Appearance of a Thistle

Hell hath no fury like a rancher going after a batch of musk thistle.

Are all of my non-country/ranchin’ peeps confused? My bad. Let me back up and give you a quick lesson on ranching and horticulture.

Musk thistle is a nasty noxious weed. You know how dandelions spread? Yeah, musk thistles do the same thing. Honestly, they are a kind of a pretty purplish color when they are blooming… but it just takes one weed to go to seed and before you know it, the entire pasture is taken over, choking out the good grass.

Then the cattle have nothing to graze on and what started out as a smallish-weed is now a really big problem.

Sure it is pretty now... but wait til it spreads and takes over your whole pasture... Or in our case, life.

Sure it is pretty now… but wait til it spreads and takes over your whole pasture… Or in our case, life.

That’s why whenever I was out checking cattle with my dad in my younger days, no matter how busy we were or what we needed to do, if we spotted one of those notorious weeds, we would always stop what we were doing, bail out of the truck and dig it up with the small shovel we ALWAYS had in the back of our truck.

We should attack sin the same way.

A few posts ago, I talked about what can happen when we let sin just “sit” in our lives and fester. This is a similar concept. If we know there is an unrepented sin in our lives and we just ignore it, we give the devil a foothold. Next thing we know, it has spread to other areas of our lives, consuming us and choking out the good things in our life.  Very similar to those yucky pasture thistles.

So what do we do? Well, we need to get out the shovel and some pesticide… And take care of business, like yesterday.

Sounds easy, right? If only. To an untrained eye (or heart, in this case) the alleged sin might look ok—or even pretty… just like that purple blooming musk thistle in the pasture. But don’t be fooled, friends. If you aren’t sure how to handle the sin or situation, take it to the Father. He LOVES it when we come to Him in love and submission. And He WILL help you…

He won’t leave you hanging. In fact, He will give you the tools to get rid of those “weeds” on a permanent basis if you are willing to commit the time and effort (and submission/dedication) necessary.

And once those weeds are gone… Then we  no longer have the appearance of a thistle, but the blossoming glory of a heavenly garden.

Growing for Him,

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.” ~James 1:5-6 MSG

Categories: sin | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Just a Little Splinter

Have you ever thought about how something so teeny tiny can really throw your life in a tizzy?

Consider this… Just missing a payment or two of a school loan can really jack with your credit score. Going just a few miles per hour over the speed limit can impact your driving record when the cop writes out that fateful ticket. Olympic races are sometimes won and lost in just milliseconds.

Sin in our lives is the same way. Just a little “tiny” one, if left unattended, it can really mess with our lives. (Sidenote: there are not “big” and “small” sins… A sin is a sin is a sin. But I think we sometimes consider some “smaller” than others as a means of justifying our actions. But that’s another blog post. Anywho…) I personally think having unrepented sin in our lives is like having a splinter in our finger.

Think about it. A splinter might be tiny. And barely noticeable. Maybe a little painful. But it’s annoying. And we still KNOW it’s there. If left untouched, rarely does it resolve itself… instead, it could get infected and impact our entire being. All of which could be avoided with a little yank of the tweezers.

Same story with sin.


Via Ed Munoz @ Flickr

An even more extreme (yet very possible!) comparison came to mind when I thought about the good ol’ Western movie Lonesome Dove. (Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this movie and might want to some day, skip the next couple of paragraphs. Because I’m about to tell you a major part of the story…) Remember in Lonesome Dove near the end of the movie? Feisty former Texas Ranger Augustus McCrae is in a standoff with some Indians… And ends up taking an arrow to the leg. Well, by the time he escapes and gets back to civilization, it’s infected pretty bad.

He wakes up and the local ol’ west doc has amputated the leg that had the arrow in it… And says that they need to remove the other one immediately because gangrene has set in. If they don’t act fast… Gus will die from the infection. But, in typical cowboy (who am I kidding? in typical stubborn humanness) Gus refuses and says he would rather be dead than lose that part of him. Sadly… That’s exactly what happened. Because he refused to take the necessary action to fix the “infection,” he lost his life.

