The “Bumpy Pumpkin” Challenge

 

The Bumpy Pumpkin Challenge Directions. SmellingCoffee.com A 3 part challenge of finding beauty in the bumps.

I noticed something the other day that I can’t get get out of my mind.  I was in the produce aisles at the W-mart super store (now big city friends with your Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and I don’t even remember what else is available out there… we here in our small town America are GRATEFUL  for our local WM!!!  We even stroll through it’s aisles on date nights with our husbands after dinner. hahaha! But that’s a whole other post entirely. So don’t judge! grin.) when I noticed a huge selection of lumpy, bumpy, warty, scarred, molded-looking, multi-colored-not-your-typical-rounded-orange-picture-perfect-pumpkins.

Because a friend of mine has a daughter that lives in a town with a Trader Joe’s, I was introduced to these bumpy gourds last year.  (Of course, many of these are heirloom varieties and have been around forever, and all have been popular in decorating for a few years now… yada yada yada… but I hadn’t seen any up close and personal until then.) I found them fascinating.  And to be honest… a bit ugly.  At first.

But then, the more I looked at the details, the more beautiful these creations became.

The Bumpy Pumpkin Challenge Directions. SmellingCoffee.com A 3 part challenge of finding beauty in the bumps.

The scars, bumps, and color variations on the outside are the very things that make them stand above the perfectly round orange gourds we’ve come to expect to see when we think of “pumpkins.”  Their uniqueness made them beautiful.  And valuable.  And set apart for a special use.

The Bumpy Pumpkin Challenge Directions. SmellingCoffee.com A 3 part challenge of finding beauty in the bumps.

I did a little research on them, and found that on a whole, the inside fruit of the warty heirloom varieties is rich and sweet.

I couldn’t stop thinking about those bumpy pumpkins God created… and how, to me, they began to represent the precious people He fashioned in His image and traded Jesus’ life to save.

Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder… as in the One who Created it.  He promises to make everything beautiful in its time (Ecc. 3:11) – which includes us, lumps, bumps, and all!

Beauty is really in the eye of Your Beholder. SmellingCoffee.com

With that in mind, I want to throw out a 3 part “Bumpy Pumpkin Challenge” to you.  Of course, I’m taking it myself, too.

The Bumpy Pumpkin Challenge:

From now through Thanksgiving:

1.  Every time you see yourself, and find yourself focusing on your own imperfections staring back at you, think of these pumpkins, and find something about yourself for which you can be thankful.  Even if it’s your warts, scars, or discoloration from the “expected normal.”   If you keep looking, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the love of the Father, and redemption of the Son, you will find a unique person, made in the image of God, beautiful, valuable, and created to be set apart for a special use.  There is something beautiful about yourself for which you can be thankful.  Ask the Lord to help you notice the beauty,  and then thank God for it.  Every time.

2.  When you come upon a “bumpy pumpkin person”... you know the kind I’m talking about – the one that might be a “difficult person” in your life, or the one that is harder to love than the others… look past the warts and scars and bumps to find the beauty.  It’s there somewhere.  Just like it’s in you… it’s in that person too, who also was created in the image of God, and is loved by Him (hard as it may be to believe at the time!).  Ask the Lord to help you notice the beauty, and then thank God for the something beautiful about that person.  

3.  When you see a pumpkin of any kind, let that serve as a reminder to ask the Lord to let His beauty shine through you to touch the lives of those around you. – For His Glory.  You don’t have to know or understand how He will do this… just make your grateful self available to Him for His use, and He will make Himself beautifully glorious through you.  Then thank Him in advance for what He will do.  

Are you up for the challenge?  Let me know!  I can’t wait to see how God will use these little acts of thankfulness over bumpy pumpkins. 🙂  Here it is in a summary pic you can copy and keep with you as a reminder.

The Bumpy Pumpkin Challenge Directions. SmellingCoffee.com A 3 part challenge of finding beauty in the bumps.


Speaking of beauty, this is a favorite verse of mine that I pray every day as I get ready in the morning:

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish you the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish it.  Psalm 90:17 (KJV2000)

(I love how the Aramaic Bible in Plain English closes out this verse… emphasis, mine.)

Let the sweetness of Lord Jehovah our God be upon us, because of the works of his hands which he has fashioned for us, and he formed us among the work of his hands!  Psalm 90:17 (ABPE)

Lumps, bumps, and all~

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The Blessing of Having (and Being) an “Aunt Bibby”

Do you have an “Aunt Bibby” in your life? Do you even know what one is? 😉  I say that with a smile on my face this morning because today is my Aunt Bibby’s birthday, and I could think of no better way to celebrate her than to introduce her to you.

Aunt Bibby is my mother’s sister, and though she never had any children by birth, she lived with our family when I was a tiny girl, and treated us as if we were her own.  She made sure that I had ballet lessons, fancy dresses, and knew the important details of life – as in how to eat shrimp cocktail and fondue, how to drink from a china teacup and saucer, and most importantly… how to shop with layaway. (And all of this was before the age of 5!) Haha.

I remember her taking me out to do what we would call “Strealing” – which was our version of window shopping and browsing through some of our favorite stores: Goldsmiths at Oak Court (with the candy counter), and the vast retail variety in the Summer Shoping Center {If you’re from the Memphis area, remember… think 45 + years ago ;-)}.  Often our Strealing would end up at Baskin Robins on Summer Avenue for a scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream – which is still the best ice cream out there (in my humble opinion!).

When my family moved to Mississippi from Memphis, she married and bought our Memphis home, and still lives there today.  She has been involved in numerous interesting things over the years, but the most fascinating to me has been her making of miniature scenes (like tiny doll houses, but smaller and better… where the place settings are real china and silver and cost the same amount or more as one of our life sized china plates!) Yep!

Look at some of these rooms she has created. If you didn’t know they were only 12-18 inches wide, and couldn’t see the glass reflection or the shelves, wouldn’t you think they were life sized???  I mean… look at this food!

Miniature 1920's Dining Room. SmellingCoffee.com

1920’s Dining Rom

 

1920's miniature dining room. SmellingCoffee.com

Look at the details on this food!

 

 

Miniature Farmhouse Kitchen. SmellingCoffee.com

Miniature Farmhouse Kitchen.

 

Miniature Formal Parlor. SmellingCoffee.com

Miniature Formal Parlor

 

Miniature formal dining room with authentic English hand painted china and silver. SmellingCoffee.com

Miniature formal dining room with authentic English hand painted china and silver.

The next time I visit, I’m going to uncover others and take pics of everything to do a whole post on her art. It truly is amazing!!

My mom is a wonderful mother, but like every mom, I’m sure she needed a break from time to time. And looking back from the viewpoint of a mom myself, I’m also sure that when Bibby would take me Strealing, sometimes it was to give my mom that needed relief. But at the time, I had no idea! She made me feel like this was “our thing” and it never occurred to me that anyone would be helped because we were doing it.
She met a need in my life by being another person to pour love, acceptance, and time into me. And, I’m sure that we met a need in her life too.

My question is:

Do you have an “Aunt Bibby”
who pours into you or your children? If not, maybe you can begin to pray for one. You certainly don’t have to be blood-related. She may be a Sister-in-Christ, or a neighbor, or someone you’ve yet to meet. She may not be able to provide dance lessons and fancy dresses for you, or share the sport of shopping… 😉 But she will have something to share. And it will be something you or your children need.

This kind of sounds like modern day mentoring, doesn’t it??
As my children have grown, God graciously filled my empty arms with some precious children I’ve had the privilege to “Bibby” over the past 6 years. (I would do this with my own nieces and nephews if we lived closer!!!)

These are the children of my heart, children of our friends and pastor – and I’ve known and loved them all since birth. So has our whole family. And do you know what? Sometimes to give their mom a break, I take one somewhere or to my house. But I also do it because they fill my heart with joy!!

 

 


James and I decided we didn’t want them to call us Mr. James and Mrs. Jennifer, but a more personal name. So after tossing around lots of options, I came up with the name “Coco” for myself and we landed on Poppy for James.  Now even my nieces and nephews call me Coco. And so do most of the children at our church!! I love it!!!!!

Is this not the sweetest look on her face???

This past month, I got three new girls added to my tribe, daughters of our new youth minister. We’ve already bonded and Coco’s arms are blessedly full!

I think this is what God means when Psalm 113:9 says

“He makes a woman who is in a childless home a joyful mother.”  Psalm 113:9 (GW)

That’s certainly what God has done in my life as I’ve invested in these He has brought into my heart and home.

How about you? Can you be someone’s “Aunt Bibby”?
Is there a young mother who could use a  few hour’s break? Are there some children who could use some extra pouring into? Could your arms and heart use a little extra fullness and Joy?  Just something to think about on this day, on my “Aunt Bibby’s” birthday. 🙂

Aunt Bibby, thank you so much for the 49 years of love and investment you have made in my life. I am blessed to have you, and I love you!!

Happy Birthday.

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When You Don’t Understand What God is Doing

When you don't understand what God is doing. SmellingCoffee.com

It’s something we often wonder about, isn’t it?  Especially these days when so many are hurting, flooding, burning, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.  Where is God in the midst of all of this suffering?

God answered enough of that question for me a little over seven years ago, when my family was going through our own kind of suffering.  Since then, I’ve often been blessed and encouraged by re-reading this timeless truth.

The reality is that we will rarely understand all that God is doing… But I’m praying that today God will bless and encourage you with enough of a peek into His ways as you continue trusting His heart of love for you, especially when you don’t understand His answers (or lack thereof) to the What and Why questions that may plague your present.

SmellingCoffee.com:dividerPost from March 2010:   “What are You Doing, Lord?”

Have you ever asked God this question?  I find that it’s often on my heart and mind these days.  And today, the Lord sweetly revealed part of the answer to that lingering ponder.

On Friday, the Lord gifted me with a day in the presence of a group of women who have faithfully loved and served Him for many years. Even though they wouldn’t call themselves by this name, many were what you and I would call “Spiritual Giants”. God called some of these ladies to blaze a Bible Study and Ministry trail that has impacted millions of lives. And others He called to quietly serve Him behind the scenes. All of these dear women are just living life, one day at a time, faithfully serving God right where He has placed them.

Every story shared, whether at the podium or around the luncheon table had the same theme: God’s faithfulness and goodness, and His blessings poured on us in, through, and sometimes because of our trials. These are just a few of the life situations that surfaced through casual conversation during the day:

  • A single mom of two sons, who never expected to find herself in this position
  • A mother of a precious seven year old son battling cancer
  • The mom of a daughter, who instead of celebrating an engagement right now is grieving an unexpected break up
  • A mother whose son and family has been looking for a job for over 16 months
  • A wife and mom who survived breast cancer
  • A woman whose husband had been without fulltime employment for 4 years
  • Several moms whose hearts are desperate for their children to stay on God’s path
  • And then there is us… unemployed, uninsured, and completely unaware of what next week holds.

Every story spoke of a trial, but each was told with an Undaunting JOY in the Lord and the assurance of His faithfulness and love. Through laughter and tears, we rejoiced in the Lord and in the awareness of His presence over, in, and around our lives.

I awoke with these beautiful women on my mind this morning, and as I thanked God for their joy, I just had to ask Him:
“What are you doing, Lord?
What are you doing in each of these difficult situations?
What are you doing in these lives?
What are you doing in our lives?”

Then I thought about you. You precious friends whose lives intersect with mine on the blogosphere. I thought about what I’m aware of that many of you are dealing with. And I realized that I don’t even know a fraction of the whole of it. So I wondered the same thing to the Lord about you, “What are you doing?”

This is the answer that came to my mind and heart:

“I’m teaching my children to trust Me. I’m teaching all of you to look ONLY to me. For your answers. For your lives. Because I love you, I’m drawing all of you to My side so that you will learn to joyfully walk hand in hand with Me for the rest of your earthly lives. I’m teaching my children that I AM, and there is no other, and that nothing can separate you from my love… no matter what!”

God knows our tender, earthly frames, and remembers that we are but dust. None of these trials that seem to overtake us have taken Him by surprise. God knows how wearisome it is to be troubled about tomorrow, so He tells us NOT to worry, and He teaches us to trust in Him and His love for us in that Romans 8:37-39 kind of way.

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, or angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39 (Amp)

Oswald Chambers had this to say about this passage and subject:

The bedrock of our Christian faith is the unmerited, fathomless marvel of the love of God exhibited on the Cross of Calvary, a love we never can and never shall merit. Paul says this is the reason we are more than conquerors in all these things, super-victors, with a joy we would not have but for the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.”

Then he goes on to say one of my all-time favorite Oswald Chambers quotes:

The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it. Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things – tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight. We are more than conquerors through Him IN all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them.

The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but BECAUSE of it… Undaunted radiance is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can alter. The experiences of life, terrible or monotonous, are impotent to touch the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

My Utmost for His Highest, March 7th

Undaunted Joy – that’s us, friends…. It’s what the Lord, because of His love for us, is working in each of our lives… not in spite of our circumstances, but because of them… when we trust Him.

{An Instagram pic from last year when hurricane Matthew left destruction in its wake… When we never dreamed about Harvey or Irma… or any other disaster faced over this past year.}

How thankful I am that Jesus is Lord over the literal and figurative storms!  I’m praying for you, my dear SmellingCoffee.com friends~

 

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My Children, Baby Moses, and the Public School System

My Children, Baby Moses, and the Public School System. SmellingCoffee.com

Are you sending a child into a new school situation this year – from preschool to college?  Do you need a reminder that God is watching over the ones He has entrusted to you, as you entrust them to Him in this new school year? I do.  And my children are in college now!  After […]

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It’s “Fall Mix” Time!!!

The BEST snack mix for Fall. SmellingCoffee.com

Hi everyone!  First of all, if you are in the process of recovering from Harvey or evacuating from Irma, you are never far from my thoughts and prayers!  I even hesitate in posting something trivial here, as if we have already forgotten the tragedy in which you are walking.  But this post is actually in […]

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15 Bible Verses to Encourage You

As I watch the news and Twitter feeds and pay attention to those around me, this one thing I know: Harvey-caused or not, many people are either literally and/or figuratively flooded right now.   How about you? Are you overwhelmed by the flood of life’s circumstances? Do you need some encouragement today? Are you dry […]

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Hello?

You are loved, and the Lord is right there beside you! The Lord is in your midst. Zeph 3.17 SmellingCoffee.com

Is anyone out there? I sure wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t… It’s been months since I’ve been here myself. SmellingCoffee.com has been a bit neglected over the summer, and I’ve been missing the old girl… and I’ve been missing YOU! So many times I’ve thought to myself, “If I were blogging, I’d sure write […]

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When Father’s Day is Hard…

Encouragement for any of us who are missing a good daddy on this Father's Day. SmellingCoffee.com

Happy Father’s Day weekend, everyone!  First of all, I want to wish my dear husband and the father of our children, James Walker, a Happy Father’s Day!  He and Abigail are in Africa on a mission trip right now, and are loving it! In fact, come to think of it, in the 20 years that […]

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