Picking Weeds

Saturday my husband and I spent several hours working in our yard on the first really good weekend yard-work-day yet this year.2005-04-12 17.53.16

We breathed a sigh of relief to see the harsh winter and the mid-March four plus inches of snow and the several hard frosts that followed had not laid waste to the spring flowers that had bravely erupted from the ground in early March.

Many green shoots that promised beautiful flowers yet to come surrounded a few early bloomers.

2005-04-12 17.53.22The grass had finally escaped the ugly winter-brown dreariness and embraced the green-green that follows spring rains. By next week we’ll have to mow.

Then I noticed the weeds. Seriously?

And not just one. But quite a few. Not quite enough to be called many but still enough to be annoying. Certainly more than I hoped to see, and way more than I expected to find as it seemed far too early for their pesky presence.

“At least the weather’s nice,” I consoled myself as I got busy. As I lamented at how easily weeds—that no one plants or tends to—pop up, I resigned myself that even now, at the very start of the season, I’d have to give “weed picking” a plac2005-04-12 17.54.49e in my already busy schedule.

When my children were younger, they were afforded the pleasure of assisting in getting rid of the weeds. As my middle-school-aged son plucked weeds in an especially weedy section of landscaping, he sighed. “How much longer do we have to pick weeds?”

Laughing, I corrected his verb usage. “We pick flowers, but we pull weeds.”

“But how many more weeds do we have to pick?”

“All of them,” was my most unpopular answer.

2005-04-12 17.53.49Saturday, as I determined to rid the landscaping of weeds while trying to ignore the complaints from my bum knee and touchy lower back, my thoughts turned to how easily pesky habits and traits—just like said weeds—can creep into our lives.

Bad attitudes

Impatience

Wasting time

Overindulgence in any number of things

Selfishness

Priority shifts

I noticed the weeds were especially prominent in the places where the mulch had disintegrated to nothing, and my husband’s promise that THIS year we WOULD replenish the mulch pinged through my brain. Not only do I like the look of a heavy layer of mulch, it cuts way down on the number of weeds.

Hmm… kind of like how regular time spent in GOD’s word and in prayer covers our lives in a layer of protection, making us less vulnerable to the sometimes little, sometimes big things that steal into our hearts and minds. Bothersome stuff that jabs at our witness and pummels our resolve not to mention our effectiveness at being salt and light to this hurting world.

I learned the hard way that weekly “weed picking” is definitely the way to go as a few weeds are unquestionably easier to deal with than an infestation of weeds. Unless I don’t care if my plants and flowers are attacked, overrun and choked out by weeds. Which is not the case. Because I do care.

I care even more about how my life reflects the love of Christ. Does knowing me push people toward OR away from knowing HIM?

I’ve decided that as I tend in a timely fashion to the weeds this spring and summer, I’ll use that time to reflect on the bigger issue of the weeds in my life. As I “pick weeds” from the landscaping, I’ll be searching my mind and heart and life for weeds I can toss from my life.

Here’s to gorgeous landscaping and a life that reflects the fullness of GOD’s love and grace!

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Ideas From the Most Ordinary Sources

classifiedsIt doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional novelist or a middle-school student assigned to write a short story. To find new character, conflict, and plot ideas, pay close attention to ordinary life around you. More precisely, look at what people buy, sell, and eat.

At lunchtime—either at school or work—notice the selections, whether purchased on site or bagged and brought from home.

Chili, corn chips, and baklava? You may imagine a south Texan introvert living with his Greek grandmother, and there’s the start of an interesting situation. (So as not to hurt anyone’s feelings, begin with a compliment if you’re unsure what a particular delicacy is. “That looks/smells good. What’s it called?”)

In a grocery or discount store checkout line, strange combinations of purchases may inspire you.

Bandages and a set of kitchen knives (for a clumsy chef?)

Tomatoes and an opera CD (for a disgruntled patron of the arts?)

Now I’m thinking of a story about a chef who is also a disgruntled patron of the arts and goes on a killing spree at an opera house.

And don’t forget to look in the classified ads for hidden gems.

There’s one from many years ago I’ll always remember.

FOR SALE: Loveseat and a pair of women’s motorcycle boots

Now that’s a writing prompt.

What kind of ordinary thing or situation has sparked an idea for a character or story for you?