Thursday, February 7, 2019

Making the Ugly Beautiful (no kudzu required)

My first guest post on Seriously Write went up on Tuesday. If you're a writer (or really, anyone working toward a dream) and have ever wondered, "Is God telling me to quit?" that post is for you. Read it here.

As for this online space, I'm thrilled to welcome Carol James to the blog today! Carol is a fellow Pelican Book Group author, whose novel The Waiting releases this month. In addition to sharing some wisdom with us in her post today, Carol has generously agreed to send one person who comments on this post a free ecopy of her book! US only. See the bottom of this post for more info--including more information about the story itself!

Without further ado, here's Carol!

by Carol James

Where’s the kudzu in your life?

I still remember the first time I saw kudzu. I was on a church mission trip in a bus crossing a bridge over the Mississippi River. For as far as I could see, the banks were covered with lush, green, rounded shapes. No buildings, no signs or billboards, no boat docks. To this girl from a flat, brown part of Texas, the sight was beautiful, ethereal, other-worldly. As if I had suddenly been transported into a magical fairyland.

Fast-forward a few (more than I might care to count) years. The walking path in our city park winds between a small creek on one side and a slight rise on the other. Much of the native vegetation on the hill has been covered by kudzu. In summer the beautiful vines boast fragrant flowers that rain down their purple petals onto the path below.

So, what could possibly be wrong with something that appears to be beautiful?

Kudzu was first viewed as an answer to a problem. Farmers were encouraged to plant it to counteract erosion. It seemed like a good and easy answer to a problem. And it worked, but not exactly in the way people hoped.

Enter the kudzu monster. In the height of its growing season, kudzu can grow up to a foot a day. Although I’ve never watched long enough, people claim you can literally see it growing. It’s an equal opportunity blanket. It will cover anything and everything in its path—land, old cars, abandoned buildings, backyards, other plants—and make the ugly look beautiful.

But while initially lovely, it’s invasive, and once it has taken root, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. If you try to pull it up, the vine breaks, puts down even more roots, and spreads farther.

So, you’re probably wondering what kudzu has to do with you.

As I studied the vines along the path in our park, imagining what might lay beneath them, a quiet Voice spoke deep in my heart. Carol, where’s the kudzu in your life?


What are the things you’re trying to cover up?


It often seems easier to hide the ugly areas of my life and try to make them appear beautiful rather than face them and clean them up.

I’ll buy a larger, longer blouse rather than lose the weight.

My house isn’t clean enough to have guests, so we’ll just meet at a restaurant.

What would that person think if she or he knew the real me?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Wanting to be the best you can be isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We should strive to be the best we can at whatever we are given to do. The problem arises when we worry more about external appearances rather than internal substance.

We should strive to be the best we can at whatever we are given to do. The problem arises when we worry more about external appearances rather than internal substance. - @CarolJamesAuth #truebeauty #Jesussaves @emilyrconrad

Like kudzu, deceit and denial are invasive. They might make things look better for a while, but they’re destructive, uncontrollable. They cover up, but they don’t clean up. Like my dad used to say, “You can put lipstick on a pig . . . but it’s still a pig.”

As I continued my walk that day in the park, a Bible verse came to mind. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Everything. Not just a few things . . . or some things . . . or many things. EVERYTHING.

Take cheer, we’re not alone in this quest for beauty! Our Father is the Author and Creator of everything beautiful. He’s a God of regeneration, of second, third, and fourth chances.
  • He wants to transform our failures into successes.
  • He wants to take our insecurities and replace them with confidence.
  • He offers us His patience when we are at the end of ours.
  • He brings us peace in the midst of mayhem.
  • He wants to clean up our messes, so we don’t have to cover them up.

Jesus wants to clean up our messes, so we don’t have to cover them up.- perspective and a #christianfiction #giveaway from @CarolJamesAuth #truebeauty #Jesussaves @emilyrconrad

So, where’s the kudzu in your life? And what’s it hiding? Clear it away, and give the hidden things beneath it to the One Who promises He will take our ugliness and make it beautiful.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. 
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Where’s the kudzu in your life? Clear it away, and give the hidden things beneath it to the One Who promises He will take our ugliness and make it beautiful. Plus a #giveaway of @CarolJamesAuth's #christianromance @emilyrconrad

About The Waiting

When Katherine Herrington was a teenager, she made “The List” and believed God would bring her the husband she desired. That faith helped her to keep life under control just the way she likes it. But then Katherine loses her mother, her job, and her boyfriend, and after years of praying, she accepts the probability that God’s answer is, “No.”

