Bloom, baby bloom!

Bloom, baby bloom!

We recently re-envisioned and re-designed our backyard space…well it was really more of one of my “Honey, I have an idea” moments to which my poor husband Dave groans and rolls his eyes wondering how much effort, financial investment and time this particular ‘idea’ is going to cost him. This project involved tearing down our old play fort and replacing it with a beautiful butterfly garden with a swing as well as a separate fire pit area. I also envisioned colorful rose bushes that would climb over a trellis with a swing hanging down in the middle of it. It’s become a big project!

As I was purchasing the roses the gardener queried if we currently had rose bushes and how they were fairing. I nodded and exclaimed that yes we had roses and they were huge and were doing really well (with really no thanks to us and our green thumbs). We have no clue what we are doing, have never pruned it, fed it, or fertilized it yet it’s growing very well and huge, providing a sanctuary for the birds who come visiting for their seeds as well as much needed privacy on our back porch. He went on to explain that there was a terrible disease called Rosette spreading all across our area destroying rose bushes. I sure was thankful we didn’t have that and cheerfully purchased all our new plants including some rose bushes.

As soon as I returned home with my new plant purchases I examined our huge rose bush and was absolutely shocked to see many of the dark red shoots that he had described jutting out all over our precious bush! We had the disease. Ug. Scouring the internet for more information and asking other experts, I learned that the disease had taken out ALL of the rose bushes at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens as well as the entire crop of roses in Tyler, TX, the city known for its gorgeous blooms. How devastating! What was the cure? Sadly, there was none known. I was instructed to bag up the diseased plant and take it to the trash. 

Not being one to give up easily I decided instead to PRAY over our beautiful bush, a treasured gift from our veterinarian after our dog Sandy passed away. Additionally, my approach is to go out each morning and pluck off all the offending growths and keep on doing so in order to hopefully maintain this adornment to our yard. I pluck them off just with my fingers, no clippers, as these small growths come off quite easily. If left to gather strength though they develop into nasty, gnarly, sci-fi worthy creations with huge thorny spikes and ugly, ugly dark red ‘blossoms’. Creepy. At that point they require careful dissection with metal shears to avoid the sharp thorns.

As I was removing all the tiny buds of destruction this morning the Lord reminded me that our minds are just like my precious rose bush. As the negative and untrue thoughts creep into our minds, we quickly brush over them, deciding they are not that big of a deal. However, the more we fester and stew on these thoughts the more they grow into those gnarly, ugly, destructive protrusions in our minds and in our hearts. It could be anything from repeated thoughts of bitterness to others, guilt over a past sin, hopelessness to think we can ever ‘really’ change, or the myriad other ways that we go down the path of pain and bondage. Removing it at that point takes a lot more work and does a whole lot more damage than if we ‘nipped it in the bud’. I get it, Lord.

Lately I have been plagued by condemnation as a homeschool mom and business owner. Lies such as: you’re no good at this – why keep trying, you’re not organized enough, they aren’t going to be able to make it in the ‘real world’, they would be better off in school, and then on the business front: no one wants what you have created, why did you even start this business, you’re wasting your time and energy for no real results, and on and on. I did not ‘nip it in the bud’ and sadly this has ended in what I call “shame storms” more than once in the last few weeks including a torrent of tears, discouragement, hopelessness, followed by apathy. It’s not a pretty sight.

Is this what Christ died for? Shame, regret, and hopelessness? Nope. I see in my Bible that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but He came to bring LIFE and life more abundant. He says we are more than conquerors, beloved daughters of the King, his treasured princesses, the apples of His eye. So today I choose to bring the rose bush of my mind and heart to the only Gardener who can do the careful pruning and clipping that needs to be done to replace all the lies with His truth, to remind me who I am and Whose I am. I am loved….fiercely loved and so are YOU.

I am hoping and praying our rose bush fights off this terrible disease and blooms full on in the spring again. So, too, with us. Let’s bear the fruit of His love, mercy, and goodness in our lives and bloom, baby bloom!

Don’t eat poop!

Don’t eat poop!

Sadly, my middle daughter has a clear struggle with shame. When she gets in trouble or has her sister or friend hurt her with words or actions the response is always the same….a dropped chin, hung head, slumped shoulders, and a defeated composure. She is ready to swallow more of the same nasty pill of shame.