I don’t tell you all this to gross you out or depress you. Instead, it’s just an illustration the gravity of having unresolved sin in our lives. When we let a sin stay with us and refuse to “remove” it or repent, just like that splinter or indian arrow… It can eventually fester, get infected, start impacting all areas of our lives giving the devil a foothold… and eventually result in our spiritual death.

So what are we supposed to do about it? First, we have to quit lying to ourselves saying _____ is just a small sin, a “splinter” in our finger. (We all are tempted to think like this. It is the messed-up-ness of our sinning human selves.) Then, we need to come to God and repent. Nothing fancy. You don’t have put on a production… Just “Hey Father, I really messed up… again. I’m sorry.” After that, we must continue to cling to Jesus and recognize when sin tries to rear its ugly head in our lives, God can give us the strength to avoid it. And if we don’t avoid it? We repent  and try ‘er again.

We don’t (and probably won’t) get it right, my friends. However, we can rejoice in the truth that God’s grace is enough– for all of our sins. He loved us enough to send His son to die on that cross… and He loves YOU today and wants to help you with whatever you are facing. Sin separates us from God– and He desires to walk with you and stay close by your side.

So let’s say so-long to those reoccurring sins. Get rid of those “little splinters” and rejoice in His abiding, abundant, overflowing love.

Sayonara to Splintery Sins,

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” ~Luke 6:41 NIV

Categories: sin | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Cruise Control with Jesus

As of late, I have been driving (and riding) in a car a lot more than normal. In fact, by the time this week is over, I will have logged three round trips to Atlanta (3 hours each) and two round trips to Fort Stewart. (Those are difficult– 8 hours in a car and back without ending up anywhere that involves sandy beaches.)

Driving (and riding) in the car is great “think” time for me. Actually, the car and the shower are my top two places for blog epiphanies.  As I was driving, I had one. Hence, today’s post.

When we drive, we are typically going somewhere. (Or at least I hope so.) And I don’t know about where YOU live, but traffic in these here parts can get a little… ridiculous. Apparently, speed limits are merely a suggestion. Pretty sure it is like that in most areas of the U.S.

Here’s my philosophy with speed limits. I like to hover right around the “5 mph over it” rule. Any less, I feel like I am going to get run over. Any more, I start seeing visions of triple digit speeding ticket fines. (Not from my experience. But you should ask my beloved about that one.)

Thus, I really love cruise control. I can set it at 75 and roll towards my destination. I once made the mistake of getting a rental car to drive from Jefferson City, MO to Wichita, KS that did not have cruise control. Bad idea. Longest. Trip. Ever.

I get in trouble when I don’t use cruise control on long, open stretches of highway. I start to go with the flow of traffic. Which can be very, very… fast. I am caught in the traffic flow, and before I know it, I am driving a good ten (or fifteen… or TWENTY) miles per hour over the speed limits. Sorry, officer.

Getting caught in the flow of traffic is a lot like living our lives with an earthly viewpoint. If we get right down to it, going over the speed limit is essentially breaking the law. And according to 1 John 3:4, sin is lawlessness. See the comparison? We live in a fallen world, one of sin, one where the people around us can influence us to “break the law” (aka sin) almost without our conscious knowledge.

But there is great news. We have God as our cruise control. He can be The One to set the pace. To direct our path. To bring us back when we are breaking the law. However, we need to remember that it is going to be difficult not to WANT to follow the flow of traffic. I tell you what– I get puh-lenty of dirty looks (and one-fingered waves) from driving only five over the speed limit from the speed racers that pass me by. The same is going to be true of those in our world who don’t understand how or why we would follow Christ.

The other positive point about Jesus Cruise Control? We don’t have to work as hard to maintain a constant speed. Sure, we still need to be conscious while driving, ready to stop or go at red lights, exits and bathroom breaks. But if we set our life cruise control with Jesus, He will help us avoid fluctuating speeds and arrive at our final destination in one piece–with minimal “traffic tickets.”

In what areas of your life do you struggle with not following the “flow of traffic?” Where are you challenged when it comes to following Jesus or following the world? I would love to hear from you. Comment below!

