I posted this a year ago on Facebook and thought y'all might enjoy reading it as well. The Vine can speak to you in mighty ways...
I have a muscadine vine in my backyard. It was here when we bought the house, but it is my pride and joy! I dream of having a garden one day, so I just pretend with this precious grapevine.
The Lord has used this to speak to me in such an impactful way. Just a couple of months ago there wasn't a leaf on it. There was, however, a leafy green something growing on the top of it. Not knowing much about plants, I asked a friend what it was. He told me it was a weed. To my untrained eye, I had no idea. The vines had no leaves, yet this weed was flourishing.
Fast forward a couple of months and I now have an abundance of leaves and a little bit of flowering has started. Last week I noticed that there were a couple of jack and the bean stalk-looking swirly things springing up about a foot above the top of my vine. They looked pretty, vibrant, and green. I thought perhaps they were new vines so I asked Richard and guess what? They were weeds!
Today I purposed to work on my vines and get rid of those bright green WEEDS. As I took my shears back there and began to work, the Lord began to speak to me. At the base of these "vibrant" weeds were large thorns. Way too many to count and they ranged in size from my thumb nail to smaller sizes. The base was wide, thick, strong, and thorny. What appeared as vibrant, green new growth on the vine was actually a weed stifling the vine's growth and stealing nutrients from the soil. On the surface with the other leaves, it was beautiful and interesting. On a deeper and closer level, it was just the opposite- ugly and a nuisance.
As my daughter Ava was helping me, it brought to mind her starting to build relationships with people now and in the coming years. She is young, naive, and impressionable. She may only see the surface level charm and beauty, and she may miss the heart of the person. This is what I have to guard her from... to teach her about...to give her scripture to reinforce.
The Lord called to my mind Matthew 7:15-20. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
This can be a warning to any degree on the character of people, ourselves included. Even the weeds flower and bloom, but guess what, they do not bear good fruit. They have no good thing to show from it. Let me tell you, it was WORK to clean up these vines and there is still work to do. The weeds act like vines and wrap themselves around the healthy grapevines to blend in. I have to literally rip and tear them off of each other. They are trying to become one.
Surely this sounds familiar to someone... Relationships can be life giving or exhausting. They can take from you and never replenish your soul. The Lord knows that! He warns us of these. What does a healthy relationship look like? What does it feel like? Who could love like that? Who gives, requires no work from us, and simply asks us to accept this gift? Jesus. God sent Him just for that purpose, so that we could abide in Him. Think about that.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." John 15:1-4
Disclaimer: there is not a single picture in this post, but it doesn't lack the entertainment and appeal of simple words and lots of honesty. Double-dog-dare you to keep reading!
Is it just me or do you love it when you talk to other people and as you’re talking realize that the two of you are so similar to each other?! It’s like looking at yourself in a mirror, for better or for worse. I think it’s eye opening.
When it’s someone younger than me I feel like so much of me wants to say, “No, stop! Don’t do or say that! You’ll regret it.” But when it’s someone older than me I think to myself, “TELL ME EVERYTHING! What should I being doing differently? Help me to be wise!”
I think we learn a lot from each other. Sometimes by watching what people do and other times by hearing what people have been through. We can get caught up in our world of one where we think we are alone in some relationship, situation, or struggle. 9 times out of 10, we aren’t! We just don't talk about those things enough…
So in an effort to tell you a little about me and become a little transparent in all of my quirks, craziness, and Ashley-isms, I’ve decided to just list a bunch of random facts about me. Some from the past and some from the present.
Maybe you will read this and realize we aren't so different after all. Perhaps we’re very much the same. Or maybe vice-versa. Either way I don’t think it hurts to share bits of ourselves with each other from time to time.
So…here goes nothing!
1) I was named after a soap opera character that my mom thought was pretty. My middle name was after my grandmothers and will always be my favorite! "Iva-ann"
2) I’ve lived 24 years of my life in South Carolina and I still feel like the most non-southern person I know. #idontdrinksweettea …I lived in Holland the other 4 years. #militaryfamily
3) I was sad to get rid of my beloved middle name when I got married, but evidently that's what you do in the South, so I took my maiden name instead.
4) When my husband proposed to me, my vision literally blurred, I thought I was gonna pass out, and all I kept saying was, "You're freaking me out! You're such a freak!" ...l'm not even kidding. Let's call it a panic attack.
