeling.

I urge you. Today...right this minute...take a look at what you're consumed with right now. What are you worried about? What can you not stop thinking about? What have you turned around a million different ways to find different outcomes?

Take whatever that is, and place it before God. Trust Him to handle it...and don't be like me. Don't snatch it back, assuming YOU can do a better job of handling it than the Creator of the universe.

Remind me of that, the next time I do it...and I'll do the same for you.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Mourning My Nana

Today, July 27, 2015, my Nana left this world...2 days before her 81st birthday.

For those of you who know me well, you know what this means...what she meant to me. Means to me.

I got the call this morning from my dad just after 6. She actually passed away in the wee hours of the morning, but he waited. I'm grateful. I wasn't surprised. I kind of knew it was going to happen.

I cried on and off for a few minutes. I needed to get up, but I told Josiah, I just couldn't. I just couldn't get out of the bed and start my day because as soon as my foot hit the floor, that would be me starting my day...my life...without her. 

But then he said, "You'll never start a day without her. You never have and you never will. She's been such a big part of who you are and who your dad is, there's no way to start your day without her."

So, with tears and snot and a mourning, but grateful heart, my day began. I stepped out of the bed...and time marches on.

I am so infinitely grateful. I'm sad, but really...not everyone gets a person like my Nana: someone who thinks the sun rises and sets in you, who believes in you no matter how many times you screw up, who calls you her "angel face" and sends you stuff with angels on it to remind you that's how she sees you...and who taught me about Jesus.

Most importantly, my Nana taught me who Jesus was. She showed me his love. She gave sacrificially. She LOVED.

Avery and I were already set to fly out for her birthday. Now, that will be her memorial. And that's okay. God knew. He knows. I would love to have seen her and talked to her one last time, but that's okay. It would have hurt her so much to see little Avery and not be able to hold her and love on her and kiss her little neck.

That was her spot for kissing the babies...where she said all the good "sugar" was, and goodness knows...she loved sugar from the babies.

She didn't get to meet little Avery, but she saw A LOT of pictures, and she met Destiny and I...it's almost the same thing.

But she also named little Avery. She named her last great-grandchild while she was living. Sweet Avery Truth...your Great-Nana named you...because we couldn't name you Hilda Faye after her...and she was more than okay with that.

It's a weird time for me. I'm just flooded with memories. I got my strong fingernails from her. I would sit next to her at church or early in the morning on their porch screen and she would run her fingernails over the palm of my hand. I loved it so much. I do it with my kids sometimes now.

She made the best banana pudding I've every had in my entire life. It was legendary.

She always smelled like Clinique Aromatics Elixer. I didn't even know it existed until well into my twenties when I passed someone else who smelled just like my Nana, and I almost turned around in the grocery store to hug her...instinctively. I thought it was only her...that was just my Nana. After that, I would visit the Clinique counter sometimes to spray some on a sample paper and keep it in my purse or wallet. Just so I could smell her every now and then.

I may even do it today. I might take my tears and snot right up into the mall, and spray it on a piece of paper and inhale love. I'll break down right there at the counter, and it won't matter one bit.

That was my Nana. She always smelled great and looked beautiful. She loved her "bling" and she accessorized like it was nobody's business. She loved having her hair done by my Aunt Tee because she's the best...and she always liked to look her best.

She was absolutely beautiful inside and out. 

She was my person. My person I called for everything...every joy, every sorrow, every triumph, and every defeat.

I am grieving from the depths of my soul...places I didn't even knew existed, but it's like my sweet sis-in-love, Jamie, told me (because it's what she was told when her sweet grandmother passed away)..."The pain you're feeling is merely a reflection of how much you love her and were loved by her. It is a reflection of how wonderful the relationship was."

And that couldn't be more true. 

She's with Jesus now. She is with perfect love. I'm okay with that. I'm grieving and messy and mourning...but I'm okay.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Land of the Free and the Home of the...Gays?

So, today is a landmark day in history...a day I think we'll all remember.

Today, the United States Supreme Court, the ultimate law of the land, deemed that it is unconstitutional for any state to prohibit gay marriage.

And the country celebrated...

And the country mourned.

I've been praying all day about it, about whether or not I should wade into the waters of public opinion and share my two cent's worth...if it's even worth that. Why should I do that? Do I have anything different to add?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Nevertheless, as I've prayed about it today, I've felt an overwhelming urge to try to whisper a voice of love and hope over the cacophony.

Last Sunday I sang I song in church by Sarah Groves called When the Saints. At the very beginning she says:

Lord I have a heavy burden of all I've seen and know,
it's more than I can handle.
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I can't let it go. 

And now, that's where I am.

I don't talk about politics on this blog very often...or, well, ever. But this...this, I think, is important enough. So now, I'm going to say something that's going to make a lot of people angry.

Christians, we have to get to a point where we are more concerned about walking in our beliefs than we are about legislating them.

Yup...you heard me. I said it. Walk the walk, people, and then maybe, just maybe, someone will actually want to hear what you have to say about the love of Jesus.

But hey, all you Christians applauding me because I just put those other Christians in their place - yeah you, the ones waving around the rainbow flags today - I have a message for you, too.

We have this book that we believe was written by God through men, it's called the BIBLE, and ya know what it says? It says homosexuality is a sin. BAM. I said it.

It's a sin. If YOU want people to take your faith in God seriously, and therefore, take your witness to the world seriously, then you'd better wake up and smell the Fruit Loops because you're turning your back on what you believe. You are a hypocrite.

So...now that I've made everyone mad. What about this ruling, eh?

Well. *sigh* It makes me sad, I guess. Sad because of where society is and the direction in which it's headed. At the same time...life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, right?

Right?

As much as we, as Christians, like to stand on the Bible and declare this country was built on a faith in God, in reality, it was built on those three inalienable rights expressed in The Declaration of Independence.

Liberty is basically the right to be as free as possible, as long as you're not encroaching upon the rights of others.

Now, I know...they want to use the term marriage, which is indeed a biblical term for the joining of one man and one woman for life.

But guess what, we Christians are already doing a pretty good job at botching marriage: divorce, adultery, pornography, disrespect, lack of leadership. We're jacking it all up.

Here's where I'm going, my main point, if you will:

I can love you and still think what you're doing is wrong, but you have a right to do it.

I love people who lie.

I love people who cheat.

I love people who have murdered.

I love people who are gay.

I don't think any of those things are right, but I still LOVE people who do them. Do you know why?

"God proves His own love for us
 in that while we were still sinners, 
Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

Because God has loved me in spite of my sins and continues to love me in spite of them.

Furthermore, God is all about free will, right? He gave Adam and Eve a choice, and He gives each of us a choice, to accept Him or reject Him.

So, I respect your right to choose. I may not agree with your choice, but that's okay. All I ask is that you protect MY right to choose, as well. Please continue to protect MY right to speak...MY right to disagree with you.

In closing, on US money stands the phrase In God We Trust.

Well, do you? Do you trust in God, in His Word, in His divinity? If so, no matter what the world does, no matter what craziness ensues, you are covered. No need to fear. No need to go crazy.

In God We Trust.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

About a Vision

Since having the two babies back to back, I have lost focus. Every day has been a blur, and vision and goals seemed like distant memories....and then Thrive.

Now, I feel like I can attempt LIFE again, but where to go? What do I want or need? What does God want for my life?

Enter the vision board!!

I decided it's high time I started taking my dreams and goals and putting them in a place I can see them, every day. It's time to make them concrete.

You know what the danger is in that, though, right?

If I make my dreams concrete, visual, that means that I might FAIL.

That's pretty big and scary. However, slowly but surely, I'm starting to realize that living in fear of failure, and therefore, not trying to do anything is, in itself, FAILURE.

Failing to plan is to planning to fail, right?

