Guest Post – April McKinnon

Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout April & May I have dedicated to guest writers. Today I’m pleased to introduce you to April McKinnon. What I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve gotten to know April is her outlook on life and her attitude. She is an encourager, and she seems to take everything in stride, trusting that God has it all under control. She truly is Blessed Beyond Measure!

Interest in submitting your own guest post? Email me for more information.

Falling in the Bull Nettle

When I was a young girl, we used to spend a lot of time with extended family in Jasper, TX riding around on our four-wheelers, mudding (yes, I love to go mudding!), barbecuing, and just generally having a good time. One particular trip, my cousin and I were walking around the trails near the camp and my older brother was riding on the four-wheeler. I guess we were messing with him because he decided to “chase” us. So, in the spirit of fun, we ran. At one point, I turned around to see where he was and fell smack-dab in the middle of a tire that was marking off a patch of bull nettle. YEEEOOOWWW!! If you have ever gotten into a patch of bull nettle, you will know that it itches so badly, it hurts. In fact, I think that is what the shingles reminds me of…the meet and greet I had with bull nettle. I spent the next 30 minutes in a bath with Epsom salt and then getting lathered up with Calamine lotion. The itching finally went away, but I will never again step in bull nettle!

If you do not even have a clue of what bull nettle is, let me explain. Bull nettle is actually a very pretty plant when you are just looking at it. It sports pretty, little white flowers that have you just wanting to make a small bouquet for mom like you did when you were a kid. However, the leaves of the bull nettle plant are what cause the problem. They are covered in stinging hairs. If you brush against the leaves, you will feel the sting for at least 30 to 45 minutes.

Bull nettle reminds me a lot of sin. It’s beautiful to look at (the pretty, little white flowers) but stings like crazy when you get into it! Think about it, the name Lucifer means “bringing light”. He was considered to be a beautiful angel. I know that the pictures nowadays project him as being an ugly, demonic looking thing with horns and a pitch fork, but I don’t think he lost his beauty when he was cast out, I think he simply chose evil over good. It’s no wonder then that sin is so beautiful! Obviously murder, theft, rape, etc. are not beautiful, but I’m not really talking about these sins. I’m talking about the daily sins, the “pet sins”, the daily choices we make that seem so innocent or feel so good that we don’t think about them as being sin. We fall into it so easily. We turn around for a second to see who’s behind us or what’s back there and BAM! We fall head first into it and then we’re stuck facing the consequences. Just like when I fell into the bull nettle, only the effects of sin can last a whole lot longer than the itching and pain I had when I fell into it.

Then there are times when we just run head first into sin. Can you imagine if I had said, “I’m going to jump right on in the bull nettle because I just want to. I want to see how it feels.”? How stupid would that have been? Yet a lot of times we do that with sin. We choose to just jump right on in. Oh we know it’s wrong, we even tell that little voice in our heads to be quiet because we’re going to do it anyway. We even take the mentality that we will do it now and ask forgiveness later because “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission”. How deluded are we?

Finally there are sins that we try once or twice that end up being “addiction sins”. I call sins that lead to addiction, “addiction sins” because when you sin once or twice, then you become addicted to it, you continue to sin every time you live in your addiction. And these are the hardest to break. Sometimes you don’t want to, but sometimes you try and try and try and for the life of you, you just can’t break free. The most commonly heard about addictive sin is pornography. But lying can be considered an addictive sin also. (Of course any sin can become addictive.) Paul talks about this in Roman 7:19-21 when he says:

“I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” (NLT)

Want to know another thing about sin? It can become generational. What’s a generational sin? Generational sins are attitudes, actions, beliefs, behaviors, etc. that are “passed down” from generation to generation. If we were to look at our family tree, we might find generations of people who have been divorced or in prison for example. The Bible talks about generational sins in Deuteronomy 5:9b-10:

“I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generation. But I lavish love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for the thousand generations.” (NLT)

When a person sins but does not confess their sin it leaves an “outstanding debt” which impacts his children, grandchildren, etc. Typically those children then act out that sin and pass it on and so forth. For instance, if a father is addicted to pornography and does not work with God to overcome it, his children, and their children and so on will have a greater chance at being addicted to pornography. Does this mean that “Billy” will automatically become addicted to pornography and so will his children? No, but what it does mean is that “Billy” will have a greater chance of it. If he can overcome that chance, he will then be breaking that generational sin cycle.

