Spring: a time to plant and a time to uproot


With robins bouncing around the yard and the ground softening with spring rain, you can feel the earth preparing herself for a new season.

Spring is all about preparation and transition. It’s laying out plans for growth. It’s putting away the winter gear and pulling out the rainboots and lightweight jackets. It’s an awkward season that’s mucky and transformative.

There are moments and times in our lives that feel a lot like this: those spaces between and those pauses in rhythm. We can feel change just around the corner, and yet it hasn’t happened yet. It’s like the gap between the last step on a swinging bridge and land or the intentional silence between one note of music and the next.

The difficulty comes in letting go of, or more intentionally the uprooting of, things that may have beautiful in a past season but have since become stale or no longer producing life or things that are weedy preventing growth. In our garden bed, the kale from last fall remains. It looks half alive with its yellow and green leaves, but it’s not good to eat. There are weeds popping up in the mostly empty soil.

The temptation to hold onto emotions and mindsets that once served a purpose can leave us stuck in winter when spring comes. We are created to live fruitful lives, and being fruitful requires a little effort.

Sometimes facing those garden beds in our hearts and minds is overwhelming. We think about that disappointment, resentment, insecurity, fear, anxiety and turn away focusing on something else. Doing the work of digging up the roots of these things takes courage and honesty. It requires a vulnerability that’s uncomfortable; it’s a little messy and dirty.

“Those who plant in tears

   will harvest with shouts of joy.

They weep as they go to plant their seed,

   but they sing as they return with the harvest.”

(Psalm 126:5-6)

Once the soil is rid of its weeds and half dead plants there’s a certain amount of surrender and hope involved in planting seeds. Every seed disappears into the dark ground before it springs to life. For a little while you wonder whether the seed is actually going to produce any life and then one day a tiny sprout appears, both delicate and strong.

Take that root of resentment out and plant a seed of forgiveness in its place. Remove the disappointment and sow some hope. Pull out the insecurity and replace it with love. It’s something that sounds so simple yet requires the soft and steady rain of grace and the bright and warm sunshine of honesty. Grace for others and with yourself as the tiny seedling grows. Honesty with others and yourself as different things come to light. Here are some things to ask yourself that may tug at some of those roots and create space to plant something fresh:

What do I want to see grow or how do I want to grow in this next season?

Socially in relationships

Emotionally in your soul

Mentally in your intellect

Spiritually in your spirit

Physically in your body

What things need to be uprooted in my life in order for growth to happen?

How do I plant the seeds for this growth and then tend them to maturity?

Take this season of uprooting and planting and embrace the mud and sweat because the harvest will be beautiful and the fruit will be nourishing. Marilynne Robinson describes “grace as gratuitous” and that’s the measure you have to use – a bottomless, free, unsubstantiated amount of grace. So make sure to pour that grace out as well as receive that grace in.

After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.

It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.

I walked slowly, and listened

to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.

(Mary Oliver, “Sometimes”)


Fresh and Inspired

Rhythm series: fruitful over productive


A few months ago, I began the rhythm series looking at rest and the place it holds in our lives. The opposite of rest should be work or activity or productivity. The problem with this framework is that it has the potential to leave out our purpose or intention. Productive is all about doing and works. It’s a mechanical and technical word that has implications of busyness and visible, external results. Instead of focusing on productivity between pauses of rest, I’ve been convicted to think about being fruitful.

Fruitfulness is the first mandate humankind received from God in Genesis – it’s part of our nature and makeup. Fruitful has more to do with being than doing. It’s a word full of connotations relating to life, fullness, and internal growth affecting the external. This is especially difficult when we can look productive if we’re busy on our phones all day or if we’re moving from activity to activity from morning until night, but fruitful asks: are these actions producing fruit in my life?

“[She] is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever [she] does prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)

What does it look like to bear your fruit in your season? This is so challenging because our tendency to look around to see what others are doing and how others are living usually eclipses our own purposes and desires. We look at the friend who creates pinterest like crafts for her kids and think we should do the same. We look at the friend who works full-time and is thriving in her career and wonder if the work we’re doing is as valuable. We see the produce in our friends’ lives and begin to compare something that’s not meant to be compared.

When we’re able to embrace the type of tree we are and remain connected to the source, the streams, the God who sustains us in every season, we are fruitful in our season. It’s a fruitfulness that is unique and entirely our own. We weren’t created to replicate someone else’s fruit — our apple tree isn’t meant to bear oranges.

“Sit. Feast on your life.” (Derek Walcott)

Fruitful lives produce a feast we can sit down and enjoy. Productive lives for the sake of getting things done produce burn out where we hit a wall and crash. There are a few questions we can ask ourselves that prompt us to think about our own fruitfulness in the season we’re in.

