A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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New Beginnings

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“Let’s pretend the world just started,” I was heard to say when a wee four years old.

This wish-filled idea was oft-quoted to me through the years by my dear, departed mother.  Perhaps it was because she, too, whimsically wished for a New Start for Mother Earth.

Turning the calendar page always for me brings a fresh rush of newness ..  a new month, perhaps ushering in a New Season.  With it comes a sigh somehow of relief and of expectation.  But hanging a New Calendar sometime in December, then finally getting to reveal January on the page with its inspiring or funny or poignant picture is more than a “RUSH”; it is an AHHhhh that I can get  ~ in essence ~ a Start-Over for a whole New Year!

As we stand this day with one foot in 2013 and the other in 2014, may we find pause for reflection.  Looking back, as in a rearview mirror, we may revel in accomplishments resulting from our own hard effort and in surprises that brought joy and meaning for which we had to put forth no particular effort of our own.  We may also see in our rear view those times that were painful, filled with angst and confusion, that may or may not have resulted from choices, activities we willingly embraced.  Perhaps through no fault of our own, we were victims of others’ choices or actions.  Perhaps we must muse upon our own part and find a place of remorse and repentance.  Rearview mirrors are sometimes hard to adjust to get just the right perspective.

But every rearview mirror is attached to a windshield, a large viewing glass for seeing what is NOW and for seeing what is AHEAD!  Though our ability to look very far ahead may be limited, we nonetheless are created with an ability to imagine, to anticipate, to expect.  What a GIFT this!  To be equipped, as we are, limited as we may be, to FORESEE.

In this Year-to-Come may we ask for increased perception, increased insight and discernment.  In the Year of 2014 may GROWTH and BALANCE become by-words.  As we each in our own way seek to discover greater meaning and purpose for our individual and our corporate lives, may we GROW in WISDOM.

To become WISE in my living; to become more thoughtful and compassionate in my relationships; to become more patient, more forgiving, more charitable in my assessment of others are worthy goals for this coming year.  Quickly, I will be challenged.  Certainly, I will fall down.  But, Above All, is GRACE.  Knowing that I am loved, that I am accepted unconditionally by my Heavenly Father, my Abba Father, I will get back up and continue aspiring to end 2014 better than I begin it.

No, we can’t make the WORLD start over.  Much is out of kilter, even devastatingly wrong in this world of ours.  Yet, ALL is never fully lost; ALWAYS we have the PROMISE of NEW BEGINNINGS.  ALWAYS JESUS is waiting for us to come, to bow down, to give our hearts and minds and lives over to Him that we may THRIVE, not just survive, the uncertainties, the privileges and the injustices, the vagaries, the ebb and flow of our earthly existence.  He is waiting to grant favor to each who come to Him.

As you start your calendar for this New Year, as you perhaps are Turning a New Leaf in your life, may you breathe in relief in the reality that you are not alone, that you are accompanied by many other pilgrims on this Path of Life who also choose to grow and to change.  May you find Peace on this bit of Earth that you trod.  And may you find Hope Still in your journey.

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Part 2: Uprooted … Untangled … and Rearview Mirrors

“There’s a butterfly inside, at the window,” my husband exclaimed.  “It’s the middle of November!”  Did it ride in on a plant, a chrysalis opened in the warmth, premature, but living out the life cycle of worms to butterflies?

Watching this yellow, fragile being with dots on each wing now for several days, no bigger than the bend in my forefinger, it stirs me.  It challenges my preconceptions, my notion of butterflies.  We’ve had many a mosquito surface in the house as late as January, but never a butterfly ~ in November!.

DSCN0281I put out some syrupy nectar in a little dish with flowered pictures.  And another dish with some fresh water.  Perhaps this tiny creature, out of place and time in our home, will survive a bit longer.  It doesn’t seem to notice.

The Word of God describes us a foreigners in an alien land.*  This place, this Earth, is not our home.  We are here only briefly, as I expect this tiny creature with gossamer wings will be. Yet, in the span of seventy, maybe less or more years, we have opportunity to partake in a glorious journey.

We enter naked and unencumbered, or so it seems.  Not exactly so, because we enter, carrying specific genetic predispositions.  In our DNA lies certain prescriptions for appearance and for being.  Along with genetics, there are generational influences and inhibitions that root into the soil of our ancestors’ choices.