We've all heard the phrase, but few are actually brave enough to make the jump. I'm joining the "few," baby.

So, without further ado, HERE is my vision board:


It's amazing what you can do with $10 in supplies and a printer, right?

There are different categories...my business, my love, my body, and my home. I have both short-term goals and long-term goals. 

Someone is going to comment on the difference between a vision statement and goals...I'm very aware of the difference. However, this is my rodeo, so back off Jack. I'll do it how I wanna do it. So...there.

It's so fun for me to look at all these things. 

There's a brand new Mercedes within my reach. (Who would have thought I'd ever even THINK about owning a Mercedes?) 

Yes, I planned to have a clean house by next Friday. It's something I struggle with. I'd much rather plan and make things and write blogs, thank you. But this is important for our home, so it's written down.

I found a fun picture of a big, old, beautiful house that has a ton of character and used it for our "new house." I love old houses...old, renovated houses. 

Then there's my body. That picture was taken, quite literally, the day I met Josiah. *swoon* I'd really like to be back at that size by my birthday in January. It would be a great present.

Then there's my Josiah. I miss him so much. He's working SO hard. One day, we'll be at a place where he can quit his 9-5 and we can both work for Le-Vel and have our ministry running. Apparently, I've said this day is 2 years from when I started promoting Thrive. We shall see.

There's nothing on here about "family" because I want our family to make a vision board together. I want my children to learn how to create dreams, pray over them, and make them realities.

But then there's that hole. The small, but gaping hole at the bottom right. I left that open for writing my book...for "one day...."

But then, after I put it all together, I just stared at that hole. What's stopping me from filling it now? Why don't I want to work on the book I know I eventually want to write?

Fear of FAILURE.

Boo.

So, I went to the computer, worked my magic, and printed it out. Then, with trembling hands, and a heart, still full of fear, but ever more courageous...I filled the hole.


June 24, 2016...one year from today.

I don't know if I'll actually have it finished by then. I don't know if I'll reach ANY of the my goals by the dates I have planned. Note that those suckers are on post-its. I reserve the right to change them.

But at least they're staring me in the face. This will be hung by my bed, and every morning and every night I will pray over these things. If they're God's will, then great, His will be done. If they aren't, then still great...His will be done.

I'll let Him direct my steps, but I will no longer use "whatever God wants" as an excuse NOT to do anything...not to plan.

My friends, what are your dreams? What do you want for your future? Are you like me? Have you avoided planning in order to avoid failure? How has that worked for you?

Think about it. Pray about it. Plan it. Then, DO IT. 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Running Chubby

Today, I'm going to tell you a story about discouragement. 

My friend, Chad, and I started our Thrive journeys at about the same time. We also both have a good amount of weight to lose. It's a tandem journey.

As these last couple months have gone by, I've seen him get progressively smaller. He's losing weight every day, and I'm SO happy for him. He's also trying REALLY hard. Thrive is a fantastic product that can help you with your weight management goals, but it's not magic beans. 

Thrive just makes it possible for you to put forth the appropriate effort.

Then there's me. 

I haven't been working out every day like Chad, but I have been consistently working out about 3 times per week...which is more than before.

I haven't been AS careful about what I eat, but I am being careful with my portions and eating pretty well...which is more than before.

I'm definitely drinking more water than before! Heck, I had to pee 4 times yesterday just at church!!

I've lost a few inches overall, but other than an initial 6 lb water weight loss, the scale hasn't moved. As a matter of fact...it's moved a couple poundls back in the opposite direction.

Now, I know all the answers. I know I've gotten more lean muscle again; I can feel the muscles in my legs re-forming. I know I've lost a few inches; I can feel the very slight difference in my clothes.

Nevertheless, I have been discouraged...very discouraged.

IT'S NOT FAIR!! I've screamed to God in my head. Yes. I scream at God in my head sometimes.

But yesterday, as I was brooding in front of my closet before church (because that's when I have a tendency to do that), the answer hit me like a lightening bolt...

God doesn't promise results.

