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!!

I’m More Concerned Over Your Heart

This will be a vulnerable post—but since I’ve gone down the “vulnerable path” in many of my other blog posts I figure what’s another? Besides, most generally, I get someone who thanks me for being real and raw and for helping them sort out some part of their own mess, plus writing out my thoughts helps me process…and if there wasn’t a devotional reflection to go along, I wouldn’t bother making a post at all.

With that, here it goes…

I hate debt!…There! I said it.

We don’t have a ton of it—no student loans, no credit card debt, no lines of credit, etc…BUT we do have a vehicle loan and a house payment. And for nearly two years my goal has been to power pay that car loan off. I “planned” to make the last payment in February 2019, but unexpected medical expenses came about last year when my oldest daughter ended up with a ruptured appendix. Our kids’ health always trumps all. That being said, any money that was to go to the car loan went (instead) to a high insurance deductible…five digits high. That bill is now done and over and we’ve moved on…

This year I planned (once again) to power pay on the vehicle loan, hoping to pay it off sometime early next year. But another wrench was thrown into the mix when our youngest daughter ended up sick. This Monday we’ll head to a GI specialist where our girl will have a double scope. They’re checking for Chrons or Celiac, so prayers for answers are seriously appreciated.

I’ve been on edge because she’s been feeling and looking great the past month so I don’t want this to be a procedure that could’ve been avoided. We’ll hit that very high insurance deductible once again. Peace of mind will make it worth it and I’m holding onto the hope that they’ll find the reason to the positive celiac blood-test results from last month, but if they don’t, I’ll be frustrated…I know myself well these days.

If I’m honest I’ve been pretty bitter about all of these doctor bills because it throws off my plan—my plan to finally kick the vehicle loan to the curb—my plan to be one step closer to debt-free—my plan that has caused me to see just how much of a control-freak (about money) I truly am…

My husband is the breadwinner in our house and I take care of the finances, that’s just how we’ve operated and it seems to work. So at the end of last month I toyed with the idea that we should move, and when I told my husband my reasoning he was like, “okay, sure”. Continue reading “I’m More Concerned Over Your Heart”

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! 

A Post-Easter Post

Each year, on Good Friday, our church holds an evening service in honor of Christ’ great sacrifice. There’s typically music, some scripture reading, and then the pastor does a little talking.

This year though, my husband and I were asked if we’d speak during the service and share what Good Friday and Easter mean to us, along with a few other questions, and sort of give our testimony through it. Although we were humbled to have been asked to share, the thought of standing on stage combined with public speaking slightly intimidated us.

We agreed to do it nevertheless, and had practiced our answers ahead of time, and were feeling pretty good about it…but when the day of the service came I began to panic. I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of public speaking and the tears began to spill just hours before we were to speak. I wanted to wimp out!!

I couldn’t remember my words suddenly, I couldn’t decide what I’d do with my hands, and the idea of where I’d look completely overwhelmed me. Continue reading “A Post-Easter Post”

Error 101…

Oftentimes after I hit publish for a blog-post I’ll go back and read through the published copy which has been sent out to anyone who follows my blog; and the post is also available to anyone who may be interested in that particular blog-topic…

More often than not, I’ll read not too far in, and the grammatical errors begin to stand out like a vegan at a steakhouse…and I’m like how in the world did I miss that one?!! 

I miss-spell simple words, confuse commas and parentheses, and inaccurately use ‘their’ when I meant to use ‘there’ (that one’s a frequent flyer). I once wrote loves-truck instead of love-struck (huge difference when you’re trying to make your point about two young love-birds on Valentine’s Day). And last week my husband pointed out that I had typed Bid in my post instead of Big when I was supposed to be referring to ‘Big Daddy Weave’. When I notice or become aware of this type of thing, I immediately scroll through attempting to make everything right…and…well… “perfect”.

A fellow blogger, Ann, over at Seeking Divine Perspective wrote a post a few months ago she called What the-?!? where she writes about the time someone read her blog and asked if the name of her blog was supposed to read ‘Seeking Divine Perpsective’ or ‘Seeking Divine Perspective’. (Some of you will have to take a double or triple look to find that error, I never noticed until she wrote about it).

For over a year she’d been blogging under the name ‘Seeking Divine Perpsective’, where the p and s were flip-flopped in the word “perspective”. As a retired English teacher, at first she was greatly appalled that she hadn’t noticed, but very soon the Lord spoke to her heart and reminded her that imperfection happens, yet there’s an incredible amount of goodness to be thankful for and rejoice over, nevertheless.

Her “perspective” over life is beautiful and she brings it out through the words in her blog-posts as she aims to glorify God…regardless of a misspelled blog title, which I believe has been corrected now.😉

Honestly I could beat myself up over the many errors on my own blog posts and make a “bid” deal about something harmless, but if I choose to do that then Satan’s just getting the best of me—and the worry, fear, and anxiety would quickly escalate to other areas of my life…

Satan longs to seep into our struggles and tell us we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough…

Not Enough.

