Thursday, December 10, 2009

Green Living for the Religion-Weary Soul

Ahhh, the freshness of living green. Thanks, Niki, for the theme suggestion.

On my kitchen windowsill is a plant that my now-first-grader daughter, Rhyinn, gave me for Mother's Day last May. Along with her classmates, she started it from a seed. For a month or so, not much happened, but then the straggly stem exploded with flowers.

Despite the nice sunny spot on the windowsill, the leaves and flowers eventually fell off. Consequence of overwatering? not consistent watering? roots too big for pot?

My green thumb and I have no idea. And that's the story we're sticking with.

Two weeks ago I did a Britney Spears on the leaveless stems. Chop. Chop. Chop. Yes, what remained looked like a leftover prop from the set of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Didn't take long, though, to notice new leaves growing.

And today...

Not really.

It's still a scrawny thing with a sprinkling of leaves. No flowers. Yet. I'm hoping by Valentine's Day, it'll be in bloom.

You and I can be like my Mother's Day plant.

Sometimes we over-water ourselves by over-committing ourselves with responsibilities. We end up feeling like we're drowning in things to do. Especially at church. In fact, many churches have the unspoken adage, "Get 'em to agree to serve and you'll have 'em for life." And who can say no to the pastor's plea for someone to host the staff Christmas party? So you've had five parties at your house in the last month. What's one more? Go ahead and bring those Christmas stockings that still need to be sewn, as well as last minute costumes for the Christmas musical. Really. Once you've dusted off the sewing machine, you might as well put it to use. In fact, why doncha just sew up some reuseble gift bags.

Too much food makes us fat. Too much wine makes us drunk. Too much makeup makes us scary. No isn't a four-letter word.

Sometimes we water ourselves socially so sporadically that we attend _____ once a month and expect people to treat us like we're there all the time. Oh my satellite dishes, I see this all the time in churches. We want relationships--want to feel a part of the group--yet we get angry when everyone ignores us in favor of "their little cliques." Never do we see how our hit-and-miss participation and our wallflower attitude contributes to our lack of relationships. So we blame. We complain. We decide to go to another church because we're certain the women's ministry, youth group, pastoral staff, choir, _____ are friendlier over there.
As my momma used to say, "You get out of something what you put in it." Start practicing the fine art of investing in others.

When I first met the Seekerville ladies, I green-envied--and a little resented--"their little clique." Oh, what I would have done to have become one of them. However, I knew my attitude was the wrong. I had to change. I had to learn to value the mentorship they could, did, still do provide. Because of what they've taught me, I stepped out of my root-strained pot and invited ladies to start this blog with me. And that brings me to my next point.

Sometimes our roots have grown so that they're squishing us in the pot. We need to break out and replant in a new pot where we can grow more. How? Well, first of all I'm not advocating leaving your family, church, friendships, or whatever in favor of a new one. I'm talking about stepping outside your comfort zone. Let's stick with the church example. If you only go to church to be fed and don't do serving, then you're gonna eventually stop producing good fruit (or leaves and flowers in the case of my plant). If you've been serving in the same place since Noah got off the Ark, could be you're bonsai'ng yourself.

When I was in high school, our activities director, Mrs. Horton, used to answer my questions with "Because, Gina, we've done it this way for X years and it works." She said it so many times I think she wished she had it written on business cards that she could hand me everytime I walked into the activities office. Still, she must not have held it against me because she gave me some lovely brass napkin rings when I got married.

My feeling was (and still is) yes, it may work, but is there a way it could work better, could produce more?

If you've had the same hairstyle for the last five years, you have stagnant hair. If you've been singing in the choir for the last ten years, you have stagnant service. (I hear choir directors rising in revolt. Don't burn me at the stake just yet.) What about taking a year off from choir and teaching in a Sunday School class or volunteering to help in the nursery department even if it's been years since you talked to someone under the age of five. Pray about it. God directs many a willing heart.

Sometimes we just need to be pruned so we can regrow. Ouch. I don't know about you, but any pruning God's done on me hasn't been pleasant. While I don't necessarily like my flaws, I'm comfortable with them. We're on a first-name basis.

One of my kids found a cross necklace and put it on our dog. Cute. Sadly, though, wearing that cross necklace doesn't make DeeOhGee any more spiritual, any more of a good-fruit-producer. He still barks at the neighbor kids. Still uses the backyard as his bathroom. Still is a dog who licks his unmentionables.

Wearing the right clothes, going to the right church, reading the right Bible translation doesn't make me any more spiritual. Those only contribute to the facade. I need pruning so I can grow in Christ, grow more like Christ.

You, dear reader, need pruning too.

As we approach the new year, it's time we start thinking outside, inside, on top, around, and under the green box. Wrap the green box. Reuse the green box to plant flowers or make a dog bed.

Maybe, just maybe, you need to take a stand on that green box.

Therefore, just as you've received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6


Not-so-spiritual Question of the Day:: What movie are you looking forward to seeing during the Christmas season?

Spiritual-related Question of the Day:: When was the last time God pruned you, and what lesson did you learn?


