Forbidden Fruit

Genesis 3:6

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

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I have a confession to make. I LOVE pear trees. I love everything about them—the way they look, the way they smell. They calm me. The problem is that I’ve recently become aware of the environmental curse that ornamental pear trees represent. They are weak in structure, they choke the life from native trees, and they cross pollinate with other trees so that they spread like kudzu, according to Durant Ashmore of the Greenville News. Ashmore further adds that they are very difficult to get rid of, as some varieties produce 4-inch thorns. This means that bulldozing them can be the only solution.

So, at this time of year, my sin constantly accosts me. It taunts me at every turn. It is SO hard to look at these trees and see them for the danger they represent. They don’t look dangerous. They’re aesthetically beautiful, pleasing to the eye. And it occurs to me that they are not unlike so many other temptations to sin. I think that we look back on the Garden of Eden, and often villainize Adam and Eve. They were given so much, and were denied only one thing. Why couldn’t they just say no, and walk away? We become very sure that, in their (lack of) shoes, we would have done just that.

But I wouldn’t have—not when I can’t even look away from these “beautiful” pear trees. And come to realize, we even have a couple in our yard (they came with the house). But I don’t know if I could bring myself to tear them down—at least, it isn’t at the top of my priority list. And when I do finally get around to it, it will not be cathartic or freeing or vindicating. Instead, I think it will be a bittersweet day, a sacrifice I’ve made at great personal cost.

We aren’t to hold this attitude toward sin. We aren’t supposed to let it maintain control over us. And we are supposed to be disgusted by it. Proverbs 8:13 says that “the fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.” And Romans 12:9 tells us to abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” There’s no halfway when it comes to sin. We must put our sin to death…not keep it around like a pet. Matthew 18:9 commands, “if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

Is my love of pear trees my mother of all sins? Of course not. But it seems to me to be the most poignant illustration during spring time in Texas. May it serve as a reminder and conviction to us all.

Even the Weeds

Psalm 19:1
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”

You’ve heard it said, and indeed it is written, that the heavens declare God’s glory. I think many of us can get behind this statement. Even the idea of space (outer or inner) is too much for me to wrap my mind around. It is SO vast, SO beautiful, SO far beyond my comprehension. All of that suggests to me that, yes, there is a God; and that, yes, He is great and mighty and creative and mind-blowing.

But I would actually like to suggest that it isn’t just the incomprehensible heavens that declare the glory of God, but rather much more mundane aspects of His creation as well. In particular, let me submit to you that even the weeds declare the glory of God. What?! Those nasty, pesky little things that we cut and pull and poison and kill? Those? Yes. Allow me to share three examples that I believe speak to this.

Exhibit A: So, I’m walking along with my daughter, taking her to swimming lessons and watching the grass beneath our feet. And I notice, for the first time, these intricate little weeds that look like giant green snowflakes—well, giant in relation to snowflakes, at least. There were so many of them, each a bit different from the others, but each one beautiful. The next day, I found this other little brown weed poking through a crack in the sidewalk, and thought it equally pretty, and photo-worthy. Weeds…hmm.
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Exhibit B:
“Flowers.” That’s what my kids call dandelions. The bane of summer existence to most, these flowers excite and fascinate my preschoolers. If we walk past them, we have to stop so that they can pick the pretty flowers. When they are on the playground, they collect them and give them to me as a treasured gift. We put them in makeshift vases and give them water, even though they never last more than a day alive. But they have a certain beauty about them, an endowment from God, I suppose.
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Exhibit C:
Last summer, my mom discovered the salsify. She watches for them to bloom all over the neighborhood and collects them whenever they’re in season. Then she spray paints them in vibrant colors and displays them in vases all over the house. She also gives them away as gifts. To most people, these ‘plants’ are probably a nuisance, but to my mom, they are beautiful.

So then, mundane or not, nuisance or not, I have to argue that we can find God’s glory in many commonly overlooked places. Even in the weeds.

The Heavens Declare


May 25, 2014…

Psalm 19:1-3

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Last night—amid tornado watches, severe thunderstorm warnings, and flash flood alerts—we sat on the balcony of our vacation condo, watching as the lightning in the sky flashed ever closer to us. First, it quietly lit up the sky in the distance in all directions. But soon, the bolts seemed to be right next to us and the crashing thunder shook the sky and the ground alike. A number of times, we simply uttered the word, “Wow!” The beauty and majesty were breathtaking.

It reminded me of a storm I watched from the window of my Air Force barracks in Monterey one Thanksgiving weekend many years ago. Then, in my younger years, I could afford to pull an all-nighter, sitting on my mini-fridge, just gazing out over the bay through the windows that spanned an entire wall of that room.

