His Word, My 'Farm', Series, Soul Relationships

Apples & God

I’m in the process of moving old content to this new space…so I’m going to be posting some repeats…here’s the first of many. I hope you enjoy this. It was originally published on September 24, 2013.

I recently discovered that an apple tree in my backyard produces the most ah-mazing apples! They are the perfect combination of tart and sweet and produce the perfect crunch when you bite into them. The kids and I spent quite a while basking in yesterday’s glorious, skin-warming sun picking these little red treasures.

While they went onto ride bikes on the road surrounded by this year’s corn and soybean crops, I pondered long and hard about the many options for my apples. I grabbed a large bowl, my peeler, a knife and the basket of apples. I took my place on the front porch, with the long shadows of the house and the trees surrounding me and set about peeling the splendid riches God provided.

As I was peeling these apples, I couldn’t help but contemplate that this is how God means for us to be. He wants to peel away our tough exterior – the protective coating – the shell we use to try to keep all things at bay. He strives to shave away this covering so that we can be transparent – vulnerable – exposed so that we can be a witness to others around us.

Apples & God

As I was cutting out the bad spots in the apples, I realized this is how God prepares us too. He turns us all around, looks us over, and removes the ‘bad spots’ – things like selfishness, greed, laziness, pride, envy. He desires for us to grasp that we are more than our exterior – by what the world judges us.

Once my work with the apple was complete, I was left with a misshapen, grouted, ‘holey’ apple on the outside. It looked ANYTHING but perfect…you know, perfect like the ones you see in the stores – all perfectly apple shaped, perfectly polished and perfectly shiny – on display to be chosen as the best looking, sweet, crisp, perfect treat. But one bite into this deformed beauty would have your taste buds dancing!

It began to dawn on me that that is how we Christians can be made to feel – that we have to have it all together – we have to be perfectly smooth, impeccably glossy; perfect in our outward appearance. But what God glorifies in – – – what He lives, and loves, for, is allowing us to be bruised, broken, misshapen, and vulnerable on the outside, so that, when He peels back our dirty exterior, prods out our bad spots like pride and vanity, we can be cut into to be used in a recipe for something greater – something we may know nothing of…we are just trusting in the Master Baker. So when we have fulfilled our purpose, we don’t see ourselves as the beginning product – the ugly apple – we only see and experience ourselves as the beautiful finished product – an ingredient in God’s recipe for delicious apple crisp – tart and sweet at the same time.

Because life is full of moments that are tart and biting, ones that make us pucker up. But it’s also filled to the dish’s edge with sweet moments – those we know we should savor. And it’s the combination of these moments – the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ – that make us a creation of the Creator’s…a reason to cling to His goodness and rejoice in every acidic and sugary sweet flash in time.

Kids/Parenting, Soul Relationships

Beeps

Have you ever noticed how the things that need your attention are constantly beeping?

The microwave that indicates your food is ready.

The washing machine that tells you the load of laundry is done.

The dryer that tells you it’s time to do the worst. laundry. task. ever…fold clothes.

The oven that alerts you that it’s been preheated.

And of course, there’s the smoke detector in my basement that has been incessantly beeping for about 5 days straight now. Who actually keeps 9-volt batteries on hand? In our house, it’s all about the AA or AAA so that the electronics can keep things running smoothly.

These beeping appliances remind me of something…they remind me that they are the ‘urgent’ tasks that must be handled. Things like getting dinner on the table; ensuring that everyone has clean clothes to wear. And of course, the smoke detector which is there to keep your family safe.

These tasks, while they are necessary, aren’t the most important things in life. They help facilitate caring for the most important things in your life…your family…

But your kids, your animals, your spouse (if you have one); none of these come with built in beeping mechanisms to alert you when they need attention. Knowing when these most important areas of your life need attention is something that takes practice, skill, and dedication.

