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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 25 & 26} Gratitude and Grace

27 Nov

Yesterday was a beautiful, holy day.  Despite waking up from too little sleep with a throat that was on fire and a head that felt like an elephant was sitting on it, the day was wonderful.

We celebrated this little guy’s baptism at our church.  Yes, I cried.

My littlest tiger after his baptism

Papa Tiger performing the baptism

Yes, yesterday was awesome, despite feeling physically lousy.  We celebrated with family and rejoice that our son, Kasen, is baptized and covered by God’s grace.  We would need that grace. Continue reading

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

19 Nov Community Worship

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 {Day 4} And He Rested

4 Nov rest_here

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 When all else is gone, your grace remains.
Photo courtesy of Kaci Sappington

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

10 Scriptures to Soothe Mommy’s Soul

24 Sep Harried Heather at the end of my rope

(Fair Warning: This is a lengthy post.  My lack of posts has built up and is now overflowing.  Read it through…it’s worth it.  I’m also biased!)

Yesterday (Sunday) is often considered to be a day of rest.  Sabbath.

Not so in my world.

We are a ministry family.  My husband is the senior pastor of our church and that means Sunday is a work day, and not just for him.  I’m currently the children’s ministry director and even when I am not teaching on a Sunday, I am checking in with leaders, counting little heads, hands, and hearts, and collecting the change in our Children’s Change Jar.  By the time the service is over and we have fellowshipped with as many congregants as possible, chased our almost 3-yr old son  all over the sanctuary (altar rails, chairs, stage…), and consoled our now cranky almost 4-month old, we are wiped out.

But the day isn’t even over!

If it’s a good day, I will have a delicious crockpot meal simmering in the slow-cooker.  The scent will tantalize our tastebuds as we drag in through the front door.  We can sit and eat in relative relaxation for a little bit, but let’s be honest; we haven’t had a relaxing meal on a regular basis in almost 3 years.  Hmmm, why is that?

If it’s a fantastic day we will splurge and endure the craziness of eating out with two children under the age of 3 and indulge in Mexican food.  Pass the salsa and chips please!

Yesterday was a good day.

I had dinner on low and slow in the crockpot so we had gourmet turkey sandwiches for lunch.  Micah (the 3 yr. old) wanted PB crackers and squeeze fruit.  He ate the fruit and pushed the crackers around his plate.  He was hungry later.  Not surprised.  All was normal and even calm in the Tiger house.

Then it was time for naps.

It needs to be said that Sunday afternoon naps are a sacred and time-honored tradition that Aaron and I treasure and have made a priority in our relationship for the past ten years.  Come hell, high water, or a second kid, we will have our Sunday nap.

Unless there is a football game on.  Or a ministry meeting.  Or a family function.  Or a preschooler with a stubborn streak a mile long.

You get the picture though.  We don’t just like our rest.  We NEED our Sunday refueling nap to sustain us through small groups, meetings, and any other church event that might be scheduled.

Aaron took Micah back to his room to settle down for naptime.  I was nursing Kasen, ready to swaddle that little bug and get him drifting off ASAP so Mommy could settle in for a long Sunday snooze.

Both boys had other intentions.

Micah dug in his tenacious little heels and refused to settle, sleep, or even stay still.  I was tagged in to take over for Aaron.  Kasen was handed off smoothly with no fumble.  Micah cared for the change in coaches about as much as the NFL is loving the fill-in refs.  He yelled, he screamed, he kicked, and he flopped.  If the Emmy’s handed out an award for Best Dramatic Tantrum, he would have it in the bag.

We ignored him.  We talked calmly and soothingly to him.  We carried him back to his room and shut the door (that does not have a lock?!) I held him tightly in a loving hold to stop the flailing. We gave him options.  We attempted to reason, reward, cajole, and bribe the child to stop throwing the fit.  We FAILED!!!

