growth

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

I’ve learned some great lessons over the years… from muppets. (Yeah, I said it.)

Growing up, it was Sesame Street… Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Oscar the Grouch, Burt and Ernie… I learned that sharing is the right thing to do, that C is for cookie (that’s good enough for me, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C!–Anybody else remember that song?) and many other life lessons that have served me well the last 27 and a half years.

I’ve also learned a lot from other muppets– perhaps the more widely known clan… Yes, THE MUPPETS. Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear (Waka, waka!) and of course~ Kermit the Frog.

In one of my brand-spanking-new-mama late night feeding sessions with Baby Charis, a thought from Kermit came back to me:

It ain’t easy being green.

Kermit The Frog

Via Eva Rinaldi at Flickr

I know. Weird thought, right? But I let this idea marinate. What exactly does he mean, it ain’t easy being green? Green isn’t really a positive color to be I guess (at least according to Kermit.) He wrote an entire song about it– wanting to be a different color, more bright and brilliant and noticeable.

Green doesn’t have the best connotation in our world either… Check it out:

Green can denote inexperience: “Oh look at the new guy… over there fumbling around. He’s so green. (Or what a greenhorn.)”

It is the color of envy… Which is one of the seven deadly sins. “When I saw her new necklace, I was green with envy.” Uh, not good.

And finally, it signifies a “sick” look. “Are you ok? Was that roller coaster a little too much for you? You look a little green.” (Insert vomit noise here.)

But as I mentioned, this random “being green” thought came to me one drowsy morning around 3am. After I pondered the worldly connotations, it brought me to one of my favorite Bible verses from Jeremiah.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” ~Jeremiah 17:7-8

Huh. Who knew, right? I want to be green. I want to be THAT tree, planted by the stream who is not afraid because I KNOW that God has my back.

This current season of life as a new mama is a blessing (as I write this, I am playing “Beat the Clock” as Baby Charis kicks and squirms beside me on the floor… hoping I can get a good chunk of this knocked out before she gets bored.) But as blessed as being a new mama is… It’s still FREAKING HARD. Which I knew it would be. But still. SHEESH. (Love you baby girl!)

I’ve been pretty green lately… in most of the ways mentioned above. Feeling like a greenhorn not having a clue what I am doing have the time with this 7 lb ball of needy, adorable love. I admittedly have been a little green with envy of others who still drive their own schedule– or who have survived the initial hard season of newbornhood. And yes, I have been even a little green with nausea on occasion. (Not really from being grossed out– but just with the prospect of being solely responsible for this little life. Dear Lord, help me.)

In this season of different shades of green– I am reassured that yes, it ain’t easy being green… But when it comes to following Christ, I want to be that tree. I want my leaves to always be green and bear fruit.

Are you in a “green” season? One of growth and bearing fruit? Or in a time of the drought where you are just trying to make it through one day at a time? How do you cling to God in those times? I always welcome your thoughts– leave a comment below.

Today friends, I leave you with this thought from a Godly perspective– it’s ain’t easy being that tree, always trusting in the Lord– nope, it ain’t easy being green. But being that green tree and placing our confidence in Him sure is worth it.

Growing and greening up for Jesus,
SGK

“Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” ~Genesis 9:3 NIV

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From Seed to Orchard

When I was growing up, I loved field trips.

I mean, what kid doesn’t? It was an excuse to get out of the classroom, explore something new, educational (ish) and exciting (ish.) Plus we got to pack a lunch in a classic paper bag or cool metal (or plastic) lunchbox.

Some of my favorite field trips were trips to local orchards.

It probably stemmed for my love of agriculture… and also my love of food. (Rarely did these trip ever not include free samples of juice, fruit, candy, etc.) Plus, orchards weren’t a super popular deal in Kansas– wheat and beef, yes. Orchards? Not so much.