5) I dated my husband for 6 years before we were married. We have been married 8 years... 14 years of togetherness. That’s half of my life!!!
6) I will choose a bean burrito over most things, most days, and I even ate one before walking down the aisle on my wedding day.
7) I don’t like my food to touch on my plate so I naturally get smaller portions…but then get seconds. (or cry on the inside because no one realizes how little I really just ate but don’t want to be rude and appear to eat all the food- oh the struggle!)
8) If nothing else is available, I will always use the pretty decorative towels in bathrooms, so sorry to all of my fancy friends- the shower curtain is my last resort. #thingsiprobshouldntshare
9) I prefer to drink bottled water at room temperature because I can drink larger amounts of it faster.
10) I will choose the handicap restroom 9x out of 10. Not sure why but I do.
11) I love music and often think in lyrics and quote/remember scripture through songs.
12) I don't like to put makeup on unless it'll be worth it because I hate wasting anything. Same goes with showers…yikes!
13) I have the craziest dreams and can almost remember every single one of them every morning when I wake up. I should write them down… or maybe I shouldn’t. #thingspeoplewouldntread
14) I unknowingly seriously struggled with OCD in high school that affected my body image, night time routines, and abuse of Tylenol/motrin and other basic pain relievers. #liversdontlie #willthathashtagmakesensetoanyone
15) I figured out I had serious issues when I randomly watched a documentary on OCD and watched my life and daily struggles happening to other people on TV. That’s when I realized it wasn't “normal” and talked some to Richard (husband/then bf) and a little to my family. I don’t share that part of me as much as I probably should with other people.
16) As a result of those obsessive tendencies I used to constantly have items with me at all times, but I've slowly let some of that go. It was in case something tragic happened, so I'd be prepared. #realist #pessimist #fineline
17) I used to be super self righteous and judgmental in high school. For sure the Pharisee who didn't understand a thing about grace. Thank you God for your forgiveness and faithfulness to me.
18) I used to be perceived as super intimidating because I wouldn't talk to people. So much of that stemmed from my lack of confidence and concern with no one wanting to talk to me, or at least that's what I'd tell myself.
19) Sometimes I feel like I over share now to compensate for time lost getting close to people around me back then. Sorry to everyone who has ever had to sit through a convo starting with, "this may be TMI but..." haha y'all are the real MVPs
20) I loved college. I stayed at USC Sumter and felt like it was my personal mission field. Meeting new people is my favorite.
21) Speaking of college- I have a Master of Education in School Counseling that I’ve never used…yaaaaaay
22) I’m not a good play mom. I seriously do not enjoy playing at all. Hide and seek...ugh, the worst! ...ok maybe tag is. Mama can't run after you and it makes me feel out of shape.
23) I’m self conscious about learning new things because I want to be perfect at it instantly. Makes for a horrible student! Ava is just like me. #payback
24) I’m not a very emotional person. I shoot straight. I may cry twice a year. Maybe. So when I do, people around me assume the sky in falling. #endoftheworld
25) The above can make me appear to be insensitive or a jerk though. Whoops. Love you mean it.
26) I have a natural blonde streak in my hair that is a birth mark. Several people have asked me if I highlight my hair and my response is, "Why would I put one streak in my hair?" ...again, the unintentional jerk comes out. But seriously. Why? #rogue #xmen
27) I absolutely LOVE to talk in different accents. South African is by far the hardest for me…and by hardest I mean I can't do it and it makes me sad.
28) In another life I would've loved to be an interpreter for some high security government job.
29) And I would've been a medical doctor. or maybe just a medical student. Cant handle the whole “your life is in my hands…literally” aspect.
30) I wish I were a genius…which is why I think I could be a professional student. “I’ll just be learning everything for forever, so if you need me, that’s where I’ll be.”
31) I absolutely love to hear stories…which is why I think I love movies, because Lord knows I don’t like to READ stories. jk I do. but they better be short. and by short I mean audio…books.
32) As a result of the above, I take way too long and share way too many details to tell anyone, anything. #sorryboutthat
…OK, I think that’s enough (way too much) random information about me. And 32 feels like a solid number of things, right? High fives to everyone who read this entire post. We could be real life friends.
Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email if you wanna chat further about anything!
With love & laughter,
Mom 2 Mom
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