What does fruitful mean for my season? 

This comes down to values and determining which aspects of our life are most valuable and necessary right now.

What are my actual priorities right now? This should be a short list — we can’t do all the things all the time.

Answering this question in complete honesty can be difficult because our priorities may not seem grand or glamorous, but if we’re honest about the most essential things needing our energy and time it will allow us to do what’s important rather than what’s immediate.

When to quit and when to say no?

It takes wisdom and courage to know when to quit something and how to say no with grace.

Where do I spend the resources I currently have? 

If we are clear on our season and priorities, figuring out how to allocate our finite amounts of time, energy, and money becomes a lot less complicated. It still requires some tough decision making, but it eases and clarifies the process.

If it feels like you’re running on the wheel of life without going anywhere, take some time to reflect on these questions. Honor yourself and the season you’re in; give yourself permission to be fruitful rather than productive. Choose enduring over short-lived. Choose wholeheartedness over instant gratification. If we can ask ourselves every night, “what did I begin today that might endure?” (John O’Donohue), it may just be the reminder and encouragement we need to keep choosing fruitful.

“Sometimes I need

only to stand

wherever I am

to be blessed.”

(Mary Oliver)

That’s all for this Tuesday, friends. Cheers!


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Winter: a time to throw away and a time to gather



A good beginning is half the work.

(Old Irish Proverb)

Happy New Year, friends! How do you approach your new year? Do you set goals? Make resolutions? Come up with a word for the year?

Winter, especially the first month of the year, is all about bringing things into fresh focus. The snowy landscape even reflects this in the way you can see a tree’s actual form and shape without the covering of leaves. Everything in nature becomes more obvious against the backdrop of white snow and bright skies. The clarity is refreshing.

It is winter proper; the cold weather, such as it is, has come to stay. I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.

(Annie Dillard)

Mentally, most of us use this time of year to prioritize and plan. The cold days and long nights seem to provide more opportunity to take stock of how we spend our time and allows us to alter and adjust for the year ahead. For some this means doing a health cleanse or detox. For others it looks like committing to a budget. And for others, it’s simply taking the inspiration to change a habit and making a commitment to do certain things differently.

All change begins with removing the old, the stuff that doesn’t work, the dusty unused things, the bad habits and practices and replacing them with the new, the new gifts, the useful and helpful things, and fresh habits and practices for a new season.

These cold months provide a time to throw away material clutter and to gather fresh organization. It’s a time to throw away negative mindsets and habits and to gather positive attitudes and practices. It’s a time to throw away striving and comparison and to gather contentment and confidence. This snowy, cold season strips everything down to the most essential, the core, the heart and gives us fresh eyes to see what matters most. It blows in winds of inspiration that lead to transformation.

For me personally, this looks like going through my day and making small adjustments where I feel led to change. Life with a newborn can be a challenging season with sleep deprivation and learning a new rhythm, but there have been a handful of things I’ve felt convicted to change in the midst of this transition.

In spending habits: to purchase with the environment and the local economy in mind

(think beeswax wrap over plastic wrap and local stores over Amazon)

In health: to move two times a week (think walks in the woods and yoga with Adriene) and eating a vegetable with every meal

In parenting: to value presence over productivity — this one is especially difficult for my type A personality, but it’s something I’m keeping top of mind with the time I spend with my kids

In relationships: to encourage and reach out more often — as someone who doesn’t mind going days without connecting with friends this looks like being more intentional with being the one to send a text or message rather than the one who always receives

Within each of these areas there are things that need to be thrown away in order to gather the new intentions and make them a reality. If you haven’t yet taken time to reflect about this new year, take some time this week and ask yourself what habits, thought patterns, or things need to be thrown away in order for you to gather some healthy, fresh ones. Don’t feel pressure to start big, rather think of something achievable and maintainable and go with that.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

(Mary Oliver)

It’s easy to lament the lack of sleep during this season and the challenge to wake up each morning with a song rather than a complaint is intense, but so worth the effort. Psalm 59:16 says, “but I will sing of your strength and will joyfully proclaim your faithful love in the morning.” This has been top of mind as each day begins with the opening of the curtains. I’ve created a bright and restful playlist on Spotify called Winter Wonder 2018 if you need something to listen to this season.

Click here to find listen.

I pray this is a time where you are able to throw away those things that have become hindrances in your life so you are able to gather the things you feel rising in your heart to do. Letting go of the old to grasp onto the new can be difficult, but God’s grace is sufficient and His mercies are new every morning so don’t feel disheartened when you stumble a little. As Scarlett O’Hara famously said, “after all, tomorrow is another day!”