I am still love visiting orchards and down-homey-agricultural commodities. (And no, not only for the free samples. That’s just a perk.) Each time I visit or drive by one of these super cool businesses, I can’t help but to be impressed. I mean, planting and growing one of these bad boys is no small commitment.

It takes YEARS. Like, a long time before the owners see fruit from their rewards. Apples, if planted from a seed, can take from six to ten years before they bear good fruit. Peaches range from three to five, pecans need up to six years and oranges start bearing minimal fruit at around three years, but don’t reach full production strength and maturity til 27 years.

Good grief. That IS a commitment.

orange tree

As I pondered this truth, I (as usual) was drawn back to thinking about our walk with Christ.

It’s not an overnight process. I mean, seriously, we aren’t growing a Chia Pet here people… This kind of thing takes TIME.

And apparently, lots of it.

In fact, our walk with Christ is going to be a lifelong experience. We will never reach “full maturity” and truly see all of our fruit until we reach heaven’s gate.

But don’t be discouraged… The growth process is very rewarding too!

Just like the orchard owner starts out small, perhaps with just a few seeds or some baby seedlings, God does the same with us. He plants a tiny “Jesus seed” in our heart…. and then events, circumstances and people we encounter over the coming years cultivate us, growing our faith from a leedle-bitty seed into an orchard that anyone would be proud to explore!

God plants us on solid ground– rooted in Christ… Encouraging us to reach for good soil in His Word. He sends sunshine to encourage us to grow upwards… Sometimes comes rain because we need it to grow. Every now and then He will prune back the “unproductive” branches of our lives to ensure we are reaching our fruit-bearing potential. And yes, He even sends the “fertilizer” events in our life– things that kind of stink, but make us grow stronger and healthier.

Then, after much tender care, protection, and nurturing– we bear fruit. As that fruit falls around us, new little baby trees sprout up from our seeds– and the orchard that is our earthly life continues to grow.

Kind of a cool thought, huh? At what rate would you say your current “faith orchard” is growing? What type of Christian fruit do you see in your life? What encourages you to keep growing?

I love the power of God… How He can take empty vessels like you and me… and with one tiny seed (and lots of love!) grow us into a sweet, fruit-bearing orchard!

Growing with God,
SGK

“Earth produced green seed-bearing plants, all varieties, And fruit-bearing trees of all sorts. God saw that it was good.” ~Genesis 1:12 MSG

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Changing Seasons: Groom, Prune & Bloom

Ahhhh… The seasons are changing and spring is in the air. Trees are budding and flowers are blooming.

Such a promising time of year.

But that promise doesn’t stop with nature. In fact, it applies to all of us, in all locations and seasons of our life.

Don’t believe me? Let me prove it.

Over the last year and half or so, I have been privileged to volunteer as SERVE Ministry Apprentice at Christ Community Church. It has been a time of growth… in more ways than one.

Yes, it has been remarkably rewarding and educational. I have learned hundreds of valuable tips, tools, tricks and lessons regarding ministry, values, healthy church life, and walking with Christ. (Seriously–I made a list.) However, it’s also been challenging.

But that’s all part of God’s process to grooming and pruning… in preparation to help us bloom.

Yep. Groomed and Pruned... Getting ready to bloom. (Hoping His ministry for us turns out to be a magnolia as big as my face...)

Yep. Groomed and Pruned… Getting ready to bloom. (Hoping His ministry for us turns out to be a magnolia as big as my face…)

I’ve learned that the yellow reset button on the office copy machine is always a safe bet. I’ve made best friends. I’ve watched healthy conflict be resolved. I have discovered that you don’t have to feel weird raising your hands when you worship. I’ve learned the blessing of listening to God. I understand that ministry can be messy. I have been in the trenches and on the mountaintop.

It’s been one of the most diverse, incredible and memorable experiences of my entire life.

Just like gardens, bushes and trees need to be pruned and maintained, we too as Christians need to be groomed and pruned on our walk. Sometimes it is going to be a bit painful. We might not understand in the moment. But believe me– God is simply preparing us for that day when we are called to BLOOM– to share His love, His message, His glory , and fulfill His incredible plan for us.