That's depressing, right? Yes...but true.

You see, in everything, God just wants me to trust Him and be obedient....no matter WHAT that means.

God says I'm to honor Him in how I treat my body because my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit 

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own;
you were bought at a price.
Therefore, honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

My body is not my own. I need to treat it well. However, nowhere in there does it say that if I treat my body well, I'll look great. I've scoured the Scriptures; it never says God will appease my vanity by helping me lose weight. God doesn't promise that what we want will be exactly what we get.

Bummer.

Guess what that means? It means if the scale never moves, then I still need to honor God with my body. 

God led me to Thrive, and I feel better than I have in YEARS. He led me to promote Thrive, and that has helped us catch up on bills more than I ever thought possible. Isn't that God being faithful?

No matter what the directive, we are ordered to be faithful and obedient DESPITE the results we see.

Even if your husband never changes, you were told to treat him with respect.

Even if your wife never changes, you were told to treat her with love.

Even if you never see a changed heart, you were told to continue sharing the love of Christ.

Even if....


Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...looking to Jesus, God's son, God Himself (the mystery of all mysteries), who was obedient to the point of death. Jesus understood that the results of faithfulness go so far beyond what we want here on Earth, but have eternal consequences.

So today, I will run the race set before me. I'll have to run that race a little tubbier than I'd like; nevertheless, I'm running it.

What race is set before you today? Will you respond in obedience no matter what the results?

Monday, June 8, 2015

What NOT to Wear

I love how God works. Have I mentioned that lately?

I was talking to my friend Lindsay this morning, and we were both talking about things going on in our lives.

I was telling her that at one point yesterday I had to stop in my tracks and pray fervently for protection against lies. I also had to pray that God would work in me to even WANT a soft, teachable, loving heart because at that moment it was dark and cold and hard, and I liked it.

That's just real, my friends. I felt mean and hateful and calloused and cold...and I didn't want to change. I had to pray to WANT to change.

And then my sweet friend said, I have a word from God for YOU. (Reference this post)

*chills*

She said, recently, God had shown her in a very visual way that in order to take up HIS armor, we have to remove our own.

Mind blown.

She said she saw her taking off her own armor and laying it at the feet of Jesus. Only THEN could she pick up and put on HIS armor.

We have to remove our own helmets...the thoughts we know aren't godly, productive, or kind...so we can pick up HIS helmet of salvation.

Drop the breastplates of iron-like fear we've used to protect our hearts from pain...so we can pick up HIS breastplate of righteousness.

Fling off the belts of lies the enemy has tied around us...so we can wrap HIS truth around us.

Kick off the shoes we use to trod over others to elevate ourselves...so we can put on the shoes of peace and take HIS gospel into the world.

Set down the shield of self-reliance we cower behind in a feeble attempt to defend ourselves from all of life's problems...so we can take up our shield of faith in the One who commands Heaven's armies.

And finally, we have to stake in the ground the gnarled swords of our own malicious, hurtful words, swords dripping with venemous death...so we can take up our swords of God's holy truth, HIS Word.

A word TO me, FROM God, THROUGH my sweet friend.

I love how God works.

So that's what I'm going to do today. I'm going to shed own armor - the armor that weighs me down, rubs my soft heart raw, and then leaves brutal callouses - and instead, I'm going to take up the only armor that can save me: HIS armor.

I'm going to give without fear of getting in return.

I'm going to love wildly, even though my love may not be returned the way I'd wish.

I'm going to defeat the lies of Satan with truth, and then cut him out of my life with the sword of God's Word.

This is my manifesto.

What armor are you wearing today? Are you burdened with a defense system that's hurting you more than it's helping? Or are you taking up the armor of the one who's yolk is light because he taken all our burdens on himself...who gives peace that passes all understanding?

Today. This hour. This second. You can make the right choice. Choose wisely.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Let Me Be Specific

Sometimes, I have an idea for a blog post, but then a few weeks go by, and it becomes passé, irrelevant.

