Queen Anne’s Lace: A Love Story {of Sorts}

  These plants bloom across the countryside in mid-summer, then fade away without much fanfare.

We see them all the time.

Just Queen Anne’s Lace.

Or better yet…”wild carrot”.

They’re nothing fancy or exotic, really.

After all, the US Department of Agriculture has listed it as a noxious weed.  Isn’t’ that nice?

But one caught my eye this evening as I pushed my stroller-bound kids down our country road.

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I stopped.  And looked.

It’s as though it begged me to get down, get closer, and examine it.

God does that to me sometimes.

He whispers…

Catching my attention, He woos me in to get a closer look and then rocks my world with the mundane.

{And I love it!}

I stared.

I picked.

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And there it was.

Plain as day.

A single, small, red floret right in the center.

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How very odd.

Was this one rare?  Deformed, maybe?

Or had I simply not taken the time to notice that they were they all like this?

I walked further and examined a few more.

Sure enough…there it was.  They were “normal”.

In the midst of this showy, snowy lattice of white was an unsightly, red…“thing”.

What was God thinking ruining a perfectly good flower with that?

I was tempted to pluck it off before I snapped a photo of it’s glorious detail.

But something inside me knew there was a story behind it’s unusual existence in the center of this flower.

I had to know.

{So my type-A, recovering-perfectionist self let the little bugger be}

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This is what I found out:

Named after either Queen Anne of England {1665-1714} or Queen Anne of Denmark {1574-1619} – both avid lace makers – the red {or purple} blossom is said to be a drop of Queen Anne’s blood on the lace, as a result of a needle prick.

The real function of the little red flower…?

Why, to attract insects, of course.

Brilliant!

Mesmerized by this delightful weed, clicking away at it from behind my camera, the message started to penetrate.

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You see, that inconspicuous little floret – the one that I’ve missed every time I’ve ever looked at Queen Anne’s Lace – is the heartbeat of that plant.

And you know…

I’m just like this showy little weed.

We all are.

We’re pretty common, really, amidst the countryside cluster of foliage.

But get this.

What sets us apart, what makes us attractive to the life buzzing around us, and the only thing that actually enables us to have an everlasting impact on the lives surrounding us…is what lies at the center of our being.

It’s that tiny little red – “blood drop” – of a blossom.

Without it we’re completely and utterly pointless.

Life stops there.

It’s true.

Without the shed blood, we’re nothing.

We cease to have influence.

We cease to have purpose.

We just cease.

But with it,

with Him,

we have everything

we will

ever

need

to

survive

and

thrive.

Look for it. 

It’s right there.

It’s because of that seemingly insignificant little ‘thing’ that we’re able to bloom exactly where we’re planted, despite our “noxious weed” days, and soak up the son.

And be

profoundly

intricately

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beautiful.

By Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Ek-spek-tey-shuhn

Real friendships bring out the best in you.  And, if they’re truly authentic connections with quality human beings, they will undoubtedly bring out the worst.

I’ll never forget the time my best friend and I sat, puffy-eyed and frustrated, on opposite ends of my loveseat, allowing our emotions to bubble over and our disappointment in each other to surface. 

We had totally set ourselves up

Both newly married, with priorities changing, we were discovering our lofty expectations had been near impossible to live up to.  It seemed we had become thoroughly disenchanted with what we had assumed was the perfect friendship.  The “honeymoon phase” clearly over, we were now uncovering baggage, and subsequently spent the next 2 years navigating some rough waters, clinging tightly to the torn fabric of our friendship.

Fast forward 4 years; this amazing woman is not only one of my favorite people on the planet, but our friendship is sweeter, deeper and richer than ever, having weathered the storm of unrealistic expectations {not to mention the rough waters of motherhood}.  A best friend in the truest form.

Take that dynamic to the next level…and marry one of your best friends.

Beauty blossoms.  Ugliness surfaces. 

Expectations soar.  Disappointment brews.

We feel our deepest needs aren’t getting met the way we expect they should…and so we distance ourselves and refuse to meet theirs.

I’ve heard it said, “if you can’t handle having your sin exposed…don’t get married”.

Woah.  Let’s hear it for the jagged little pill of truth!

But…and here’s the catch…this is good!  So good!

It’s not an accident, this “until death us do part” thing.

It’s not even a “con” in a list of marital pros and cons. 

It’s downright brilliant!

God designed intimate fellowship this way, especially within the marriage covenant, to cultivate a safe place in which to expose the depths of who we are.  The deep, dark, ugly side we hoped no one would ever experience {and for many of us, we didn’t even know much of it existed until we got married and had kids and it unabashedly bubbled up from the depths!}.

But once exposed, God scoops us up in all our heart-nakedness, and sets about remolding, refining, healing and maturing us. 

It’s a wild and hairy, gloriously beautiful thing.

One of the divine designs behind God-centered friendship.

I’m finding as I grow older and settle into the stunningly authentic relationships God has so sweetly blessed me with, that one of the deepest issues being slowly uprooted from my life {besides the unbelievable selfishness that is so stubbornly rooted within the human heart}, is the burden of expectation.

Expectation [ek-spek-tey-shuhn]:

the act or the state of expecting

Expectation.  It’s a word that carries with it tremendous responsibility, and the potential to inspire life & growth, or squeeze the very joy out of life.  When recklessly dished out, expectations have the ability to devastate our relationships and leave chasms of disappointment between us.

When I go about life with varying levels of expectation on my friendships, be it with girlfriends or family, or in my marriage, I put tremendous pressure on those people to meet needs that, quite honestly, they were never intended to meet.  And when they don’t meet those expectations, disappointment inevitably occurs, discontentment breeds and walls are built.

If comparison kills contentment, expectation breeds disappointment.

The crazy part is we don’t even realize we’re doing this. 

Expectation is so much a part of our culture, and our inward-focused mentality, that we’re not aware of the painful pressure it places on our interaction with others.  Formed most often from preconceived notions and lofty perceptions of what we think marriage {and relationships in general} should fulfill in us, we go through life being constantly disappointed that others are not meeting our needs, our expectations of them.  Not to mention, carrying the weight of that sense that we too are a disappointment to those around us.  That we don’t meet their expectations of us.

It’s a royal mess.

We seem to have forgotten that God indeed created us with the intrinsic need for value, identity, worth and fulfillment {all vital needs that yearn to be met}…but that He is the only one truly able to meet those needs.  Sure, he uses precious people in our lives to confirm and affirm these things in us…but He alone is the one designed to satisfy the ache in our hearts, our desire to be fully known, unconditionally accepted, and our constant need to be extravagantly loved.

As long as I place those expectations on my husband, I’m setting him up for failure, and myself for disappointment.  My marriage was never designed to bear that kind of weight.

As long as I place those expectations on my friendships, we walk on eggshells, never quite knowing where we stand, with defeat and failure looming just around the corner.  Our friendships were never designed to shoulder this responsibility.

It’s time to lay {unhealthy} expectation to rest.

For oh…what sweet freedom is experienced in relationships where expectation has been laid down, and in it’s place, a selfless pursuit of a love-drenched life taken up…and lived out with God-centered expectancy.

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“A Godly woman is one who possesses inner peace and tranquility:

she doesn’t have to prove herself to anyone.

Neither does she depend on recognition from others.

Hers is an inner contentment and satisfaction

based not on accomplishments, position, or authority;

but on a deep awareness of God’s eternal

and personal love for her”.

By Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom