Yesterday we woke to our first dusting of snow. Although it was pretty, standing on our porch shivering I found myself longing for spring. Today’s post was written by author Delia Latham after a long winter. As we head toward blizzard season (in MO, anyway) take a moment to remember those first rose buds, leaf sprigs, and yes…weeds.

Pretty Little Weeds by Delia Latham

Spring brings with it such incredible beauty! Every year, I’m amazed all over again by the stunning gift of nature God gives us so freely, and which we rarely take time to fully appreciate.

Yesterday, I also discovered a lesson hiding in some of that beauty. Is it a new thing? No…I tend to agree with King Solomon: There is nothing new under the sun. But sometimes we need a reminder of things we already know, don’t you think?

My family had gathered out on the front deck, enjoying the sunshine and welcome warmth after a cold, harsh Winter that seemed endless. Most of the trees around us are donning their dress-up gowns in various shades of green for the new season. Across the way, Mr. Nichols’ redbud tree is a picture of fuschia-colored glory. Bright yellow forsythia blooms in several yards down the road.

Even the lawns have greened up and are taking part in the joyous song of nature, which always seems to me at this time of year to be praising God for another chance to shine.

Our front lawn needs to be mowed. It’s so beautiful right now, though, that I told my husband I hated to see the lawn mower come out of the garage. The grass is covered in a beautiful carpet of some kind of pale purple wildflower, just tall enough to blow and sway with every breeze. From where I was sitting, it looked like a sea of heather, stirred by gentle waves.

Of course, that’s just me being fanciful. Those pretty blooms aren’t even wildflowers, according to my husband. They’re weeds, and must be mown down—and the sooner the better, to prevent them choking out the grass. My daughter-in-law told me their lawn is covered in something similar, but it’s pretty little white flowers, which are also, unfortunately, just some kind of weed.

As I sat there and studied those pretty weeds, God impressed on me how similar they are to things that often crop up in our lives—things that need to be weeded out, but which we steer the metaphorical lawnmower around because we like them:

• Habits that threaten our health and shorten our lifespan. We not only “allow” them to remain in our lives, we embrace them, nourish them, cling to them, because they fulfill something within us. (Smoking, drinking, overeating, caffeine, OTC drugs, for instance.)

• Pastimes that probably shouldn’t be a part of the life of a Christian . They usually contain some element of attractiveness—that’s how Satan convinces us to take part in them. Simple things like books and movies that contain an over-abundance of R (or higher)-rated language, violence, sex, etc. Places we go that fall outside the auspices of acceptability for a Christian. Even the company we keep can fall into the category of a weed that, if allowed to flourish within our own lives, can choke out the healthy, godly growth that we should be nourishing.

Most of us, if we call ourselves Christians, do a fine job of holding at bay what we consider “big” sins. Think about it. Satan couldn’t convince us to rob a bank, sleep with our neighbor’s wife or husband, get high on cocaine, or molest a child if he tried from now until the end of the world. We know that…and so does he. His best chance of worming his evil way into our lives is through the little things: the pretty weeds on the lawn.

Song of Solomon 2:15 attributes the spoiling of the vine to “the little foxes.” Not a big lion or bear, not some frightening beast that’s difficult to bring down. No, it’s the cute little foxes. The things we barely notice, and if we do, they hold a certain amount of attraction for us. Baby foxes are adorable to look at…but when they’re grown, they become troublesome creatures that are not often welcome on one’s property.

When referring to anything with the potential to escalate into an unpleasant or troublesome situation, my Daddy (the earthly one) used to say, “Best nip it in the bud!” In other words, handle it before it becomes a problem. Pull the weeds before they choke out the garden. (In his case, a lot of times it meant replacing the spark plugs under the engine before they led to a more serious mechanical failure.)

Maybe this lesson was intended only for me. Sometimes God does that, I know—just drops an idea in my head because I need a reminder for whatever reason. That could be why he opened my eyes to those beautiful purple weeds on my lawn…and is it just coincidence that purple happens to be my favorite color?

Sometimes, however, the little spiritual nudges our Father sends to one of us can also be a blessing or a help in some way to another of His kids. So I thought I’d share with you the lesson He shared with me this week.

I pray it blesses you, and helps you nip something in the bud…

Originally posted on Living the Write Life

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Born and raised in Weedpatch, California, Delia Latham moved to Oklahoma in ’08, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website or e-mail delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Delia writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction, and is currently contracted through White Rose Publishing and Vinspire Publishing.

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If you’ve been to Reflections this morning, you’ve already heard about my lovely afternoon mucking around the yard tearing up grass. It’s funny how the seeds of one, deceptively cheery dandelion can infest an entire lawn. And crab grass must be on steroids!  Somehow the very thing that kills our grass makes the weeds thrive. And not just in the yard.

In August our family went on a week long vacation. We came back to a dead, bone-dry lawn. Turns out, we’d blown a fuse and it just happened to be the one connected to our automatic sprinkler system. And apparently, there had not been enough rain or cloud cover to keep our grass alive. Unfortunately, the weeds—knot-grass, crab grass, clover, dandelions—thrived and before long, our yard was infested.

