Tag Archives: Christianity

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

Fall Frame of Mind

22 Sep

It’s official!  Fall is here!  According to the calendar it is the first day of Fall, and my heart is so happy.

A gorgeous Fall picture I snapped a few years back while living in KY.

Of course, I am ready for Fall to arrive as soon as September begins.  I want to break out the pumpkins, hang the Autumn wreaths, snuggle up with some cider and watch the leaves change and flit from the trees.  However, all good things take time, and Fall is certainly taking its sweet time appearing lately.

Fall temperatures should never reach into the 90’s and God forbid, triple digits, yet I’m afraid those days are not totally over.  Despite the drought this year, the recent rains have allowed trees and grass to green up once again, and there is hope for beautiful Fall foliage.  This time last year most trees had already turned brown and were losing dead leaves.  I’m ecstatic at the thought of driving down the highway and actually seeing the color-changing leaves in all their Autumn splendor.

There is just something about this time of year that speaks to my soul.  The air is crisp and cool, the scent of pumpkins and apples mixed with spices swirl in the air, and it’s time to break out hoodies and cozy blankets and snuggle up at football games.  Perhaps it is Autumn that pumps in my veins as an October baby, and fills my harvest heart with joy.  Fall causes me to slow down, reflect on life, and just breathe it all in.

I was reflecting on the beauty of Fall yesterday and all it causes me to think and feel, and I realized that my view on life seems to shift when Fall arrives.  Just as the trees, flowers, and animals begin to prepare for winter during the Fall by slowing growth, storing food, and shedding the old, I too find myself sifting through the chaos the year has stored up.

I find myself in a Fall frame of mind.  I rediscover the beauty within myself and the grace from above as they swirl together, changing the color of my soul.  I find refreshment and renewal.  I find the joy in life again. Continue reading

The Final Countdown

31 May

It really is the final countdown.  The last day.  Things will never be the same after tomorrow.  Any way I choose to see or say it, life changes tomorrow.

Kasen Cross Tiger will arrive via C-Section sometime between 9 & 10am Friday, June 1, 2012.  My heart is all aflutter as my arms eagerly await the new bundle of joy to love on.

Kasen Cross at 38 wks. He is sucking on his hand, and is all scrunched up.

Still, I know today will either fly by or creep along.  I will feel like I didn’t get everything done, and I’m pretty certain that not much rest will be had tonight.  So imagine my delight when I read my devotion earlier:

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62:5-8

Even though my C-Section is scheduled, I believe it is the best option for my and Kasen’s safety, and I have full confidence in my doctor’s ability to deliver Kasen successfully, there is still anxiety clinging to my thoughts.  The what if’s and uncertainties are not easy to shake off.  How glad I am that when I am weak, He is strong.  I will need that strength not only tomorrow, but most surely in the days, weeks, and months ahead as I adjust to life as a mother of two darling boys.

So I will pour out my heart, I will pour out my soul, trusting in God’s grace and provision.  I will seek rest in Him instead of relying on my comfy fort of pillows that have been my bed fellows for the past 9 months.  I will rejoice in the great gift God has given when we hold our sweet new baby boy and know that God will continue to guide our journey, one step at a time.

Gracefully~~Heather

 

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

Taxes and Paying it Forward

16 Apr

“6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.  8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”

Romans 13: 6-8

It may be April 16th, but it is TAX DAY!  Yay? Sorry to those who thought they could escape it since the 15th fell on a Sunday this year.  I’m sure most didn’t, but I wouldn’t put it past some individuals.

I thought I’d share some scripture pertaining to the wonderful world of taxes.  Yep.  Even way back in biblical times (and before) people paid their dues and hated it just as much as we do.  What I enjoy about this particular scripture passage is that the focus is not just on giving taxes.  Yes, we are to respect the governing authorities and pay our dues, but we also are to give to others what is due them.

What does that mean? Should we only respect and honor those in position over us or only those we think deserve it?  What about only those who first respect and honor us?  Is this a good way to live with others? 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.

It is Finished: Day 38: Lent Journey

6 Apr

  “Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” – John 19: 30

 

 

 

 

 

It is Good Friday; a somber day of remembrance.  We remember Jesus’ death; death on a cross.  We reflect on images of his beating, trial, journey to the cross, and crucifixion. We remember his sacrifice that paved the way for restored relationship with God; paved and paid with his blood.

I want to share three things with you today:

  1. A poem I wrote about Jesus’ death when I was 19
  2. A song that always draws me to the foot of the cross, “Grace Flows Down,” sung by Christy Nockels
  3. The grace available to all because of Jesus’ sacrificial death.   I encourage you to read all of John 19 today and reflect on Jesus’ last day.

Continue reading

As He Has Done For You: Day 37: Lent Journey

5 Apr

1It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” – John 13: 1-17

 

Today is Maundy Thursday for the Christian church.  We remember Jesus as he ate his last meal at Passover with his disciples.  This is where our ritual of communion comes from, as we partake of the bread and wine (or grape juice), we remember the sacrifice Jesus made of his broken body and poured out blood.

We also remember how Jesus lived a life of service, demonstrated in a powerful way on his last night with his closest friends.  Jesus, who had already taken on human form, humbled himself even more and took on the form of a servant.  He washed his disciples’ feet.  He lovingly took the dirty and weary feet of his friends, cleaned them with his hands and water, and gently dried them with a towel he had tied to his waist.

Imagine a king stooping down to wash the feet of his court advisers, or even the pheasants he is entrusted with.  This is the act of Jesus.  A King of Kings, bowed down in service to all of humanity, from the strong and rich to the poor and weak.  He loves and serves them the same.  His sacrifice is for all.

As I reflect on these final acts of love and service that Jesus performed, I can’t help but wonder if I am really taking on the mind of Christ in my own life.  Do I have a mind and a heart to serve?  Do I put myself aside enough so I can see those who need the love of Christ poured into their lives?

I hope I do.  I strive to live a life of letting God love through me, but I know I often fail.  I guess all I can do is continually wrap the towel of loving service around my waist again and again, and help bathe others in Jesus’ grace and love.

In what ways are you being called to lovingly serve someone else?

Gracefully~~Heather