Think about it… In what areas of your life has God groomed and pruned you to bloom? What was it like? Are you in the middle of that season now? How does He want you to respond? I always welcome your feedback– comment below!

As we prepare to depart Christ Community and move to our next duty station with the United States Army, I would like to thank  CCC members and staff (and especially my “boss” Kelli) for the encouragement in the midst of this God-grooming-pruning opportunity. Honestly,  we don’t know what the next chapter holds. But I trust Him that the time to bloom is coming– for each and every one of us.

Groom, Pruned and prepping to Bloom,
SGK

“The desert and the parched land will be glad; 
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.”
~Isaiah 35:1-2 NIV

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Fine time to be be Refined

Today’s post starts with a mini science lesson… (It’s not going to require any complicated chemistry formulas or anything I promise. Hang with me… It IS Friday after all.)

Did you know that it take MILLIONS of years for graphite to be transformed into a diamond? Not only does it take a significant chunk of time, but it also requires temperatures upwards of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure that is 50 times greater than that on the earth’s surface.

Sheesh. That’s intense! (And now you have something to talk about at the supper table tonight. You are welcome.)

But seriously– for us as Christians to be formed into the treasure that God has called us to be, we all have to experience pressure… challenge… change…

In fact, we must be REFINED.

Which is what I am doing this weekend. (Hence the non-presence of Five Minute Friday.)

I am at The Refine Conference in Minnesota with my friend Kelli (she’s a breakout speaker!), my sweet mother-in-love, aunt and several other women who are to become my friends (although they may not know it yet…)

We are coming together to be Refined in different areas of our lives: Professional. Relationships. Emotional. Spiritual. Health/Wellness. Financial. Yep. The whole she-bang. This incredible conference is put on by Teri Johnson over at Keeping It Personal. 

I have a sneaking suspicion this weekend is going to be epic. I am expectantly anticipating God to transform or rather refine me in various areas of my life. And I couldn’t be more excited. (Maybe this diamond-in-the-rough Christian girl will be a little more diamond-y and little less rough when we are all said and done!)

So, with that being shared, we would all appreciate  prayers for God to move in might ways this weekend (and in the following weeks as we what we learn continues to “marinate.”)

Also, I am a bit curious… In what areas of your life (professional, relationships, emotional, spiritual, health/wellness, financial) do you feel you need to be refined the most? Why or in what ways? How has God refined you during your walk with Him? Leave a comment below with your response!

Now if you will excuse me, dear readers– rumor has it that is now a fine time to be refined.

From Pressed to Precious,
SGK

“I’ve refined you, but not without fire.” ~Isaiah 48:10 (MSG) 

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Vanilla-Flavored Living

I’ve always heard that one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. However, due to the fact that I rarely purchase a whole “bunch” of apples, I have yet to experience this phenomenon. (Although I have dealt with this issue in the area of potatoes. One stinky potato can make the whole bunch yucky in a hurry. But I digress.)

This idea of one part ruining it all apparently pertains to vanilla flavoring.

I have recently learned (the hard way) that old or spoiled vanilla flavoring is rather, um, “ungoodly” for cooking stuff. I bake on occasion. I don’t bake a lot, only for other people. If I bake for myself, I end up eating whatever tasty, sugary delicacy I make. By myself. Which is really counter productive for my getting-into-shape-running-a-5k-while-enjoying-it mission.

Since I bake so infrequently, it takes me a while to use up baking supplies. In this case: vanilla flavoring.  My Mama was in town a couple weeks ago, and we were trying to whip up some cupcakes for my husband’s company of drill sergeants. (It’s a morale booster called Foxtrot Friday.) We thought we would be overachievers and make FILLED cupcakes.

