What Spotty Apples Say About Your Inner Beauty

What Spotty Apples Say About Your Inner Beauty

I spread heaps of spotted apples on my countertop – fresh fruit bounty from the weekend in Ohio at my parents’ farm.

We’ve already made fresh-pressed cider from these flawed specimens. We’ve chucked marred apple after apple into the hopper and let the girls crank the aged metal handle, grinding the perfect inner flesh into a heap of small chunks. We’ve turned the ax handle at the top, pressing the apple mash tighter and tighter, releasing a flow of pure, fresh cider into the chipped enamelware basin below. We’ve scooped the froth and licked apple-cider mustaches clean.

Today, I’m peeling and coring, slicing. I’m fanning thin wedges on plastic-mesh circles to dehydrate. {This winter’s oatmeal will be laden with cinnamon sprinkles and dried apples, studded with almond morsels.} I’m chopping into chunks and simmering low in a stainless steel pot, the sweetness of these apples cooking down into perfect applesauce – no sugar needed.

And, later this week, I’ll make good on an August promise for made-from-scratch pie {though it’s gone from a peach to an apple one, as the season changed}.

We’ve turned out months of dried apples, gallons of cider, two pies, and a large pot of applesauce from a bucket of apples most people would trash.

And, I think: How often we feel like spotty apples, judged for our far-from-perfect appearances over our insides.

spotty apples 2

Take me.  I have a long thin face. My nose is prominent {a photographer once told me abruptly to turn when he realized how unflattering my profile is}. I have lots of freckles, even in the winter. And, lately, two or three have merged to make a mega-freckle on my left cheekbone that seems to be impervious to cover cream. My smile shows way too much gum no matter what I do, and one of my two front teeth juts out because I stopped wearing my retainer once I got married. {I mean, really, are you supposed to wear those FOREVER?}

But, the beautiful. We know them. Always put together. Tall and slender. Wearing skinny jeans in bright colors with cute ballet flats and statement necklaces. Tossing back long, flowing hair. {In the blogging world, this stereotype of beauty is even more prominent, because flattering photo shoots and styling can paint a misleading portrait of perfection.}

And, you and me?

Well, we wear sweats and cover our unwashed hair with ball caps more often than we’d like to admit.  Or, maybe the numbers on the scale are higher than we’d like. Perhaps, we can’t muster the gusto to accessorize appropriately or apply makeup because we have toddlers clinging to our legs {or teen drama clinging to our hearts}.

I live in an affluent, put-together community, where the majority of moms arrive to the bus stop generally coiffed. {I’m typically clutching a coffee like it’s my lifeline and a sleeper-clad three-year-old, while hoping the fact that I’ve washed my face redeems its lack of makeup.}

But, oh, we spotty apples.  There’s one thing I know about us. When we are able to let our skin-deep blemishes go, when we invest that energy in higher things, our harvest will not disappoint.<<<– Tweet this<<<

Our Lord cares only for interior beauty. And, friend, our insides are good, sweet, worthy.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:30

 

This post was gladly shared with Jennifer Dukes Lee: 

Getting Over The Funk

Getting Over The Funk

They’ll be gone soon, these deck beauties. Red salvia, white alyssum, purple angelonia, coleus with extravagant leaves …. and the lone tropical hibiscus, overwintered four years now.

Now’s the time potting mix usually soils my deck, as I dump the dried-out shells that were once vibrant plants into a black plastic sack to throw in the compost. But, an unusually rainy and cool summer has kept them fresh, my summer annuals. And, I’ve been blessed with a constant visual feast.

Yet, I’d be insincere if I did not admit I’ve been plagued by the decidedly non-beautiful lately, despite the late-summer riot outside my French doors. Doubt, lethargy, insecurity, tears. It’s been an emotional smorgasbord around here, and I’m stuffed.

white flowers

coleus close

purple flower closeup

red salvia

purple flower

coleus

hibiscus

In a way, I wish I could say my state of mind corresponds to a concrete reason, but it does not. It’s The Funk.

I’m sure you know The Funk.

It turns up when you least expect it and doesn’t mind if you haven’t a care in the world, because it can turn noonday sun into darkest night before you can blink twice.

It comes when you’re busy and productive, but have no time to spare, and then drops you right on the floor, fetal-style, sobbing, leaving you incapable of accomplishing anything.

It gloats over its very inexplicability and hopes you’ll keep quiet because you’re embarrassed to admit you feel low when everything in your life looks fine.

It descends relentlessly and inks over the beauty in your life. It throw lies about your worth and your God-given purpose and questions your work.

And, you stop.