Our human state calls forth from our God a Jealousy.

These lyrics sung by Misty Edwards echo in my mind:

He is jealous for me.  Loves like a hurricane.  I am a tree, bending beneath His Love and Mercy.  And all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Glory.  And I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your Affections are for me.

Oh, how He loves us so. Oh, how He loves us.  How He loves us so!

Genetics, Generational stuff, and a God who is Jealous for me!

His is the path to freedom, to axe laying, to uprooting and untangling patterns and habits and issues of the heart and mind that hold a person in bondage.

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Glance in the Rear View mirror of your car.

What do you see?  Don’t read the Warning while you drive that “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” or it may distract you.  But, there’s a valuable lesson related to our Roots and Entanglements in the picture and in the warning.  We must look both in the rear and the side view mirrors.  We need to know what is following us, what lies behind us.

Simultaneously, we must be focused on what is ahead of us, what we view through the windshield and out the side windows.  It takes practice and skill to do this well whether driving ~ or living out our lives.

Ignoring what is behind us, our past, our roots, leaves us vulnerable to be blind-sided by what we did not see.  Likewise, if we are not looking at what is around and ahead of us, our future ~ our dreams and goals and plans ~ can be thwarted.  If we do this, ignore either one, we sabotage our own growth and development.

Three words can lay the axe to unhealthy, unsafe, unproductive roots:

CHOICE               CHURCH            CHANGE  

The Creator God, the pre-Existent One who spoke all Creation into existence, prescribed a seed to be the basis of life.  From each unique seed grows a specific individual.  Each follows after its own kind.  When it comes to human beings, we alone among all of God’s Creation have been given the power of CHOICEWhat a privilege and an awesome responsibility we have.

We can choose to allow old roots to gnarl around our hearts, to entangle our minds with distraction, discontentment, and discouragement.  We can choose to entertain ourselves, a means of distraction, with the world’s animated messages about the source of human significance and self-promoting ambition.  Or, we can choose to immerse our hearts and minds in the Truth of the Scriptures.  These Truths declare that in God YOU are loved unconditionally, embraced by Grace and upheld by Mercy; there is a Truth that reveals that people can choose Life over Death and that people can change, that they can tear down generational strongholds for themselves and for generations to come.

How do we hold the Hope, maintain the momentum, that these Truths impart to our wanton hearts?  How do we encourage ourselves and go forward when much that is welling up within are old lies and roots that confuse and entangle?

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We are created to seek Fellowship, to abide in Community.  We need each other.  Alone we are vulnerable and vacant.

Alongside fellow journeyers, fellow axe-swingers, we need to be filled and refilled.  CHURCH is the very place Jesus built to create and nurture that kind of Fellowship. Not merely a building, but composed of erring human beings the Church will never be perfect. However, it is the most suitable place on earth to learn about and to grow into the person He gifted us to be.  Rooted in the Word of God, the Truths proclaimed and processed in the community of the Church expose destructive roots and nurture constructive roots.

Finally, CHANGE.  Unless we purpose in our hearts to change our minds filled with many faulty beliefs, to do the hard work, the sometimes grueling work of change, it will not happen.  We can be saturated with Truth, but until we activate it in our own lives, it will lie dormant much as batteries within a flashlight.  The power is there, but until the switch is moved, there is no light.  Without recognizing that we have a CHOICE and that we need the CHURCH, the strength of fellow root-choppers, we will likely find we are stuck in the dark along with our deep-lying roots.

Some need intensive care along with intensive work to uproot.  Discouragement is often part of the change process.  Find and seek counsel from those who understand Roots.  Seek out those who are farther along in their own journey of axe-laying to assist you.  The Scripture says that You shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you free.**  It is only the Truth we KNOW that sets us free.  We are created to be BUTTERFLIES, not lowly worms!

This path calls for courage and leads to CONTENTMENT, to FREEDOM and FULFILLMENT.  It is a narrow, yet well-worn path.  It becomes sweeter and smoother the further you go.

Along the path is a signpost that says, “A Quiet Environment promotes Healing.”  Be still and know that He is God!***  Take a few moments now in quiet and solitude to prayerfully consider what Roots our God wants to upRoot and remove in your life.  Then purpose to change, to do whatever is necessary to become FREE.

* Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 11:13

** John 8:32

*** Psalm 46:10


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Part 1: Uprooted … Unraveled

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Walking across October’s still green grass with a load on my back and a too much stuff in my arms, I nearly stumble.  “Those old roots,” I mumble half aloud.  They’d just popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, an obstacle in my path.

Got me thinking.  About Roots.  I began to play mental gymnastics with the word itself, flipping it over and under.  There are deep roots and shallow roots.  In school studies, we were instructed to find the root whether it was a base word or a mathematical square.  When we garden, we want our plants to take root.  And when the storms come, we hope nothing is uprooted.  We women, we even dye our roots when the wrong color roots begin to show.

I stopped doing somersaults in my mind when I considered the root of the problem.  You see, in order to heal or to grow from any adverse experience, we must first expose the root.  Then, according to the Wisdom from Above, we must take an axe to the root.*  Even if the roots are old, even if they are generational roots.

Some roots just have to come out!

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They say, those who study such things, that a tree’s roots expand at least as far underground as the tree’s breadth above the ground.

Stand back and observe a few trees.

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That’s a whole lot of ROOTS!

Most are sight unseen.  The leaves?  Well, they come for a season or two; then they let go and they’re gone.  But these roots?  They just grow and grow and grow, spreading this way and that, drawing up water and life-yielding nutrients for the tree they anchor.

Generational roots are like that, too.  They hold on.  They hold up.  They expand across the decades into the children and the children’s children.  And then, into their children.  Generational roots may be hurtful; they may be ugly, shame-ridden.  Or, they may enfold blessings, rich heritage.

We are all recipients of the same generational roots as each of our parents.  Some of these roots we embrace, we enjoy.  We celebrate that Susie plays piano like Aunt Bea.  We admire Bobby’s desire to become a doctor like his Grandad.  But we lament when Bill grows into his Daddy’s weakness and takes up The Bottle, too.  We cry in anger that the same pattern of meanness we received from Sister shows up in very our own child with his sibling.

Stinginess or generosity?  Cup half full or half empty?  Abuse or affirmation?

These roots manifest in each generation.

Some roots just have to come out!

All it takes is a family crisis to expose these roots.  Before long, we revert to how we were taught, what we observed, what we concluded about the world, authority, ourselves, others and God as we grew from child to adult.  We may find ourselves in crisis starting to unravel, to fall apart, separating at our relational seams in the midst of a high-intensity circumstance.

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We may even find ourselves behaving in ways that surprise us, ways we did not even know.  When we are vulnerable, when we are in shock or hurting, we humans tend to act out of the pain.  Even we whose lives have been transformed by the Gospel.

Any crisis carries within it the seed to see within, to glean insight into our own roots.  People can change.  God has given each of us the capacity to grow through direct, experiential learning, as well as through insight. Becoming unraveled, being undone brings a gift of possibility.

We have been given, endowed by our Creator with the power to choose.  Will we continue growing roots of anger, bitterness and strife, if such is the pattern, the generational roots, in our family of origin? **  Or, will we choose to lay the axe to the roots, to process and grow in the face of adversity, allowing ourselves to be rooted in love? ***  Maybe, we have been already blessed, rooted in love.  Are we nurturing those roots in the next generation in our family?

Some roots just have to come out!

 Some roots must stay!

Unraveling our roots, our generational, ancestral roots, is bittersweet. As we unearth information about those who have gone before us, we find both noble and ignoble characteristics. The fruit of the tree falls not far, it is said. Finding the ignoble can be bitter, offensive to our senses. But sweetness comes when we find those in our familial tree who have broken the pattern, who have said, “No” to Vice, or who have said, “Yes” to to Virtue, to a Faith-filled life, to achievement and contribution.

C.S. Lewis put it: None can give another what he does not possess himself.  No generation can bequeath to its successor what it has not got.                 

It behooves us then to uproot that which is an obstacle to our path. For the sake of ourselves and for the sake of those coming after, let us not remain in that which is familiar merely because the unfamiliar is uncomfortable. Rather, like roots, let us grow down deep into Truth and Wholeness; like the trunk and the branches and the leaves, let us courageously challenge what was and open up to new possibilities as we reach toward the Light.

Tall and Strong

Joycie's Brilliant Trees

Look Up!

Joycie's Sun Rays

Grace of God in the Woods

* Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9

** James 3:14-15; Ephesians 4:30-32; Hebrews 12:15

*** Ephesians 3:17