Everything was going great until Mom tried to make the filling… She added the vanilla. And it refused to mix it with the other ingredients. She wrinkled her brow and sniffed the bowl. “Uh, Sharita… How long have you had this vanilla?”

I had no clue. That little container of flavoring had been in my possession for what we in the army family like to call “a hot minute.” As in, I couldn’t remember the last time I bought it. And based on how frequently I use it to bake… Probably a couple of years.

My bad. No wonder my vanilla-flavored protein shakes always tasted so… funky.

Needless to say, we trashed that batch and purchased a brand-spanking new container of vanilla within a few days. I cracked open the seal and it smelled… heavenly.  (And like magic, my shakes no longer tasted funky. Who knew, right?)

I couldn’t help but think about how just one tiny amount of an ingredient, aka a teaspoon of spoiled vanilla, can have such a profound impact on my recipe. I thought about how this holds true to our lives.

All it takes is one little “ingredient” in our heart, life or attitude to spoil the whole journey. Seriously, think about it. Consider those days when you are just in a “funk” because one little thing went wrong right when you hopped out of bed. Or if you are annoyed by something exceptionally small. Or you are holding onto a tiny seed of bitterness towards something or someone.

If you don’t ask God to correct the problem ASAP, that “spoiled ingredient” will spread throughout your day… then your week… then your life.

Do you have any parts of your attitude or heart that are spoiled? Have you ever experienced a “bad ingredient” in life? How did you deal with it? How did God help you through it? Be courageous and leave a comment below.

Today, I challenge you to take a good “whiff” of your life… Does it smell spoiled or funky? Or is in fact heavenly and beautiful-smelling? Some people say we need to live “colorful” lives… But in this case, I am all about fresh vanilla-flavored living.

From funky to fresh,
SGK

“God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.” –Psalm 145:14 (MSG)

Categories: attitude, challenge, faith, God, growth, Jesus, lessons, life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Operation: Fortitude Fitness Month #2

Greetings once again, beloved followers. It is officially March, and according to the weather reports, it looks like it came in like a Lion for areas in my home state of Kansas with tornados and whatnot. So before I get on with my update, let’s remember to pray for  Harveyville and Pittsburg, KS as well as the other towns impacted by Lion-like weather (Branson, MO and various towns in Illinois.)

Today’s post is pretty simple. It is an update of my 2012 “Smart Goal Changes” to my life. Great accountability factor if I have to “report” back to my several loyal followers. (Might I recommend you read my first post from January so you are caught up to speed.)

SMART Change #1: Operation Fort-itude Fitness. February was Month #2. In short, my goal was to log 98 miles per the month via biking, swimming, running, elliptical etc to “travel” from Fort Benning, GA to Fort Riley, Kansas. Also, in order to stay on track with my strength training, I needed to do 2,500 various reps per month. As of last update, I had logged 160.5 miles in January and made it to Forestdale, AL.

RESULT: GOAL MET!! I did 2,500 reps this month and logged 145.5 miles. This is still well above my goal (YAY!) and a little less than last month due to the physical/mental exhaustion induced by the discovery of my pregnancy, as well as chaos associated with Pre-ranger and Ranger School. I am near Wallerville, Mississippi and it brings my total miles traveled to approximately 306 in two months. AMERICA!

SMART Change #2: Spend at least one hour per day in the Lord’s presence by using my new Jesus Calling Devotional and studying the accompanying Scripture. I will also continue to keep a prayer request list in a notebook and/or iPad.

RESULT: GOAL MET!! I have continued with this goal and found heart refreshment and success. Jesus Calling rocks my world, and I have continued to keep up my iPad prayer request list. Since January 1st, I have logged 124 different prayers and 45 of them have been answered. (In January He answered 27 prayers and added 18 more in February.) WOW.

SMART Change #3: Complete my 1000 Gift List (inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book) by the end of 2012.

RESULT: ON GOING  At last update, I was at #422… In the month of February, I added 149 gifts to my list, bringing my total to #571. Loving this.

