Life Without Weeds

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Ken and I used to have a big garden behind my mother’s home.  We raised plenty of vegetables for our little family to either eat immediately or to can for later enjoyment.  The part about gardening I disliked the most was definitely weeding.  Weeds grow pretty fast in our North Carolina climate.  Weeding always made me feel a little discouraged as we had invested our time and attention into something that was easily overgrown if full attention was given … I also felt a little frustrated.

I can hear Ken’s words telling me to be sure and dig down to the root otherwise the weeds would just come back and he would have to pull it again later. One of my mother’s favorite sayings when I was growing up was “a job worth doing is worth doing right the first time.”  I guess these wise words are for weeding too.  I sure didn’t want Ken to catch me hastily pulling what was visible so that I could give him the appearance of a job well-done … hurrying so I could go do things that I thought was more important.

I could also sense a little bit of pride and hope as I did pull those large weeds free from the soil. I knew our little garden would be so much better off without these large weed stealing valuable nutrients and water from the veggies we were trying to grow … veggies we had watered and weeded continually.

I still remember a couple of things about gardening with Ken. First, weeds always start out small, but if ignored they grow into something huge and hard to uproot.  Take Kudzu for an example.  Like most invasive species, the Kudzu has no natural enemies, which allows it to grow relatively unhindered. This is particularly bad because the Kudzu vine is one of the fastest growing plants in the world, sometimes averaging feet a day. In fact, the Kudzu has devoured so many forests in the southern United States that it’s been given the nickname “The Vine That Ate the South”. Ken hated Kudzu … it hindered plenty of his surveying work.  He always said it was one gigantic super-weed.  But it does start out small like all weeds if left unattended.  Secondly, and importantly, weeds will always grow back.

Jimmie has been getting his and Kimbo’s garden ready.  This has brought back these memories of my gardening days.  I immediately remembered how I hated pulling out weeds. There is this thing that Kimbo and I always try to do … look for a spiritual analogy by searching for positive thoughts and any learning principles I could gather.  I began to think of spiritual analogies of pulling weeds and weeding my life.

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This led to my asking myself:  How many weeds have taken root in my life? How many things have I let slide or not given my time and attention into that are choking out the Spiritual plants I am trying to grow? How can I tell the difference between a weed and plant when it is so easy to mistake one for the other? Am I watering weeds as I water my plants?

We can choose what seeds we plant in our garden.  We can plant seeds of being positive, of love and abundance.  We also can plant seeds of negativity, fear and lack.  Some of us will even spend time trying to take care of everyone else’s garden.  We need to let our work be on making ours garden beautiful and attract other beautiful people.

I love the words from President Gordon B. Hinckley:  “Without hard work .. nothing grows but weeds!”

If what we are investing our time and energy into isn’t growing crops of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then we definitely need to look closely to be sure it isn’t a bunch of overgrown weeds we have grown. If it is a weed, we have to be willing to reach down into the dirt and pull it out before it grows and starts choking out the important things we are working so hard to grow.

Just like the weeds that I ended up watering along with my plants, the weeds we let grow will begin to choke out the crops in our garden that we want to grow in our lives. I have let some weeds grow in my garden and in my life that need to be effectively dealt with … immediately.

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Spiritual weeds don’t start out looking like weeds! When they begin stealing the time and attention away from the Plan of Happiness that our Heavenly Father has for our lives, it becomes easier to see them for the weeds that they are. Sadly, it doesn’t take much for Satan to plant his weeds in our minds. He knows our weaknesses and sends out small thoughts or attitudes for us to deal with.  I think we all could benefit from being a little more aware of what we are watering and tending in our lives.

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells his disciples the Parable of the Sower, and uses the image of weeds to explain how daily life can interrupt our faith.

“The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – Matthew 13:22

If we let daily weed problems overwhelm us, our faith will wither and die, or if we allow ourselves to get too comfortable in our faith, we’ll end up stunting our growth.

So this week I challenge you to do two things: First take an inventory of the weeds in your lives. Secondly, you must perform a “weedectomy” on them. No two of us have exactly the same weeds. For some people, things are weeds that barely bother others. However, we all have weeds in the garden of our heart that can and will crush out faith and spiritual welfare if we let them grow. If we want to be the disciples Heavenly Father calls us to be, one of the first things we must do is cut the weeds out of our lives or burn them to the ground so that they no longer choke our faith.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some weeding and watering that I need to do in my own garden. I waste my time on too many unimportant things and have many different kind and size weeds.  I want a good harvest.  Would you like to join me?

 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Six years ago on June 19, 2012, my life was forever changed! That was the day when it went from “you have cancer” to “your surgery was a success.”  Six years as a survivor … so far so good!

Unless you have experienced cancer, or another horrible disease, you cannot begin to grasp the reality of the disease. Some days I am amazed that I am still functioning after those very harsh treatments for Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I have had chemotherapy and radiation, felt like death, fought the best way I know how, never gave up, prayed always, worshiped every Sunday, laughed a lot, cried just as much, worried, not worried, mourned new losses, enjoyed life, lived each day to its fullest, and gave the best of me. I have come to love me! I am a new me with a new normal … remember my Plan “D” …or is it “E?”

I have found strength that I once thought was beyond my reach! I have accepted that I am different from many others! I have made priorities and dismissed as much negativity from my life as possible. I have fallen deeper in love with my Heavenly Father and His Son, my husband who is always in my thoughts, my children and grandchildren who keep me going, my family and friends who give me hope, and most of all … life! I have met other survivors who motivate and inspire me! Yes, my life was and has forever been changed since six years ago when I heard those words “you have cancer.”

