Pests are soooooo annoying…

Hello again.

This is the week of the experiment.  I am going to post an entry on this blog every day this week (I know it’s Tuesday and I didn’t post yesterday.  Have some grace!)  So…I’m going to post every day starting today, I hope.  I want to see if this is truly something I can do on a daily basis.  Thanks so much for coming along for the ride.

If you read last week’s entry, you know that I have lots of blueberries.  I am now I think in the middle of the season, and the berries are still coming fast and furious.  I spent two hours on the bushes today, and have two large bowls to show for my efforts.  Those two hours outside gave me the basis for today’s writing.

Pests.  I came up with the idea of writing about pests, or distractions, while picking the berries.  You see, my blueberry bushes are getting to be really good size, so I have lots of branches that I have to lift up and look under while picking.  This morning, I was doing my typical pick, lift, look, and pick routine when I was suddenly hit in the leg.  By what, you ask?  A junebug.  

June bug - green

Well not just one–several.

At about the same time.

I live in the south, and junebugs are as much a part of summer as mosquitoes and picnics.   But I had forgotten how much junebugs love blueberries until this morning.  As I picked my way calmly and peacefully, my calm and peace were interrupted by these pests.  They buzz around, from one berry to another, finding somewhere to land that they think is safe–until I move that branch and they have to fly out and assault yours truly.  I fought junebugs all morning, along with flies, mosquitoes, and other bugs with which I am not familiar.  All I know is that they all annoyed the snot out of me.  I had stuff buzzing my face, legs, ears, arms–and bugs flying into my face, legs, ears, arms.  My perfectly serene job of picking blueberries became a virtual battleground for me as I swatted, stomped, and spit my way through those bushes.  Pests are so annoying!!

While I was combating my way through the bushes, I thought of what those pests were trying to do.  Intentionally or unintentionally, those pests were trying to keep me from doing what I had set out to do this morning.  When I disrupted their morning snack of yummy blueberries, they proceeded to make my life difficult by charging at me every chance they got.  I became distracted from my main task, picking, and focused instead on the distraction.  I will admit that I did not complete a secondary task that I usually do during my bi-weekly blueberry adventure, something I call tending.  In tending, I look the bush over and pull any split or eaten berries off in order to discourage those pests from returning.  So I guess you could say that the bugs altered my plans today.  But, I am happy to say that I fought my way through the cloud of green, hard-shelled, buzzy things and emerged victorious with berries in hand.

But this is the crazy part.  There was a time, in the not-so-distant past, when I liked junebugs.  When I was smaller, and then later when my children were younger, we would catch those things and do things with them (I won’t tell you what, so I won’t get emails from junebug lovers everywhere.  Let’s just say the bugs were enjoyed, and leave it at that!).  Those bugs were fun–I never saw them as pests.  NOW, however, I see them as attack beetles.  Not only do they come after me (and they are harmless I know), but they come after my yummy blueberries.  They are so annoying, they demand my attention, and they take my mind away from what I should be doing.  They were once seen as harmless, and now they are distractions, keeping me looking to something else and rearranging my priorities.

So, junebugs, or distractions, take our focus off what we should be looking toward.  Through the green haze this morning, I started thinking about distractions.  How often am I distracted by something, and that something keeps me from doing what I should be doing.  “I have a few minutes.  I can read my devotional.  But wait, I really need to finish that chapter in the book I’m reading.”  OR “This is a Christian novel.  It’s OK if I don’t read my Bible today–I’m reading something that’s God-centered.” OR “I should call my friend Penny to check in on her.  But I need to check the recipe for tonight’s meal. (an hour later after browsing Pinterest or Facebook for a while, you realize that it’s actually time to start dinner)”  None of those things mentioned by themselves is bad (though I speak for myself-I have to really be careful on Pinterest!), but when they serve to distract you from the main task, then there may be an issue.  How many times have you had the nudge to do one thing (pray, read Scripture, encourage a friend), but then instead do something else?  I ask this to you because I’ve asked it to myself today.  As my pastor likes to say, “This is hard, isn’t it?  It’s been hard for me all week” (in reference to the passage from the Bible he is teaching).  Distractions keep us away from the main focus, and oftentimes, keeps us away from doing something that has real value.

But, distractions don’t have to define us.  Let me tell you about a friend of mine.  He’s having lots of distractions.  Does he have “pests” buzzing around him?  Most definitely–around his arm, his fingers, his chest, his hip–all around.  I’m sure he has wanted to swat those pests to keep them away from him.  He absolutely has reason to be distracted–and no one would fault him for focusing on what is trying to get his attention.  But you know what?  He hasn’t let those pests take his focus away from the main thing.  He is still telling people about God.  He is still showing God’s love to everyone he is around.  He is still being the hands and feet of Jesus in the midst of the most serious distraction of his life. He is still concerned about the people around him.  He still smiles and laughs and appreciates life’s sweet moments.  He welcomes the friend and the “not yet a friend” to come and sit a while and talk.  In the midst of so many, so many distractions, he is still focused on the One who stands there beside him and lives within him–our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even in the midst of all the “pests”– though they buzz, and bite, and frustrate– he still shines with love.  This distraction does not define him.  This distraction does not discourage him.   The love and peace of Jesus gives him strength and courage to fight the distractions.

So, what’s distracting you?  What’s keeping you from doing what you should be doing?  The promise of a new job, the allure of an old job, a tv show, a good thick book, a website, home chores, food, meal prep, laundry, some sort of service to others… I could go on and on for days with that list.  Those things may not be seen as “bad,” but if they keep you from doing what you know you should be doing–well then, maybe you need to take a look at what fills your time.  I am just as guilty as the next person in allowing distractions to take my focus away from things.  Before I wrote this today, I had to eat, do some laundry, well…that’s enough of a glimpse into my world!   Through writing this I see that I need to make a few changes.  How about you?  What is the “main thing” that you should be doing?  Figure that out, then look at the things that keep you from accomplishing that.  When you look at your activities from this perspective, a lot of those “pests” may be swatted away so that you can focus on the important stuff.  I encourage you to be like my friend.  No matter what buzzes around you and demands your attention, keep your eyes on Jesus.  He will show you what’s really important and what is just a “junebug.”

Keep the fly swatter handy and get rid of those buzzy things in life!

 

I wanted to show you a picture of a junebug on my blueberries, but being the typical annoying pests that they are, none of the pictures really showed how devastating they can be to the berries.  So, I will leave on a happy note, and tell you about a recipe to use with the blessing you can receive when you get rid of the pests and focus on the good stuff.  In my case, it’s a blueberry dump cake recipe.  I adapted the original recipe that I found on Pinterest.  I hope you enjoy!

Blueberry Dump Cake --this is a good basic recipe.  Pile on the blueberries, 1/4 c. sugar, pour on lemon juice.  Use lemon cake mix, 1 1/2 sticks butter melted, and add some oatmeal.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Yummy!

Blueberry Dump Cake

4 cups fresh blueberries (cover the bottom of the 9×13 pan generously)

1/3 cup lemon juice (or more to taste)

1/3 cup sugar

1 lemon cake mix

1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread blueberries over bottom of 9×13 pan (piled high is good).  Pour lemon juice over berries; sprinkle with sugar.  Crumble cake mix over berry mixture.  Pour melted butter over top.  If any areas of cake mix is still dry, place tiny pieces of butter on top of those sections.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until cake is golden brown.  Serve warm with non-dairy whipped topping or vanilla ice cream.

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