SMART Change #4:   Memorize a book of the Bible, starting with 1 John.

RESULT: ON GOING Out of all my goals, this is the one I have struggled with the most this month. I kind of got a little stuck on 1 John 2:18-1 John 3… It was a lot of prepositions and whatnot, but I did make progress from last month. Excited to start fresh this month!

SMART Change #5: Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry and submit to God DAILY in all areas of my life.

RESULT: ON GOING Funny how God works. This was a goal that is hard to measure, but now with this Baby Knobloch in the picture, I have slowed down, talked to God WAY more than ever before and taken more naps in the last three weeks than in my entire post-college adult life combined. God is a sneaky awesome dude!

I hope that February was a legit month for you and that March is shaping up well… Please let me know how I can pray for you and thanks so much for playing along on this journey!

One Step at a Time,
SGK

“God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” –Exodus 33:14

Categories: adventure, blessing, fitness, goals, growth | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Operation: Fortitude Fitness Update (Month #1)

Happy February Folks!!

Hopefully this post finds you still moving strong towards your “Getting SMART with 2012” goals… We are heading into month #2 and I’m hopeful that you are still hanging on to your goals and have not already fallen off track like a 6-year-old trying to use their dog to pull their Red Rider Wagon.

Anywho… As promised, I am checking back in with you, updating all of you wonderful and faithful readers on my personal progress. I don’t write these things to say “LOOK AT MEEEEEE!” but rather I am using this blog as my accountability partner. It would be pretty awkward to repost each month and say “Yeah, I didn’t do anything productive with the last 30 days.”

It’s been a good month… (To view the original “goal” post, click here. Get it? Goalpost? It’s almost the Superbowl? Ok, I’m done.) Here we go:

SMART Change #1: Operation Fort-itude Fitness. This was obviously month number one. In short, my goal was to log 98 miles per the month via biking, swimming, running, elliptical etc to begin my “travels” from Fort Benning, GA to Fort Riley, Kansas. Also, in order to stay on track with my strength training, I needed to do 2,500 various reps per month.

RESULT: GOAL MET!!  I started out slow on this one since the first week of January was super busy for my ministry… but the last three weeks I have really picked it up. I logged 160.5 miles!! (62.5 miles over goal) This puts me at Forestdale, Alabama on my route! (For all of you non-southern readers, that is on the northwest side of Birmingham. Glad I made it through traffic in one piece.)  As for reps, I completed 2,811. Oh… and I added a new 5K time improvement running plan to keep my running accountable. Totally thrilled with meeting this goal!

I made it from point A to point B… Very encouraging!
Next Stop: Mississippi!


SMART Change #2: 
Spend at least one hour per day in the Lord’s presence by using my new Jesus Calling Devotional and studying the accompanying Scripture. I will also continue to keep a prayer request list in a notebook and/or iPad.
RESULT: GOAL MET!! I’ve been faithful to this goal… and man oh MAN has it been amazing!! God has done a HUGE work on my heart so far and I have fallen head over heels deeper in love with Jesus. (Side note: Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for some new, big, and exciting ministry changes coming!) Oh, and can I mention that He has already answered 27 prayers just in this month?

SMART Change #3: Complete my 1000 Gift List (inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book) by the end of 2012.
RESULT: ON GOING  I’m not at 1000 yet, but since  my first post, I have doubled the number of gifts on my list. As of today, I am at #422. I’m swimming in a sea of gratitude. Amazing.

SMART Change #4:   Memorize a book of the Bible, starting with 1 John.
RESULT: ON GOING  Honestly, I am really excited and pleased how this goal is going. Out of all of them, I thought this would be the most challenging. Yes, it has been challenging as the NIV84 format of 1 John is what I have now deemed the book of “excessive pronouns and prepositions.” I have learned a ton and made it all the way to 1 John 2:18. Very pleased with my progress.