So the next time you are caught up in the flow of our worldly traffic, zig-zagging in and out of the lanes, ignoring that speed limit suggestion, tap your brake, slow down a smidge and set your cruise control with Jesus.

Cruising with Christ on the highway of life,

“Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God’s law, because sin is a breaking of the law.” ~1 John 3:4 (GNT) 

Categories: adventure, Christ, God, life, relax, release, sin, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

In the Bottom of Your Sink

Who would you say that your everyday hero is?

Perhaps it is your spouse? A parent? A child? A mentor? Maybe it’s the law enforcement officers or firefighters or soldiers (or maybe if you are lucky like me, it is your soldier spouse…)

In addition to those awesome hero’s listed above, my hero is any person who had the courage to clean out the drain in the bottom of the kitchen sink.

What's at the bottom of YOUR sink?

Bet you didn’t think I was gonna go that direction, did you?

Seriously– cleaning out the bottom of the sink after doing dishes is probably the most gross, nasty thing in my world. ICK! But before you think I am prissy sheltered girl, I am not squeamish. I grew up on a farm. I have actually paid to take a class to learn how to artificially inseminate a cow (a pretty invasive experience, just FYI. Oh, and is that TMI? Hope you haven’t eaten lately.) I have cut, pushed, pulled, sliced, diced, dug, and dissected a variety of not-so-pleasant things. I can face almost anything dealing with blood, poo, people or animals.

But the bottom of the kitchen sink still makes me shudder.

You know what I am talking about… After you do the dishes or load the dishwasher, there is a just a bit of water left in the sink. You gather the courage to plunge in there and pull the drain, but the left over food chunks clog up the drainage hole.  To finish the mission, somebody has to plunge their hand down there and fish out the wilted pieces of lettuce, the partially disintegrated peppers and the waterlogged ground beef.

Things that make ya go BLUH!!!

I do this nasty deed, but I am never, ever excited about it. So to all of who you accomplish this task without a second thought, I salute you.

And this also makes me thankful that our God isn’t squeamish– because I’m willing to bet many of us have little pieces of wilted bottom-of-the-sink-gunk deposits in our heart.

We are all sinners, myself included. I would love to say I have a pure heart, but that’s a lie and poof, there’s another sink-gunk heart sin. From every judgmental thought, every worry, doubt, lie, unkind word, ignored person in need, and sin in general, we have that gross heart junk just sitting somewhere in our hearts.

But God isn’t squeamish. He isn’t afraid of digging in there and helping us clean that out. He loves us so much that He doesn’t give a second thought to our bottom-of-the-sink heart bluck. All we have to do is ask Him to reach in and remove the gunk.

And just like the water drains freely after the sink-gunk is removed, so is the same for heart love and purity. Once we repent and ask our Father to clean out our bottom-of-the-sink heart, WHOOSH! The feeling of free-flowing love returns.

So think about it– what do you have at the bottom of your heart sink? It the freedom of His love flowing freely? Or is it all clogged up with gunk that makes you squirm?

God is waiting and ready, bravely and anxiously poised to reach into your heart daily and give you a newly, free-flowing, refreshed feeling of love and hope. He isn’t afraid– no matter WHAT you have in the bottom of your sink.

From gunked to grateful,


“Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely.” Matthew 13:12 (MSG) 

Categories: Clean, freedom, fresh start, God, heart, sin | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

We have… a Heart Condition

Do you know what really grinds my gears?

The inaccuracy of the hand grip heart rate monitor things on the handles of treadmills. Are they EVER accurate?

Ok, maybe I should slow down a little bit. I am really not THAT upset about it, but it just makes me think sometimes. Perhaps you can help. Maybe I am not gripping them right? Whenever I work out on a treadmill (or elliptical, bike, anything with the fancy-schmancy heart rate grippy things) it never, ever seems to be even close to accurate.

