Dandelions Abound

IMG_0602

I can’t believe I’m doing this right now. It’s 8:30, my dad will be here in just a couple of hours and I’m not ready. Beds unmade, dishes strewn across the counter, baby toys underfoot as I walk, and me clad in pajamas. But here I sit… compelled to write. About dandelions of all things. See, I was surprised to see them yesterday.

This is what happens to the woman who works from home. And raises a baby at home. Things take her by surprise. Because she’s so wrapped up in her small world, all she sees is what’s right in front of her. Her mess. Her face in the mirror. Her unending to-do list. She easily slips into a selfish existence… because she is all she sees. Meanwhile, real life passes by on the outside as she obsesses over the unreal that takes place on the inside. Or more accurately, inside her head. Everything beyond her walls goes unnoticed. Like the appearance of dandelions.

Had bare cupboards not forced me to leave my dwelling yesterday, I wouldn’t have seen them. Dandelions everywhere. How surprised I was to discover hundreds of them alongside the road. Almost as if they popped out overnight. Of course, they could have been there for a week and I wouldn’t have noticed. And they were pretty…  little dots of yellow all along the highway. This morning, though, I see them in a different light. They seem almost competitive, interspersed among the jonquils. Oh, daffodils may tower above the dandelions as they reach upwards to the sun, but I’d say dandelions won the fight. See, there were so many of them. Taraxacum easily outnumbered the jonquil…

IMG_0595

Dandelions. Do you know why they’re called that? I had to look it up yesterday because for the first time I wondered why lion makes up part of its name. And according to the great world wide web, the English name, dandelion, is a corruption of the French dent de lion meaning “lion’s tooth”. It refers to the coarsely toothed leaves. Hmm… I never knew that. But in taking a closer look at the dandelion, I do see teeth. Similar to a lions…

IMG_0597

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

So, here’s what I’m thinking. All these dandelions are pretty at first. But you know what? They’re really just weeds. Weeds that will take over your yard. As the lovely yellow petals fade, they become shriveled and dried. Eventually, they become this sphere of seeds that blow in the wind… spreading all over. And before you know it, your grass is filled with weeds. Big ole tufts of fully rooted, coarse leaves. Resembling the mouth of a lion, of all things.

IMG_0596

And you know… these dandelions seem to be a picture of what’s taking place all around me right now. Threatening in a way. Just as yellow dots overtake our yard and brush our feet, I feel as if they’re a picture of the hounds of hell popping up everywhere… nipping at my heels. Little lions roaring about seeking what they can devour. The devil’s minions blowing their seeds across my path. And in my brain. As I said earlier, too much self. Too much of my little world. Too much me. Oh, nothing big. Nothing serious. Just minor aggravations. And because I’m all I’ve been taking notice of, I’ve allowed the weeds of life to overrun my spiritual garden. Just because I let them.

IMG_0601

Yes, dandelions are pretty at first. Easy on the eye. But what’s left behind is ugly. And this is how the enemy works. He puts something in our path. In our mind. He takes a good thing and twists it. Something may be one thing, but in the hands of the master of deception, it appears to be something else. Especially when we interject a little too much self into the picture. We can’t see the good thing clearly anymore… taking things out of context, reality is distorted. Over analysis makes our brains foggy. At least this is what happens to me. And before I know it, bad thoughts leave me shriveled and dry. Words of life overrun by shrill complaint. And before I realize what I’ve done, I’ve blown seeds of malcontent in whatever direction my mouth faced. Spreading weeds. Resembling lions teeth. Seeking what they could devour. Killing, stealing and destroying good grass. And oh, so subtly, I become the devil’s pawn. And today, this is what really takes me by surprise. Just like the dandelions on the side of the road.

dandelion33

Thankfully, I know the truth. I know that dandelions are just weeds. And as for the wiles of the devil… just weeds. I know that in the end, he loses the battle. Oh, I may allow him to gain ground in my life occasionally. But when my eyes are open, and they are, I can fight back. And the great thing is, I don’t have to do it alone. For there’s Someone who has my back. He’s a Lion, no less. The Lion of Judah fights for me. And as for the enemy, someone I care about once pointed out that he’s only like a lion. Not a real one at all. He just pretends. And schemes. And deceives. Appearance is his weapon of choice, for that’s always been of great import to him. Yes, he’s a dandy prancing about acting like a lion. He can be roaring and loud. Or subtle and smooth. Really, he’s just a dandy-lion that just needs to be pulled out of my spiritual garden. Uprooted. Or crushed underfoot…

But I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:19-20IMG_0600

Today I have hope. Thanks to the dandelions, my eyes have been opened. To good and bad. See, I learned those weeds can actually be useful. Harvested, even. They’re edible and have healing properties. Though merely weeds, they have purpose. And so can my own weeds. My own bad, in God’s hands, have purpose. These minor aggravations can be harvested and used for the good of mankind. Somehow. Someway. He’ll use them. I just have to let Him. To begin with, I need to turn around. I need to be more aware. I need to notice what’s going on in the real world. I need to get out of my head and into reality. That way, I won’t be taken by surprise. Like I was yesterday… amazed at how many dandelions had popped up. The ones on the side of the road. And yes, even the ones inside my head.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20