Yesterday as I spent the afternoon tearing through the dead grass to reveal the soft dirt beneath, I thought about how closely the yard paralleled my spiritual life. Without the deliberate watering of our sprinkler, our grass was left to “catch what fell”. Unfortunately, the occasional summer storm wasn’t enough, and without my constant care, those weeds that could have been eliminated easily upon first sprout, had reached their roots deep within the soil, devouring any drop of water that may have fallen. And as the grass began to die, the weeds grew stronger.

What was the cause? Lack of water. In our absence, the grass had been left alone. How often do we do that in our spiritual lives? As believers, we know we’ve got the Holy Spirit. And we love to talk about how it’s God’s job to grow and change us. All good and true, but I doubt God intended us to be passive observers. Like my parched, brown grass, if we’re waiting for God to shower His Spirit upon us, chances are our hearts are nearing dehydration. And as they do, it isn’t long before weeds begin to sprout, reaching their roots ever-deeper into our hearts and minds. Weeds like selfishness, laziness, greed, bitterness, discontent, and on and on. Just like my rather delicate lawn, my heart needs care and nurture. It is my responsibility to see that I am fed. And I need to be on the alert, scouring the deep recesses of my heart for those pesky little dandelions that are about to seed.

So what do you do once you notice those weeds invading your heart? As always, the best defense is a good offense. Galatians 5:16-25:

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Jesus promised that if we abide in Him, He will abide in us. James 4:8 tells us that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. And when you stand in the presence of God, meditate on His holy Word, and surrender to His limitless love, the weeds will die. And in their place will sprout love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, and self-control.

What does it mean to “walk in the Spirit?” Check out what Got Questions has to say.

About a week ago, I shared my struggles with discouragement. It’s funny how often I want to keep these internal struggles to myself, to present a false image of spirituality to others, but I am beginning to realize how important authenticity is. In my latest novel (still in the editing stages) the majority of Alice and Trent’s struggles arise from self-isolation. Sure, they’ve got issues. Major issues. (Don’t we all?) But I think their issues would be much more manageable if they would only reach out and let others help them. We weren’t meant to go it alone. As I like to say, we’ve all got skeletons in our closet but they’ll never go away if we keep the doors locked.

I think there’s something freeing about open, honest confession–when we share our deepest struggles with one another and allow others to help us. Not only does it free us to live truly authentic lives, it also adds a level of accountability. When I shared my struggles with discouragement with you, it added an additional level of motivation to overcome them. And now, when I share my first step on this road of truth-claiming, (I call it this because I am tossing out the lies and laying hold to the truth I have in Christ), knowing my previous struggles, you can rejoice with me. So it’s a win-win situation!

The other night I was over-tired. I had company coming from Uruguay and I really wanted to finish the first draft of my current novel before they arrived, so I was pulling some horrendous hours. Mind-numbing, eye-blurring hours. But I did it! By Monday night, I had written almost 89,000 words and had three scenes left and one more day to write them. No problem, right? After two months (I write fast. Either that or I’m slightly ocd, but that’s another post.) I could finally see the finish line. You’d think I’d be rejoicing, but I wasn’t. As I set my computer aside, a wave of discouragement washed over me, threatening to steal my joy of accomplishment. Self-doubt spewed through my mind like popcorn kernels popping off a hot kettle and those tiny little weeds of doubt tried to sink their roots into my heart.

So what did I do? I grabbed my weed-killer! The first thing I did was make the determination that I would not, would not, absolutely would not, allow those nasty thoughts to camp out in my brain. I threw them out like the trash they were. I have a phrase I like to repeat to myself when I am frightened, discouraged or sad. It’s “Just you and me God.” I find myself saying that a lot, but it reminds me that none of this peripheral junk matters. God loves me, and I’m holding on to Him, and whether my novels thrive or flop is inconsequential.

And then I went to bed, in peace. The next morning as I was reading my Bible, God spoke words of encouragement that both reaffirmed my commitment the night before and strengthened my heart to complete the final leg of my first. It came from two verses. The first I just happened upon as I was flipping to my page marker. It was in Exodus 34:6 and it reminded me of who God is.

“Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…”

I tucked this in the back pocket of my mind and moved on to the Psalms. I follow along verse by verse and just happened to be on Psalm 139 this morning. We’ve all heard this passage a hundred times and would be quick to agree with its premise. We are created by God, known by God, loved by God and guided by God. But this morning, verse 16 jumped out at me.

Psalm 139: 16  “Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

Putting those two verses together annihilated any remaining weeds and filled my heart with excitement for the day to come because I knew whether this novel soared or fell flat on its face, it was all part of God’s plan for me. All of my days are written in His book, even those I may initially deem to be failures. And because God is a God of love and mercy, even those painful days when I feel like I have egg on my face are steps forward as God works out His loving plan. Which means all I have to do is take that next step, resting in His loving, guiding and protecting hand.

You may be happy to know that I completed my novel and I am now working on a book proposal which I hope to present to an agent by the end of the month, and I’m sure a few weeds will try to sprout as insecurities fight for prominence, but laying hold of the promises in these two verses, I’ve already got my hand on the trigger! Watch out crabgrass, here I come!

Just you and me, God. Just you and me.