I know that the Holy Spirit speaks to each of us in ways that may be different from others.  Sometimes it’s a picture in your mind. Sometimes it’s through someone else, and sometimes the words of Scripture seem extra bold and wiggle a little as if they are about to jump off the page in front of you.  In my life, at least lately, he has given me themes for my current life seasons.  It’s so funny because the first theme we wrote through on The Pearl Press was “rooted.” God had given me that single word for my life when we moved to Kentucky from Seattle with our little newborn girl.  The word he gave me next was “prune,” and now this theme “flourish” seems to echo the most current chapter in my life. 

Throughout Scripture there are many analogies comparing our faith to plants, and stages of growth.  I love how God uses something so simple and so relatable to remind us of our growth in Him. 
When my husband, baby, and I moved back to my home state of Kentucky, I was not sure what to expect.  This was the place to which I swore I would never return. When I was a senior in high school, I couldn’t wait to get out, and here we were coming back with a brand new baby, trying to make a living with a start-up business and trying to reintegrate ourselves into the local church unsure of what the future would hold.  To be honest, motherhood was not what I expected it to be.  As much as I loved my daughter and my new role, I became very weary about my identity in Christ because I didn’t feel like I knew who I was anymore. I desired to serve in a much larger ministry role, but also wanted to devote all my time to my newborn. I was so torn inside. I began to resent my husband for being able to get out of the house all the time and mingle with people, even if it was at work. After all, I’m the extrovert of the family. Being a licensed minister, I felt very pressured from my own expectations to fill a much larger role. I don’t know if it was post-partum depression, or what, but I was unhappy and my joy was lost. I felt like I was in a deep pit far from God. I was letting everything else define me instead of my identity being ROOTED in Christ. I prayed, read my Bible, and finally felt like I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit tell me very clearly that this season of my life is to become rooted. In the five years of my marriage we had moved six times! We never seemed to “settle.” I blame part of it on the vagabond bone in me and my love for travel, but mostly because I think I had always been afraid to get comfortable in one place because I was afraid I would forget the calling of God on my life.  However, now I know how important it is to be rooted. How can you establish solid relationships or a solid foundation unless you become rooted? As it turns out, this season of being rooted has been one of the greatest learning experiences for me.
After finally putting down some roots (literally and figuratively), I felt like there was some pruning to be done in my life. Pruning is cutting off the weaker parts of a plant in order to have the other parts grow stronger. In the analogy of pruning my spiritual life, it meant examining my life and acknowledging my own struggles and sin, confessing, and moving forward. Part of that included un-forgiveness I was harboring in my heart towards people that had hurt me in the past. This process was very hard, but the freedom I felt after the long process of being pruned really made me grow tremendously!

And here we are at flourishing.

I do realize that our theme is flourish, and I’ve just spent all this time talking about being rooted and pruned, but I think these first two steps are absolutely essential. If you don’t admit there is sin or un-forgiveness in your life, you are held back by your own choices. God will love you and extend His grace to you, but if you don’t deal with the sin in your life and confess, you simply will not flourish. This is a continual process in our lives because we will always be less than perfect. If you don’t have a place of worship or a place to become genuinely connected with like-minded Christians, your roots will not go deep.  Another way to be rooted in your personal walk with God is to spend time with Him in the Word and to keep the lines of communication open.  Even if you feel like your prayers are falling on deaf ears, stand on the promises He has given you as well as His faithfulness. 

When I found myself in a very dark place, I remembered the promises of God for my life. I know he has a calling on my life, and even if my current situation doesn’t look like what I expected, He has ordered my steps.  God has always provided for me, and looking back, everything in my life up to that point seemed to be timed perfectly. This, for me, was a sign of God’s faithfulness in my life.

The Scripture focus for our Flourish series is found in Deuteronomy 11:18-21.  It emphasizes the importance of keeping God’s words and promises close—in our hearts, in our homes, and teaching them to our children.  In fact, the whole book of Deuteronomy was written to remind the Isrealites to set themselves apart to be a godly nation. This set of verses was intended to remind them that doing so would reap God’s promises and allow them flourish and to grow in the land that He promised them.
I love that there are so many stories about the Isrealites for us to relate to as well. God picked a less-than-perfect nation to obey his laws, and to trust in Him and to reap the benefits of doing so. When we look at their history, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Not only was that difficult, but they also had many enemies to face throughout that very long season. God had many wonderful promises for these people, but they struggled, too. The history of the Israelites is nothing short of a roller coaster ride. There were many ups and downs. They fought many battles, fraternized with the enemies of God, sinned, repented, sinned again, and repented again. Unfortunately, in the very end, they didn’t flourish as much as they could have. 

We can learn from their history.  We should always keep His word in our hearts, minds, and family. We should be rooted with the right people, and we should repent when we have let sin rule in our lives. All of this may sound cliché, but from my own personal journey I have learned all of this to be true. I know this season in my life will eventually turn into something else, but I am so happy to be where God has placed me, to know the people I know, and to know the promises of His Word in my life. Living in this knowledge and freedom gives me the foundation to flourish.

As you (hopefully) know, we had a little New Year giveaway going on throughout last week, ending on Friday. So.... we would like to announce the lucky winner of an adorable hand-lettered apron. And the winner is....

Congratulations! We hope you LOVE this apron. Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway. We just wish we had one for everyone! Hey there's an idea... matching aprons for all The Pearl Press ladies. Hmmm...

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