At other times, like now, it sticks around, nagging me. Weeks go by, and while seemingly unimportant, the subject hangs out, buzzing insistently around my head like a mosquito.

So, today's post is brought to you by the Holy Spirit...aka an annoying mosquito.

Today, Josiah and I will complete the third of four classes to get our Prepare Enrich certification. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Prepare Enrich is a FANTASTIC assessment tool for pre-married or married couples which helps them grow closer in a myriad of ways. REALLY awesome.

About a month ago we met with Keith Tully of FamilyLife via video conference. At that point, we already knew about Prepare Enrich, but he urged us to take the class to get certified and said, if at all possible we HAD to take the class with Bob and Diane Ruthazer in Richmond.

So, as God would have it, there was a class starting in just a couple weeks. We signed up, and that was that!

However, as the time crept closer to the class, some of the excitement gave way to trepidation. Do we even belong in this class? We haven't even been married that long? Should we be doing this?

I prayed fervently. I prayed specifically: God please help me...please help us, give us reassurance, that You are going to use us to enrich the marriages in our church and community.

The day came. Josiah and I sat down at our seats, and the class started...and so did the enemy.

First, we went around the room introducing ourselves and saying whether we had children and how many: Alissa and Josiah Coburn, 5 children. Easy. But then...then Bob started talking about how mentor couples are not novices, they've normally been married 8-10 years.

Um...that's not us,

Then as he was talking he asked if anyone had been married 5 years or less. We raised our hands, and though he didn't say or do anything to indicate that we should be ashamed, I was, nevertheless humiliated.

I wanted to crawl under the table. 

I sat there thinking, we shouldn't be here. We don't belong here. Why did Keith send us here?!

The first break came, and I just knew Bob was going to come over to us and start asking us questions about why we were there. I just knew he was going to tell us we didn't belong there.

As soon as the break started, his wife, Diane, got up from her place, and walked straight toward us. I braced myself for the worst. I had defenses ready. And then she said....

Are you all a blended family? We nodded. God is going to use you!!

I felt like Jesus reached down right there and wrapped his arms around me. I could feel him comforting me.

We went on to talk. I told her I was feeling insecure, and she just brushed it off, reminding us that having a blended family speeds things up. We face issues some couples don't face for years. She assured us that we most certainly belong there.

She assured us, again, that God will use us.

The exact words I prayed before the class. The same thing. God answered my prayer through that sweet woman when I was ready to crawl under the table, bury my head in the sand, admit defeat.

I've been trying to figure out what the moral of this story is, other than "God spoke to me."

I guess it could be that He cares. He cares about the BIG things, but He also cares about the minuscule...the little thoughts and feelings we have that we think He's too big to ever care about.

That's a good moral...but I still don't think that's it...at least, not entirely.

No, I think it's the power of the specific prayer. I think it's trusting God enough to pray to Him and ask Him for very specific things. I don't know about you, but I'm scared to do this sometimes.

I think, sometimes, I'm scared to pray too specifically because, what if I'm wrong? What if I pray for the wrong thing? Or what if He doesn't answer? What does that mean?

The Bible reminds us, though, that the Holy Spirit lives within believers, and the Holy Spirit IS God, and because of that, He always prays for us, in accordance with His own, perfect will (Romans 8:26-27, paraphrase.)

I can't pray wrong.

Furthermore, if I'm afraid to pray very specifically because I'm afraid He won't answer, then the only thing I've done is ensure that He won't. God cannot answer a prayer I never pray. 

I am limiting God. I am limiting His influence in my life.

God's answer may not always be, YES, but He will always answer. But only when our prayers are specific can we see His power moving in our lives.

Today, meditate on God's word. Pray about a situation in your life, and ask for something very specifically. I'm not saying He'll give it to you today. I'm not saying He'll give it to you tomorrow. But He will answer you, and by praying specifically, you are reinforcing your faith in Him and putting it very squarely into His Hands.

And they are mighty capable hands.