Flowers, Ferns, and Ticks. Oh My!

Spring is my favorite season for hiking.  The air is pleasantly cool.  The wildflowers are at their peak, and the forest’s undergrowth has not yet grown up to hide the mosses and ferns.  Already, my kids, father, and I have ventured out for numerous hikes to enjoy spring’s grandeur.  Our Labrador gleefully traipses alongside us on each excursion. 

At several locations we found the forest floor carpeted with wildflowers.  At points, we literally waded through the blooms.  Often Adi would sit among the flowers waiting as we snapped pictures or flipped through the pages of Peterson’s Wildflower field guide trying to identify a new find. 

 As beautiful as the flowers are there is a danger that lurks among their leaves- ticks.  These parasitic critters, which range in size from a pin head to eraser top, carry diseases that threaten man and beast.  In my area, there are several varieties we must be alert to- wood, deer, and lone star. 

 Knowing this, we take the proper precautions.  For Adi, this means taking a monthly flea and tick pill.  For us, this means wearing long pants and applying bug spray before heading out on a hike.  We also conduct a post hike tick check.  Adi gets a quick brush down before being loaded back into the truck, allowing me to locate any ticks crawling across her fur.  We, on the other hand, change clothes and examine our skin upon arriving back at the house.  The quicker a tick is located and properly removed the less chance there is of disease transfer.

During a recent study of First Peter, I realized my physical being isn’t the only thing threatened by ticks. 1 Peter 2:1 states,

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”

1 Peter 2:1

This verse lists five parasites that threaten me spiritually. When they attach, they suck the love and peace of Christ from believers and threaten to impart the disease of hatred and bitterness. To identify any tick you need to know its characteristics.  So, I turned to a dictionary to help understand and identify these spiritual ticks.  I learned that

Malice is a spirit of revenge and extreme hatred of the heart.

Deceit is false-beliefs and mis-leadings.

Hypocrisy is the false appearance of virtue.

Envy is discontentment caused by others success.

Slander is a false tale or report maliciously uttered with intent to harm another.

Like physical ticks that inhabit the beautiful vegetation of the woods, fields, or backyard, these spiritual ticks can be tucked into the lovely landscape of entertainment, religion, education, or movements (Colossians 2:8). I must handle them much in the same way I do physical ticks.  My first step is to take the proper precautions. I can repel the ticks by coating my heart and mind with Biblical truth (Psalm 1).  That said, ticks are persistent critters.  They will search for weak points in your protective barrier, which leads to the next step.  I must regularly examine my heart and mind.  The Holy Spirit will reveal any ticks that are crawling nearby or any ticks that have successfully latched on (Psalm 139: 23-24).  In turn, I am instructed to “rid” myself of them (1 Peter 2:1).  With a crawling one, I can pluck it up and properly dispose of it (James 4:7).  With an attached tick, I must use the only tool that will effectively remove it – a humble prayer acknowledging its presence and asking Jesus to extract it in its entirety (1 John 1:9).

And so, I end with an encouragement to prayerfully examine yourself for any spiritual ticks that may be crawling nearby or have attached themselves to you.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith….”

1 Peter 5:8-9

© 2019-2023, Lessons from a Lab, Beth Alisan.  All Rights Reserved.

Post script: Pictured from top to bottom Adi sitting among bluebells and white trillium, Christmas Fern fiddleheads, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Virginia Bluebell, Yellow Trout Lily, Red Trillium, Lone Star tick, and cushion moss,

37 thoughts on “Flowers, Ferns, and Ticks. Oh My!

    1. Thank you Tierney! I’m always fascinated when friends who have moved to the east coast from the west coast mention the bugs they had never encountered before. Most are delighted by our lightning bugs, but I feel like one of them who grew up in Colorado mentioning at one point that ticks were something she had to get used to. Are ticks something you have to deal with in your neck of the woods?

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    1. Yes! Your words brought to mind the words to the hymn In the Garden- “I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear falling on my ear The Son of God discloses And He walks with me And He talks with me And He tells me I am his own And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known He speaks and the sound of His voice Is so sweet the birds hush their singing And the melody that He gave to me Within my heart is ringing.”


  1. Mark Buckwalter

    Wow what a great message for today and everyday! Beautiful pictures with the truth of the Lord. When is your daily devotional going to be published? Thanks for your incredible ability to biblically educate me through the lens of Adi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Somehow pink bluebells just doesn’t sound quite right but boy are they beautiful. I would love to know why in a sea of blue there was only 2 pink ones? Then again it’s the same with the trillium. Why were there 2 of the pink/red ones in a sea of white?