SMART Change #5: Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry and submit to God DAILY in all areas of my life.
RESULT: ON GOING  Again, it’s kind of hard to measure this goal… It’s probably something I am going to have to focus on the for the rest of my life. BUT… The extra time in prayer and reliance on Him has been evident that there is work being done in my heart.

How is 2012 shaping up for you? I would love to hear about your progress.Oh, and thanks so much for the support and kind words. But remember, I really didn’t have much to do with this list… “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Stay SMART,
SGK

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” –Philippians 4:12-14 (MSG)
Categories: faith, fitness, goals, growth, health, new year | Leave a comment

Depend on it

Last week, my supervisor (ok, more my friend than “boss”) called me to a challenge.

I needed to find a “word” for 2012. (To take Kelli’s challenge, read her full post here. It’s awesome. I promise. Hey, it inspired me so much I’m blogging about it!)

Honestly, I have never found a word like that before. Sure I have had themes or big ideas for new season/years/chapters of life, but never really focused on a single thing or experience.

So I began to pray.

Here’s the challenge for me. If I am not focused on prayer and being in God’s presence, I start to think. And thinking leads to distraction. And distraction leads to focusing on whatever shiny thoughts I have in my head as opposed to what God wants to reveal to me.

My thoughts started to flow. “Maybe it will be an exciting word like ‘adventure.’ Or a loving word, like ‘compassion.’ Or something inspirational, perhaps the word ‘hope.'” 

This went on a for a few minutes until I realized I wasn’t listening but rather doing this on my own… Again. Fail. <insert sigh here.>

Let’s try this again.

I sat, closed my eyes and began to pray. I thought of Kelli’s challenge. I focused on the words I had read out of my devotional. I started meditating on Scripture that I had read recently.  I took a deep breath. Then BOOM. There it was.

DEPENDENCE. 

Dependence. THAT was my God-word for 2012??!? Huh. I began  to let it sink in. If this is really my word… it’s going to be an interesting year. 


You might have picked up on this through my previous blogs, but I really enjoy having control of things. Which is why I struggle with letting go and letting God just do His thing in my life. I’m getting better… but apparently…

I needed some work.

DEPENDENCE. 

The longer I sat and let this marinate, the more excited I became. This WAS going to be a challenge… but one that I was interested in exploring. So, in my typical nerdy fashion, I grabbed my iPad and looked up “dependence” in the thesaurus.

What I found there surprised me.

Dependence: confidence, reliance, assurance, belief, expectation, hope, faith, stability, steadiness, trust, attachment, habit, subordination, yoke, craving, security blanket.

Surprising, huh? Those words stood out to me… They all were some form of dependence and could certainly be applied to my 2012 journey.

Confidence in Him. Reliance on Him. Assurance that he IS God. Belief in His faithfulness. Expectation of His promise. Hope of His plan. Faith in His love. Stability of Him in my life. Steadiness of Him to never fail me. Trust that He is with me. Attachment to God. Habit of spending time with Him. Subordination to Him. Being yoked with Him. Craving Him. He IS my security blanket.

DEPENDENCE. 

I am slowly releasing it to Him. I will depend on Him in all things. I don’t need control… I need Him.

Yep. It is going to be a great 2012. We can DEPEND on it.

With Expectation,

SGK

What is YOUR word for 2012? I would love to hear it! Leave a comment here.


“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.” –Psalm 62:7

Categories: 2012, growth, new year, word | 3 Comments

You can’t out-give THAT!

