Small Things

Photo by A. McCormick

It’s the little things in life that touch me the most -a smile from a precocious 2-year old, the purple and orange of a newly rising sun, that gentle sigh my husband makes at the end of the day. Small things, reminding me that our lives are precious, a daily blessing.

This week my husband, Mac, and I were met with one of those small amazing unexpectedthings, a reminder of human kindness.

We’ve been shopping at our local grocery store since it opened, 13-years ago. The store is filled with a group of amazing people, all more than willing to engage in conversation, share a favorite recipe, or help a newbie navigate the aisles.

This week we gathered our shopping cart and entered the store just as we’ve done for 13-years. As we made our way to the vegetable aisle, we were met with a team of store personnel, the store manager, team leader, and cashiers. They encircled our cart and once all were gathered, the manager announced they had a surprise for us. He graced our shopping cart with a custom-made sign, “This cart is reserved for VIP Mac and Allison.” He went on to say, “We appreciate you being consistent customers and we love seeing you each week.”

To say we were shocked would be a complete understatement! I fought back the tears and Mac was speechless, not an easy thing for this extremely extroverted man. We took pictures, offered socially distant hugs, and then tried to finish our shopping.

The shopping part proved to be harder than anticipated. As we navigated the aisles, people read our little sign and smiled. They stopped to ask for an explanation and wanted to know how they could obtain a reserved cart. Was it a raffle? Had we won a store contest? What would we do with the sign?

We tried to navigate the stares and comments, questions, and repeated questions but feeling all the while a little self-conscious –undeserving of all the attention.

We finally turned the corner and headed toward the checkout stand when the manager and team leader approached. They lifted the sign from the cart and explained that it would be hangingnear the front door waiting for our return.

We thanked the team repeatedly as we walked out the doors. Turning to the manager, we let him know how much we appreciated the gesture. He said it was nothing, really “Just a small thing.” As we turned to exit the store, he reminded us to place the sign on our cart each time we shopped. He added, “We hope it reminds you just how specialyou are.

How “special” we are, such an undeserved gift.

Our world has become so complicated.

Racial division.

Political divisiveness.

A pandemic that rages on, interrupting the flow of everyday life. Carrying in its wake human, economic, and emotional devastation.

Yet, this grocery store team took the time to do the small thing. A sweet gesture that profoundly affected our lives.

I wonder what would happen if each of us would commit to doing one small thing this week for a loved one, co-worker, or stranger.

I wonder if that act of unexpected kindness would help the person remember they are special, they are loved, they are seen.

I wonder if it would say to them, you are valuable!

Sisters, I encourage you to take time to see the little things, the small events in your lives that tell you,

You are precious,

You are loved,

You BeLOVED are valuable.

And then, I challenge you to tell those you love, in some small way, how much they are valued, that they are special, they are loved.

1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:1-4 New International version (NIV)

Be blessed,

Inattentional blindness…

Photo by M. Helin

The sun was casting a shadow through the canopy of leaves. Slivers of light falling onto the path in front of my feet. The leaves were brilliant -red, orange, and a hint of yellow that shouted, “look at me!”

 I‘ve walked this path many times over the years. But this year, this year the leaves – I don’t remember them being this beautiful. I don’t remember them feeling this warm and comforting.

Had I missed it in prior years? Perhaps I had moved too quickly along the trail. Or maybe, this year was different. Maybe this year I was different

Priscilla Shirer, in her Bible study, Breathe – Making Room for Sabbath, discusses a condition called inattentional blindness, sometimes called perceptual blindness. She shares,

Inattentional blindness is the trick our own brains play on us – keeping us preoccupied with one thing while rendering us unaware and oblivious to another. So while we are concentrating somewhere else, another more critical action could be occurring within view, but without our conscious knowledge. Then, shocked and bewildered, we realize we missed something-or someone- who really deserved our full attention.

That was me.

I suffered from blindness that kept my mind focused on things that seemed important, that occupied my time, kept me driven and distracted. But all the while, I failed to look up and see the beauty, the spectacular beauty that lined the trail – that enveloped my life. 

