Connect with us

Articles

Do You See What I See

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

I don’t try to fool myself into thinking that the average person who passes by our home on their morning jog will understand our "landscaping." Landscaping being a word I use very loosely. See, landscaping on a budget doesn’t necessarily allow us to choose the foliage in our yard so that it compliments the house. In fact, landscaping on a budget barely allows us to make sure our foliage even compliments each other.

We pick our plants something like this…

Last year, during our Christmas tree hunt, our tree "accidentally" uprooted a sapling. So the sapling came home with us and we planted in our back yard. The little guy didn’t survive the winter, but he put up a good fight before shedding all of his needles. The year before that, we tried to transplant a few elm trees that were growing up against our house into other locations throughout the yard. As it turns out, elms like it better between the cracks of cement.

When summer came, our yard welcomed transplanted irises, a couple peonies, and a single stalked rosebush that was once mutilated by the lawn mower but has made a beautiful comeback.

We’ve received raspberry bushes, dried chives, a few green bushes that I don’t know the names of, and one English-lavender bush that I accidentally forgot to water.

In our three short summers here in South Dakota, we’ve noticed two things. First, we live on the only busy street in the entire state. Second, all our neighbors have lilacs planted out front to block the traffic noise. Being the logical and quiet loving individuals that we are, we’re in the middle of transplanting lilacs.

I’ve priced them at the store. We can’t afford them. And the truth is, we don’t really need to buy them.

You see, our neighbor’s entire back yard is fenced with the fast growing bush-trees. We took a few lilacs that had naturally seeded across our fence line and moved them out front. They are just little guys though, and while I know they grow fast, we started to worry that the five, eight-inch tall plants weren’t going to accomplish our mission of blocking out our entire view of Sheridan Lake Road. Luckily our neighbors are incredibly generous and needed more space for a new garden spot. As a result, they gifted us with a large lilac bush from their yard.

So last Wednesday, around 10 o’clock at night, my husband and I dug a hole that was two and a half feet deep. We then proceeded to haul that 130-pound monster the 30 feet from our neighbor’s back yard into our front lawn.

We had picked the perfect spot for it—at the end of our walkway that led to the front door. It was almost 5 feet tall and was going to have fantastic odds of success. The next day, on the other side of the sidewalk, we planted an identical tree that was only 3 and half feet shorter. They were the perfect pair.

Yes, I suppose we aren’t really in the same caliber as places like Biltmore or Busch Gardens. But as I was pulling out of our driveway a few days later, I realized it is all about the vision.

We are visionaries. My husband and I realize the potential those trees possess and are hopeful they’ll bring us quietness and a little peace of mind. We’re willing to have various sizes of the same plant lined up together in a straight row before our house because we know they’ll grow. Hopefully tall and proud before we move, but if not, someday the next tenants will thank us for our stroke of genius.

Life is a lot like our gardening. God can pick us up and transplant us anywhere He’d like if we are willing to uproot for Him. And the truth is, I’ve been craving lately for God to transplant me and my family.

I’ve read two books that have led me to the realization that I’m raising children in a world that teaches them the right shoes create the right identity. In my day it was Keds and Air Jordans. Today, or maybe it was yesterday already, it’s Hurley’s. If I can’t afford lilacs, I can’t afford Hurley’s. Which leaves me wondering how I’m going to help my children transition through school with the least amount of scarring?

I told my husband we’re going to move. I originally believed the best place to be transplanted would be the Philippines. They needed a leadership developer and we happen to own a wilderness ministry whose main focus is leadership. I thought the Philippines looked great. They’ve got beaches and children with large eyes. Their homes are fortunate to have solid foundations and few of them have Hurley’s in the closet. I also noticed that lush landscaping appeared to be built into the scenery, which would make my task as a gardener a lot less daunting.

My husband had several objections to this move. The main one being we’d be too far away from family.

I was disappointed, but not discouraged. I went back and located a need for an interim worker in the Czech republic. The job required working in sports ministry. I reasoned, what father wouldn’t want his three sons to be involved in sports? He said no and made some faithless comment based on the seeming instability that has rocked their government for the last 20 years. Truth was, I wasn’t genuinely sure about that choice either.

We ended up having a talk about the root of the issue behind my sudden desire to relocate.

While I can joke about it, the desire is very real. I want to be a part of a community that doesn’t look perfect. I want to be a part of a melting pot of cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds. I want to surround myself with others who are more concerned about their need for lifesaving medication rather than matching decorative pillows with new couches. I want to help them in their search.

We’ve been saving up for a home, but I’ve suddenly realized the absurdity of spending thousands of dollars on a place that can only keep me from being uprooted for God’s work. I’ve realized the enormity of the global need for care, money, food, and medicine. In America, even the college, entry-level graduate has an abundance compared to so many children across the world.

In essence, when I compare the life I can chase after by stockpiling money, buying a home, and allowing my children to participate in all the extras, to the worth and value found in the people who are surrendering hopes and dreams of something better, I see no reason to stay planted where I am.

Which leaves another question for those of us who long to make the world a little smaller: Where are we supposed to go? And if it doesn’t require crossing an ocean, how can I remove my children from the consumerism I immerse myself in?

I’ve come to a place of peace with these questions. You see, the best part about being planted by God is that He intricately and perfectly landscapes the seemingly random community that He places us in. He has a mission that we can help accomplish. With a little growth and longevity, He can use us to block out the static and noise of the world so that His voice and His beauty might be better heard.

So, until He thinks I’m ready, I’m just going to stay here and grow.

Truthfully, right here in my community, there are locations full of children who are victims of alcoholic homes. There are women who are uncertain of how to start fresh once free from the blanket of abuse that’s covered their lives. There are elderly men and women who have sacrificed the best years of their lives working so that we might live in such a comfortable America today. This is where God has planted me, so this is where I will bloom.

I will be His lilac. Fragrant with the smell of God.

Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor’s wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for “bad girls” — helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life … and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Marian Green resides with her husband and four children. She is an adoptive mom, a pastor's wife, and (once again) a student. She is currently working on a non-fiction project for "bad girls" -- helping women who have lived lives of promiscuity to redefine marital intimacy. In between it all she takes a deep breath and realizes, none of this was what she had planned in life ... and she loves it. Marian blogs at Uprooted and Undone.

Click to comment

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!



Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"For weary mornings after tending to wee ones all night long or for listless evenings when you need a hopeful thought to sleep on, stop by Ungrind. You'll find a feast for your eyes and soul -- practical, engaging articles that gracefully balance the gritty realities of life with eternal possibilities."

-- Jenny Schroedel, author of Naming the Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death
COL_TeamUs_BannerAd

Five-Minute-Friday---4

familydevotional

Disclosure

We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.

Trending

Do You See What I See

by Marian Green time to read: 6 min
0