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Heart Pruning

24 Jan

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” ~ John 15:1-2

My devotional this morning reflected on the above passage of scripture.  My thoughts during my prayer time began to run over my own gardening skills, of both flowers and the heart.

I am not a very accomplished gardener.  Oh, how I wish I was.

I keep thinking one day I will wake up and realize that my Mima’s green-thumb genes have finally made their way down to me.  I am still waiting.  For now I accept the fact that my skills are limited and I rejoice in the knowledge that my succulents survived all summer and will hopefully make it back after a long winter’s nap.

Pruning the Vine

As I thought about my garden, or lack there-of, I was drawn to the image I snapped of the “dead” hydrangea bush in the backyard awhile back.  I remember thinking when I took the picture, “This is how I feel.”

Dried up. Forgotten. Something once beautiful dying inside.

I snapped the picture thinking that I could look back at it one day and hopefully be in a better place spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Thankfully I am able to look back today and realize that I am better.

I’m not where I want to be, and I have a long road ahead of me, but today, for now, I am able to say, “It is well with my soul.”

But it took hard work.

It took a lot of pruning.

And there is work yet to do.

Just like the hydrangea bushes in my yard need to be pruned, the dead flowers and branches cut off so new beautiful ones can bloom in Spring, I too need my life pruned of the dead things that weigh me down and keep me from blooming.

In the midst of preparing for Spring cleaning I need to take an inventory of my life and figure out what heart pruning needs to happen.

What is preventing me from becoming the person God has created me to be?  What is holding me back?  What is making me heart-sick?

Maybe it is too much of something, like too much tv, or even social media.  Maybe it is not enough of something, like time with God or time with the Hubs.

Whatever is causing me to wither needs to be cut away, and whatever needs to take root needs to be watered and nourished so that I can bear the fruit that God intends for my life.

It will take more hard work.

It will take an honest and deep look into the dark, dusty corners of my heart.

It will take time and attention to what is really important.

But I know that I am not alone as I prune my heart, and neither are you.

If you continue to read the passage of scripture in John 15, Jesus reminds us to remain in Him and He will help us to bear much fruit.  He also points out that He doesn’t talk about the hard work of pruning to be cruel, but does so out of love and for our good, so that we can be complete.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” ~John 15:11

Heart pruning isn’t easy or quick work, just like gardening.

Your hands will get dirty.

You will get tired.

Your knees might ache, because the best place to begin pruning is in prayer.

What heart pruning does your life need?

What is keeping you from picking up those “pruners?”  Fear? Doubt? Pride? Pain?

I have let all of those things and more keep me from the business of pruning sometimes.  Sometimes it is hard to know what to do.

Let the Master Gardener help!  God is more than willing and able to give you gardening tips!

So, let’s create some splendid heart gardens that bloom with love, hope, and grace, making the world a much more beautiful place to live.

Gracefully~~Heather

(P.S. For those readers that have stuck around, thank you!  I have been on hiatus in the midst of some major heart pruning, which has included this blog.  I have been allowing God to guide me as I figure out where my desires and His meet for my life.  I know writing is a major part of that but it is going to take a little different path.  I will be starting a new blog soon called Soul Beautiful.  SO stay tuned!  I hope you follow me over there and continue to let God bless you as He speaks through my words. Thanks!)

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 18} Answered Prayers

19 Nov

It’s Sunday.  In this house that means we spent most of the day at the church.

That happens when you are the pastor’s family.

It was a long day, as most Sundays are, and I didn’t even have time for my Sunday afternoon nap.

After a great sermon by The Hubs this morning, focused on John 3:16-21 and The Gift of Grace, our Abundant Life Small Group provided a spaghetti and lasagna lunch for the congregation, taking up donations to help fund various mission work in the conference.  It was delicious and I am incredibly thankful to share life with this amazing group of individuals.

We were able to have a brief respite at home after lunch, even though I had to run back up to the church to decorate and tidy up for the Community-wide Thanksgiving Service our church was hosting that evening.  I think The Hubs and the boys got a little bit of an afternoon nap, and I did manage 30 minutes to relax on the couch!

We headed back up to the church a bit before 5 and I corralled the kids while The Hubs prepared to welcome a few hundred people into our church. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Days 14 & 15} Motivation and My Journey to Being Soul Beautiful

15 Nov

If you are on Pinterest and have any kind of fitness board, you have probably seen this picture (and pinned it.)

I am on week 12!  I can attest to these statements above as pretty accurate.  I noticed some results around 4 weeks and friends and family are already saying they can see a difference since I started working out consistently.

When I began to work-out, after my second C-section in June, I was at 275.  Not quite the heaviest I had been, but close.  I was sick of not being able to do things I wanted to do, wear what I wanted, and feeling awful. I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror.  Even though I have been struggling with my weight since my knee surgery 10 years ago, I still don’t associate myself with the fat person I see in the mirror, because I know I am not that person.  I’ve been pretty and in amazing shape and I want that person back, inside and out.

I am not comfortable in my own skin.  But sitting around feeling mad or sorry for myself wasn’t going to help.  Only I could make changes to be healthier and happier. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 13} Poetry and Prose

13 Nov

My poetry is not something I have shared as much on this blog.  I have used Allpoetry.com as the outlet for those words.

But I love poetry, prose, limericks, and the like.

Raw emotions harnessed within the lines of meter and sometimes rhyme; poetry is the world’s window to the soul.

I am grateful that God has gifted me in sharing written words, whether as story or metaphor, imagery or fact.

I pour my soul from pen to paper as if my blood is the very ink with which I write.  I convey that which I cannot speak.  I create from hope, tears, love, pain, and grace.

