Weeding With Purpose

Surrounding our front patio are a variety of colorful flowers—and oftentimes, nestled snug within, are gobs of weeds…it depends on how busy I get with life as to how well my flowerbed fares. In fact the weeds had become such a distraction (recently) that any pleasure and beauty of the flowers could be easily overlooked. Thankfully the other morning I finally made time to get out there and pull those pesty weeds!

With every pull and tug the area began to shape up nicely. The irises stood taller in their purple splendor, the salvia seemed fuller with its many leaves being able to spread out, and the roses now look as if they’re bursting with the anticipation of revealing their soft, velvety petals before too long. And my favorite, mums, now have room to expand as they work on growing bigger so they can fully impress me come Autumn when their flowers finally bloom.

Y’all the pulling-weeds-part is tough work though!! I about landed on my bottom more than a handful of times! Goodness!

Nevertheless removing those weeds is necessary and makes such an incredible difference! …Once the weeds are gone, it causes those flowers to radiate with hospitable charm.

As I worked along, I considered the characteristics of unpleasant “emotional” weeds I occasionally have embedded deep within myself that show through my words or actions—impatience, selfishness, lack of appreciation. At times, my best representation of myself is that of a weed. I came to the conclusion that I sometimes just need a good, thorough weeding just like my garden area.

In Matthew 13 (verses 24-30) Jesus tells a parable using weeds as life application…I’m gonna paraphrase for the sake of our eyes and time…Jesus describes a man sowing good seed in his field. An enemy comes along and sows weeds among the wheat while everyone was sleeping. When the wheat sprouts the weeds appear as well.

In this parable Jesus was referring to the wheat as believers and the weeds as unbelievers, implying that the two live and grow side by side. He follows up in verses 37 through 43 by explaining…

“The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

I didn’t paraphrase those last verses for the purpose of driving home this point—the end times will come and those who’ve made the choice to continue to live and remain as weeds among the wheat won’t stand a chance when the harvest comes. My heart sits unsettled when I think of people I love who don’t know or understand this truth.

There’s a motto my church uses that states:

Because of the grace of God, we at MEFC will be the hands and feet of Jesus, willing to get dirty in the weeds of life.’

We (who are believers) have a mission to get crazy-busy because I don’t believe for a second that all of these weeds among us are meant to perish eternally. We have such an amazing opportunity to share Jesus and His unconditional love with others.

In my flowerbed I have a ridiculous amount of bindweed. If you’re not familiar, it’s an obnoxious vine-weed with soft, colored flowers that quickly grows and suffocates out other plant life. The funny thing is that I actually like the looks of bindweed. I think it’s pretty and the flowers that bloom on it resemble that of a morning glory.

But left undone or unmaintained it can create quite a mess among the flowers you really want to nourish.

(Photo from gardeningknowhow.com)

However, as I’ve studied on bindweed I’ve learned that (more recently) people are discovering positive uses for it. The flowers can be made into a laxative tea and the tea doubles as an astringent to clean damaged skin. The petals and vine are sometimes dried and then used to create vintage art projects; still others leave the bindweed in its natural state to present as a floral arrangement. Perhaps one of the most interesting uses is the idea that some prefer to snack on the stalks and roots of the bindweed, which are said to leave a bitter aftertaste.

The truth is, bindweed can serve many uses, which transcend the idea that it was ever a weed to begin with, finally giving it the opportunity to fulfill meaning and purpose.

Likewise, when we notice unhealthy, weedy character-traits within ourselves we must rid the disorder so that our best, useful areas can be put forward and be of positive benefit, bringing glory to God. On the other hand we may quickly want to point out the disruptive weeds (or unbelievers) in our lives—but we never know the purpose God calls on one’s life (no matter how messy it may seem at the time) if we don’t offer someone help or a chance to grow purposefully. We must trust and never give up hope that ultimately God cultivates spiritually, and He can take a weed (the person type😉) and pour living water upon it so that something beautiful and productive comes as a result—worthy of a place in His Eternal Garden!!

Eleven-Years of Maternity Leave…and a Giveaway Item

A little early Mother’s Day celebration post…

My husband isn’t really too far off from the truth when he tells people I’ve been on an eleven-year maternity leave.

In 2008, when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter I was working at a small bank and training to be a loan officer. It was a sweet opportunity and I was looking forward to coming back after maternity leave and beginning this new career venture.

But then that tiny little bundle of joy came and five weeks later I carried my new baby girl into the bank to proudly show her off to my fellow bankers, while my bubbly toddler pranced about merrily at my side. I was one week away from maternity leave being up and when they asked if I was ready to come back, I gave them the game changer—I had decided I’d rather handle dirty diapers full-time over dirty money.