It usually takes the majority of my workout to get a close to legit reading. I spend all that time trying to adjust my hands so it will show that I actually HAVE a pulse, and when it does, it gives some astronomical number on the verge of heart explosion. (I work hard, but not THAT hard. Seriously.)  Oh, and don’t get me started on how I feel when it occasionally blinks judgmental messages of “Do not run while gripping handles.” (Well if you would read my heart rate while I am walking/recovery, I wouldn’t have to, you stinkin temperamental machine…)

Here’s the great news about that story. God is OUR heart monitor. And a very accurate one at that. He knows our heart. It’s important to understand that regardless of what physical shape we are in, we ALL have a heart condition.

That is symptom #4 of being a human. We have a heart condition. As much as we would like to deny it or argue, we have sin in our heart. While I would love to blame Adam and Eve for messing it up, let’s be honest… If it wasn’t them, it would have taken 13.43 seconds before someone else came along who would have thought the snake’s ideas were great and screwed it all up. Oh, the “joys” of being a human.

Our sins give us a heart condition. But God is constantly “monitoring” our heart, much more effectively and accurately than the treadmill example. He knows everything in there and we don’t need surgery to clear the “blockages” (aka sin.) Why? Because we have Jesus!! (More on THAT tomorrow)

If you haven’t done so already and feel called, stop right now and ask Jesus into your heart. If you have already experienced that, then go ahead and ask Christ to continue clearing out the “junk.” He will condition your heart. He will strengthen it. He will be your accurate, never-ending tool to monitor your “heart condition.”

Next time you are on the treadmill and you begin to argue with the heart rate grippy things, remember… Jesus has got your pulse. And He IS the cure for our heart condition!

Lub-dubbing along,


“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Proverbs 27:19

Categories: exercise, forgiveness, heart, sin | Leave a comment

Yard Sale Toys

While I don’t have any little children of my own yet, I like to babysit other drill sergeant wives’ on occasion. This has worked out pretty well for the last few months since I have been in Georgia, but I began to realize that these little ones were getting bored when they came over to our place, primarily because we didn’t have any toys. And let’s be honest, you can only watch Tangled so many times.

I am not a yard-saler. But, for the sake of my sanity, the children I babysit and my adult personal household goods that were quickly becoming makeshift “toys,” I ventured out, husband in hand, to tackle Fort Benning’s post-wide yardsale last Saturday. Our mission: attain legit, economical toys… That if they were destroyed, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

It turns out that the awesome loot I brought home was certainly that– awesome. I was unhumbly proud of myself. JACKPOT! The great part is, I got to try out my new toys on a pair of beautiful little girls on Monday. Even better, those toys, since they weren’t expensive, were made to be broken. Between these little girls and my puppy (who had never experienced kid toys before) we accomplished that goal. I was totally ok with it and counted the few broken toys as a success.

Now, I didn’t buy the toys specifically to be broken or chewed up (by two-year-olds or puppies), but I certainly didn’t panic when I realized one of the small dolls is now missing feet. It actually kind of made me laugh to think about how hard I had search for toys to make sure they weren’t broken when I purchased them at the yard sale… but in the end, it really didn’t matter.

God doesn’t “buy” things like I did at the yard sale… Jesus purchased us broken to start with in hope of paying a HUGE price (his life) to put us back together. How awesome is that?!? That is a remarkable kind of love right there.  “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

Let me say it again: God paid an incredibly high price via the life of His SON. For what? For broken, sinful folks like me and you. It says in 1 Corinthians 7:23 “You were bought at a price.  God’s love for us is much unlike my digging through bins, sorting through tables looking for “whole” items at a cheap, cheap price.

This whole experience made me realize three things:
1) Don’t buy cheap toys with the intent of them lasting long enough to meet grandchildren if you have yet to procreate.
2) God loves us more than we can ever comprehend.
3) God isn’t a dude upstairs searching for perfect cheap yard sale toys. He loves that we are broken and desires to put us back together, no matter what it costs.

Take some time today to thank Him for loving us as the broken yard sale toys that we are: marked up, ripped clothes, missing appendages, victims of an impromptu haircut that leaves us looking less than desirable due to our sin.  Remember that he thinks we are beautiful and has literally paid it all for us.

Bought, Paid for, no refunds,

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” –John 3:16

Categories: bought, Jesus, price, sin | Leave a comment

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