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and so I have been thinking about my life since that day and how many blessings I have enjoyed!  Yes … there are many … and from many areas!  Let me share one of my biggest blessings other than my family.

How a community treats each other says much about who we really are. Respect, compassion, service, kindness and integrity hold our society together. I am so blessed to belong to many communities (my little town, church and family communities) that really care about each other.  Just check out Facebook any day and you will find prayers offered up, good deeds being done, or money being raised for someone in our community.

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I am thankful to belong to such a community … They have been and are a daily blessing!  When I needed lifted there were so many people with acts of kindness for me that touched me in such a way that motivate me to pay it forward as best I can, every single day!

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Here’s the moral of my blog today … we ALL can give compassion, encouragement and hope. So to really spread and honor BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, let’s all make an extra special effort to lift and bless others with our smiles, our hugs, compliments, and kindness. We can be generous with our time, treat others like they really do matter, and be sensitive to their feelings and their needs.   More often than not, these are things that do not cost money.  Rather, they are gifts of our love, and of our self. Through these simple actions we can ease the difficulties of those we love.  We are all in this together! …So let’s see what we can do! Look around yourself right now and find someone that needs support, encouragement and hope. You have it within yourself to give.   If you want to be happy and to get your mind off your own problems … do something for someone else!   Real happiness doesn’t come from selfishness, but by being selflessness.  Everything you do comes back around.  In life you get what you put in.  When you make a positive impact in someone else’s life, you also make a positive impact in your own life.

ALSO … Let’s not forget to thanks those that help us through our difficult times … They deserve to know how wonderful they are too!  Be the reason someone smiles today … then two people feel better!

Just saying! …

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Hope Makes a Difference

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I have been told over and over in my life that “information is power” … maybe so, but I firmly believe that there is power in Hope!

Let’s go back in history for a moment.  On December 17, 1927, the USS S-4 submarine was conducting routine drills off the coast of Massachusetts and attempting to resurface when it smashed into a U.S. Coast Guard destroyer. According to Wikipedia: The sub sank immediately, and drowned 34 of the 40 men on board. Six men in the forward torpedo room survived and communicated with divers by tapping in Morse code on the sub’s hull, but severe weather delayed the rescue and the trapped survivors died after three days.

From this torpedo room the trapped men did their best to communicate with anyone that would be able to help them.  While crews worked diligently on the surface to free the sailors from their underwater prison, divers were sent into the water to see what options they had.  While underwater, one of the divers heard tapping that was determined to be Morse code.  The sailors inside the torpedo room kept repeating the same question, “Is… there… any…hope…?”

For the men in that torpedo room on that submarine, hope was the difference between life and death.  They hoped to be rescued.  Hope is the only thing that is stronger than fear!  Quoting Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “Hope is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances.  It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn.”

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Throughout my life Hope has given me the power to keep moving, to fight another day, and to put one foot in front of the other.  Hope has always given me a quiet assurance that my circumstances can and will change.  We need to be positive and remember that anyone without hope lives in defeat.

Look at your life … I look at my life quite often!  By looking we will see that hope has the power to change everything.  It may not be the difference between life and death, as it was for the sailors on the submarine, but the outcomes of our decisions drastically alter our future.

When I think about hope I always think of the words from Jim Valvano at the very first ESPYs in 1993, when he received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Last month as my family was leaving NC Special Olympic Village on NC State’s Campus, in the dark I walked past a life size statue of Jim Valvano.  I immediately asked my son to take a photo of me and Jim.  It was a good teaching moment for two of my grandchildren when they me asked who was “that man.”

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I have never been a NC State fan … but I am definitely a Jim Valvano fan.  His words of Hope carried me through my Triple Negative Breast Cancer treatments six years ago.  I know I have recited this to you many times … but it is definitely worth repeating:

“When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special. ….. It’s so important to know where you are. I know where I am right now. How do you go from where you are to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it. ….. I urge all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get your emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,” to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality. ….. My motto is, “Don’t give up . . . don’t ever give up.” And that’s what I’m going to try to do every minute that I have left. I will thank God for the day and the moment I have. If you see me, smile and maybe give me a hug. That’s important to me too. … I know, I gotta go, I gotta go; and I got one last thing, and I said it before, and I’m gonna say it again. ….. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.”

No wiser nor profound words ever spoken.  When we have hope we see a different future for ourselves … one where our problems, issues and failings are not the leading headlines in our lives.  But we must remember that hope requires us to be patient and let our loving Heavenly Father work out the details of our circumstances.

I love the words of President Russell M. Nelson from a devotion he gave at BYU.  He said: “If we will cling to the anchor of hope, it will be our safeguard forever.”  I love that word: FOREVER!

So, let me ask the question:  What can having hope do for you? From my years of experience, I believe I have the answer!  Hope shines its brightest when you are looking for the light at the end of a tunnel of despair. 

Hope will motivate you when you are discouraged and feel lost.  Hope helps you endure hardship when you feel that no one cares.  Hope helps you climb the mountains of adversity when no one seems to be helping. Hope will energize you when you are tired and feel you can’t go on.  I am so thankful that I have allowed hope to guide me each day of my journey here on earth. I can never thank those in my life who shared their hope with me and kept me optimistic. Now it’s time for you to give Hope a place in your life.  It’s worth it!

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Hope is a force that’s wild and free. It can’t be contained; it can’t be explained. When things are at their darkest, remember that hope is at its strongest. Never underestimate the power of hope.

Just saying …

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