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?!!

58AF8C8E-1902-4A1C-AE6B-B948CABDC5FC

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.

5E79F95C-99C2-493E-B2E2-5E2D96C63AE9

**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 (part 2)

Part two of Even If…

After learning my daughter’s recent celiac test results came back positive, I’ve thought about how Satan could have a heyday with this, because before I knew that, I’d celebrated with a blog post (last week) on how McKenzie was better, her blood work was great the second time, and we were out of the woods praising God for healing…but then in the days since, the outcome has changed, so do we still have reason to celebrate and praise Him?

Absolutely!!

Do I still believe God can totally heal McKenzie, or that the positive test results may have shown up as a fluke deal, and that when we go to our next appointment to see the GI doctor later this month they’ll tell us she’s completely fine and to go back home?

Absolutely!!

BUT even if it’s not in God’s plan, even if our circumstances don’t change, even if McKenzie is fully diagnosed with “silly yak” disease we’re going to praise God regardless, and our faith is going to remain solid—because God is still God, He’s in control, and His ways and plans our better than ours. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

‘Even if.’

It’s the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel chapter three as King Nebuchadnezzar threatened their lives with a roaring fire if they didn’t bow down and worship his gold statue.

Remaining true to the Lord, the three men refused to serve any such false god, and when Nebuchadnezzar taunted them, they proclaimed their faith even bolder: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

The men held onto an “even if” kind of faith, while their lives lied at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar’s hot orders.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were securely tied up and banished to the scorching furnace, while maintaining their loyalty to God.

But in amazement, the king noticed not just three men walking around in the fire, but four men, unharmed and unbound, and he declared the fourth man looked like ‘a son of the gods.’

King Nebuchadnezzar called the men out and he saw that their bodies hadn’t been touched by the fire and their clothing was completely intact, and he praised the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and acknowledged the power of God.

I have to tell you, last month when McKenzie started really looking ill, I had this mama-instinct we weren’t dealing with the flu. She needed to see a doctor, and as we sat waiting in the clinic at the start of all this—before any blood had been drawn, before any tests had been ran—my girl asked me to read her the Bible story of Queen Ester. So as we waited for the doctor to come in, we read about Ester’s bravery, and courage, and her very own “even if” faith, not knowing how much it would mean to us in the weeks to come.

When those first blood test results came back abnormal, concerns were present, and someone threw out an ugly six letter word that starts with ‘c’ and isn’t celiac and that’s why I was a hot mess.

I was struggling to carry an “even if” faith. But because I know I’m weak without God, I clung to Him through prayer and encouragement in His word, nevertheless…and strength came.

What good would faith be if all our prayers were answered immediately, on the spot?

God provides safety and an opportunity for our faith to build when the emotional fire rages around us, and He’ll carry us out if we obediently allow Him to, but it may not always look the way we planned. Even if our faith is smoldering in a bed of hot ashes, God is able to ignite that very glow and turn it into purpose, for His glory.

Knowing God makes it easy to love Him; loving God makes it easy to trust Him.  -a.m. witt

My daughter’s future may include celiac disease, but even if it does—our faith will remain strong and our hope will stand firm because of Jesus’ faithfulness to us along the way!

Romans 8:28—And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

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”

All I want for Christmas is…

All I want for Christmas is…a “prepared” Mary-like heart and attitude…

I’ve been substitute teaching quite a bit lately.

No worries, my homeschooled kiddos have a couple of amazing substitute teachers on the days I work so they’re well taken care of, academically speaking…Because I’m sure some people are reading this and like, “Gasp! What about your poor homeschooled kids when you sub?”…no worries I can assure (anyone who’s worried about it) they need a break from me, they’re fine! Don’t lose sleep over it. They’re doing great with their schoolwork with or without me at their side.

…Okay that whole paragraph above might very well be my holler of defense in regard to someone who recently hounded me about homeschooling and subbing because they’re anti-homeschooling…people are funny, even if you go to church with ‘em.

I feel better after stating that.

Moving on🙂…Every time I show up at the school it’s always the same procedure: arrive 20 minutes early, sign in at the office, head to my classroom for the day.

There’s always an organized folder with sub-notes sitting on the teacher’s desk, waiting for me to read through so I have an idea and schedule for how the day should run. And on every occasion there’s always papers tucked somewhere in the sub-folder which cover the proper procedures for handling emergency circumstances.

Can I just be honest for a moment?

I never, ever thoroughly read that part of the notes, just a little browse and that’s good enough for me. That’s part of my practical mindset. I get at least a general idea of where the emergency placards are located in the classroom, which the teacher would collect along with the students before hurriedly scuffling out of the room or school in the event of a crisis situation.

In fact, recently when I subbed, I quickly went over the emergency notes and glanced up and remember thinking, ‘K placards are near the door, good deal, it’s not like anything will happen anyway but if so I’d gather my students, emergency placards, and locate the nearest seasoned teacher in the hallway and follow her lead!’

I’ve discovered though that this limited-thinking is not okay, AT ALL, because last week there actually was an emergency situation at the school where I sub so often, where I had just subbed a few days prior. Continue reading “All I want for Christmas is…”

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

3ED6D797-AE3C-4C5E-B52C-64F8CDB523E9
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”