My life lines the paper and I am laid bare.

This was a poem I wrote for Allpoetry Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 11} How to Choose

12 Nov

I have a gratitude problem.

However, it is not because I don’t appreciate the people and things I have in my life.

My problem is I have so much that I am grateful for that it is making it difficult to choose what to post about each day.

I know, first world problems.

When I decided to do this Thankful Heart series I wasn’t sure how it would play out.  Would I plan it all ahead or would I decide what I was grateful for each day and be inspired?

Being the emotional being I am, Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 8} Breath

8 Nov

Well, Day 8 and the bad/sad news is I did not get the job.

Not going to lie; I cried some.

Sounds silly, but I really wanted the position.  We really need me to get a job and I was hoping it would be one I was excited and passionate about, not just something to bring home a check.

I’m trying to focus on the fact that this was obviously not God’s will for me.  He must have something better in store.  I’m hoping.

Still pretty bummed right now.  I felt so good about my chance to work at the crisis center; I know I would have rocked it!

Oh well.  Time to hit the classifieds again.

So for now I am grateful to just keep breathing, even in the midst of disappointment and discouragement.

God is in control, not me, and that makes all the difference.

BTW, if anyone knows of a great non-profit social services job, or you want to hire me, drop me a line!

Gracefully~~Heather

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 7} Discouragement

7 Nov

No, I am not grateful for discouragement, although I am discouraged.

It has been a long day where if you would have offered me an anxiety pill, I would have asked for seconds.

Instead, I prayed, and prayed, tried to distract myself with two darling boys, was prayed for, and yet the anxiousness remained.

The source of the anxiety is a job offer I am hoping to receive.  I interviewed last Tuesday for a position as a Case Manager at a domestic violence and sexual assault crisis intervention center.  I went to the interview certain that I was a good fit for the position and it would be a job I could do well.  Upon leaving the interview, I was positive that this was the job I had been searching for.  I mean I WANT this position.  It felt like a calling rather than a job and my heart is aching to hear whether or not I landed it. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 4} And He Rested

4 Nov

The Bible tells the story of creation.  It was a process that took seven days to complete.  Each day God created, working hard to make something beautiful, functional, and wonderful from nothing.  Each day God admired His work and said, “It is good.”

The seventh day God took in all He had created and said, “It is very good,” and then He rested.

I can imagine that after all that creating something from nothing, God had to be a bit worn out.  Ya know, if God got tired.  However, God is known as being all-powerful and I am pretty sure that comes with a big helping of not needing things like sleep.

What I think is that God rested and took time to reflect on all He had done.  He took time to look back over His week and reflect on what took place; what worked and what didn’t. He took time to enjoy and appreciate the time He had already spent before He moved on to the next task, like directing Noah to build an ark. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 2} Good Grace

2 Nov

My Facebook newsfeed is full of my friends and family updating statuses with what they are thankful for.  I noticed that many people were catching up on Day 2 and listing the two things they are grateful for. Most listed God, faith, or the like as the first thing they are thankful for.

Guilt creeped in.

What kind of a pastor’s wife am I?  I was grateful for happiness and health before being grateful for God?!

Alert social medias.

I suppose what happened was simply that I was editing the pictures of the boys and that was what struck me as needing to express my gratitude for.  I also suppose that my gratefulness for God in my life is so interwoven into the fabric of all I do and am that it sometimes goes unspoken or unwritten.

So, God, have no worries, You are who I am most grateful for.

I know You were wondering. (Sarcasm people.) Continue reading

Straw Survival

4 Oct

Each day is exhausting and I’m drowning.   I feel like I am bailing myself out with a straw.

Okay, so a straw and Diet Cherry Dr.Pepper are helping with survival

I don’t have any money to make an adorable fall wreath or even the energy to arrange my fall décor.  And it makes me feel like a failure.  My house is beginning to feel like it’s aiming for a spot on hoarders (ok not even close), but the bathrooms are dirty, clothes are piled up, and crumbs were being carried off by ants (literally), until the bug guy came out.  If we get the dishes cleaned, and the toys somewhat contained, we consider it a victory.  It all feels like too much and I’m not enough.   My worry over not enough of this and too much of that is consuming my joy day to day.  I am finding it hard to focus on all the good amidst the clutter of my heart.

I’m clinging to a few things right now.  I have started working out with a great group of girls every weekday morning.  We meet from 5:30-6:15 (Yep, A.M!) and are led by a few girls who completed GFit.  We have jokingly nicknamed it Equate GFit since it is sort of a generic form of the popular workout.  We don’t pay in $, but believe me, we pay in sweat.  I’m so grateful that I asked to join the group and convinced my friend to join me.  I am even more grateful that I have gotten up to attend, although I am somewhat less than grateful when every movement causes me to grunt in pain.

My boys are another source of hope, love, and grace for me. Even when Micah has tested every boundary possible and Kasen refuses to stay asleep longer than 30 minutes, I am grateful to have two precious boys to love.  I’m not a perfect mom by any means, and most days feel like the furthest thing from it, but I am trying.  The other boy I couldn’t make it without is my husband.  Aaron loves me enough to stick by me.  He helps out so much with the boys and the day to day operations.  When he sees me at my limit, he is quick to step in and give me a little while to regroup.  He is truly my prince and my other half.

The other source of strength right now is the daily devotional I have been reading.  It is much easier to find the time for this when my day begins at 5am!  I have been devouring the words that the ladies over at Girlfriends in God share and it never fails to speak directly to my heart.  I have the GIG app on my phone so I have access to devotions wherever I am.

Today’s scripture particularly spoke light and truth in the darkness of my heart. Continue reading