  1. Patti, thanks for your kind comments on my blog.

    God prunes me all the time. I would like to be done with it :)

    I am looking forward to... Watching my boys open there Christmas presents, this year being over, a fresh new year starting and some storms they are predicting to break the heat down here!

  2. Great post, Gina. It really made me think.

    Movie - I've been wanting to see Fame for a while. Don't know why it's taking so long. I love any movies with dance in them, and Fame was a favorite show when I was a kid. I also loved the lead character when she was on So You Think You Can Dance.

    Last time I was pruned...hmm. I would have to say the last big pruning was about two years ago when I stepped down from several church activities to focus on my writing. I made a lot of people mad when I did that. I used to get sucked into any leadership void, but I try very hard not to do that anymore. I still oversee the dance ministry, although I've handed off much of the week to week stuff, and I still lead worship for children's church once a month. That's it right now.

    Pruning with a small "p," I would agree with Tabitha, that happens all the time.


  3. I get pruned quite often and my lesson is one of refocusing on the ONE who is suppose to be first in my lift.
    Blessings, andrea

    PS: Excellent post.

  4. Movie...Hmm...At The Blind Side, saw a cool preview for a show about Nelson Mandela. Other than that....maybe some videos!!!

    Pruning? Sigh. Constant, with jumbo shears. Trimming off yellow crinkly impatience leaves is the latest biggie!

  5. Excellent. Every point is well said and well taken by me.

  6. forgot to answer your questions...

    We always watch "It's a Wonderful Life."

    God is in the process of pruning me now. Uncomfortable, but I feel safe in His hands.

  7. I hate pruning. We're in the midst of a financial pruning--selling stuff, downsizing, etc. to get rid of debt and be able to do more for the Kingdom. I know I'll like it when God is done, it's the PROCESS that is uncomfortable!
    Movie: I want to go see The Blind Side, but may have to wait for it on DVD.
    This was a WONDERFUL post, Gina. I love the correlation between green, healthy plants that have been pruned (I like the word "tended") and our spiritual lives! Great way to think of Green Living!

  8. It feels like we're in a constant state of pruning, or at least an extended state. i think at teh moment God is dealing with me about my desire to do things at my pace. If I'll just take the backseat, he'll drive and we'll all arrive safely. Just hard to relenquish my grip on the steering wheel.

    As for movies. I want to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, although I will have to think of it as something other than the Holmes I know and love. This will be another character all together. Otherwise it may drive me crazy. I might stand up and holler: 'That's not how Sherlock would act!!'

  9. Gina, what an excellent post. Thank you! Yes, we do get out of things what we put into them. What's the statistic? 20% of the people do 80% of the work? (And we're pastor's wives...I am tired of December already and I don't want to feel like that.)

    I am in a place of major pruning right now. Having to start some things over. I don't like it. I miss my old leaves, even if they were brown on the edges.

    I think I told you once that when the Bible calls it refiner's fire, it isn't whistling dixie! It hurts!

    Hmm, I would like to see several movies this season. Like Lisa, I'm curious about Sherlock, but I'm going to have to approach it as its own genre. The ads look fun but not particularly Sherlock-like. I'll probably rent "Four Christmases," haven't seen that yet. I have my favorite Christmas specials, some of the Rankin Bass ones from childhood. Those and a cup of cocoa, and I'm good!

  10. Some days I feel like a never-ending weed that needs to be plucked instead of pruned. I remember when we lived in TX and I was trying to learn what grew in my garden. The nursery man said, if you like it, it's a plant. If you don't, it's a weed, so pull it. Since I haven't been 'pulled' yet, I guess I'm still being pruned.

    I'm looking forward to Blind Side, the new Nelson Mandella film with Matt Damon and Sherlock Holmes, too. I hear the new Alvin and the Chipmonks is coming out around Christmas. Can't wait for that one.

    ALVIN!!!!! OKAY!!!!!

  11. Great post, Gina. Some of you know I'm a horticulturalist among other things, so I'm always able to see life through "green" similes.

    I like to think of it as God's hobby.
    If the Garden of Eden was a replica of heaven, (as is implied in the OT) then I think I have a pretty good job anytime I can get away from a desk and get my hands dirty.

    I hope our readers are getting to know us a bit. Let me tell you all, that these ladies are amazing and God had a lot in mind when this Inky blog idea came along. He blesses us in ways we never dream of, doesn't he?

    Christmas vacation movies better include "the Young Victoria" for me or I'll be really disappointed.

  12. My my, ladies, you are all up and active before me. :-)

    Welcome, Tabitha, although I'm going to nicely ignore the "heat" comment. Uggh. Our bright Virginia sunshine is merely a facade for the chilly temperatures. Brr.

    I love that you're looking forward to watching your boys open gifts. My kids want to open our gifts to them tonight. While I was thinking we'd wait until Sunday, I'm itching to see their delight in what we got them.

  13. Mornin', Dina and Patti!

    Pruning oneself from church activities has to be one of the most difficult things because as Believers we want to serve and minister to others. Makes it even harder when folks at church resent our decision to take a break.