There are a couple of generational sins in my own family; one of them being divorce. It’s no secret that I’m divorced; my mother and I have been praying for some time now that this generational sin would end with me. We pray that future generations from our family would not be touched by it; that this curse would be broken; that the sin of divorce would end here and now. I believe God will honor these prayers.

What “pet sins” do you struggle with?

What addictive sin or generational sin haunts you?

Do you find yourself being drawn to the bull nettle,

knowing that the consequences may be painful and may plague you,

not only throughout your lifetime but for generations to come?

April is a single mother to a very handsome young man named Stephen. He’s the light of her life and such a joy to be around. She describes being a single parent as tough sometimes, and fun and hilarious most of the time! She is back in school getting her BSIT degree in Multimedia and Visual Communication. Once she graduates, she will begin pursuing a career in web design. She loves to sing, read, act, write, pretty much anything creative. She blogs about all of this at Blessed Beyond Measure and you can also find her on Twitter (@AmBlessedBeyond) and on Facebook!


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17 thoughts on “Guest Post – April McKinnon

  1. I think one that my family has struggled with for years is complacency – not rocking the boat, not dealing with conflict, etc. Often times we (I) will forgoe transparent relationships knowing that conflict doesn’t have to be dealt with (if that makes sense). Thanks for sharing, April!

    • Wow! I don’t think I ever would have thought about that, Dustin. I can see that tendency in myself as well. How have you worked to combat that in your life since you realized that tendency?

      • My wife and I were raised much differently in this area. My tendency is like I said (above), while her family was in the “let’s just tell it how it is and get everything out there” camp. I certainly think there needs to be a balance.

        Part of the realization on my part has been this: being transparent and authentic will always be a good idea. Yes, feelings may get hurt, but in the end, it will always be better to be honest with your feelings. (“When you said this, it made me feel this way…” etc). I’m slowly learning… :)

        • I agree with you in that, Dustin. Over the years I have come to favor honesty — even when initially painful — over hiding and avoiding conflict. Neither way is fun, but the former ends in healing more often than the latter.

    • April, I’m thrilled to have you sharing here today. This is something that I have thought about a lot, because there are definitely trends that have run through my family. As my sister mentioned, divorce is one for us as well. The interesting thing about generational sins is how the previous generation deals with them. I know that although she did end up divorced, my mom has tried her hardest to council and guide myself and my siblings so that we did not end up in broken relationships. The thing that perpetuates a generational sin is ignoring it, or not learning from it. Glad you brought up this topic, April. :)

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  3. Clearly divorce is a problem for many many people these days. In my own family it has been like an epidemic. Growing up I had 7 grandparents because of divorce and remarriage. I didn’t understand that this wasn’t normal, and I love my stepgrandparents just as much as the “real” ones. Then when I was a kid my parents divorced. I can’t blame them, and again, I love my stepparents, but I want the cycle to end now. I know my brother and sister feel the same way.

    My husband and I are dealing with our own generational sin. When we married we both already had children, only our youngest was born to married parents. We are doing the best we can to be honest with our kids about the hidden cost of premarital sex. We don’t want them to grow up thinking that the way we did it is the right way. God has blessed us tremendously through all of our children, and I know I am a better person for having my son, but I wish for his sake that I had waited until I could provide him with the life he deserves.

    Blessings on you and your family, and thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    • Janelle, thank you so much for sharing with us! Divorce is very difficult, especially on the kids, but I am determined that the cycle can be broken through prayer, teaching and love. I applaud you for recognizing how hard it is and trying to teach your children differently!

  4. Yep, definitely been there and done that. Charged straight for the bull nettles and even stayed a while. This is such a great analogy, April. Next time temptation strikes, it will be wise to remember that it’s another bunch of bull nettles. Great post!

    • Thanks Larry! When this analogy came to mind, it actually put sin into a new perspective for me too! I remember how badly that itched and hurt and I never want to go through that again. Sin is the same way and some of the consequences are still being lived out.

  5. Great description of how sin can enter into our lives by sneaking up on us unaware or like for most young people charging head into it like a charging bull. The problem of course sin is the charging bull and we are like a butterfly, we’re no match for satan with only our flesh to depend on. I’ve been a bit like the prodigal son in my life. My parents were strong supportive and waiting like the father in Jesus’ story. I’ve been following April’s blog and praying for my kids as she outlines the book on her site, it’s been a real blessing. Great post from a great lady.

    I’m in contention with April’s mom for the title of number one fan!!!

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