I think we can experience this same blindness, this same lack of attention when it comes to our relationship with Jesus. We keep Him at the fringe of our visual field, just close enough to check the box – faithful Christian. Yet, far enough out of sight to maintain our control.

In the book of John, Jesus heals a man that had been blind from birth. You may remember the story; Jesus spits on the ground, makes mud, and wipes it across the man’s eyes. He then instructs the man to go wash and the man returns – his vision restored. When questioned about his healing, the man said,

(24) So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” (25) “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

John 9:24-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

This man was physically blind; we suffer from spiritual blindness.

But Jesus offers healing for both.

Inattentional blindness, taking our eyes off the most important, keeps us tripping, bumping into God’s will and our wants. It keeps us from fully enjoying the beauty of our journey and appreciate the richness of true intimacy with God.

Priscilla again reminds us,

… bring to the center stage of our minds and hearts the Person (Jesus) who we have placed at the periphery for too long.

Breathe– Making Room for Sabbath

Jesus brings healing. He restores our sight, allowing us to experience the full beauty of His love, His grace, His creation.

Dear Sisters, don’t allow your attention to be diverted from the One who brings clarity of sight. The One who heals our blindness, aligns our priorities, and restores our purpose.

I once was blind but now –

I am forgiven,

I am healed,

I am free.

Blessing BeLOVED,

A Divine Encounter

Photo by A. McCormick

On the edge of town, bordered by cliff face and surrounded by suburbia, is a beautiful hiking trail. A stream runs through pastureland, flowing under wood bridges, over rocks, and lapping against creek beds graced with irises, aspen trees, and pines.

It is a sanctuary tucked in the midst of the business of our community.

This week I had the opportunity to walk the trail with a friend. It had been far too long since we carved out time to connect, share stories, and soak up the majesty of our surroundings.

As we hiked, we shared updates about family, discussed dreams realized and those in the waiting, paused to admire love declared in sticks and pinecones – birds sang, squirrels darted in and out of their burrows, and those we met on the trail were enthusiastic to share the path.

Photo by A. McCormick

We took a short pause at the edge of the overlook, pine trees growing directly out of lava rock, an eagle gliding across the blue sky, canyon floor below.

God’s creative work on grand display.

Then as quickly as we had started this adventure, our time together was over. A blink, a much-needed pause in a string of minutes and hours that make up a week.

It’s good to stop time, if only briefly, and reset our perspective, refocus our attention.

As I drove away from the parking lot, I watched the sanctuary fade in my rearview mirror. And as I navigated the twist and turns of the road ahead, I couldn’t help but wonder if there isn’t some way to hold on to the peace I found hidden in the woods. It allowed my breathing to slow, the tension in my shoulders to relax, and calm replaced the usual clamor that goes on in my brain.

I started my day meeting a friend to catch up on lost time and ended the time together finding the comfort of my Father – a divine encounter.

He was alive in the rushing of the stream, the magnitude of the rock face, the gentleness of the birds’ song, the display of love with twigs and cones. I was surrounded by His beauty and experienced His touch.

God uses the ordinary, the every day, the things on the edge of our lives to speak to us. He reminds us that no matter what is going on, He provides a sanctuary. We just need to slow down long enough to see Him, take a step forward, and rest.

Dear Sisters, I want to encourage you to take a perspective-reset moment. Take a walk alone or with a friend, listen to music that moves you, read God’s word, sit patiently, and wait to hear God’s voice encouraging you, consoling you, loving you.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13, New International Version (NIV)

Be blessed His BeLOVED,

Holy Moments

Photo by A. Burden

A stillness fell over the room. The type of quiet that forces you to take notice.

The music played gently in the background and the early morning light cut through the window leaving a shadow across the small wooden table and her favorite cup of tea.

The children were clinging to the last remnants of their dreams, the dog was curled at her feet, and her husband was buried under his grandmother’s quilt.

She sat motionless, fixed on an indescribable peace. A sweetness, a warmth that enveloped her.

A holy moment; a moment where she could feel Jesus’ presence.

