Repotting yourself

One of my friends posted this quote on Facebook about two weeks ago:

“When your memories are greater than your dreams, you are already beginning to die.”-Kris Vallotton

Whoa. That’s a checkpoint for sure. As a parent, I get consumed by dreams — for my kids. But in sitting with that quote in prayer, I realized that I had been thanking God for a lot of my memories — things that He had done — but I hadn’t checked in with God lately about His dreams (which I want to become my dreams), in quite some time. When I decided to have N. six years ago, I gave up on the dreams I had. I quite literally felt like some of my dreams would die and two of them would just have to be shelved until later. And in time, I was honestly, really, okay with that.

But three weeks ago, my pastor and a friend were praying for me and my pastor said that he got a vision that I “had two containers up on a shelf” and that, he felt, God was saying that it’s okay to take those things down now. That should have been an exciting word, but it kinda through me into a bit of despair. What were my dreams? I hadn’t looked at them in so long. Do I still want them? Do I have faith that God could even bring them about?

I don’t think it matters if I follow those same dreams or not. The result of just thinking about them clued me in to places where my faith was lacking. My faith in myself and my faith in god. I realized how fear was crouching at my doorstep. just waiting to devour me yet again. And so, I did what any healthy person would do: I fought back. I started looking into the two dreams I had. I prayed about what God would have me do. In essence, I accepted that I might (wink) need to expand…again…even if just a little.

I understood this enough, but when I got this excerpt from the book Simple Abundance in my e-mail this morning, much more opened up. I found it helpful. I hope you do too. (*Note: In reading the description from Amazon, I don’t think that I would endorse this book. But the essay was helpful).

Repotting: Giving Roots & Yourself Room to Grow

Uh oh…dropping leaves. Whatever can be the matter? The plant has been watered, it basks in the light; it’s neither too hot nor too cold. I pick up the pot and look at the small drainage hole in its underbelly. Tiny white roots are frantically pushing through in a futile attempt to escape confinement or at least find a little more breathing space.

Pot-bound. Did you know that plants need to be repotted at least every 2 years?  Even if the roots don’t need more room to grow, the old soil should be replaced because all the nutrients have been consumed. The interior of the pot is a wasteland.

We, too, need to consider repotting for growth. But when? When we wilt even before the day begins. When we can’t seem to visualize or dream. When we can’t remember the last time we laughed. When we have absolutely nothing in the next 24 hours to look forward to. When this happens, week in, week out, we need to realize that we’re pot-bound. We need to gently loosen the soil around our souls, find something that sparks our imagination, quickens our pulse, brings a smile or a giddy lilt to our conversations.

But repotting doesn’t mean we have to leave the marriage or quit the job (PAM’S ADDITION or leave the church or move across country or tackle a huge project). It just means we need something new. Why is it too late to go back to college if you do it one course at a time? Maybe this is the summer to learn to speak French or to start your own gift basket business? Perhaps you can get the sewing machine fixed, try making blackberry cordial, or take up fencing. What’s stopping you from writing for that grant, applying for the fellowship, pulling together that one-woman show, attending that lecture series, publishing your own newsletter, or just sending for that intriguing mail-order catalog? (Again, Pam’s note: I’m not endorsing overwhelming yourself with DO, I’m merely saying that simplifying and going after one new thing might actually bring a bit of rest to your soul..if it’s what Jesus is offering).

As I work with my plants, I see that the roots are just stunted. Gently, with my fingers, I untangle them.

Leaf. Stem. Root.

Mind. Body. Soul.

Three on one. Spirit’s seamless thread of mystery. I have often thought that if I could just discover where one strand left off and another began, I could understand it all. As it is, I understand little, yet somehow I know.

I set the plant into a slightly larger pot. Not too large; we must not overwhelm but encourage. So too, I must not take on the world but simply each task before me. Now I add rich potting soil. Water. Slowly I take the plant to a shady spot for a day so that it can become adjusted to its new environment. But even at this moment, the stem seems straighter, the leaves uplifted.

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Checkpoint

Tom is a road trip type of guy. Nothing makes my man happier than the idea of sitting in a car for hours upon end.  I, however, am not. And so, I have come to value “checkpoints” along the route. You know… rest stops, tourist sites, restaurants, shopping, major towns… that give me an idea that I have traveled “X” amount of time, and I have “X” amount of time left.  It’s my little way of checking in: I know where I’m going, and I’m on the right path.

Which gets me thinking about the “checkpoints” God gives us in life.  At checkpoints on the road, you tend to stop, refuel, and throw out the trash. I think life checkpoints are the same way.

Tomorrow, I hit a personal checkpoint. I turn 27. My whole life, I’ve thought of 27 as a turning point. Not 30, not 40. Twenty. Seven.

As I hit this personal milestone, I’m evaluating more than I usually do. What am I happy with, and what needs to go? I’m thanking Jesus for the foundation that He’s laid under my feet, but I’m also aware that the next portion of my life is going to test that foundation more than ever.  So, at this checkpoint, I’m examining my feet, and making sure they are securely grounded. And I’m boldly asking for fuel to fire me for the things that I know I’m supposed to journey towards. This one is a little hard for me to do (I hate asking for anything for myself). Today, however, I read something in Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest that really challenged me. He asked: “Am (I) thirsty, or smugly indifferent, –so satisfied with (my) experience that (I) want nothing more from God?” And so, I’m thinking about what I want.

