September’s Treat Yo’ Self Day:

So it is October 15th as I write this.  I did not end up taking a day of solitude last month.  I had wanted one but things were too busy for our family.  Moving forward I will try to plan better.  Some things came up that were not expected. Jeremy suggested I take a partial time away on Saturday from wake-up (about 7) til 4pm.  So that was my plan but I ended up not following through with it.  I had wanted to at least watch the movie, The Shack since I had read the book and never got around to watching it.  A friend had recently referenced the scene where the Holy Spirit takes the main character in the garden. She said the movie depicts it in a beautiful way.  So I did watch a 2 hour movie while Jeremy took the kids for a couple of hours.  It was good therapy with all the tears I cried.  
It felt like divine timing to connect with my friend about The Shack.  I had this thought pop into my head to ask this friend my friend about the Shack.  I told her this random thought.  I wondered if this thought popped in my head because maybe she needed the encouragement by reading the book herself. But I now believe it popped in my head so that she could encourage me through it.  She shared how she loved the garden imagery and how God cultivates and tends our souls.  Her text led me to reread that chapter on the garden. (What comes next is not really a spoiler;) The encouragement was so timely.  The Holy Spirit takes him into the garden.  To him it looks like a chaotic mess but from above it is full of amazing fractals.  She takes him to this section full of beautiful yellow and purple flowers and asks him clear them out. It is hard for him to dig up these since they are so beautiful.  She explains that she wants to plant something new there.  During the process of pruning she turns to him and says, “Isn’t this exhilarating?!?!”  He bloodied forearms he jokes, “I find other things more exhilarating.”
This completely gave me a better understanding and a picture of what Jeremy was going through with a giant transition in our life.  Our chapter of being lead pastors at a church we started is coming to a close.  A new chapter is before us . For me as an ISFP (Myers Briggs), the spontaneous adventurer, I am excited for the new God wants to do in our life.  Of course there is sorrow and grieving of moving away from relationships. But my heart more often goes to anticipation and joy of what is to come.  This was been a sweet journey.  And like all journeys there are highs and lows, mountaintops and valleys. This journey here has not been all sunshine but there is never all sunshine in anything.  We grow most in the struggles. I’m certain the struggles/heartaches have shaped and grown us and will help us encourage others.  All that to say I am in the exhilarating phase of this transition.  But Jeremy was in the bleeding/grievous part of this pruning process.  
All year God has been teaching me so much while I am out in the yard.  Prior to this epic back yard I don’t think I ever pruned a plant.;)  There was work that needed to be done and as I cut things away God was teaching my heart.  God was showing me the purpose of pruning.  It is necessary to cut away the dead branches and dead blossoms in order to have more blooms the next season. We had pruned our magnolia trees last fall and the pink blossoms doubled this spring!! We were blown away.  I thought this pruning thing is really legit. So that kind of pruning makes total sense to me.  Cut away the dead to allow more growth.  The part of pruning that felt harder to wrap my mind around was cutting away living things to increase the harvest.  In order for apple trees to produce bigger/better fruit you have to cut branches away.  You have to pick off apples so the other apples can flourish.  Like if there is a bunch of 3 apples you have to pick 1 off so they are not all touching each others which will cause rotting where they touch. It felt grievous to me to have these 2 buckets of apples that I was getting rid off. Side note: I did feel a little better since I was dumping them in the forest for all the critters to enjoy. These cute little apples have all the potential to be full size apples so it felt weird picking them.  You also have to thin out the branches by cutting shoots off and branches that crowd each other.  
Both pruning are necessary for the greatest harvest.  Cutting dead made obvious sense to me but cutting away living felt harsh and unnecessary. But I am not a master gardener.  I am only a newbie.  I have always thought of myself as someone who kills green things.  I had no clue how rewarding yard work is. I feel like pruning is decluttering the outdoors. 😉  My oldest daughter is the one who plants/sows and picks the produce.  I love clearing the garden beds before planting and enjoying the fruit of her labor.
Ok, slight tangent.  All that to say, I did not see God pruning Story Church from our lives.  Several months when I felt God shifting my heart it surprised me.  I was taken aback.  It shocked me as my heart began to miss home. It shocked me so much that I did not even mention it to Jeremy for a month.  I just prayed and worked through a discernment process that St. Ignatius developed for others to make big choices.  This pruning did not make sense.  Story Church is not dead.  Things are good. We are good. It has been beautiful.  But the best I can understand it is that God wants to plant something new in our lives and in our family.  And of course it is not this idea that I must cut these people away so I can flourish.  Not at all and those who best know our hearts would never think that.  But the garden that is our life, this chapter is coming to a close and new chapters are ahead.  My spiritual director said that I can hold both emotions of joy and sorrow in my heart.  It has been a good race and a new race is before us.
Awwww…. I am so thankful for this space to write today outside of Caribou coffee.  Today is my October Treat Yo’ Self.  That is my next post. 🙂

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