Bloom & Grow

Bloom & Grow

One of my girls thrives on verbal affirmation while the other seeks out lots of snuggles.

It is my absolute favorite to see a smile climb up the cheeks of my older child. She is much less likely to outwardly reveal when something touches her inwardly, so when I see the evidence, I soak it up and store it in my heart. This usually happens at bedtime, when I whisper words of life over her and she thinks it is too dark for me to see her delight.

A few nights ago, I read the girls a library book about the process of planting flowers, watching them grow, and seeing them spread their seeds for new flowers to have a chance to bloom. I turned off the lights and whispered to my word-loving daughter, “You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

My favorite smile spread slowly across her face and I knew she would drift to sleep that night feeling loved and having purpose.

I turned to my snuggler to say the same thing, but her response was to giggle, “Mommy! I’m not a flower!” Perhaps she isn’t old enough for metaphors just yet. I made sure to squeeze her tight so that she too would feel affirmed and loved.

I’ve since been thinking quite a bit about flowers and their seeds.

Notice the seed. Before a flower can bloom, its seed must succumb to the process of transformation. When a seed is planted, it goes into the soil never to look the same again. 

It’s not an easy process. The germination (sprouting) of the seed requires the nutrients of the soil, the moisture of water, and just the right amount of sunlight. Each seed has its own needs for life to form.

The hard shell of the seed melts away as the greenery of the plant reaches through the dirt and stretches to find light. In the right environment, the plant will begin to flower and feed the life around it.

New flowers will have the opportunity to bloom and grow as fresh seeds are scattered to the ground.

Did you know that your life resembles that of this flower?

For us to bloom into our greatest beauty, we must die to ourselves. We must succumb to the process of transformation so that our hard shells can melt away. It isn’t easy, is it? Sometimes we feel pressure, maybe a bit of loneliness. It may feel like we are drowning, that we are too hot, or too cold. But when we allow ourselves to submit to the process, we realize that our Gardner knows just what it is that will bring blossoming flowers in our lives.

There will be seasons when we feel the ache of our growth, and also seasons of rest as we wait for the sunshine to warm us again. But the result of these seasons of growth and rest, is the season of beauty. At our peak, we are beautiful flowers offering nourishment to those who come near. Our scent is alluring and our seeds spread with the promise of new life to come.

Whatever season you are currently in, do not forget this truth, my friend:

“You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

Stay close to your Gardener. He will give you what you need, when you need it. Remember that the difficult moments will not last forever. New growth is coming.

“…When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.” 1 Corinthians 15:36-38

The Opposite of Toxic

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How many of you have seen articles like the following?

  • “10 Signs You are Toxic Parent and Your Children Will End Up in Counseling Because of It”
  • “5 Phrases You Should Absolutely Never Say to Your Child Unless You Want to Singlehandedly Ruin Their Life”
  • “You are the Worst at Parenting and Here is an Article that Lays Out Exactly Why You are Failing”

I’ve clicked on them. I’ve said/done some of the things in them. The natural conclusion is that I am ruining my kids and they would be better off elsewhere.

Except NOT.

I am far from perfect at this parenting thing. But aren’t we all? I have yelled at my children and immediately regretted it. I’ve bribed, I’ve stomped around like I was the child, I’ve cried… I’ve had some bad moments y’all.

I have even gone to counseling because I was struggling so much with feeling angry most of the time.

I am convinced that no matter who we are, if we look hard enough, we will find an article that lists one of our behaviors as toxic. And then what happens? We leave that place feeling defeated and hopeless. Every time we repeat that behavior, we beat ourselves up for it, wallow in our awfulness, work really hard at never doing it again…JUST TO DO IT AGAIN.

What a way to live.

Can we agree not to do this to ourselves anymore?

Instead of running to the internet, let’s run to Jesus. His words are far, FAR different from the ones we see in those negatively titled articles. Jesus absolutely will not make a list of our failures and shove them in our face. Instead, He speaks life and truth to us while showing us a better way.

When I look to Jesus, I’m able to use my worst moments to lead me to be a healthy parent. I find strength to stand in prayer and hand my anxieties over to Him. I take the responsibility off of my own shoulders and place it on His. The more I do this, the less often I find myself yelling out of frustration. I am grounded in who God has created me to be!