Such a powerful word…when we allow Satan to lie, crush our joy, and use that word (enough) to label us we’re brought down negatively, but allowing Jesus to use it over us—it changes everything…our whole “perpsective” changes…it no longer matters how it looks on the outside. Through God’s word we learn that we are MORE than enough—errors and all! God offers mercy and grace over our imperfection through a Perfect Jesus.

Romans 5:8 says, ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’

Instead of pushing repeat for Error 101 lessons, I need the reminder of truth from Psalm 139:14, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

For so long, in my quiet prayers, I was guilty of pleading, saying: “God help me to get over my past, help me to not beat myself up, help me to not allow Satan to get the best of me, all of my mess-ups are too much…but here recently I’ve changed that prayer, thanking God for the life He’s given me, and the things I’ve learned along the way, and for what He’s doing these days—in and through me…for His Purpose…and now, I’m not near as distracted and annoyed by my inevitable flaws.

He’s an amazing and wonderful God…the best part of my life and the reason I am who I am today!! I’m so thankful He loves me unconditionally…mistakes and all!

Romans 8:38-39 says ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

The Cone of Shame

I feel like our dogs end up at the vet every other month. If it’s not for a routine check, we’re there because Eli’s seizures are flaring up or he’s not feeling up to par. The other day though it was my daughter’s dog, Macs (a little three-pound Yorkie who self-identifies as a pit bull). To keep this post rated ‘E for EVERYONE’ I won’t go into a detailed description of his medical issue, but I will tell you his back half was suffering irritably so without delay I loaded him up and took him in. Turns out he’ll be fine; doc fixed him up and sent him home with two different types of meds….and since he’s a chewer and a licker he also got a free prize!!!….a plastic necklace AKA the cone of shame….

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60109B14-CCE2-4268-A80F-AB6C193D2697The poor little guy looks pathetic trying to tote along this protruding piece of plastic (that’s half his size). When he walks, he now has a waddle and his head bobs from side to side, almost resembling a swagger-type strut; but his face and eyes droop, revealing a true depressive temperament. (I wish I could attach a video to give you a good laugh but apparently I’d have to upgrade my WordPress account so just imagine Ace Ventura’s awkward stride and you’ll have a good idea!) And to top it off it’s been snowing a lot here, so when Macs goes out for potty breaks you can imagine the “snow-cone” humor from my kids.

I feel bad for him, but in a canny sense I’m reminded of the many times I’ve mentally and emotionally worn my own cone of shame for a lengthy period of time…when I’ve caught myself nagging at my husband over petty things, harping on my kids when really I’m the one in need of an attitude check, or when I allow the lies that I’m ugly (because of my past) to fester…the list goes on and Satan quickly steps in and says, “here my pet, you’ve messed up again, let me firmly place this cone of shame around your neck—keep your head down, don’t look around, just focus on your pity and the extra weight you carry, and most importantly medicate yourself with an extra dose of embarrassment and shameful thoughts and feelings. Now stay put!! And remember your key diagnosis is shame.” Continue reading “The Cone of Shame”

Pocketknife Lessons

My son eagerly inquired for what seemed like the hundredth time, “so mom did he text yet? I’m really wanting that pocketknife, did dad text you yet?”

“No Warren, he sure hasn’t.” I responded in a gentle but exasperated voice.

My boy and his dad had made a deal (a few days before) pending good behavior—If my son (Warren) held up his end of the deal, showing respect and a good attitude, he’d eventually receive a mini-pocketknife from his dad’s scant collection and on the flip side: poor behavior and lack of respect and bad attitude would equal no pocketknife.

Pretty simple formula to process.

…maybe not for an eight-year old boy with an abundance of extra energy.

#thestruggleisreal, right?

First off when this deal was initially communicated a deadline must’ve been overlooked and never discussed. Warren seemed to be failing at recognizing that patience and self-control are two very important and necessary components of respect. Both of which he was lacking as he repeatedly questioned me asking if his dad had messaged yet to give a timeframe on this deal.

In other words I believe he actually wanted to know ‘how long must I practice and display being EXTRA nice?’ (Um, for the rest of your life son)…After all he’d been holding doors open for others, using an abundance of more-than-usual verbal manners, and even helping tote things to and from the vehicle with our busy on-the-go schedule…all without being asked to do so.

So per his request, I had texted my husband (who was at work for the day) to see just when this “positive attitude for pocketknife” exchange might happen and in the meantime Warren was anxiously awaiting his father’s response.

Finally when he asked for the hundred and first time if I had heard back yet, this is what took place: Continue reading “Pocketknife Lessons”