I explained this to Tom last night in slightly different terms. He was asking me how I thought my birthday was going to go on Thursday. “What am I excited about? ”

“I think I’ve wanted some things in me to die for a long time, and I think God’s going to let them die.” I was patting myself on the back when he questioned me back,

“What do you want to die the most?”

Oh. Oh. Now that was the question. Because every time we stop. Every time we rest. Every time we reflect, God gives us the opportunity to ask for things that will allow us to live, but He also invites us to ask for the things that need to die. And He asks us what we want the most.

I wish I can tell you what that birthday wish to my heavenly Father will be. I don’t…yet.  But I’m getting closer. And when I go for my morning prayer tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll have the answer to what I want to simply walk on. Because eventually, the path leads to home. But in the meantime, I enjoy traveling with a God who can help me stop, reevaluate, check the route, refuel, and throw out the trash. Checkpoint? You betcha.

The Hunt is On

Recently, Tom and I visited the Brookfield Zoo with one of our favorite couples. Being sans kids, I was able to stop and read different information. It was at the home of my favorite animal, the wolf, that something popped out at me. A sign related that to be successful hunters, wolves must be fit, smart, fast, and bold. There was a lesson, and a bit of conviction, in that for me as a follower of Jesus.

We know that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) But have we ever stopped to think what a warrior (or for us woman, a warrior princess) needs?

Before I go on, I must say the obvious. It is never okay to engage in a battle with a demon. To egg it on. That’s pure stupidity…and it might end up causing you to perform a bit of Christian witchcraft. Also, you would never battle against demons. Jesus is the General, we simply submit to Him and do as He directs, and only as He directs. That being said, there is warfare in this life, and we need a certain amount of ppreparation and action as Christians. And I think that sign at the wolves’ den makes it pretty easy to think about.

We must be fit: I can’t tell you how many times I have been in all out spiritual warfare, and the only thing that saved me was being fit with the readiness of the gospel (Ephesians 6:15). Knowing who I am, and more importantly, knowing who GOD is, and being able to recite that, out loud if need be, brings a steadiness that is incomprehensible. No matter what the anxiety, the threat, the accusation, the situation, the Word of God always provides sound mind. It always provides peace. And it always ushers in the truth.

 

We must be smart: School is never over. I recently realized this. I am never done learning. The Bible is the key to understanding; however, in our world of media, we need to seek out the facts. And Channel 5 (or whatever station you watch) is not going to provide you with all the details. We need to educate ourselves on the things that we want to stand firm against. Then, when Satan’s minions try to bring doubt or insecurity, we’re able to stand. Please note, it’s important to say that nearly every book, every blog, every magazine has meat and bones. Seek out the meat, throw away the bones. How do you do that? The way the bible describes: test the spirit (1 John 4:1). Bring all of your information back to Jesus in your prayer time and ask Him to be the securer of the things you have read. Ask Godly men and women for their recommendations. Discuss things in small group. We have tools for this. We have procedures. Use them.

We must be fast: We must be quick to listen and slow to get angry (James 1:19). When we are battling spiritual forces, there is a critical need to be in a place of rest. We cannot battle anger with anger. We must be quick to be willing to get to a place of self-control. We must be quick to listen to the direction that God is giving. It might be Him saying, don’t engage this thought, this person, this place because you will get upset and it will overtake you. We have to exercise the muscle that allows us to be quiet in the midst of turmoil.

That being said, we must also be quick to follow the direction God provides. I need to clarify this vision though. One of the most valuable things that I’ve ever learned is that the Holy Spirit is never out of control. And He will never ask you to do anything out of control. You should never feel like God put something on your heart for someone and if you don’t say it right then, then you are going to burst. You should never feel like the thing He’s asking you to do should be done immediately, even if it means carelessly. No. The Holy Spirit is self-controlled, and so are His directives. So, we should be quick to do what God has asked us to do AND do it in a calm, assured manner, staying within the protection He’s provided.

We must be bold: This is the one that is probably most confused in our society.Boldness has caused women to become people they hate. It’s caused men to act irrationally. It’s fulfilled the words of Proverbs 21:29 (A wicked man puts up a bold front, but an upright man gives thought to his ways.) What I’m speaking about is boldness in prayer and within our relationship with Christ. We should boldly go before the throne to bring our concerns and doubts before the Lord. When we don’t, Satan will just play on those. He’ll turn them into accusations. Jesus knows what they are anyway. Let nothing come between Him and you. Nothing.

Also, note that in Acts 4, the apostles were bold AFTER they were filled with the Holy Spirit. There’s direction in that for us. When we are stepping out in boldness, let it always because the Holy Spirit has imparted His love, His mercy, His presence. To step out on our own is to be careless.

I could have probably summed up this blog in one sentence: whatever the battle, let God do it, and you follow in confidence. But that wouldn’t have been as fun, now would it have been?