About Me

My photo
Blue Ridge Area of Virginia
Alicha McHugh is author of "Daughter of the Promise" first in her: Numbered Among the Stars series (available on Amazon.com). She is a homemaker to her husband of 15 years, homeschooler to their children. Writing, enjoying tea and creaming Raw Honey are three of her current pursuits. Grabbing time to read is always high on her list of priorities! If you'd like to contact her, she'd love to hear from you! Just email: alichamchugh@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A "Thankful" Epiphany ...

I miss Virginia a ridiculous amount. I mean, truly PATHETICALLY miss Virginia...Oh let me just tell you how much...

I miss it so much, at times, in quiet/secret moments, it takes my breath away and I sob. I think I began missing it the moment I knew we were moving while, unknowingly, we still had five more months there! But at that point I'd entered a kind of fog, shock maybe, that's only lifted in the past few months, freeing me to feel the heart/home sickness I'd stowed away. This is completely silly, but I miss it so much I've even tried making up my own Virginia ballads, sonnets or such that would share this bizarre and I must admit inordinate amount of intense emotion, justifying the tears of longing I have for flowering trees, rolling hills, painted valleys, near shorelines and close horizons...

There. I have been wanting to share that for some time...and I did. Without crying, without feeling sorry for myself...as if it were just a fact of my life, one to acknowledge for a point. And what point would that be? I'm so glad you asked!

I was talking with my daughter today, this very day, about missing VA (she misses it too) and while I acknowledge to her how I missed it too, I mentioned the several dozen wondrous "signs" God has given to remind us, he knows, he cares, he sees, he is with us, he is for us and he loves us...more than we love VA. AS I was recounting to her this list, I quoted Philippians 4:6 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
And suddenly, and I mean SUDDENLY, there was a paradigm shift in my understanding of that verse..."With Thanksgiving" caught me by surprise...such surprise, it took my breath away and I began to cry...let me explain:
FOR DECADES I have always thought and prayed to the Lord with that verse in mind...in the midst of certain issues I basically have thought: "I need to come up with some things to be thankful for because, well, otherwise I'm an ingrate and what better way to NOT get my problems solved! So, okay, God, let me think...think, think, think (Winnie the Pooh moment) what can I be thankful for?"

Dear ones, own heart...I feel like I've uncovered a pearl in this truth: The Lord doesn't ask us to come up with random things to thank him for in the midst of a trial, or even to thank him for the trial itself parse (although that shows a measure of faith and is good too). Rather, He wants us to come with thanksgiving, acknowledging the gifts of what HE has already planted in the midst of that trial.

It is an honoring act of faith before the Lord, as in our obedience, we prove HIM our faithful Father by looking for the things that God has placed, in advance, WITHIN our trials, the sole objective first and foremost to be able to thank him. It's not only always simply saying, "Thank you for this trial, I'm sure I'm going to learn something from it at some point." Rather a heart attitude that trusts, like my children trust me, to do good and not evil towards them, not just in the future outcome, but in the present circumstance! To trust that God is who he claims to be to those who have trusted Jesus as both Lord and Savior, that he is our Father and as a Father, he has provided hope in the situation, because he who cautions us, "Do not frustrate your children" does not frustrate us. On that note: if we are frustrated, that originates in us and a heart of unbelief that does not trust He is Good and the giver of Good Gifts and then searches for the One who "satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness"! ~ Understand context of the frustration of which I'm writing...

It has been only 9 years since my walk of faith began with the Lord. A walk which embraced not only His Salvation by way of the cross, but also His Lordship over my life and all that that entails, and it's like I've been given new eyes, seeing even in the darkest of times in my life the light that was always there, is always there, illuminating moments, circumstances, provision within the times of hurt, failure, disappointment, and sorrow for and to those who know him and those who are of "The Called, according to his purposes."

And in this I begin to get a clearer glimpse of the One who has called me his child and he my Father.

Below is a list of the incredible wonders that God has infused our longing situation with "good things". It is my list, but you are welcome to look and marvel with me! :)

A main road a mile from our house is, I kid you not, Virginia Blvd.
The street that we would take every day in VA because I was too scared to cross over traffic so I'd go down to the traffic light: McKinney!
I lamented the fact that we wouldn't be seeing our beautiful crepe myrtles in bloom again. I even posted a picture on FB of my beautiful tree! McKinney is called: the crepe myrtle capital of TEXAS!
We had such snow, the likes of which haven't been seen in 80 years by some newspaper accounts.
Everywhere we've moved, we have struggled to find a church to belong to...we found one within one month of being here.
I didn't want to do yard work after doing it all myself in Lynchburg for five months. We have like NO yard here!!! 
We got into a CC group that accepted us, welcomed us and put absolutely no pressure on us to "perform" because frankly, we didn't have it other than to do the bare essentials!
We can walk everywhere, with trails and paths leading to parks and ponds/lakes...I have high hopes of loosing the weight I packed on while I was juggling everything without Rick in VA, I didn't have time to care about my body, and frankly I just went with it! Already starting to see progress!
(a praise with this: My right heel, that has been giving me excruciating pain for the past 2 years, after a fall down some stairs, seems to be all better! At least my increased gym time attendance hasn't brought it out!)
Facebook and email (for you dear friends who have not drunk the fb "Kool Aid"~ private joke) has been a lifeline to friends back home. I'm not on it too much, but it has been just enough to aid me through some difficult, transitional times. I'm blessed by you!
Two weeks before Texas was just a place as far to me as China seems, I saw a news clip on the George W. Bush Presidential library, and I thought, I'd like to visit that! I wonder where it's located...Texas? Whatever! Well...We'll be visiting it in the next month or so!
We got to see the Alamo and the famous River Walk!
I know what it is to long for a land where my heart resides and not know when I shall be called home.