A moment she knew that she was loved like a father loves his daughter – loved unconditionally, effortlessly, intentionally.

Our lives can get so complicated. They can become busier than we plan, out of control; keeping us from the most important thing, time alone with Jesus. Sitting in His presence, lounging at His feet, spending time getting to know Him, loving Him, surrendering to Him.

Holy moments are found in the stillness of our minds, in the quieting of our hearts, in the intentional discipline of seeking God.

Tim Hansel shares,

God has spoken very boldly about his desire to be a presence in our lives. If I want to heal the ache and loneliness in my own life, one of the things I need to do is get away, alone with God. . . In the silence, God will speak to you most powerfully. Too often his words to us get muffled, lost, or covered by the crowd of many noises both inside and outside of us. We must have a quiet heart in order to hear God’s distinctive message to us.

Seeking God in a busy world requires some intentionality, a little planning, and focused perseverance. But Jesus honors our efforts and faithfully meets us in those quiet spaces we carve out of our busy days.

Please don’t get lost in the distractions of this world. Spend time with the One that can meet your inner longings, your deep loneliness, and your unimaginable losses.

Nestle into your favorite chair, settle into the corner of a coffee shop or a bookstore, walk a quiet path – spend time with your creator.

In return, He will reveal Himself, His passions, His purpose for your life and you will find yourself resting in a holy moment.

For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 New Life Translation (NLV)

Blessings His BeLOVED,


Photo by T. Johnson

I sat reading a magazine in the lobby of our local hospital, waiting to have my labs drawn. Over the intercom, a page rang out “Code blue emergency room. Pediatrics. Room 1.”

I didn’t pay much attention the first time it aired but the second and then the third announcement made me stop.

Code blue indicates a person stopped breathing. In this case, a child. Something was seriously wrong.

A child was not breathing.

What came to mind next, lives were about to change – the child, their parents, family, friends.

If the child survives, life continues and there is a memory of the time spent in the emergency room. Stories will be crafted about the day and for a time the family will hold each other a little longer, take more time saying goodnight, and keep a closer eye.

But if…

If this little one slips away then life temporarily halts. The memories bring with them questions: did I do enough, should I have done things differently, why didn’t I say more – share more – love more?

In time, the stories will bring joy and laughter. But, the journey to get to a place of peace will be hard and paved with blame, regret, and shame.

Our lives can change in an instant.

A young woman attends a party. She dances in celebration with her friends, consumes a little too much alcohol, and then starts her drive home. At the bottom of the hill, she loses control and wraps her car around a large oak tree. Life shifts for her, the two girlfriends riding in the car, and their families.

Recently married, the young couple was excited to find out they were expecting. They shared the news with family and friends and started preparing for their daughter. Contractions started far too early. Their baby was stillborn. Their dreams distorted forever.

A small lump – no breast cancer. An asthma attack – no heart disease. A missed event – God’s divine intervention. Who we are, how we see ourselves, how we see the world – all changed by the situations we encounter.

Our lives are filled with moments that alter us. Some are devastating, others filled with joy, but all have the ability to transform.

The question is what do you do after – after the achievement, after the loss, after the change?

 We have two options.

Option one – we blame our circumstances on Jesus. We know in our heads that Jesus loves us but if we are honest, we question if He really likes us. Because if He really liked us, cared for us – our children wouldn’t suffer, our lives wouldn’t be so difficult, our bodies wouldn’t fail. We become hardened, bitter, and our faith is clouded by our inability to see God’s grace enveloping our disappointments.

Our second option – surrender. Surrender to God’s plan, regardless of the outcome for our children, our situations, our health. Choose to trust God with all of it.

Cody Carnes, in his song Run to the Father, writes,

I run to the Father, I fall into grace
I’m done with the hiding, no reason to wait
My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend
So I’ll run to the Father again and again and again and again

What a wonderful reminder, we can run straight to God. We can fall into His open arms of love and grace. We can let him change our hearts, feed our souls, and use the situation to make us more like Him.

We can choose to believe, God intends everything we encounter will be used for our good.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation (NLT)

Do you find yourself dealing with change? Are you facing a mountain you aren’t certain you can climb? Are transitions, challenges, doubts knocking on your door?