Now, a decade and a half and two kids later, we were forced inside by the need to check on sleeping children. And I was forced to look away from the bedroom window and close my eyes for fear of losing too much precious sleep. Nonetheless, I drifted off with a smile on my face as I contemplated the awe and wonder and power that God graciously chooses to display through the declarations of the heavens—not just for His glory, but also for our enjoyment. Oh, how He longs to bless us at every turn and in every circumstance.


Psalm 139:14

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”

Bj Pigtails 20

Selfies. I remember the first time I heard the term. I was watching a particularly humorous episode of Duck Dynasty. But I remember turning to my husband and asking, “What is a selfie? Is that really a thing?” I subsequently learned that it was a very prominent trend in our culture today. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Some people get down on others for taking too many selfies. In all honesty, some people DO take too many selfies. But I think that a blanket condemnation of this trend is premature, and perhaps a bit misguided.

As a mom of two toddlers, I think selfies (both with and without my kids) serve several valuable and legitimate purposes. They document our time together and our memories. If my kids’ memories of their childhood are as spotty as mine, they’ll need the reminders. These photos also document ME, as a mom. I’ve read more than one blog entry talking about how mothers are always getting stuck behind the camera, recording for posterity everyone but themselves. Then when everyone looks back years later, they ask, “Where was Mom in all of these photos?”

Selfies also demonstrate a level of confidence. Let’s face it. A lot of us moms are more than happy to take our place BEHIND the camera. The last person we want recorded for posterity is ourselves. We don’t want our weight, or our cellulite, our skin condition, or our horrific haircut memorialized for eternity on the internet. God forbid! But our kids see that…our daughters see that. They watch, they notice, they internalize those insecurities.

Am I saying that young girls should plaster scantily-clad and seductively-posed photos of themselves all over social media? No. Am I suggesting that these same girls open themselves up to potential victimization by sex traffickers and the like? Of course not. But I think selfies do have their place in our society. And while I’ve lately found myself taking a few more of them than I used to, I don’t think I should have to feel guilty about that. And I hope that—within reason—you don’t either.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

For today’s post, I’m digging back into my files for a memory—one that I originally wrote about in February of this year. If you were reading my posts via Facebook before I officially launched my blog, you may have read this one. I was reminded of the post recently when Laredo joined me on the couch one night to reenact the scene. So I wanted to take a look back at what I’d written all those months ago. And I want to give you a glimpse into that same memory….

 Psalm 139:14

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

 At almost 15 months old, Laredo still seldom sleeps through the night. And often, when she gets up for her mid-night snack, she will lay on the couch with me for the next few hours (if not the rest of the night). I miss the extra sleep, but I cherish the time together.

The other night as Chris handed her to me, through the dark I saw her huge smile, and her arms outstretched toward me, eagerly and excitedly. It felt good to know that she wanted to be with me, near me. And then, as we were lying there, her on my chest, she did something she hasn’t ever done before. With her tiny and delicate little fingers, she started playing with some folds of skin on my neck that I had never realized were there. My first instinct was one of insecurity. Should I be adding this to my list of personal imperfections?

I quickly realized that this response could easily rob me of the joy and contentment brought by her presence with me in that moment. She wasn’t trying to point out ‘flaws.’ She doesn’t even understand that it’s a flaw. It reminds me of how, when I was young, I would sit on the laps of my parents and grandparents and use my fingers to trace the veins in their hands and arms—which became more pronounced as they got older. But they didn’t respond self-consciously; they embraced the time spent together.

And now, it’s my turn to set that example of self-acceptance for my little girl. Whether she becomes a young lady who despises, obsesses over, accepts, or embraces her physical features will depend largely on the example I set for her. In turn, I will greatly influence her confidence, as well as her actions and attitudes toward the imperfections of others. I confess, I have a long way to go, but on that night, I chose to embrace the moment, and the little girl in my arms.

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The Beauty around You

Psalm 19: 1-4

 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

One evening last spring, following the hustle and bustle of trying to get the kids ready for bed, I grabbed my camera and ran outside. The way the sun was setting, I just knew there must be some photo opportunities waiting. When I came back inside, I scrolled through the pictures I’d taken so I could show them to Chris. While there were a lot of nice shots, I paused on this one.


Surprised, he asked me, “Where did you find that?!” I answered casually, “Oh, just out back.” You see, beauty is all around you. You just have to look for it. I believe that God is always looking for little ways to bless us and make us smile. But it’s up to us to keep our eyes open for them. Otherwise we won’t see them, and we won’t notice all of the beauty around us.

 So, whether it’s in a sunrise, a cloudy sky, a field full of wildflowers, or a fresh-fallen snow—or anything else that catches your attention—stop and notice it. Capture it, whether in a photo or in a memory. Rejoice in the moment, and thank God for all of the little gifts He sends your way.