A professional soccer player, Sam Tucker has lived the life of a celebrity in the UK only to dis-cover that, despite all the wealth and fame he has acquired, his life is empty. He returns to the one place where life last had meaning, and goes in search of the one woman he’s loved since he was a teenager—Katherine. He wonders if she’ll remember him after all these years… And fears she just might.

As God weaves together a rejected proposal, a mission trip, and a devastating storm to turn their hearts toward Him and toward each other, Katherine and Sam will have to let go of their fears, find forgiveness and trust, and realize that their future together was worth the wait.

Purchase The Waiting here:
Pelican Book Group
Barnes and Noble

Meet Carol

Carol James is an author of inspirational fiction. She lives in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell "Terrorist," Zoe.

Having always loved intriguing stories with happy endings, she was moved to begin writing to encourage others as she'd been encouraged by the works of other authors of inspirational fiction.

Carol enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling with friends, and serving in the production department at her church. And, most days in the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning, she can be found bringing her newest novel to life.


Giveaway Information

To enter the giveaway, you must be 14 or older and a US resident with a valid email address. Void where prohibited. Comment on this post before February 13, 2019. Winner will be announced in comments on this post on 2/13/19, and in the new post that goes live on 2/14/19. Winner will have one week to respond. I don't have access to email addresses of commenters, but if possible, we will attempt to reach out to the winner via email and/or social media. If you have any questions, just ask!

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Carol James said...

Thanks so much for having me today, Emily.

Emily Conrad said...

You're welcome, Carol! Happy to have you here!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful thought. I enjoy gardening, and I know what you mean about the invasive plants. I love that I'll be reminded to let the real me—scars and all—show next time I see one. Thank you, Carol and Emily for posting!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I wondered what kudzu was. Thanks for clearing that up in such an inspiring way!
Good luck and God's blessings with your book

Carol James said...

Robyn, thanks for your comment. I am always amazed (although I have no idea why) at what I see and hear through creation. Thanks for stopping by.

Carol James said...

Pam, thanks for your response. If you ever need any kudzu, Georgia has plenty to spare. I love how God speaks truth through something so commonplace and troublesome.

Katie Powner said...

We don't have kudzu in Montana, but we have crab grass, so I understand this analogy perfectly. Great post!

Mary A Felkins said...

Sad but true..."It often seems easier to hide the ugly areas of my life and try to make them appear beautiful rather than face them and clean them up."
Love that question God asked you about searching for the kudzu in YOUR life. Made me consider the same. Thanks, Carol!

Carol James said...

Katie, we are blessed with both here in Georgia. I’m so glad you could relate. Thanks for your comments.

Carol James said...

Mary, so many of us are in the same boat. We just need to be willing to cast aside the comfortable and step out in faith onto the waves. Thanks for sharing.

KellyJGoshorn said...

Great post! Very true, way easier to hide "the ugly." Love that God won't let us take the easy way because the end result is always worth the pruning.

Carol James said...

So true, so true, Kelly. Thanks for sharing.

Pearl said...

I was curious about kudzu but was surprised at where you went with the illustration. I assumed you’d ask what was invasive in our life, but instead the question is so much more gentle. What am I trying to hide? Thank you so much, Carol, for the wonderful reminder that God makes EVERYTHING beautiful in its time. Really appreciate that.

Carol James said...

Pearl, thanks so much for your comment. Interesting how God meets each of us where we are, and speaks to us as we need. Blessings to you.

Jerusha Agen said...

What a powerful and convicting illustration, Carol! I'll be needing to look hard for the kudzu in my life and address what it's hiding. Thank you for this challenge, and especially for the reminder that god makes all things beautiful and wonderful in His time.

Carol James said...

Jerusha, thanks for stopping by. Yes, let's clear away that kudzu!

Stacey Weeks said...

You have a lovely way of communicating. I am reading The Waiting right now and I love it!

Carol James said...

Stacey, thank you so much for your encouragement! I hope you continue to enjoy The Waiting.

Carol James said...

Emily, Thanks so much for having me on your blog this past week. I was honored to be able to share.

Emily Conrad said...

Happy to have you here, Carol! Thanks for taking the time to share with us! And congrats on the release!

Emily Conrad said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by and commenting! Robyn, you're our drawing winner! I have your email address, so Carol will be in touch with you shortly!

Carol James said...

Congratulations, Robyn! I hope you enjoy the book.