She has struggled with various health issues including not being able to gain weight adequately and a dairy intolerance. Despite my background as a dietitian and my consistent attempts to boost her caloric intake the result was always the same….poor coloring, little to no weight gain, and the ever annoying dairy issues. The more I have studied the root cause of disease I postulated that perhaps my daughter and her shame response was contributing to her health issues so I asked the Lord how I could encourage her and help her walk confidently in who she was and allowing all the ‘junk’ to fall off of her without becoming internalized and ‘swallowed’. This is the picture I received….a big beautiful plate heaped with POOP and tied with a great big beautiful red ribbon. Oh this was going to be good!!!

The next time there was an occasion where my sweet 11 year old began to go into her posture of shame following some incident I sat her down and described the image in my mind. I told her that the enemy wanted nothing more for her to ‘eat the poop’ and accept this beautiful ‘gift’ which wasn’t a gift at all of course. She looked at me, shocked and then started laughing her head off. It headed off the shame cycle and made her recognize just what this response was doing to her and her body.

Now I just have to say, “Makenzie, don’t eat the poop!” and she can’t help but laugh and recognize that she wants to go in a different direction in her response to whatever is upsetting her. I am also thrilled to report that she has gained at least 2 pounds within the few months I have implemented this and her dairy issues are all but GONE!

Yes indeed this has worked great with her but recently I realized that I was doing my own bit of poop eating. You see with my nearly 11 year struggle with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis there are some days when I literally cannot get out of bed until much later in the morning than I would like. I was beating myself up that the kids deserved a better homeschooling mother and my husband deserved a better, more energetic and healthy wife like he married. I was wallowing in a pit of shame and self-pity. It was then that I remembered the poop analogy and recognized that I had been duped by the enemy and was taking in that ugly shame.

I am so thankful that the way we find healing is to bring things into the LIGHT. It is there that we can expose the enemy’s schemes worked in darkness and deception. You’ve been found out! I am not falling for it and my penchant is for pizza, peaches, pasta, and peas but NOT poop. When I hear that familiar lie about what a poor job I am doing as a homeschool mom this is the truth I need to cling to:

Isaiah 54:13 – All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

My children are taught by me every day but the Lord is really the One who is teaching them and giving them His peace.

And how about this one when I feel tired and worn out and not much good to anyone…

Proverbs 31:10 – A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

My worth is NOT in what I can DO but in who I AM in Him and the character I bring despite the limitations I face in my health. And while we’re at it, I am a human being NOT a human doing. He delights in me as His daughter and His creation and He does you, too!

How about you, my dear? Do you recognize the sly move of the enemy to tempt you with shame over some area of your life where you don’t feel like you’ve done something bad but that you ARE bad and just don’t measure up? Well good news! You don’t have to eat that disgusting ‘gift’ which wreaks havoc on our minds, souls, and bodies. No more poop! Instead feast on God’s Word filled with all the truth you will ever need about who you are and the worth you hold. You are beloved.

Living Like Lucia

Living Like Lucia

Max Lucado happens to be one of my favorite authors. Over the years I have enjoyed many of his books and his unique literary stamp: his love of the very short sentence, his liberal use of alliterations, and his sweet sense of humor. My most favorite book of his though happens to be one written for a much younger audience. You are Special portrays the main character, Punchinello, a somewhat miserable and discouraged little Wemmick. He compares himself to all the other Wemmicks and comes up short in his own estimation of himself. Others seem to agree with his assessment and give him liberal amounts of ‘dots’ which essentially equates to shame and criticism in our adult world. Other seemingly more successful Wemmicks have liberal amounts of stars for their vast achievements in sports, music, or other talents. They are walking in pride.

The star of the book though happens to be Lucia who does not have any dots OR stars sticking to her at all. Punchinello is in awe of this and wants to know how she does it. She takes him to meet the wood carver who obviously points to God, the Father. He helps her to see herself the way he sees her because he created her and neither the stars or the dots stick because she values his opinion more.  He explains that they only stick when you let them.

I can’t tell you how many tears I have shed over this simple yet quite profound children’s book. I long to consistently live like Lucia and not have the piercing words of others or even the praise of others define who I am. Instead I need to continually go with childlike faith to my own Heavenly Father and Creator to let Him remind me of who I am in Him and the unique way He designed and fashioned me. Instead I sometimes choose to swing on the Pride/Shame pendulum and ride the highs and lows that each bring. It’s really not that fun or a very healthy way to live. How about you?

Maybe Lucia can help you and I remember to whom we should look each day. Will we let the accolades and praise of others puff us up and cause us to feel superior? Or will the biting words and sharp sting that others’ (or even our own!) words and actions bring ‘stick’ to and wound us? I for one want to live like Lucia and visit my own Carver every day and have Him remind me that I am His, that He is mine, and His opinion is the only one that truly matters. Let’s watch those stickers fall, friends!