For instance, when one of your kids takes out their anger or frustration on the other, that might be a good indication that something is awry. Or, when your animals start barfing (or worse, pooping) in the house for no apparent reason, there might be something deeper going on. Or if your spouse, who is typically open and communicative, suddenly becomes sullen and withdrawn, that would make me question what’s happening in their life.

See, in my opinion, the beeping of our appliances was meant to be a modern convenience; something to help us not ‘forget’ about the load of clothes in the washer (so they don’t get smelly and mil-dewy). Something to snap us out of the most important work of tending to and caring for our family.

When was the last time we were so engrossed in conversation with our family or involved in a board game with our kids that we just ‘forgot’ to tend to the responsibilities of the household? I can’t say that I remember a time, if there ever was one, that I forgot about the dirty dishes in the sink.

I think, somewhere along the way, we got things mixed up and backwards. The things that should be getting the BEST of us and the BEST of our attention are now on the back burner. They are getting the leftovers of our days. They are getting the attention after all household responsibilities are taken care of…

…Because those are the beeps that get our attention…

Or maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I’m the only one who can ‘forget’ what’s truly important.

Maybe I’m the only one who says to my precious girl, “Just a second, let me load the dishwasher first,” when asked if I will look at a painting or a drawing created at the artful hands of my daughter.

Maybe I’m the only one who says to my brave boy, “Just a second, let me get the clothes out of the dryer first,” when asked if I can see the masterful work he has created with Legos.

Maybe I’m the only one who faces these issues…

We all have the same number of hours in a day. It’s what how we choose to spend those hours that makes a difference.

His Word, Kids/Parenting, Random, Soul Relationships

Still…

There is something about this time of year that makes me want to pull back – to retract into myself and reflect. Be introspective. Become like a bear and begin my preparations to hunker down and hibernate for the winter season.

It’s seasons like this in which I begin to analyze my relationships – with everyone from God to my kids.

I look at the activities I’m involved in and those my kids are involved in. I reflect on what I’ve accomplished this year, and what, if anything still needs completed.

So far:

  • I’ve read 16 books of my goal of 24 for the year.
  • I had a HUGE purging/organizing session in July. My home feels better and I feel a *little* more organized.
  • I still have my daughter’s closet to purge/organize {let’s be real, this may wait until she’s out of the house!}
  • I still need to get a blogging schedule established.
  • I still need to follow said schedule.
  • I’ve completed, I dunno, somewhere between 4-6 Hello Mornings bible studies.
  • I still need to finish my Bible in a Year plan. {I’m about 5 months behind on that one!}
  • I still need to learn to lean into His grace and accept when I can’t mark things off of my ‘To Do’ list.
  • My kids are in AWESOME classes this school year.
  • Elijah is crazy improving in baseball this year, due to an amazing coach!
  • Emma actually decided to give softball a chance, and she’s not half bad! {which is a total shock to my system!}

But the biggest thing that I have yet to cross off my ever growing task list can be found in one of my favorite Bible verses…Psalm 46:10a, “Be still and know that I am God.”

My absolute favorite version of this verse is in the NASB version. It reads:

“Cease striving and know that I am God.”

Cease striving…REALLY?

Dictionary.com defines cease this way: “to stop; discontinue.”

Dictionary.com defines striving this way: “to exert oneself vigorously; try hard.”

So, basically what I’m telling you is that I can’t. stop. trying. hard.

I can’t stop exerting myself…to please others…to accomplish more…to be more involved…to cross things off of my list.

To just BE STILL

I am Type A all the way.

This is something that God will need to do a miraculous work within me to accomplish. But He is faithful. He is good. He is just. He is love.

And thankfully, He will accept me just the way I am. But, by His grace, He loves me too much to leave me that way.

So, as I enter into this season of my life, of this year, please pray with me that He will continue to do a good work in me. That I will learn to lean into His grace. Into His rest.

Jesus tells us we can, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” {Matthew 11:28-30}.

And that I can just be. still.