Sisters, don’t lose heart.

Resist the urge to blame God.

Run to your Father.

Rest in His truth.

He has a plan to prosper you and give you a future.



By guest writer Jim Lyons

Photo by J. Earle

Her name was Mirah.  She was four months old.  I met her and her family inside a dimly lit bedroom on the second floor of an apartment building on the east side of town.  What brought us together that evening was a cry for help – Mirah had stopped breathing.  With lights and siren, I arrived within a minute.

Inside her crib, Mirah laid still.  Her skin was blue. 

No sound. 

No breath. 

No life.

I quickly picked her up, and with my mouth to hers, I began to breathe life into her body.  “Careful, Jim!  Don’t breathe too hard!  Remember, she’s little!”  After administering some breaths and small chest compressions, Mirah’s eyes began to blink.  With a few more breaths, her eyes suddenly opened, and so did her lungs!  Out of that tiny body came the loudest cry I had ever heard. 

Mirah was alive!

Suddenly, that dimly lit room became brighter.  And it was because, for a brief moment, God made His presence known.  It was His presence, His mercy, and the casting out of death that lit up that room and the hearts of all who were present.  It was by God’s grace Mirah went from death to life.

Three years later, this scene would unfold differently – I too would find myself crying out for help in a dimly lit room – “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” And by God’s grace and His gospel message, He revived me that day by breathing spiritual life within my soul (Ezekiel 36:25-27, 37:5, 1 Peter 1:3, 23). 

What a glorious day that was – going from death to life!

As I look back on that day, I’m reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus.  In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul describes the life of those who come to Jesus Christ by faith and repentance.

In verses 1 through 3, Paul clarifies our life BEFORE CHRIST.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)

In verses 4 through 9, Paul clarifies our life IN CHRIST.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)

And in verse 10, Paul clarifies our life FOR CHRIST.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

Let those verses sink in. 

The believer going from death to life! 

What mercy! 

What grace!  

Our Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to breathe life into lost sinners who were dead in trespasses and sins (John 3:16-17).  And by His life, His sacrificial death upon a cross, and His resurrection from the grave, Jesus reconciled us to God, cleansing us of our sins, and giving us a living hope and an eternal inheritance in heaven that will never perish (1 John 4:9-10, 1 Peter 1:4).

Let us rejoice!  Jesus Christ has brought us from death to life!  We are alive in Him!  Let us praise Him for His finished work!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 (ESV)

Blessings to you,


Jesus Never Fails

Photo by A. Ramsey

Sometimes the discouragement of the day blocks our ability to see God, to recognize that He remains close, even when we can’t sense His presence.

Take a few minutes to be encouraged by Elevation Worship.

Do It Again | Official Lyric Video | Elevation Worship

The lyrics remind us that regardless of how high the walls, difficult the circumstances, or the amount of time that has passed, Jesus remains faithful. He never fails.

14“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91:14-16

Be blessed His BeLOVED,


Photo by J. Towner

Our community has experienced wildfires in the past but these are unprecedented times resulting in an unparalleled fire.

We are surrounded by fires on three sides, roads are closed, towns burnt to the ground, and people have lost everything – loved ones, pets, homes, possessions.

People evacuated to safety in the middle of the night with just the clothes on their backs, barefooted, disoriented, and scared. They are trying to make sense of all that is happening, formulate their next step plans, but really how does one do that when your world has been completely turned inside out and then torched.

And even with the best efforts of the firefighters, no end is in sight. The flames continue to lap up the majestic landscape leaving only chard destruction behind.

U. N. P. R. E. C. E. D. E. N. T. E. D. times.

COVID-19, racial unrest, political turmoil, and now – now my sanctuary, the little piece of the world I call home, is engulfed in flames.

I was talking with a friend this week. She is having difficulty wrapping her head around all that is going on. She voiced fear, shared that uncertainty had thrown her off-kilter, confessed that anxiety is settling in, and stated an overwhelming desire to “do something.”

Make unjust things just.