It was November 17, 1985. The blistering cold north wind whipped through the trees in a small northwest Kansas County. A redheaded Kansas rancher lovingly helped his petite yet round little wife to the truck.  Their life changing moment was creeping closer with each passing second.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that was the day I was born. I would say that it changed my life, but to be more accurate, it BEGAN my life. Several hours after arriving at Phillips County Hospital and some pretty intense tugs of the forceps later, I made my entrance in the world.  (Don’t believe me about the forceps part? I still have the bald spot on the right side of my head to prove it. Don’t worry. The doctor said it would grow back in a few weeks. 26 years later, I’m still waiting…)

Anyway… I don’t tell you the story of my birthday to dig up showers of birthday wishes and glory. (Although, if anyone is so inclined, I enjoy things that involve chocolate, books, God and shiny stuff. Kidding.) But I share this with you because 26 years later, I am very thankful for my time on this earth.  And believe it or not, it’s not about me receiving birthday stuff… but this is about giving. (Hang tight—I’m getting there.)

I wasn’t really “supposed” to be here. My parents tried for two years to have a baby and had given up. Then, surprise! Wish granted. Shortly after they announced the excitement of their first baby, Mama was put on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy because it was such a high-risk pregnancy. Nature sure is complicated, huh?

But as it turns out, God had a plan—and His plan was to give my parents a 7 lbs, 14 oz little girl named Sharita Gwen Lacey. And he had plans for this little girl… most of which have really taken off (in somewhat of a crazy manner) this last year.

God is a giver. He gave me life.  Hence, He is a giver of life. He has given me friends and family who loves me. He has given me a husband who constantly supports me and puts up with what deem “the emotional roller-coaster that is being a woman.” He has gifted me to write and minister to others. God continues to give and provide for us daily: financially, emotionally, spiritually. It BLOWS MY MIND. Seriously.

I think there is a reason that it is called “giving birth.” It’s a painful experience (so I’ve heard) and yet daddies and mommies throughout the world continue to create families to experience the joy of giving life to another. Awesome parents (like mine) give their heart to raise their little girl (or boy) to be a potentially successful and happy adult. Then, if it is in God’s plan, they eventually give that baby-now adult over to someone to love and cherish, just as Christ loved the church.

And just maybe that baby just might grow into a woman who, on her 26th birthday, is a writer, army wife, leader, lover of life and minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. I wonder if they knew THAT was going to be the result of their efforts as they cleaned up my messes and dealt with my childish (not to mention outrageous teenage) antics?

My walk with Christ has taught me to give until it hurts. I have also learned that you can’t out-give God. He has proven time and time again that each time I give ANYTHING, he “pays” it back to me ten-fold. I have experienced that on about four different occasions in the last week. Each time He so generously gives to me, it brings me to my knees.

Moms everywhere literally give until it hurts when it comes to bringing a child into this world. Dads give until it hurts when they watch their daughter walk down the aisle into the arms of her new husband. And God gave until it hurt, in the form of His son… on the cross.

Today, on my 26th birthday, I am filled with gratitude for the people who have given so much to me throughout my life. I am so grateful to worship a God who gave his son for ME. And for YOU. Talk about giving until it hurts. And we definitely can’t out-give THAT.

To give is to receive,

SGK

“We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” –Psalm 75:1

Categories: faith, Family, growth | 3 Comments

Patience to Flourish

GUESS WHAT!?!

She lives… AND she blooms!

My peace plant FINALLY BLOOMED!! Eeeeeeeee!

Ok. I should probably back up. At this point, I imagine you are either 1) confused at my excitement or 2) think I have lost my mind. But the answer is neither.

I usually don’t get this excited about blooming flowers either– but I have been waiting about 22 months for Chloe (that’s the peace plant’s name) to bloom. Here’s the thing– I don’t have the greenest thumb in the world.

I can typically keep plants alive, as in I remember to water them on occasion before they start to look droopy and I attempt to pay attention to their size in case they need to be repotted. I even add fertilizer every now and then. But I am not a “plant lady.” I do name my plants and on a very rare occasion might actually talk to them… but I’m more of an animal/people person myself.

Chloe is special to me because she is a peace lily plant from my Grandad’s funeral back in late December 2009. He passed away on Christmas that year… and if you were able to catch my “recovery testimony” No Bologna Testimony (Part 2) you would understand why I was so desperate for peace. Unfortunately, Chloe didn’t start off very strong with me as her new owner– it was one of those blisteringly painful cold days in Kansas when I packed her up to head back to Missouri after the funeral… Mom said I should cover her up, even if it was literally an 8 foot walk from the porch to the truck. I didn’t. And that Kansas wind burned her something awful. Thus, it has taken her nearly 2 years to recover become healthy and bloom.

My husband and I have debated so many times if we should keep “nursing” Chloe… She looked pathetic. I always fought to keep her because I held out hope that someday all her leaves would green up once again. It took a trip from Oklahoma to Kansas, Kansas to Missouri, Missouri to Kansas, and Kansas to Georgia before she finally could recoup. Interestingly enough, Chloe isn’t the only “symbolic” plant in my life that has struggled.

I received my first ever house plant from Kelsey as a Christmas present in December 2008. Kelsey and I were “co-coaches” for one of our dear friends Andrea on her quest to be a National FFA Officer. That little plant, who I named Enrique, became even more special to me when Andrea’s wonderful father suddenly passed away that next March (Note: This was the starting point of my recovery testimony.)

Enrique and I have been through so much together… and he has struggled too. I graduated K-State and took him with me to Missouri… each time I saw my little spider plant, I thought of Kelsey, Andrea and Andrea’s dad. But like Enrique, I was struggling. Job sucked, Brandon was deployed, zippo friends in Missouri, working ridiculous hybrid night shift, Grandma died, Dad was sick, Grandad died, you get my drift. Enrique was healthy when I got him… but over time, instead of growing, his little leaves were dying off until there was literally only one tiny sprig left in my pot.

I felt like Enrique. I felt like there was nothing left of me. I tried everything I could think of to bring Enrique back around- nothing worked. I always expected to walk in the living room in Jefferson City, MO and see his tiny green leaf brown and withered. I almost expected my heart to do the same. I vividly remember telling God through my sobs that I had nothing left to give.

But as usual, God had a plan. He was growing patience in me. He was pruning me. “Go down the rows of vineyards and rip out the vines, but not all of them. Leave a few. Prune back those vines! That growth didn’t come from God!” (Jeremiah 5:10 MSG)  My Father had to cut away all the junk that had filled up my life over the 24 years to make room for HIM… Then, and only then… I began to flourish. And so did Enrique and Chloe.

God was nurturing me, pruning me, giving me what I needed. Sometimes we forget that we have to have the fertilizer (the poop) to make beautiful flowers. I struggled with the patience. I wanted to be a beautiful Christ-like flower NOW. But God knew that to get the job done and do it right, it was going to take some time.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” –Psalm 40:1


Enrique isn’t just a single spindle of a
plant anymore… He’s even has babies!

Now, about two years later, both Enrique and Chloe are flourishing. As you heard, Chloe survived, is no longer brown and actually blossomed. Enrique has grown exponentially, and actually has “babies” on his spider plant spindles that need to be transferred to their own little pots. My heart is flourishing too. God has shown me a new light of Christ. He has taught me to be (semi)patient. He has allowed me to marry a wonderful man who loves me like Christ loves the church. He has called me to ministry. He is helping me get my masters. He is empowering me to make a difference in our new home in Georgia.

So now I ask you– are you in the “building patience pruning” season of life or the flourishing season? Maybe somewhere in between? Try to remember then words of Romans 12:12– “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” It’s not easy… but while fertilizer stinks, the blossom can smell oh-so-sweet.

I rejoice because God has done it– He pruned me… grown me… fertilized me… but most of all LOVED ME. God has allowed me to have patience… and now– I FLOURISH!

Blooming for Him,

SGK


“But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people: Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green.”  Zechariah 8:11 (MSG)


Herman’s babies Franklin
and Eleanor! No pruning
needed here!
My aloe vera plant named
Herman, who has fared
better than other plants
Categories: growth, peace, testimony | 2 Comments

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