Thursday, August 12, 2010

Let's talk weeds...

A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds.

It is no secret that our kiddos love their books (though Lucy would be quick to tell you we shouldn't love them, our clothes, car, house, toys, etc. more than God), and are eager to be read to often. One of our favorites is And So My Garden Grows (The Mother Goose Collection) by Peter Spier. Wonderful art and classic rhymes - what's not to like?


The above poem is in this favorite book of ours. I never really put tons of thought into the words until this last month. You see, I've been thinking and praying about simplifying things around here. I have been feeling very distracted in the last few months from what I feel called to as a wife, mother, homemaker, etc. And gently as ever, the Lord has made it clear that I need to put my priorities in the right place again.

As I was thinking about ridding myself of things that have become a temptation or distraction from what I should be doing, this poem came to mind. And though it is not Scripture and of ultimate authority, I would say the saying still has a lot of truth to it.

Today we would likely say, "actions speak louder than words" - I still prefer the poem, as it gives more of a visual to think about...

So, in obedience, I have begun getting rid of things that are causing me to stumble. First thing to go? Facebook. It should have happened long ago. I know it isn't an issue for many people, but it is for me. I would get on and think, "I'll just check it quickly and only stay on for 5 minutes." Then that 5 minutes would turn into an hour. An hour of time I could have been using doing something, anything, more productive that benefits my family or honors the Lord (not that you can't honor the Lord on facebook...I know plenty of people that do).

As I see it, I have a limited amount of time here, and especially with our children. If I want to make the most of the time I have with my family, and strive to obey Deuteronomy 6:7 so that our Lord would be glorified in our home, then I need to be more intentional in my every day action and how I spend my time...even my "spare" time.
"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.
You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
James 4:14
"So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a
heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
Lucy will be four next month and in another year will be starting homeschool kindergarten (yikes!). Between Lucy's schooling (which won't take much time, the girl catches on quick), beginning to nurture and encourage her homemaking skills, normal toddler playing and reading, loving on the kids, cooking, cleaning, disciplining, exercising, spending time with the Lord in the Word, and making quality time for Nathan and I, I am not sure how I would have time for much else. Something would have to give, and none of those things mentioned here are the ones I'd want to let go of (well, except for exercising, but I'd like the kids to recognize exercising is a way of staying healthy and taking care of ourselves).

I have actually felt a lot of freedom in getting rid of Facebook. Really. I'll miss the pictures and updates from friends, but it is not a big deal. In some ways, I feel as if I knew what was going on with over 400 of my closest friends (feel free to roll your eyes now...), but I actually spent very little time outside of Facebook nurturing real friendships, or forming new ones. I don't want to depend on Facebook updates to know what is going on in the lives of my friends and family. I want to know what is going on in their lives because I am connected with them more personally than that, and spend time connecting with them in person (or on the phone when they don't live close by). Of course, with the busy schedule I laid out above with family life, that will again take some diligent planning and prioritizing.

I ran across this article a few days ago that spoke about phone calls becoming an endangered species. I actually started writing this post weeks ago, but am just now finishing it up. Can you tell I am busy?

In addition to getting rid of the biggest time waster of my life, I have also cut out many of the blogs I read. I generally just get onto my google reader account once a day to read the blog entries (if you don't have a google reader account, and read very many blogs, I highly recommend saves a lot of time, in my opinion). I was finding that I would have so many entries in a day that I wouldn't read them, I would just mark them as read so they would stop taunting me. I started noticing that it was the same blogs over and over that I wasn't reading, so I just unsubscribed. I am mostly reading blogs that are edifying and educational to my role as wife, mother, keeper of the home, teacher, cook, buyer, etc. You know...all the things involved in being a stay at home wife and mother. It is nice to only have 10-15 entries a day (some of which are just a picture and a few words), instead of 35-50. Really, it was ridiculous. I know that. Again, I am feeling more freedom from doing more weeding out of things that take up my time.

Speaking of weeding. I was literally weeding recently. The back garden bed that I dug up earlier this Summer (but have yet to do much with) and the now empty raised bed (both recently planted with a, hopefully, bountiful Fall garden). As I was removing the many weeds from both bed, I was thinking of how much easier this would have been had I just pulled each weed when I first saw them.

Since I'd already been thinking about weeding things out of my life, it probably isn't shocking that I was seeing a connection between my sin and weeds I have been pulling out of my life, literally and figuratively. In thinking of that, I present a parable to you...

There was a young(ish) woman who had a garden she tended to. At first she was diligent to water the plants, provide them with nourishment, and quickly pull any weed seen as soon as it sprouted. However, towards the end of the growing season the woman frequented the garden less often, and the weeds began to grow bigger.

For a while, the woman would pull the bigger weeds out since they were easier to get, leaving the smaller weeds to grow a bit before dealing with them. But after doing this for some time, the woman found that her beloved garden became overgrown with weeds. Small, large, medium. Easy to pull, and not so easy to pull. They were everywhere.

So, knowing that it was time for a new growing season, the woman set about pulling all the weeds from her garden. After much toil and sweat, the garden was mostly weed-free. The woman, knowing that letting the smaller weeds go was part of the problem to begin with, set out to get rid of all the weeds seen. Each one removed, as it appeared. At last, the garden was ready for a new planting.

Now, for a bit of explaining. I am that woman, and that is my garden. And I realized that there was a very real connection between the way I have treated the weeds in my garden, to the way I've treated sin in my life.

It was fairly easy to get rid of the "big" sins in my life, but I would overlook the "small" ones as no big deal, or I'd deal with that later. I know, I know...there really aren't big and little sins. There is just sin. That just goes to show how easily worldly thinking of sin can slip into our lives. Do we believe His word or not?

I also realize how wrong I was to overlook any sin in my life, and to arrogantly think I could deal with it later. I can definitely sympythize with Paul's "chief sinner" comment in 1 Timothy.

The more time I began spending in the Word with my Savior, the more He began to reveal to me how each of these "little" sins has grown and bloomed until I had a garden full of weeds. A wasteland. My Jesus didn't die so that I could be a wasteland. He died so that I could be forgiven, have freedom in Him, and show others what He is like for their joy and His glory.

And little by little, as each sin has been revealed to me, I have quickly repented - my heart heavy and pained for choosing to dishonor a Holy God with my words, actions, thoughts and deeds. Praise be to Him, for He is quick to forgive!

I will end with some verses from Scripture that I hope will encourage you, and that He would use them to reveal Himself to you today.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved!" Romans 10:13
"...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth the confesses, resulting in salvation." Romans 10:9,10

How wonderful is our God? That we deserve nothing, but He is gracious to offer us forgiveness and eternal life.

Here is a post that from twenty-one months ago that I shared that I felt fitting for this post. I hope you find comfort and hope in these verses.

"The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace." Numbers 6:24-26


Haley said...

Love that, Stephanie. I have been convicted of many of those same things recently. It's so important to actually BE at home while I have the privilege of being at home right now. I find myself pulling out the computer far too much during the day time. It robs me of things that are move valuable. It's amazing how easily we are lured away by things that are not necessarily "bad". Thanks for sharing your heart. You are such an encouragement. :)

Brittany said...

Ok, first of all, wow Stephanie. You encourage me SO much by sharing your struggles and your ultimate desire to honor God with your life, family, and actions. It is SUCH a blessing to call you not only a friend, but a dearly loved sister in Christ.
I do have to admit that more times then not, I click on your blog and I am so convicted about how I go through my days and just "survive". I have to say that I could definitely be a better steward of my time. It's a real struggle for me sometimes to find joy in cleaning, cooking, exercising, etc...and often I get angered easily. But I love family and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be a homemaker.
So those are things that I am actively trying to work on...I want my actions in everything I do to direct people to my Father. (and honestly, I always feel like yours do.) I would LOVE for you to encourage me, share tips, and hold me accountable.
ANyway, I didn't mean for my comment to turn into an essay; I really wanted to share with you that I was challenged and encouraged b your post! Keep it up sister!

Oh, on a funny note, I hope one of the blogs you don't read anymore isn't mine. ;) haha!

Stephanie said...

Thanks ladies for the comments. And Brittany I do still read yours. :) I kept all friends and families blogs to read.

The Happy Hipster said...

Yay! I'm an official reader! LOVED your thoughts and convictions. Your lessons are always challenging for me as well. Miss you!!!

txrayray said...

Blessings from the Raleys. You are doing so many things well. Be encouraged.

Mom said...

I could write a sermon on your shared convictions, but I'll just say a hearty "Amen!!".

Tending an earthly garden is a wonderful hands-on daily reminder of God's word. That is one reason I like to garden. And yes, it is often convicting, for the allegories are obvious to me, too.

My latest insight is what I think as I wander thru my backyard garden in this hot month of August. I see the many weeds sprouting and growing and think "It's just too dang hot to fool with those now, I'll get them later when it cools off a bit".

Lesson: Circumstances of life should not be the determining factors in whether we tend our gardens, heavenly or earthly.

Bottom line: God will teach you about Him and His ways in all things in His creation. Just use your eyes and look with your heart.

Kenny and Chrissy said...

I've given up Facebook, too. It was taking too much of my time and it exposed too much of my life with the rest of the world. Like you, I feel like the relationships that matter are much more worthy of my time than a status update. Thanks for sharing!