  2. I do not know if I will ever look upon a tick in the same way! This is such a good analogy and one I have never considered. Ticks are more than just a nuisance, and so are ‘spiritual ticks’. Thank you for such an insightful post! The carpet of blue flowers is so beautiful! We have them too…and the ticks! 🙂

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  3. Oh yes I remember when we lived in Southern Missouri that ticks as well as chiggers were a persistent issue. Thanks for the great lesson as well as the photos. Love the fiddle head ferns. I think they are edible(cooked) but I never tried

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    1. Chiggers!!!! Now there is another nasty one. It wasn’t until I was an adult and had moved further south that I had my first encounter with those critters, and I hope to never encounter them again. It was so much fun finding the various fiddleheads. We found one that looked like a piece of copper wire uncoiling. We had to turn to the inaturalist app to finally get it properly identified.


  4. Pat B

    Beth, this is another beautiful and well-written post to help us in our daily walk. The Scriptural analogy is perfect and so appropriate for each of us. Thank you for the lesson and also for the beautiful photos. (I personally like the fiddlehead ferns!!)

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    1. Thank you Pat! The ferns were some of my favorites. Each type is so unique. We found the fiddlehead of a maidenhair fern that look like a piece of uncoiling copper.


  5. Beth, the beautiful photos reminded me of how I intrinsically felt yesterday…finally free to go out into the world without fear, now that I am fully immunized against COVID. God’s world is stunningly beautiful, and seeing it’s beauty and being with people is like good medicine for the soul. Thank you for this wonderful post. Truly a blessing!

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    1. I am so happy for you Mary! I’m glad you enjoyed both the post and pictures and hope that you are able to get out soon to enjoy spring’s grandeur in the company of friends and family.


  6. It sure is easier to look for real tics than looking for envy and other spiritual parasites. What a great illustration. I wish I could just find and knock malice on the head tho. usually others see it before me…sigh

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    1. I have to agree with you there Gary! Spiritual ticks are rascally critters that keep themselves well hidden from our own eyes. Growing up my Mom used to check my head for ticks when we were out camping because I never could find them myself in my thick mane of hair. Now I do that for my own girls. Maybe there is a lesson in that- asking a trusted person to take a good look at us to see if they spot a spiritual tick.

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  7. What a sumptuous feast you have prepared beautifully before us in this post Beth, where do I begin?
    The beauty of the wild flowers on your walk are breathtaking, and of course Adi is photogenic as ever.
    Your scripture references and tick analogy are very pertinent to each of our lives, how vigilant we need to be in our walk not to fall victim to spiritual ticks. You have missed nothing out here, you include the way to dispose of these blighters too – excellent.
    I pray that you have a blessed weekend sister.

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    1. Thank you Alan! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your generous and encouraging words. This lesson almost hit the chopping block as I battled my way through that last lengthy paragraph struggling to piece together the right combination of words to express the lesson the Lord had taught me. The battle only served to make me more dependent on the Lord in my writing. I hope you are enjoying the sights, smells, and tastes of spring on your side of the ocean! Adi sends Millie some Labby love.

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      1. Your battle with the script was worth it then Beth, you produced a great result by His guidance.
        The last week the weather has went back into cold and wet, almost winter with hail sometimes. Thus I have hardly been brave enough to venture outdoors.
        I would like to say Millie reciprocates…but this tabby does not do smiles, she just looks disdainfully on folk, haha.
        May you have a blessed Lord’s Day sister.

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  8. This is wonderful, Beth. What an excellent comparison. The spiritual “ticks” of 2 Peter (with definitions) are most helpful.

    I attended a banquet for educators last night where I was a finalist for an award. I didn’t win, and have been stewing with a little envy, and even malice, ever sense. But your devotional helped me realize the danger.

    It’s time to check myself for “ticks.”


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    1. Thank you David! Congratulations on being a finalist! We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice, yet in our humanness that is so very challenging at times. Thank goodness for Jesus who is there to extract the tick of envy and enable us to truly rejoice with others. Very recently the Holy Spirit revealed a big old swollen tick of deceit that had attached to me. I picked that nasty tick up from a book recommended by several trusted Christians. If I’m honest when I was reading it some of the content wasn’t sitting well or plain didn’t make sense. The Holy Spirit was warning me the entire time but since the false beliefs and teachings weren’t blatant and it was a book on something I thought to be innocuous (personalities) I just shoved those misgivings aside. Will I ever learn my lesson NOT to push those misgivings aside? Thank goodness for Jesus. A good prayer confession session is bringing healing to the bite site. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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