The list does go on...as does His grand benevolence, starting, of course, with Himself...


Saturday, February 14, 2015

For the Christian Woman who, like me, WANTS to read "50 Shades of Grey"

God desires me to be genuine, authentic, REAL about my faith…so here goes… The truth:

I WANT to read 50 Shades of Grey...I want to read it so badly I cried...actually cried.

For those of you who read that and say, “What? Cried? Really?”  I say, “Yes. REALLY. CRIED.” And I rejoice for you that you have no idea, reason or reckoning that something like this book could bring this Austen/Shakespeare loving, Mommy to two beautiful little girls, Jesus Girl to actually cry out to God and tell Him honestly, “I want a reason to give in…to feel good, entitled even, about this teensy weensy indulgent read.”

You see, for ALL of my teenage years I didn’t just read trashy romance novels….I ABSORBED them. How did it start? My mother, who finds no enjoyment in anything fiction and was at one time an ad vide nonfiction reader on just about any topic…was given a book by a friend who raved about this book. It had the most beautiful princess in a light blue gown laying in the lap of a handsome man on the bank of cliffs somewhere oversees. I was maybe 9 and I was dusting behind the couch and it was a forgotten book on the bottom shelf. 

Sin finds a match to our hearts...know that for your children…and I surely met mine.

I found this book, and subsequently other like books, gave an easy, instant fix to heart cries I didn’t even know I had. To be wanted, to be “loved”, to be needed, to be desirable, to be held with regard…for someone to go to the greatest heights and depths for me…uh, I mean…for the beautiful damsel. It was tantalizing, sensationally, and for a moment in time…satisfying even.

 Now, I was not popular in school…at all really…but I fit in okay with the drama crowd and was even accomplished enough to get some star leads and the Principle’s Medallion for the Dramatic Arts my senior year in High School, a time when it was all about ME. Even so, I do remember this…the most popular, beautiful, intelligent (our junior year she won some huge award for some national test beating out people statewide –academics was not my strong suit so I have no idea what the test was J) THIS girl, who could herself have been on any one of those covers, traded these books…with me.

Back then, I just thought it a neat thing we shared…now I realize…trashy romance novels are not just for the “poor, obscure, plain and little”…they are for those who desperately want to FEEL loved…even if it’s sex based, even if it’s twisted. And a virgin can be counted before God just as promiscuous as a seasoned cheerleader hiding an abortion from her father.

Reading, for women, makes the emotional connection, that easy "fix". But it doesn’t last…and you want to read more of the same, and most often racier things…But then, if you’ve battled this…you know that already.

So…what happened with me now? Why am I at peace, writing about this…knowing that, for now, the battle has been waged and won…I no longer have that persistent nagging and secret desire to read it. But how? How is it I don't have that dread of coming across yet another well-meaning Christian on facebook ~from beloved John Piper and Kirk Cameron, to well-known and celebrated Jesus Girls getting on the “Why 50 Shades of Grey is bad” ban wagon that has actually brought this struggle to the forefront, instead of being a distant memory of a sin I once indulged. Which, frankly, is not a bad thing…and they have lots of accurate things to say about why it is just plain wrong from lots of angles. So if you want to find out the “why it’s bad” go there…I agree TOTALLY…while STILL wanting desperately to read it!~

AND I would love to say it’s because I know my Lord better now than I did when I was a teen, and THANK YOU LORD, that is true, I do know You more, I’ve walked WITH YOU and you have testified to my heart of your faithfulness, over and over and over in so many ways I want to weep for the reality that YOU SEE ME and you have done and are doing on my behalf…but...that’s not it.

And I’d love to say I used lots of scripture and ‘cast out the demon’ so to speak…and yes, I did a lot of  reminding myself of His words, and promises in scripture that are there for ALL in Christ. Reminding myself that he has “satisfied my longing soul” before…but no that didn't quench the want to.

And I’d like to say I’m in such a better place than I was when I was a teen…that I don’t have feelings of littleness, or obscurity…And though my girls are a sweet reminder of God’s love and blessing, the fact is life is REALLY hard right now, and I’m suck in the middle of a place I once dismissed as far away as China…In fact...in many ways I’m more lonely that I’ve ever been…so no… that’s not it either.

You want to know what broke the pull, the yearning, the wanting…being real with God…I finally, FINALLY did what He tells us to do when we are caught in something we don’t see the way out of and sometimes don’t want a way out of…”IF you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and CLEANS US from all unrighteousness!”  Those aren’t just words on a paper…every word of that promise is a pact sent from the heart of our Creator to our broken souls longing for something to fill in what ONLY HE was meant to fill…

For the weeks that this struggle has been I said a few broken sentences born of frustration…words that  amounted to something like: I WANT to read this dumb book more than I want YOU and it doesn’t help that everywhere I am…there is something reminding me of what I want more than YOU!
And there is was…the REAL sin.

You know Jonah?

Big fish, bleached skin, Nineveh spared…yeah him.

Some say he never repented…But there are those who think the Book of Jonah IS his repentance. Repentance does not always say the same thing, “Dear Lord, I’m sorry I’m such a sinner and I’ve done this deed.” The heart is not always so coherent, nor the tongue so eloquent.

Often…It is the heart of surrender under the weight of something we CAN’T fight that the Lord honors and rushes in to cover, to rescue and to restore. That we may know where our strength comes from and say with glad, thankful hearts words from the Psalmist, “My strength comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth!”