Fast forward several years…

Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t easy…I’m home, but the dishes still pile, laundry overflows, and sometimes I serve cereal for supper—and I’m probably (for the thirteenth year in a row) not gonna win the ‘Mother-of-the-Year award’!!…And honestly I’m not even sure that award actually exist anyway! Who’s ever known any mom to ever physically receive one?!!

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My kids are now thirteen, eleven, and nine (the two youngest are homeschooled). We’ve definitely had our challenges as I’ve watched them over the years provoke one another, cry simultaneously, and then make-up as the best of friends…an overplayed process repeated almost daily…but thankfully the crying is beginning to fade away!8A6287CB-4AA3-43AC-A4D9-4D68417B2AB8

In more recent years I’ve added some ‘out-of-the-house’ work to my life. Once a week I do hair at a nursing home and when it works with our schedule I pick up substitute teaching jobs…I’m currently filling a long-term sub job for a mama who’s on maternity leave.

With this, I’ve realized that moms who work outside of the home AND manage life at home with a spouse and any number of kids are Super Moms! Seriously! It’s tough enough keeping up on necessary housework and caring for a family, but then add-in the responsibilities of fulfilling a work schedule on top of that— and goodness it makes for a crazy week!! I have such a new, deep respect for any mom who does this!!

When I consider women in general though—those with a spouse, those without…women with children and women without—I see how important it is that we remain encouraged and motivated so that we may endure this wildly busy life humbly yet gracefully. A great encouragement for what a noble woman resembles is described throughout Proverbs 31. Verses 11 and 12 note that ‘Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

Verses 25 and 26 move on to describe her as: ‘clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.’

Further on in verses 30 and 31 we read: ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.’

These verses aren’t at all noting a woman’s outside appearance, rather they point straight to the beautiful heart or character of a wise and strong woman. Without these charming inner character qualities she wouldn’t be viewed as a woman, wife, or mom of notable inspiration. To top it off, her many achievements have been accomplished due to her reverence of the Lord. There’s so much to be learned from the portrayal of the Proverbs 31 woman—from daughters to mothers, to wives to widows (even sons, husbands, and fathers)—we can all use Proverbs 31 to encourage those special ladies in our lives. It causes me to see how much I want to live up to the Proverbs 31 woman!

With Mother’s Day around the corner I’m filling my Etsy shop Simply Rustic Looks with fun jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, genuine leather earrings) for women of all ages. My featured item this month will be the MAMA❤️ necklace, regularly priced at $16, but specially discounted to $12 through the month of May. This necklace has been personally metal hand-stamped by me (one letter at a time) giving it a one-of-a-kind unique style and is made of an aluminum bar hanging from a stainless steel cable to make it nickel and lead-free (hypoallergenic).

**Shipping on jewelry is always free in the U.S. and 10% of sales support InFaith ministry.

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**The link provided below will take you directly to the Etsy listing:

Click here: MAMA ❤️ NECKLACE

As an added bonus I will be doing a giveaway item for anyone who comments on this blog post—sharing some wonderful mom-tips, advice, or encouragement—perhaps even a favorite Bible verse filled with some mom-cheer! On Sunday, May 5th, I will draw from those who commented and notify the winner by commenting to their blog (or to my email readers you may personally email or text accordingly and the same rules will apply). Giveaway item will be an aluminum stamped bracelet on genuine leather rope (below), yours to personalize how you choose! I will mail it out (first-class) to the winner on Monday, May 6th.610E6115-4742-4631-917B-805F131847CB

(I am redeemed’ shown as an example).

Blessings!! And Happy ‘early’ Mother’s Day Mamas! 

Even If it’s ‘Silly Yak’ (part 1)

Last week I posted with the celebration of my daughter’s second blood test coming back “normal” after previously learning that the first test was abnormal, with iron-deficiency anemia and weight loss as the key concerns. I blogged about how worried I’d felt over my girl during that time of waiting before we could see the pediatrician to find out what was going on. I struggled in trusting God yet I remained in His word and in prayer. And then after we met with the pediatrician and later received a call saying the blood work came back normal with the second testing I felt like I could finally breathe again.

Here’s what I didn’t mention in that blog post though, because it was never a possibility in my mind, I’d already mentally crossed it off..the pediatrician we saw last week suggested we run an additional test for celiac disease which would take a few extra days to get results back. Meanwhile during that waiting period I had blogged celebrating God’s work of healing with the thought of a clean health status for my girl because the blood results were now good.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the celiac disease term, if not, here’s a quick run down: celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barely) leads to damage in the small intestine and difficulty digesting food. If left untreated it can also lead to other autoimmune disorders and complications…and in the state of California someone probably thinks it causes cancer—that’s my own thought though. (I was born in California so I’m justifying that comment.)