The funny thing is, when you stop doing the work, The Funk gets quieter. When you stop pushing out the boundaries of your life, it dissipates. But, as soon as you go back to the work, it arrives full force, like a nasty green algae, scumming over the crystal-clear edges of your dreams.

So many of my dear friends have fallen into The Funk about now, and I had no idea, until I confessed my ugly tonight. And so, prayer by prayer, heart comment by heart comment, we encourage each other back into beauty. We become the beauty, the community of Christ, lifting each other high.

And these flowers, these sun-drenched colors on the screen that contrast my words? They remind me of the lovely I still have around me, despite The Funk’s lies.

They’re God’s get-well card for my heart. They tell me of His good green world that offers so much beauty for so little cost. And, most importantly, they remind me of my vibrant sisters and the shining colors of their individual hearts.

Life, Unfiltered

Life, Unfiltered

I bend low to gather them to me. These late summer bloomers.

I could cut them, certainly, heap them about luxurious. But today, I collect their pixels.

It’s not long before I realize something’s wrong. It’s not just my faulty focusing; the lens filter is blurry. I rub at it impatiently with the hem of my t-shirt. No luck.

I unscrew it, leaving my lens wide open and exposed — there’s no protective glass covering it. If I stumble and fall, knock my camera to the ground, it will surely shatter.

Yet, I click the shutter and check the viewfinder, satisfied. The color shines through, saturated, rather than muted and smudged.

sedum

black eyed susans

rose of sharon

caryopteris

And I think, sometimes we have to choose life, filter-free.

Some days, we have to choose the richness of beauty. We have to reach past the dirty dishes, crying toddlers, physical aches and pains, ugly words, and choose to pull up lovely strong.

We choose to lift faces to our Lord, and let the veil fall aside.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of you, my tens of readers {as my friend and fellow blogger Crystal Stine says}, and asking myself what I want for you. It’s hard to narrow down, because I wish to encourage you in so many ways. But here’s one, totally unedited, that I dashed off late last night to my in-real-life friend and reader, Beth. She liked it, and I hope you will too.

I want women to see God’s beauty everywhere around them and share it. I want them to recognize and revel in beauty daily — in the mundane and messy, but also in the places beauty lives extravagantly, but we so often forget to even look up… in white fringed hosta blossoms that smell like tropical gardenias, in double rainbows after two weeks of rain, in the clarion voice of a friend sharing words of sweet encouragement, in the tear-sting heart twinge of meeting Jesus smack in the middle of your kitchen.

Reader, I wish you beauty today. The beauty that means so much because you choose it when you lift your heart high.

 

This post was shared with Life through the Lens and Hello Mornings.

How Fear Becomes Beauty

How Fear Becomes Beauty

One week before I launched this blog, I scribbled down a laundry list of fears. They clutched at my heart, clawed at my spirit, and shot ice through my veins.

I spent my days in a heady mix of emotions that could tumble from exhilaration down to panic in about 2 seconds flat.

It was as if, after living so much of my adult life numb to possibility that, now, once I’d opened the floodgates and decided to pursue my dreams, I was drenched in emotion. And, not just emotion related to my mewling, tender new blog and writing ambitions –no, not just that. But everything.

I welled up at the drop of a hat:

I cried at the beauty of swelling hymns in church.
I cried at news of a tragic accident at our zoo.
I cried for joy at the way God was working in my life.
I cried in frustration at blog launching details.
And, sometimes, I wept out of fear.

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Feeling emotions keenly was one thing, and I was getting used to it. But, fear was paralyzing. And, I wanted no parts of it. So I wrote the list. Quickly. Messily.

I fear I’m not good enough.
I fear no-one will like me.
I fear I’m not doing it right.
I fear I should be doing it differently.
I fear I’m going to miss something.
I fear I’m working too hard.
I fear I’m not working hard enough.
I fear being judged by strangers and would rather stick with those who already know and value me.
I fear I’m wasting my time.
I fear I’m wasting my money.
I fear I’ll look stupid.

I’d like to say my fears vanished after I gave them over to God in my journal. Yet, in a way, something far better happened.

Those particular fears, at that time, were taken and transformed.

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And, I wear them still. But, instead of dark stinging nettles round my neck, they drape me softly, now, those fears, their delicate links, soft shining.

I wear them, most precious. They’re part of who I am, and they’ve become beautiful.

This third I will put into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

 Zechariah 13:9

This post was shared gladly with Lauren’s Heart + Home Linkup, Jenni’s Thrive at Home Thursdays and Holley Gerth’s God-sized Dream Team and Jennifer Dukes Lee’s Tell His Story: