Over the weekend, my hubby and I decided to do a little bit of yard work. Sunday was a gorgeous day and cool, so perfect for working out in our yard. My husband put in grape vines shortly after we moved into our house and over the years we have gotten a great mix of Concord, Niagara and a few other types of grapes. Unfortunately, the last few years have been busy and the arbor has fallen into disarray. The end result has been a monster that has taken over much of our yard.
For those of you who have any sort of vine type plant, you know full well, they have to be pruned. If they are not pruned, they will creep into every tree, up every wall and along every piece of fence they can find. The best word to describe this gradual creeping process is insidious. Don't you love language? There are certain words that just have a sound to them, as if the word itself can bring about the action it is describing. Say it, insidious. Doesn't the sound of it, just sort of creep you out? If it doesn't, it should.
The word, insidious, is defined by Webster's online dictionary in this way:
I've included both types of definitions as they all are applicable, but the one I want to focus on for today's post is 2 - b - developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent. When we planted our grape vines, we did not have the intent that they get out of control and become a problem. Our intentions were to prune them and take care of them in such a way that they would bear fruit and be healthy, controlled plants. Over time, unfortunately, these little vines began to develop a life of their own. A busy lifestyle, neglect and forgetfulness kept us from investing in the plants as we should have. Little by little, each year that passed, the vines grew, looking for anything they could latch onto that would propel them higher and longer.
You can see our small arbor on the other side of the pine trees. The vines in the foreground are part of the shoots the original vines sent out. You can see the way they are climbing into the pine trees, and this was after we had trimmed masses of the vines out. If you don't think that is hard work, my heart was pumping and I was breathing hard from wrestling many of these long vines out of the trees.
The above pile was from a few vines we had planted along our garage. Not only were the grape vines taking over, there was some other vine that had joined the mix. What a mess!
Obviously, I am going somewhere with this, so keep reading.
The grape vines, in an of themselves are not bad. They are plants that God made, meant to bear fruit and bring food and drink to mankind. Grapes are known for their antioxidant benefits and the ones that are not harvested fill the tummies of all sorts of critters from insects to birds and squirrels. Unfortunately, vines, when not pruned regularly can easily get out of control.
There are all sorts of good things that God has given us to enjoy. Food, music, books, exercise, social activities, and learning are all good for us and can help us to grow and develop, not only as human beings, but as followers of Christ. Sometimes, though, even the good things can become like those insidious vines and creep into our lives, taking over in ways we never realized they could, until one day we are tied up, unable to move. Here are a few good things that can take over our lives like those creeping vines.
1. Cell Phones
Recently, I read an article on cell phone addiction. Yes, apparently this is a real thing, especially for kids. Here's an article to check out, 7 Scary Things You Never Knew About Phone Addiction. Cell phones are wonderful devices and have brought knowledge to our fingertips and made life a little more secure. Parents feel better knowing their teens can get a hold of them, if they are in a situation where they don't feel comfortable, and even I like knowing, that if my car breaks down, I can either call for a tow, or at least call my hubby. However, what begins as a good thing, can often become an insidious problem opening doors to interactions with strangers, bullying or pornography.
I'm lumping a number of things into this category: books (especially romance novels), movies, serial TV shows, music and other types of entertainments like gaming and sports. All of these things are enjoyable and relatively harmless things, but when we leave our entertainments unchecked, we can suddenly find ourselves spending too much time and too much money trying to get the next thrill. Not only that, but often one thing leads to another. Our eyes and ears can get immune to seeing and hearing things that are not God glorifying. Over the course of time, we may start watching, listening to or reading things that are not good, even though, to begin with our hobby was quite harmless.
Hello, all you foodies out there. Food is a wonderful thing, in moderation. You have all probably heard the saying, "Eat to live, don't live to eat." Food is one of those things that we can so easily dismiss as something that becomes insidious, but I am here to tell you it can. You don't have to be overweight to be unhealthy and have an unhealthy relationship with food. There are statistics on things like anorexia and bulimia, Here is a quick sum up of some of those stats. Those are the two obvious eating disorders, but many more of us struggle with food issues without having either of those disorders.
I personally have always loved my carbs. I love cake, cookies, pie and ice cream. I love chocolate and sweet cereals like Reese's Puffs and Lucky Charms. My addiction to sweets was added to by the Seasonal Affective Disorder, which causes one to crave carbohydrates. Don't even get me started on how much I love pizza. I also enjoy eating out, cooking and baking...can you see where I am going with this? None of those things in moderation is bad, but left unpruned, able to take over, it is a recipe for disaster.
The last year, I have been having numerous digestive issues. I was diagnosed with irritable bowel a number of years ago, but in the last few months, I would describe my issues as IBS on steroids. I have gone completely off of sweets as well as pulling way back on carbs in general and trying to eat lower fat. I never knew I had it in me, but all I can say is this is a journey God is leading me on and I am trusting Him for the outcome. Just so you don't worry, I do have a doctor's appointment with a gastroenterologist in June, so I can get thoroughly checked out.
All that to say, that yes, even food can become an insidious vine in our lives, causing us to become bound and enslaved. The entanglement becomes even more tightly wound when you suddenly can't eat the foods you want. Suddenly, all of life revolves around what can I eat or not eat. It's not fun!
Some of you might argue with me that alcohol is never good. My husband and I personally do not drink. We have never had alcohol in our house and we do not encourage others to drink. However, I do realize that alcohol is a part of our society and even some physicians acknowledge wine has antioxidant benefits when used in moderation. We did not raise our daughters to drink, but they both do. I know many Christians who have beer in the fridge or a bottle of wine in the cupboard. As with all of these other things, alcohol is not bad, in and of itself, but when it becomes more than just one beer, or one glass, or becomes a source of solace and happiness, then perhaps, the vine is beginning to take over.
There are many other things that can become like the simple little grape vines that were taking over our yard. Things that are good, when used or done in moderation can become the chains that enslave us and keep us from becoming who God really wants us to be. Be sure you are regularly pruning and checking the vines in your life, so they don't get out of control.