Trusting the Season

fruit trees in winter

Winter has hung on longer than usual here in western Washington. Daffodils have just started sprouting up. Crocuses put out vibrant petals a week before. But the cherry trees in town have yet to blossom.

This means more time for pruning. We have inherited a handful of fruit trees behind our new house. Dad and Jonathon went out to prune them. Sometimes, pruning can seem daunting. Which limbs should go? Which should stay? How do I optimize the life of the tree and its fruiting?

Jonathon got a little aggressive with the cutting. The trees look more, um, sculptural than usual.

“Well,” my dad told him, “you can do that. But you might not have any fruit next year.”

Jonathon felt bad.

“You mean, I might have trimmed them too much?” he asked.

Dad nodded.

For us, owning fruit trees is a learning curve. We will learn what works and what doesn’t. We can observe the next season and correct if necessary.

But it made me think. You may feel like you’ve been pruned back in your life. The things you used to do, the things that made you happy or helped life make sense may have gotten stripped away. Maybe people moved away. Maybe activities dried up. Maybe the Lord moved you a different direction. Any way you look at it, you got pruned. Your life acquired more restrictions. Your path narrowed to what looks like a trail winding up a mountainside.

Maybe, just maybe, you feel you got pruned back to stubs. Nothing is growing. Nothing is blossoming or bursting up out of the ground for you. You feel a sense of hopelessness. You battle restlessness. I want to tell you it’s coming. The growth is coming. It’s alright to be in a fallow season. You don’t have to be putting out huge crops all the time. Change happens to all of us. You can get refreshed and let the season come upon you when God deems it’s time. The pruning, the cutting away, the trimming, it all has a purpose. The new direction will become clear. Don’t lose hope. Stay on the new trail. Find the joy in the journey. The Master Gardener holds you in His hands.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. – Galatians 6:9

 

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Facing Fear

fear is a liar

(source)

I ran outside today. It had stopped raining. It’s been a few days since I could say something like that. The air smelled good, filled with the scent of growing things. But also woodsmoke, since temperatures still start out in the high 30s, early 40s every day.

I cruised downhill. I reminded myself that I’d have to go back up again, and not to get too cocky. The skies partly cleared, drifting clouds floating above me. Lavender bushes put out their fragrance as I ran by.

I thought about fear. I tend to pick up the emotions of people I’m close to, and fear seems predominant at the moment.  Of course, my own fears add to the muddle. It’s fear about the future, fear of failure, all the ones that keep you up at night. At the conference we attended this weekend, one of the speakers reminded us that as believers, we’re thermostats, not thermometers. We don’t reflect the current attitude; we change it. I don’t want to be a thermometer, measuring the feelings of the people around me. I want to change the atmosphere.

I started reminding myself of the scriptures that deal with fear:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

I like the New King James Version better, though:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

This is my command–be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Give your burdens to the Lord,
    and he will take care of you.
    He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. – Psalm 55:22

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. – 1 John 4:18

Fear is crippling. Fear is a cheater, tripping us up at the end of a good race. Fear keeps us from thinking clearly and creatively. Fear keeps us from all that God has for us. I am meditating on these scriptures today as the day progresses. I’m going to take my thoughts into captivity and trust Jesus for the outcome. I’m going to start speaking faith and not doubt. What are your favorite scriptures to change the atmosphere?

Where We Begin

Yesterday at 10:00 a.m., my folks signed papers to sell their house.

Yesterday at 3:00 p.m., we signed papers to buy their house.

This journey took us just over a year, from discussion to putting our house on the market to selling to closing. Now we’re full circle.

It hasn’t sunk in yet.

the house

This life is full of endings and beginnings, starts and stops. They happen every day. Some take a moment. Some take longer.

“So, will you kick your parents out now that you’ve purchased their home?”I got this question from almost everyone I work with.

We joked about them pitching a tent in the front yard. I can see it now. “Hey, guys, you have plenty of room, and it’s only a temporary floodwatch. I’m sure the rain will ease up soon. And think of the great sunrises!”

