Weeping Cherries

faith, family, food and frugality

My Ugly Heart December 6, 2011

  • (DISCLAIMER:  I have no idea how those bullets down the side got there or how to remove them.  SORRY!)
  • photo found at rachelgoode.blogspot.com

  • The Christmas season has a way of revealing to me what a sinner I am.  Fitting, since the holiday is a celebration of my Savior’s birth, but humbling none the less.
  • Every year around this time I get bit by the bug.  A bug so rampant, I’m thinking it needs to be added to the strains of illnesses included in the flu season records.  As a helpful guide, I am including a list of symptoms.  You may have the Christmas bug if:
  • 1. As you are shopping through Target, every toy you pass you imagine being opened Christmas morning by your child with a huge smile on their face, accompanied by the exclamation, “I love it!  You are the best Mother in the whole world!”
  • 2. The words “Honey, we bought each other a house (or insert needed appliance, car repair, or plumbing job here) for Christmas, let’s not exchange gifts this year” make your heart drop with sadness no matter how right they are.
  • 3. Your store daydreams change from #1 symptom to imagining your child unwrapping the boring things like underwear that they really need but don’t want with a disappointed look on their face, accompanied by the proclamation, “This is the WORST Christmas ever!”  (you only think that’s an exaggeration- I have a very dramatic little 5 year old.)
  • 4.  You start wondering how kids during the great depression didn’t break their parent’s hearts after opening their one and only gift- an orange which was a rare treat to them.
  • 5.  You realize now, more than ever, you are much more materialistic then you ever imagined…
  • Treatment for the Christmas bug includes a hefty dosage of reality:
  • 1. Your child doesn’t need every toy in the store, in fact they are undoubtedly better off without it and so are you.  Not to mention, as the years pass, their enthusiasm for gifts drastically reduces and last year we were horrified to hear the dreaded phrase, “what else did you get me?” escape our child’s lips more than once.  “Where did we go wrong?”, we asked ourselves.  After all, we had been careful not to make Christmas about the presents…or so we thought.  We didn’t “do” Santa, we limit our gift giving to a few special items per child, we read “The Three Gifts of Christmas”  leading up to the holiday, we even tried no gifts on Christmas day one year opening them on Christmas Eve instead so all of Christmas day could be focused on Christ’s birth.  How did we end up with such greediness coming from our children? Perhaps the first dose of medicine I needed to swallow was the reality that my children get the Christmas bug too.  Whats worse?  They caught it from me.  MODEL CONTENTMENT!
  • 2.The house, furnace. dishwasher, new axles for the car, toilet repair, you name it was a BLESSING!  And despite the little pang in your heart that tells you otherwise, it is enough.  Gather friends and family in that gift of a home.  Warm bodies from that furnace mean warm hearts snuggled in their beds on Christmas Eve.  Dishes covered in food being loaded in the dishwasher make me grateful when I think back on six years without one and thankful that food was on those dishes around the table where my family joins together to eat.  Whatever you may have inserted in that blank, whether a car repair which enables you to travel and see loved ones or even the fixed toilet that saves your ears from the constant sound of it running-  GIVE THANKS!

  • 3. When needs are met, whether through Christmas or any other time of the year, teach your children to praise God!  “Kids you know you needed new underwear, don’t tell me you didn’t notice the holes in yours and no- holiness isn’t a good thing when it comes to underwear.  Praise God!  He provided you with new underwear this Christmas!”  CHOOSE JOY!

  • 4. Oranges DO make great stocking-stuffers.  Throw in a ziplock baggie of cloves and let your kids decorate them to make pomanders for your Christmas table centerpiece.  BE CREATIVE!

  • 5. Pray that the Holy Spirit would change your heart about Christmas.  Pray that He would take your greed, selfishness, and desire to please anyone but our Savior.  Pray that He would transform your family through the power of His love and that we would all be awestruck by the wonder of His glory!  PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!

Ara and James at the Christmas Tree

My dear friends, that truly is “All I Want For Christmas”…  for God to take my ugly heart and give me one washed clean by His blood.  Hallelujah, HE DID!  And that is the reason for the season!

To my 18 year old self June 8, 2011

Filed under: Let's Get Real — Jen @ 3:13 pm
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This week for small group, the following three questions were sent out to be thinking about for our meeting tonight.  I journaled them and after watching a You Tube video entitled, “To my 16 year old self” about skin cancer, I decided that the answers are probably better shared to hopefully prevent some other youths from making the same mistakes I did.  So, I present you with a genuine picture of my young teenage years and beyond.

What if you could go back to and talk to your 18-year old self, as you were just about to enter adulthood?  At 18 most of my worldview for holiness, purity and relationship with Christ was already solidified.  I think to be of true help to “my 18 year old self”, I would have needed to vision cast from birth. Not that it isn’t an appropriate time to recast a vision for these things, I just know for me, personally, the damage to a biblical worldview of them had already been done.