So last Friday the pediatrician called with a spoiler alert—McKenzie’s celiac test results had come back and they were positive…sidenote: Did you know that when you use talk-to-text on your phone to say celiac it’s more than likely going to translate as ‘silly yak’ or ‘silly act’? Just a little random, useless knowledge for you!!

When I got the call I was surprised, but handled the news rather well, thinking about how we already have a head start on this deal. I eat gluten-free, although I stumble every now and then.

In fact I was on quite a gluten-free roll at the beginning of the year but then about four weeks in I caved to some dollar chicken nuggets from Burger King. A month ago I succumbed to a strawberry donut from a family owned bakery in town, it was much-needed after a rough day of subbing. And birthday cake, don’t get me started…It happens!! But for the most part I stay on track, and now my little Mc can join me.

I’ll simply stock up on more gluten-free products and purchase double the produce so her and I can satisfy our dietary needs. We’ll get creative in the kitchen together and explore new recipes while sipping lemon-flavored ice water and snacking on handfuls of popcorn.

1 Thessalonians 5:11—Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

I’m just not intimidated by the word celiac and I won’t allow it to define my girl. I’m actually seeing it as somewhat of a blessing. We now have a potential answer as to why her tummy bothers her so often, and I’ve also learned that iron-deficiency anemia and weight loss are two side effects of celiac disease. Her being sick so often just makes sense now, and although it’s a chronic sickness, it’s definitely a manageable one for us.

Mc’s already taking interest in some new foods, so she may very soon ditch her longtime nickname “Picky Micky” (she earned it years ago for obvious reasons.) The other night at supper she looked at me and said, “alright mom I’ll have some broccoli, but it has to have ranch, and I’m not eating it because I like it, I’m eating it because I want to grow!”

…I’ll take that mindset!!!

We have an upcoming appointment for McKenzie at the end of the month where the doctor will decide if they need to do an endoscopy, the final procedure that confirms or rules out celiac disease. She’s still eating gluten foods for now, this way the biopsy will have an accurate reading, but she’s also expanding her palate these days with a wider variety of healthy foods that don’t contain gluten as she knows it’ll help her feel better and get stronger.

Now for the devotional part of this post…which I’ll post tomorrow, for the sake of your eyes and your time.

But I’ll leave you with a ridiculously yummy gluten-free recipe and some scripture encouragement, McKenzie’s favorite Bible verse: 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

Grilled Chicken with Avocado and Mango recipe

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Be Strong and Courageous

My husband and I are adding to our family…

again…

in August! 

And I’m having mixed feelings.

Just to clear the record, I should mention, this won’t be our very own child…instead we’ve accepted the offer of hosting a foreign exchange student next school year. When this was first planned I was fairly excited, but then I quickly determined I’d rather bury my face until June of 2020…

March has been a rough month for our family and maybe that’s the reason for my recent, negative approach about this whole thing.

It was a long and cold Winter, and Spring hasn’t really sprung in the midwest (even though the technical date is here)…so we wait in anticipation of warmer temperatures and lively shades of green to make their grand entry into our part of the world.

With that, I’ve had stir-crazy kids with wild attitudes, who are seriously overdue for some outdoor play time.

The end of the month brought sad news as we lost my husband’s grandpa. He was such a sweet man—thirteen children he and Grandma Beverly have so you can imagine their numerous grandchildren as well. He always knew each of the grandkids by name and wanted to take them home as his own whenever he saw them at family gatherings. Grandpa Witt will definitely be missed by all of us.

During his last days he was really suffering, but we all knew he was Heaven-bound whenever God would call him home—now he’s pain free and with Jesus, which makes it so much easier to grieve.

So why am I bent out of shape about this new (and hopefully sweet) young gal coming to live with us for a whole school year??? Well it has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me, and my family, and our sass-tudes!!!

Selfish sounding, I know, but…

Here I am, not even four weeks past my “lemur-post”, which included that little lesson on self-control and ‘gently’ handling one another’s differences..and umm, I’ve already failed in following that lesson more times than I can count since hitting publish on that particular post!😔

As my kids’ attitudes have flared this past month, with arguing and competing against one another, so has Mama’s. I’m exhausted. I’d like to say I can just Martha Stewart everything and deal calmly and rationally with their disagreements but I’ve carried an unruly tone in my voice when lecturing them.