Not going to do it. Because they have a journey ahead of them, too. They haven’t found their next home yet. But we want to be with them when they uncover that jewel. As much as they rejoice in our living here, we will get excited about their next address.

Thanks be to God.

Friday Brief

Yesterday, we signed papers on our old house. It’s no longer ours. In other words, we’re temporarily homeless. Not homeless-homeless, like we’re on the street. We’re at the house that belongs to my dad and stepmom. Monday, they sign papers to sell this house to us. Then, this ginormous house becomes ours.

This journey is almost over.

baby fist pump

In other news, my job changed again. I will no longer spend time at the shop processing invoices and such. I will be full-time at the main office, adding permitting to my plate. This means I will intake permits, give them numbers and track them through the approval process. It’s a complete about-face from where I thought I was going, but I’m glad to help out.

Some of the shop guys weren’t too pleased with this turn of events.

“What’s going on? You’re ditching us?”

Then they sent me flowers. Sigh. I’ll miss you, too.

The last 3 weeks held significant changes. We moved on February 18. I heard about the job change last week, but only now have started to implement it. We initiated Easter rehearsals last night.

All of this to say the only thing certain in this life is change. We can fight it or we can embrace it. No, we don’t have to like all of it. But trusting God makes a way through the uncertainty, the dark and lonely places. We can reach our destination as we let Him lead.

Shoulder It

Friday, I hurt my shoulder. It came on slowly. First, I felt a stiffening. Then a dull, throbbing pain. Then bending my arm hurt. Getting sweaters on and off became challenging. I could barely pull my clothes on. In fact, I did, but with great yelps of pain and tears. Note: you shouldn’t cry while pulling on your pants unless they’re truly ugly. Then, cry away.

I went in to the doctor on Saturday afternoon. He had me raise my left arm as high as I could. I made it halfway up. He tried to push it up.

“Ow!” I exclaimed.

He stopped. He looked concerned. Well, as concerned as he could look while wearing a mask. He had a cold.

“You could have arthritis or bursitis, or an impingement,” he said, eyes full of sympathy. He sent in a prescription for stronger pain medication than ibuprofen.

He sent me to get an X-ray. I wandered the hospital to find only the ER open. I thought, Oh boy. This could take awhile.

“It should be 5-30 minutes,” the attendant told me.

OK.

“Sharon? Sharon?” A female voice called out into the void of the waiting room.

I perked up my ears. I often get called Sharon.

“Sharon Ee-sham?”

I hopped up and followed the voice.

“That’s me, but I’m not Sharon. I’m Susan.”

The X-ray tech looked relieved to find me and chagrined at butchering my name.

“Sorry about that. Come on back.”

We wandered the labyrinth of hallways. Not a lot of foot traffic on Saturdays.

I took off all my metal items and stood in front of the target.

The tech lined me up.

“Turn. Back up one step. Turn a little more.” I felt like this was a professional photo session. “Tilt your chin up. Smile. Chin down. Stop punching your sister. Now!”

Anyway, I noticed something.

“Um, it’s my left shoulder I’m here for, not my right.”

“Oh man.”

Now she felt really dumb. She adjusted me into the mirror image of what I was supposed to be on the other side.

“Hold your breath. Okay. Let it out.”

I went home in pain and discouraged. I called the chiropractor’s office. They’re all out of the office until Wednesday. I left a message at another place. He can’t see me until next week.

But God.

Pretty much everyone in my immediate family has laid hands on me and prayed for me. I got prayer at church. I’ve prayed for myself. I’ve cried out to God, because I needed to go to work yesterday and wondered how in the world I would sit at my computer and type.  He has started the healing process, and I’m getting better each day. Jesus proves Himself faithful yet again.

That old song rings true.

I thought about how much we need our whole body to work together. I thought about my friends who live with constant, chronic pain, and had more compassion than before. I had no idea how much I relied on my left shoulder until I hurt it. Likewise, we need each other. I don’t have all the answers. But you might be able to shed light on my situation, give me a new perspective.

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” – 1 Corinthians 12:18-21