Frilly, Pink Tree Blossoms

Let me tell you something about the vegetation that exists where I grew up.

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My part of Eastern Washington has trees (contrary to popular belief) but they’re pine trees, which is great in the winter when they stay fresh and green, but boring in the spring when they look exactly how they’ve always looked. Because of this, moving to college was my first real encounter with flowering trees.

Now, before I moved to Western Oregon, I cognitively knew that trees flowered, but that didn’t prevent my explosion of awe and wonder when the trees I had walked past for the entire year suddenly burst into bloom.

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That first spring of college I remember that each time a new tree bloomed, I felt like I had made a terrific discovery. Walking to work at the Baldwin’s house felt like I was passing through a wonderland.

When spring rolled around my sophomore year, I was battling a bout of depression and juggling what, to this day, remains my hardest semester of college. That year I needed the flowering trees to help me remember that my tough life circumstances wouldn’t last forever, and that new growth was on its way.

Last year, I was living in the house in which I currently reside, and around the beginning of April, my housemates and I discovered that the two trees in our front yard produced these ridiculous and frilly, yet breathtakingly beautiful pink blossoms. I professed my love for these trees at every available opportunity, and spent copious amounts of time simply staring at them out my window.

This year, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the blooming of my pink trees. The weather’s been colder, so they bloomed substantially later (17 days, but who’s counting) but now that they’ve burst into bloom, I know that, as always, it was well worth the wait.

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You might be wondering why I’ve taken so much space to wax poetic about a couple of trees that bloom, just as they’ve always done. Maybe it’s in part because I currently feel like a tree. I feel like I’ve spent a long season hunkered down to endure winter, working on internal growth (roots), but not having the resources and space I need to put forth creativity (blossoms). However, as I am getting ready to graduate, I feel the seasons shifting, and I sense that a season of creativity and new life is about to burst forth! The other reason is because I deeply believe in the importance of celebrating the good, the true, and the beautiful. No matter how busy, tired, stressed, or emotionally drained I feel, I know that a simple glance out my window make my heart swell with joy.

In the words of my roommate, “I feel like I’m living in a fairy house” – and it doesn’t get much better than that!IMGP2677

She Gathers Beauty

She gathers beauty.

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Her home is spotless, and creatively decorated for the season. Her appearance is stylish, and always fashionably put together. Her flowers are glorious, and well-deserving of every compliment they receive.

She creates delicious food.

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From chicken and dumplings to cherry berries on a cloud, pumpkin scones to beef broccoli stir fry, quiche to cinnamon rolls, her culinary creations are heavenly! Even as she has been forced to change her diet, she still manages to make tasty gluten free, low sugar dishes. She also grows food. Whether it’s farm fresh eggs from the chicken coop, or juicy strawberries from the garden, she always has something homegrown to add to the table.

She teaches her children.

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Because of her instruction, her children know how to do laundry, They know how to make healthy choices. They know how to have good table manners, and know how to behave in formal social situations. She has raised them well.

She loves her husband.

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Other women look to her as an example of a loving wife. She holds down the fort while her husband travels. She shows her love in word and deed. Her thoughtfulness knows no bounds.

She cares for her family.

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Cooking and cleaning, photographing and driving, but most importantly, supporting and loving. Even when she is having health struggles and should be the one receiving care, she always attends to the needs of her family. She has more love to give than she realizes because her love runs deep.

She is strong.

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Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, she is a strong woman. Life is hard, but she’s a courageous fighter/ She just need to remember that she never fights alone, and that her strength comes from the one who holds the entire world in his hands.

She is my mom.

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I love her to the moon and back! I cannot wait to see how God uses her in this next season of life!

Unconditional Beauty

Little known fact about me: I wish I was African American. I love their incredibly beautiful skin and amazing hair! But this blog post is not about race. That’s another discussion for another time.

At the camp where I work there is a different group of campers every week. This week the campers are a group of middle schoolers, and they are quite ethnically diverse. This morning while I was washing dishes I was admiring the beautiful African Americans, secretly wishing I had dark skin like them.

Later in the day I went into the bathroom on my break to find four of the gorgeous African American girls in there. I went into a stall, and the girls began to talk very negatively about their bodies. One would point out something she didn’t like (my thighs are huge,) and another one would try to one-up her (do you see my stomach?) They compared how much they weighed, and argued about if they were fat or not. As I listened, my heart was breaking for these beautiful girls.

It was odd to me. I wanted to look like them, with their stunning dark skin and amazing hair. They wanted to look like me, with my 5’3 1/2″ height and petite frame. None of us were satisfied with what we’d been given.

Love Yourself

The girls left the bathroom, and as I came out to wash my hands my heart ached for them. I longed to make a big sister move and tell them how God sees them, but the moment didn’t present itself, and deep in my heart I knew that I struggle with a poor self-image just like they do. I don’t bemoan my thighs, but I do belittle my face. I don’t loathe my stomach, but I do lament my feet. How am I any different from them?

Then God hit me with a profound realization. Just as my heart broke for those beautiful middle school girls, God’s heart breaks for beautiful me. Soul punch right there! God “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13.) To him, I have unconditional beauty, and when I refuse to accept that, it breaks his heart.

I want to stop breaking God’s heart. I’m tired of my poor self-image. I know changing how I see myself will not be easy. I’ve fought this battle before, and honestly, I have yet to win. Our society likes to define beauty as something unattainable. To make matters worse, Satan hates beauty, and manipulates it in any way he can. The odds are not in my favor. And yet, this war is worth fighting. With God on my side, I may lose this battle, but I won’t lose the war.

Simple Prayer

I’m going to start with praying this prayer and end with finally seeing my beauty as it is: unconditional. Who’s with me?

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