Heal the brokenness of those around her.

End the suffering.

It is frustrating when we can’t just snap our fingers and make all of this go away. But the reality is that these events are fundamentally out of our control, such a difficult concept to accept.

My friend and I share many similarities. But when life gets complicated, when circumstances are about to overcome us, our differences surface.

She is a strong, well-educated, confident woman. And when she begins to feel that need to “do something,” she launches into strategy mode. Researching, contemplating, working to conjure up a plan to mediate the situation. Please don’t get me wrong, doing your research and making plans are not wrong. But in some cases the situation can’t be resolved, peace can’t be found through human efforts.

When life is out of control, you need more than your strategies to address the problem.

I’ve watched this dear woman’s behavior, each time producing more and more anxiety. Each time resulting in an emotional meltdown. Each time leaving family and friends to pick up the pieces. There has to be another way, a better way to face the uncertain.

I am a strong-willed woman, well educated, and confident. Like my friend, I move to “fix-it” mode when faced with life’s difficulties. Unfortunately, I can’t wrestle with a wildfire. But I certainly should be able to solve the homeless problem in our community. I should be able to bring justice to those that have been violated. I should be able to bring peace to women that succumb to the behaviors of their pasts. I should be able to do these things!

And then…

God whispers,

It’s not your job.

When my life is burning around me, leaving my dreams and desires in a pile of ash, when my human efforts result in only frustration and a growing sense of despair, once my “fixing” has failed, I turn to God.

God doesn’t promise to eliminate the challenges but He does faithfully reassure us that He will never leave, never forsake, never fail.

Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds us,

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.

The Message (MSG)

When life burns and spins out of control, my dear friend relies on her abilities, and if, when, they fail she searches for things to make the hurt go away. To make the situation right.

After my attempts to fix fail, I do the only thing that brings real resolution. I lean into God, the Creator of the universe, the One that lived and died to reconcile my sin for eternity, the focus of my faith. And I am slowly understanding that all I can do, all He wants me to do, is trust Him.

BeLOVED, life is hard and complicated and I can guarantee you that it will not be fair or easy. But I stand confident that I can’t, you can’t, do it alone. Consider, turning your uncertainty, your pain over to the only One that promises to turn it into fullness. – Jesus.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

 Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)



By Guest Writer – Jim Lyons

By D. Nolte

I had three seconds to put out the call. “H-341! Officers need help! 11-99!”

As those words were spoken, my partner and I were being attacked by a young man who was under the influence of methamphetamine. Through his drug-induced rage and strength, he was trying to push me off the top of a bridge and get my handgun out of my holster.

I knew at that time I was in the fight of my life. So did my partner. We had to fight to survive.

During the struggle, we were able to get the upper hand and wrestle the violent man to the ground. We were now lying in the middle of the road, traffic passing by at 50 mph, with no one stopping to help. While trying to hold the young man down, I could hear sirens in the distance, piercing the darkness around us. Help was on the way!  We only had to hold on a minute longer and this encounter would be over.

Training and preparation prepared us for this night. Victory would be ours. I knew we would make it through this shift – only to come back and fight again.

That particular incident in my career as a police officer reminded me that as Christians there is a spiritual enemy out there, much like the young man, that is ready to pounce on us to do us harm. It is important to remember that our enemy, the devil, does not take a vacation. He and his fallen angels are relentless, working tirelessly to discourage and deceive. Attempting to lead us away from our Sovereign King. 

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)

Victory is already ours in Christ Jesus! We need not be afraid.

Positionally, we are in Christ and delivered from the power of Satan.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

Colossians 1:13 (ESV)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

John 10:27-30 (ESV)

Practically, however, we are called to fight. And fight we must!  As ambassadors to Christ, we have a mission. We are called to share God’s saving message – the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 26:18). We are called to be salt in a decaying world (Matthew 5:13). We are called to be light in the darkness, exposing the evil things (Matthew 5:14-16, Ephesians 5:11-17). And by faithfully living out our calling, we will face spiritual opposition. Why?  Because darkness hates light!  We can only overcome our enemy by living for Jesus following His will in holiness and godliness and by dressing appropriately for the fight that will come (1 John 1:5-7). Friends – trust me – the fight will come, and it will come when you least expect it!