Knowing what you know now, what vision would you cast for yourself in holiness, purity, and your relationship with Christ?  I wish I could have presented (my very young self) a vision of guarding my heart in a way that honors Christ.  To explain that purity is about more than just sex but involves thoughts, motives, emotions, and faithfulness to someone that at that point in life I had never even met.  I wish I could have told my 12 year old self that over the next 6 years I would in my head “try on” over ten guys as husbands, “playing house” with them in my imagination, doodling what our married name would be all over notebooks, writing out our children’s names and fantasizing about what they would look like.  I wish I could have explained that these activities, while seemingly harmless, are the very things that make it impossible to follow the advice given repeatedly in the Song of Solomon, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,by the gazelles or the does of the field,that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.” I would warn myself not to ever start reading the romance novels I would be given for Christmas at 13 years old, explaining that fantasizing about someone other than my husband, even fictional, will not aid “guarding my heart” for the one I would covenant only to love.  I would paint a picture for me that the best romance story ever written is the one God writes for my life and cannot be found in lust of youth, the pages of a novel or the scenes of a romantic comedy film.  As far as relationship with Christ I would tell my young self not to waste time!  I would tell middle schooler Jen that sleep, books, pouring over fashion magazines, and worrying about who would be at youth group or who I would sit with at lunch will only serve to distract me from anything meaningful, and absolutely would not matter to me ten years down the line.  I would challenge myself to read the bible more than novels, talk to God more than my friends on the phone, and to serve His people more than myself.  I would also warn myself NEVER to get on the poms squad in highschool and to use my college years to develop character and godliness more than a portfolio that I would never end up using anyhow. I would explain that gracefulness is more beautiful to God in my heart than on a stage.   I would tell myself that one day I would meet a man named Paul, who will remind me so much of the Paul in the bible that perhaps I would be better served to study Paul the apostle instead of the blond haired boy in the seat in front of me.  J

What vision would you cast for your singleness, or your marriage, fatherhood or motherhood.  Now, thinking forward, what vision will you cast for the rest of your life?  The vision I would cast is what biblical womanhood looks like: “reverent in behavior, not slanderers, to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands”.  I would urge myself to work on developing those virtues than selfish ambition.  The vision I would cast for the rest of my life is that virtue is caught more than taught and while I need to be teaching my children what marriage, fatherhood and motherhood look like biblically, they will learn more by my example.  Since I am incapable of representing biblical womanhood well, my prayer is that I would be continually on my knees asking the Spirit to work in my life despite myself.


Happy Anniversary Sweet Love June 2, 2008

Filed under: Love — Jen @ 12:40 pm

Three years ago, I married my college sweetheart, Paul, but our story starts Fall Semester at Lindenwood in 2003.

I met Paul through the music organization at Lindenwood University.  He was a jazz drummer and I was a choir girl.  One evening after a musicale that the women’s group put on, Paul, Lena, Jeff and I went down to the Riverfront to enjoy the weather/evening.  One by one, Jeff left and then Lena and Paul and I found ourselves not ready to call it a night.  We were enjoying each other’s company too much.  We talked and talked on that bench until, much to my surprise, the sun began to rise over the horizon.  I drove him to his morning class and as he got out of the car, he chucked a note at me and ran off to his class.  The note said, “I wanted to kiss you all night”.

A little over a year later, he proposed to me on that very same bench by the riverfront and we were married June 2, 2005.

I Love You Sweet Love!


Wedding Bells! March 20, 2008

Filed under: Seasons — Jen @ 3:05 pm
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Saturday, March 15th, 2008, my little brother got married! I can remember when he was just a little tyke in suspenders jumping around at my dance class. He has always had the deepest voice, even as a child he was very much the “little man”. I say little in reference to his age because let me just tell you my ‘little’ brother towers over me at around 6 foot (I’m a measley 5′ 1″). It is hard to believe that little “Jon Jon” is now married but I can not imagine a more wonderful wife and am so happy that God has blessed them with each other to lean on. I love you little brother! Congrats!
Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Hembree

The Fruit of the Spirit: Love February 18, 2008

Filed under: The Fruit of the Spirit — Jen @ 1:20 pm
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I am going through the book, Naked Fruit by Elisa Morgan for the second time. This morning I was reading about love and I thought it would make an appropriate post since, for many, the stardust from Valentine’s day still hangs in the air. In Naked Fruit, Elisa likened love to the fruit of grapes,
“The quality of a grape is directly related to its host vine. Grapes abide in their vine. Detached from their source, they wither. Grapes offer an example of commitment through the easy and hard times of life. In fact, vine growers report that the sweetest grapes come from the most stressed vines.”
I would never have thought that I would have a problem loving people. I was the child who would cry for the cartoons that got anvils dropped on them, and who made friends with all the underdogs in school. As a women, I figured the love of a husband or child would come naturally and I would say in most situations, it does. There are times; however, when circumstances and people and my own selfishness make it very hard to love. When I am tired, I notice my ability to express love is lessened. I am quicker to temper, or snap out a phrase that should come lovingly from my lips. And when my husband displays a pet peeve of mine for the umpteenth time, all loving thoughts for him can flee. Or when my sweet daughter cries out in the night, the selfishness of my tiredness can keep me firmly lying in my bed.
It is in these tough times that I will often grit my teeth and set myself resolutely on loving them. Unfortunately, my effort is apparent and does not come across as loving or unconditional.
This is where Elisa really challenges me, “Think how you might be ‘working up your own love’ for this person rather than allowing Jesus to love them through you. What does such effort produce in you? Or as Dr. Phil says, ‘How’s that working for you?’ How can you shift the source of your love from yourself to God by letting Jesus love that person through you?”
An interesting thought. How often to I bow my head in prayer and ask God to love through me? When I am catching up with a friend do I ask Jesus, “what does she need to hear to feel loved by You?”
This week I am going to be working on letting Christ love through me. I hope that you will join me as well.
Afterall, “all you need is love. Do Do Do Do Do, all you need is love:P”