I still have moments. Just this week, I got frustrated and yelled at my girls. I hate it. But instead of going into a dark, deep, negative spiral about what a failure I am, I use it as a teaching moment.

My girls know 100% of the time that my anger is NOT THEIR FAULT. Because I tell them this! I repeat to them why I love them and list off the reasons of why I am so grateful for them. I remind them that certain behaviors are not appropriate for them to do, but that is never an excuse for mommy to yell at them. I can say to my children, “I’m feeling frustrated, so I’m going to have a moment to myself and pray to Jesus.”

And THEN, when they have an outburst of anger or respond inappropriately, I can lead them in healthy alternatives of how to handle their emotions. I can tell them that I understand how they feel, but that we are still responsible for how we react. Because I am leaning on Jesus to show me a better way to live, I get to lead my girls in a better way to live. 

Talk about empowering!

If you fear that you are living in a negative cycle, get help. Pray to Jesus. Talk to a friend. Sign up with a counselor. But know that there is HOPE.

Jesus is in the work of transforming lives. You don’t have to stay in the darkness because He is the Light! Live in the freedom that is found in following Him.

And friend, I’m with you. I’ll be here to encourage you and pray with you. You are not alone!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Beautiful Crumbs

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We came out of dust. Dust in itself isn’t exactly something I would use to decorate my house. It certainly isn’t beautiful. But God took that dust, and with it formed man. He used something dirty to create something good. (Genesis 2:7)

We came out of clay. Muddy. Lumpy. But just like a potter with a wheel, God took our miss-shaped clay and formed it into something that would reflect His glory. Once useless, but He designated purpose. (Isaiah 64:8)

From ashes to beauty. He is known to bestow crowns, joy, blessings, and a reason to celebrate where before there was nothing but despair, mourning, and grief. (Isaiah 61:3)

From slaves to royalty. When we decide to surrender our lives to Him, making Christ our Lord and Savior, we are automatically adopted as His sons and daughters with full rights of sonship. To us who were once orphaned, He offers an inheritance. (Romans 8:15-17)

God is in the business of taking people who were nobodies and transforming them into somebodies. He takes the lifeless and breathes new life and meaning. What was once ugly becomes magnificent.

God loves to create beauty, and I believe He passed that character trait onto us.

For instance, I like to make cookies.

Sugar cookies specifically. The process is kind of complicated. I start with a list of simple ingredients. Scoops of flour and baking powder get mixed with butter, sugar, eggs, and a touch of flavoring. All of which slowly morph into a clump of dough. The dough is then rolled out and cut into shapes. The best part though, is the icing. I use a runny icing that dries hard and smooth to make art out of those cookies. By the end of the cookie making process, they are embellished with color and design. I often have to convince people that yes, I do want these mini art forms to be eaten and enjoyed. Wouldn’t it be sad if all that hard work went to waste?

Sugar cookies are one way God’s love of beauty is reflected in my life. He brings it out differently in each one of us.

Here are a few ways I’ve seen women around me discover and reproduce beauty in their lives and the lives of those around them:

Home decorating
Raising godly children
Gardening
Making meals for those in need
Photography
Leading a ministry
Hair & Makeup
Writing books, music, blogs, etc
Painting and/or coloring
Pottery
Volunteering in her community
Assisting a mother give birth
Teaching
Words of encouragement
Sewing
Hosting
Providing for her family
Organizing

The list goes on and on and on because one of the ways that God creates beauty is the way He makes us all unique with our own passions and talents. We each have the opportunity to provide a little beauty to the world around us in our own special way.

How do you love to create beauty? What process of creating brings you joy? What hobby, activity, or interest makes your heart skip a beat? Maybe that’s there, because God’s Spirit in you cannot help but create something beautiful through you.

It matters not how unworthy you feel. How messy, broken, or insignificant you perceive yourself to be. God’s favorite way to create beauty is through those who haven’t yet realized just how beautiful they are. Allow Him to do what He does best. Offer Him your crumbs and He cannot help but to make something stunning out of them.

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:3-5)