Annabelle’s Announcement

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This flower appeared on our azalea bush a day or so ago. I didn’t pay much attention at first, assuming there were others. But last night, Jason pointed out there’s only one. He also reminded me that the bushes had already bloomed earlier this Summer. So really, it’s unusual that this one bloom came back. Thus, we wondered… is it her flower? A sign of what, or who, is coming our way. And in admiring this pale, blush colored blossom, I have to think yes. It’s hers. For this is the color that adorns her walls and bedding. It’s definitely Annabelle’s flower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been pretty busy lately as this past Summer has been a season of preparation. See, I’m preparing the way for the new life that’s about to enter our world. Her name is Annabelle and for now, she resides inside me. I keep thinking any day, but alas, my womb continues to encompass her. She is surrounded by me. And so, I find new ways to prepare every day. Her room was done a month ago, so I moved on to filling her dresser drawers and closet with clean sleepers and every adorable outfit you can imagine. When the clothes were done, I moved on to sterilizing bottles and nipples. And then packing her bag, eagerly anticipating the big day as I bustled along. My thinking the whole time was, it could be any moment. And if I were to judge by yesterday’s sonogram, I’d say she’s overdue. She should be here already. But God’s timing is perfect, and Annabelle will arrive when the time is right.

And so, perhaps Annabelle’s announcement may seem a bit premature. Isn’t it customary for birth announcements to go out after the baby arrives? But this morning, her impending arrival is all I can think about. And so, I’m ready to make the announcement. Annabelle is coming. And I want her message to go out to the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:15

I began receiving gifts for Annabelle in January and the theme seemed to be feet. The first two cards portrayed baby feet and baby shoes, while the first two presents were wee little slippers and dainty pink sandals. Feet. And so, we wondered, would she be a missionary? What purpose did God already have for this little girl growing in my womb? And as I sit here today, her birth feels significant. That there’s something God wants to do through her… and so, I go back to feet. Her feet. And my feet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lovely, aren’t they? My ankles have nearly disappeared and my feet are so fat I can barely wiggle my toes. So aesthetically, perhaps not so pretty to gaze upon. But when I think of what they represent, I’d say these are some of the most beautiful feet that trod the earth. At least for today. Because I bring good news. I announce the birth of my baby girl. She’s coming. And so despite my swollen size nines (or tens), I’ll continue to prepare the way… for her. I’ll prepare the way for new life, and this is what makes these feet of mine lovely.

The past few days, I’ve been thinking about another set of feet. They belonged to a man named John. I wondered if his feet became achy and swollen. Or if they were dirty or sandy as he prepared the way. See, upon John’s birth it was asked, “What then will this child become?” The answer… “And child, you will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.” John was chosen to give the people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. And when the time was right, he prepared the way for Jesus’ arrival. Though he didn’t know the exact date, he knew that the Dawn from on high was coming. He knew that Jesus would shine on those who lived in darkness and in the shadow of death… that the One to come would guide others’ feet into the way of peace. And that made his feet lovely. For John brought good news.

Funny thing, though. John’s message to the people was “Repent!” And honestly, this just doesn’t sit well today. When we hear repent, don’t we feel more like cringing than rejoicing? It doesn’t sound like good news, does it? Almost harsh. And it’s here at this point, I imagine some people may wonder what in the world repentance has to do with a birth announcement… with Annabelle’s announcement. And personally, I have to say everything. Everything. My daughter’s very name points to a message of repentance. And the thing is, I believe the name was given to her by God. Though I selected it because it means joy, I find I’ve been residing in a state of repentance instead. Ever since February, in fact. And so I deem this to be an act of God. Annabelle pointing me in another direction. 

Yes, Annabelle’s coming and her name means joy. But you know what? Through the book of James, God tells me my laughter must change to mourning and my joy to sorrow. And this doesn’t sound like good news. But you see, there’s hope. For in Psalm 30, I read that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. Joy is coming for it follows repentance. It comes when you really turn from something you know you need to leave behind. Because if you hold to the thing you’re not supposed to, it kills you. It’s like poison. I know this to be true. And so, I find I’m repenting. As I turn loose of what He said to, I find I am able to turn to Him. And this prepares the way for new life. And not just the new life that resides inside me named Annabelle. For I come to life alongside her. My Joy is birthed as I prepare to birth her. That’s the very reason I picked her name… for I was longing for joy. And so now, Jesus comes to me. His arrival is right on time and He ministers to me…

The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,
because the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3

Jesus must have had lovely feet. For He brought good news to the poor. And He was sent to heal those brokenhearted souls. He came to comfort those who mourn and sorrow. This is a picture of repentance. And so I see it’s not a harsh message, after all. It is good news and it’s quite lovely. And I feel such hope. For I am poised to rise from the ashes. He will replace my mourning and sorrow with oil of joy. Joy. And that’s what her name means. And this is why Annabelle’s birth is so significant. She has great purpose. For her very name, and her birth announcement, proclaims the One to come. Her lovely, little feet that have not yet trod the world already prepares the way for Him. That’s what she’s been doing in my heart… preparing the way. Lovely feet. Good news.

Oh, I have been preparing. For months. I’ve been paving the way for my daughter’s appearance. But in addition, I’ve been turning. My heart has been changing as it aligns to the ways of Jesus. His ways are becoming my ways. And so, Scripture comes to life. In me. For repentance is simply this change of mind. It’s this change of direction. And so in preparing the way for Annabelle, I find I’ve also been preparing the way for Christ. While I’ve been making room for her in my home, I’ve been making space for Him in my heart. And ultimately, His way will guide my feet into the way of peace. The path of joy…

She’s coming. And He is, too. When the time is right.

“I assure you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. When a woman is in labor she has pain because her time has come. But when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the suffering because of the joy that a person has been born into the world. So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your hearts will rejoice, and no one will rob you of your joy. John 16:20-22

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=isn’t+she+lovely&qpvt=isn%27t+she+lovely&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=6B41CBE7468C65B52CF16B41CBE7468C65B52CF1