I get disappointed by their behavior, then more disappointed by my response in dealing with it, and honestly I’m afraid we’re going to frighten this poor Russian girl off…I have it all mapped out in my mind—she’ll spend a few weeks here, determine we’re nuts, we’ll fail to show her an amazing Jesus, she’ll secretly pack her bags and then drag them across a few corn fields to the nearby rural airport and take the first little puddle jumper over to DIA, heading back to Russia in a mess of tears and an extra baggage fee of regret!!

So there you have it, I’m worried that we’re gonna scare her off before she even gets a chance to know us. Continue reading “Be Strong and Courageous”

Finding a New Perspective Through Zip Lining

I sat, securely in a harness, suspended from a cable about fifteen feet off the ground. My husband walked alongside my kids who were down below cheering excitedly. They pulled me and my attached equipment to the starting point where they’d release the rope and send me sailing on a zip line amidst a thickly wooded grassland.

Adventure? Yes.

Enthusiasm? Not from me at this moment.

When my family was invited to an evening of fun at what has been dubbed “magical” Narnia, we quickly accepted the offer. This tiny slice of Heaven belongs to our Pastor and his wife and sits on ten acres with a river gently flowing along the edge of the property. With four-wheeler trails, rope swings, a camp fire area, shooting range, zip line, and lots of space to climb, roam and explore, it really is a good time for an outdoor enthusiast and it’s entertained many over the years.

But as I sat anxiously, about to be whisked away, I was far from impressed but hesitantly persisted on—in hopes of overcoming my fear. Knowing the set-up was completely secure still didn’t alleviate my anxiety. I tried to ease my mind—It’ll be over in seconds…I’m probably the five hundred and eleventh person to use this zip line…my insurance deductible has already been met this year…my kids and many others have been zip lining all evening and they’re still in one piece…

Let me tell you, when you’re afraid of heights—NONE of these things matter—AT ALL.

Without warning, my family freed the pull-rope and there I went zipping along wildly at the expense of Tarzan and his chimp’s amusement, AKA Nate and kids. My emotional state heightened far beyond my physical suspended height, and when it looked as if I was going to smack a tree that sits way too close to the zip line trail it was game over for me. “I don’t like it!!” I shouted down to my amused onlookers.

And then just as soon as it began it ended. It was over. I made it to the end. I was safe.

…I thought about how at an earlier point in my life I had enjoyed the thrill of zip lining and other wild adventures.

But that was before a husband. Before kids. Before adult responsibilities. Continue reading “Finding a New Perspective Through Zip Lining”

A High, Low, and a Funny

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Photography taken by R. Peters

At our house we’ve adopted a great conversation starter when we gather around the table for dinner at the end of the day. Each of us verbally notes our high for the day, then our low, and lastly the funny of our day. It always amazes me how some days we’ve spent all day together yet each of us has something different to point out. Side note: sometimes when it’s my husband’s turn to state his high for the day he’ll keenly rattle off the “high temperature” for the day…before giving us his true answer.☺️

These table conversations are important because they cause us to know one another’s hearts, feelings, cares, and concerns a little more. Our kids enjoy the idea of being the only one in the “family spotlight” for a few moments during their turn, highlighting whatever it is for the day that stuck out most to them. Often times these smaller talks lead to larger discussions, taking it to a deeper level where we can really reflect, analyze, and engage with one another.

Since you and I most likely won’t be sharing dinner any time soon I thought I’d share my high, low, and funny over this past week (via the blog). Please feel free to do the same in the comment section below if you wish. Continue reading “A High, Low, and a Funny”

Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*This is part 3 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 2 are located at the bottom of this post

Growing up I took for granted the idea of family time and commitment. We had many fun times, but I failed to place much value on our years together while they were occurring.

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Winter of 1999-a few months after my dad’s motorcycle accident

I’ve managed to mentally revisit and collect the moments we spent together and I hold on to those precious memories now.

I can also identify our number one struggle as well. We believed in God, but we were far from a relationship with Jesus, therefore our family-dynamic suffered in following Christian morals, which led to lenient parenting. Often times I was absent—drinking and partying with friends. House rules and expectations were shallow for me; late nights and a selfish mentality were abundant. Mistakes and poor choices were high as I ran wild.

It wasn’t until I was married with three young children and in my mid-twenties that I recognized the hurt and brokenness in me. I thought I could fix it on my own and I tried for the next five years.

I watched as my mother, meanwhile, had found healing over my father’s death by seeking Christ. I remember relying heavily on her for wisdom during that trying period and she pointed me to Jesus every time.

And then one day I finally submitted… Continue reading “Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)”