Are you ready?

Have you prepared for it?

Have you trained yourself for such an encounter?

The Apostle Paul commands us to be ready for the fight.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Ephesians 6:10-12 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul then lays out the spiritual armor we are to put on daily.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 6:13-18 (ESV)

Before my shift began each day, I had to dress appropriately. I had to put on the right equipment so I could go out into the city and uphold the law, protect its citizens and their property. To forget one item – one piece of equipment – could prove fatal to not only myself but those whom I worked with.

Friends, dress carefully! Put on the full armor of God daily. Remember, on this side of heaven, we remain in a spiritual battle. Be ready to fight. Know God’s word and live it out (James 1:22-25). Train for the encounters that will come. One day the fight will be over, and we will be able to take off our armor in the presence of our one true Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Until then, we must fight!

Blessings to you,


Noxious Weeds

Photo by N. Buscher

Walking through the neighborhood, I noticed a plant creeping over rocks and squeezing its way through the cracks between wood, brick, and concrete. Dark green foliage covered by delicate yellow flowers, blossoms giving way to orange seedpods.

For months, I walked past these beautiful climbers thinking this would be a great addition to my backyard. They seem to grow well in direct sun and are quite content with minimal water.

During one of the walks, I found a small plant nestled between flowerbed and sidewalk. I scooped it up, stuffed it in my coat pocket, and once I reached home planted it in my backyard.

After a few months, the plant had doubled in size. A month later, it was starting to creep along the dry riverbed that runs nearly the length of our yard. It was doing exactly what I hoped it would do; form a beautiful blanket over what was bare ground.

But something just didn’t seem right. This plant was growing way too fast and behaving like some of the invasive plants I’ve worked hard to keep out of my garden.

Using the garden app on my phone, I identified my fast-growing friend and there was a reason it was growing so quickly. It was a WEED! And not just a simple ordinary weed but a noxious weed banned because of its fast growth and ability to literarily take over the yard, community, the state. The app warned to eliminate the plant immediately.

I put down my phone, grabbed the plant where stem meets ground, and yanked. With the monster weed in hand, I moved to the trashcan and tossed it in.

This plant had been the envy of my eyes for months. I marveled at the beautiful clusters of flowers and admired how quickly it spread. Let’s be real, I evaluated seedlings for weeks to find the perfect one and then planted the thing in my yard. I inadvertently, unknowingly, yet purposefully, planted destruction on my plot of land. I watered and nurtured it, doing all I could to encourage it to grow. And all the while, it waited to sow its seeds in my yard, the neighboring slope, and my neighbors’ yards. Seeds that ultimately would lead to frustration and harm.

If I’m completely honest, I do the same thing in my life. I sow seeds of doubt and fear that grow into monstrous vines, strangling my faith. I allow the world to plant seeds of devastation in my mind, and I unconsciously, yet carefully, water them, fertilizing each lie, and then wonder why my value never measures up or why my life is filled with self-control, pride, and selfishness.

Sisters, we must be careful about what we plant, what we nurture, the things we allow to grow up, and influence our lives. Some of them may look beautiful, they may provide comfort and happiness, but in reality, be the very things that overtake our joy and peace.

Philippians 4:8 reminds us to fill our minds with the things that are true, noble, reputable,

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

The Message (MSG)

I am learning that when I focus on God’s word, tuning out the chatter of the world, my heart is filled. Peace floods my mind, a stillness moves over me, and I am encouraged.

 BeLOVED, we are living in a time where chaos reigns, uncertainty is offered at every turn, and a culture of fear and hate is becoming deeply embedded in our world. I encourage you to be careful about what you are planting in your mind and heart. Be watchful, determined, and alert to those words and thoughts that are noxious weeds to your soul. Cling to what is authentic, compelling, and gracious – focus on the things God uses to cultivate and grow us.

Be Blessed,

Finding our true value and purpose in Christ – 2 Corinthians 5:17