    While Fame doesn't insterest me (sorry, Dina), I hear ya, Patti, on watching some dvds. (I'm assuming by "videos" you don't really mean VHS tapes. LOL!)

  14. Hey Gina,
    I have become really good at saying, "NO," over the years;self-preservation due to special needs child, my other girl, and my hubby. Now, I've got my mom with me too. God has taught me how to wait and persevere and be patient and to pray with all my heart. And I'm sure you know a little something about patience too with all those kiddos. :) Thnaks for making me think deep today.

    I haven't seen BlindSide yet, so if it's still out I'd like to see it.

    God has been seriously pruning me for ten years. It's just been in the past month really that I've felt like HE may be done for a little tiny bit. HOPE IS THE WORD.:)

  15. Andrea, I'm with you on getting pruned quite often. In fact, I had a pruning just this week (more confusing than painful), and I tried to work it into this post. Alas, it's one lesson that's gonna have to wait to be shared. I'm thinking the best place for it is during our first week's theme of Februrary. We're gonna talk about love.

    Thanks for stopping by and for enjoying the post!

  16. Cindy, Cindy, Cindy!

    God is in the process of pruning me now. Uncomfortable, but I feel safe in His hands. such an awesome statement of faith.

    Thank you for sharing.

    For my sister-in-law, Christmas would not be Christmas without at least one viewing of It's A Wonderful Life.

    We've generally accepted her as the weird one in the family. ;-)

  17. Oh, Niki. Do I know what you mean about downsizing and decluttering and debt reduction. I've been attempting to do it for the last two months.

    In the corner of my office is two stacks of stuff that I need to put on Craig's List to sell. Just last week, I donated five or seven bags of stuff to Vietnam Veterans. Then there's the bag of books to donate to the library.

    This weekend Old Navy has women's fleece jackets for $5. I'd like to get one for me and for oldest daughter, but I don't want to charge it. So where do I get the cash 'cause if I have none, I've vowed to myself to resist the temptation to charge. Well, I remembered this morning I have $45 worth of returns I need to take to Marshalls and another $26 to Kohls.

    We'll need to do routine decultting/downsizing/debtreduction encouragments. Hmm. Maybe that would be a good next year's theme.

  18. Lisa!!! I didn't realize you were such a Holmes diehard. Yes, that's one of my To See Christmas movies.

    First, though, oldest son and I are going to see AVATAR. We've been anxiously awaiting the movie since last year. Of course, we've decided to invite other family members to enjoy the viewing with us.

    Thanks, Connie, for reminding me of the other movies on the list. Odds are, though, we'll only see one or two in the theatre. Have you see the price of tickets?!

    Oh, Debra, Young Victoria is one of those movies I'll have to wait for dvd because NO one in my family will go see it with me and I'm too chicken to see a movie by myself.

  19. Jill, I hear ya on those moments when God gives us a reprieve.

    Oh, Susanne, oh, Susanne. I've been telling myself for weeks, "Just make it through December 5th." That was the last Christmas party at our house. While hosting was exhausting, I'm glad we had the room to have the party here becuase getting all the church pastorial staff and their spouses together in one location is a rare occurance. Plus the food was as yummy as the fellowship joyful.

    Ironic this is hubby has a friend coming over this Sunday night to watch the Dallas Cowboys play. I'm calling it a micro-mini party because it's just them two. Of course, I have a nagging feeling it won't stay "just them two."

  20. I loved your post, Gina.

    I can't really call myself a horticulturalist although I owned a commercial greenhouse for a number of years and passed the first level of Ontario's Master Gardener course. But it does mean I can relate to your talk of roots and pruning.

    I'm with Connie on this one whereas I usually feel like a weed in God's garden. But God hasn't plucked me yet. Instead, he's pruned me and watered me and cast His warming rays upon me. I guess to God, I'm a plant and not a weed after all. Oh where would I be without His Master Gardener's touch.

    Hoping to see The Blind Side but what usually happens is that we end up at the cheaper Rainbow Cinema and enjoy whatever's playing. Then we can get The Blind Side on DVD whenever it comes out and watch it over and over. :)

  21. He's pruning right now! Ouch! But I'm so glad that when He gets through with me, I shall come forth as pure gold.

  22. Thanks, Anita and Tamika, for sharing your insights.

    Ladies, we are not weeds. Oh, we were once, but we've been transformed, renewed, redeemed. Hallelujah, amen!

    Plant. Pot of clay. Saint.

    Child of God.

    All have one thing in common: value. Oh, I'm so tempted to share my pruning lesson this week, so maybe I'll go write my thoughts into a Inkwell draft for my February Love post.

    Thanks again to Niki for suggesting this theme.

    Dear Readers, as the year closes out, we'll be sharing about various inspirations to our lives, rejoicing about Christmas, and confessing to our deepest darkest fears. Joining us will be Bethany House author Julie Klassen and Sandee Bricker.

  23. Well stated blog sister. As a flower gardener I know sometimes it takes some sever pruning to stimulate the plant into it's potential. In that same manner God is working on us. Thanks for the great post.

    You have yourself one terrifically blessed day!!!


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