I even attempted singing a new temper song we had learned just that morning watching PBS’ Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, even though I knew I was messing the words up.  “I’m so mad I could roar, but instead I’ll count to four.  One. Two. Three. Four.”  Something like that.  It even seemed like that was working.  Until it wasn’t.  The fit resumed in full force after a few calmer, shuddering breaths.  I should have sung the song to myself a few times.  After a slap in the face (my face), elbow to the stomach (yep, mine), and a scream in the ear (mine too), I lost all my patience and my mind for a moment.

Savage Mommy Tiger roared.  Right in the face of her little tiger cub.  Continue reading

Enough for Today

1 May

It’s May 1.  When I found out I was pregnant, Aaron and sat down and looked at all we would have going on near our due date.  It was a lot.  Our church’s 10-yr celebration weekend, including an open house, birthdays, our 7th anniversary, Mother’s Day, and our denomination’s annual conference, on top of all the daily work and tasks.  Not only were all these things on the horizon, there was a lot of preparation we had to do in order for these things to happen.  We decided that we needed to set a goal to have as much as possible prepared for Kasen’s arrival by the beginning of May, so that when the busyness really hit, we wouldn’t be in anxiety overdrive.

Guess what?

Didn’t happen.  Guess who is in anxiety overdrive?  This girl, and I know Aaron is just as overwhelmed by the church and also wanting to give his best at home. I know neither of us was planning on me being sick for much of the pregnancy, and it just has not helped.

I was up late last night for multiple reasons, like heartburn, uncomfortableness, and also I could not shut my mind down with all the things we still need to do to prepare for Kasen, get the house ready, and again, just stay on top on everyday tasks.

I’m still dealing with this sinus infection which has sidelined me for the past few days, and this morning was not looking bright.  The anxiety had not diminished overnight, so as I sat down to do my devotion, I simply prayed that God would give me a few moment’s peace.  He did that and more.  Ask and you shall receive, right?

Here are a few of the things God led me to either during my devotion or right after that have helped carry me through the day so far.  I turned on the satellite Christian station to let God sing over me, calm my soul, as I surfed the web of His grace.  It is truly enough for today.

 

From my devotion at Girlfriends in God by Sharon Jayne: “Her lamp does not go out at night…” (Proverbs 31:18 NIV). Continue reading

Tent Grumbling

24 Apr

I have not been sleeping well.  Between the heartburn and not being able to get comfortable, despite being surrounded by tons of pillows, I am feeling the effects of lousy sleep.  I feel that dark cloud creeping overhead.  The anxiety of all that I still need to get done around the house and to prepare for Kasen’s arrival is crowding out happy thoughts.  I am becoming Mrs. Grumble. (Anyone else read these books as a kid?  I loved Miss Sunshine!)

As I was forcing myself (yes, I grumbled), into reading my devotion this morning, I felt like God was on vacation.  “Hello?  Are You taking an extended Spring Break?  Did you forget about little me?  Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.”

This was the scripture I read on Girlfriends in God:

13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
in the wilderness they put God to the test.

24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
they did not believe his promise.
25 They grumbled in their tents
and did not obey the LORD.”

Psalm 106: 13-14, 24-25

And there it was; God’s not so subtle response to my grumbling.  I was sitting there, grumbling in my tent, and God was more than happy to point that out.  I have been grumbling because I’m tired, stressed, and a bit overwhelmed.

Who isn’t? Continue reading

He is Risen! Day 40

8 Apr

5 “The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Matthew 28: 5-7

Alleluia!

Christ the Lord is risen!

He is risen indeed!

We no longer wait in anticipation, but we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

The cross is empty.

The grave could not contain him.

He is risen, and because of His grace we are restored!

His free gift of grace, bought and paid by his own blood, is for all.

Celebrate the risen Christ and accept the gift of life.

Alleluia!

I want to share the words from one of the great Christian hymns,

Continue reading

And We Wait: Day 39: Lent Journey

7 Apr

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.” -Matthew 27: 62-65

After they laid Jesus in the tomb, the disciples gathered, wept, and waited.

Would he rise in three days?

As we wait, we take comfort in knowing that indeed Jesus did rise. Despite a heavy stone and guards to protect the tomb, Jesus came forth and conquered sin and death.

But for now, we wait.  We wait in hopeful anticipation for our Savior to rise.