When I was walking past my husband’s work-from-home station the other day, I noticed that he was reading my latest blog post. As a subscriber to my blog, he gets an automatic email when I post something new.
What I didn’t realize about this automated program is that all of my colors and formatting is lost through this service.
A bit of the spirit of the blog was lost in translation, so to speak.
So, after talking to another very helpful blogger friend (Sarah Butterfield!), I decided to start an email service that would allow me to connect more with those who want to engage with the blog.
I’m now signed up with Mailchimp for email communication, and if you would like to continue to get notifications of a new blog (some of the subscribers will already be connected with the new system, but not those via WordPress), enter your email address here:
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As an extra incentive, if you subscribe, you will be given five entries into the One Thousand Gifts giveaway to win this bundle of goodies:
The giveaway remains open until Thursday, September 3rd at noon (PST). I will announce the winner within 24 hours of giveaway closing (more details can be found by clicking on the image).
I would be honored if you choose to follow the work I believe God is leading me to accomplish.
And it bears mentioning that it was 102 degrees when I snapped this picture. That’s true friendship— sitting in 102 degree heat to share your heart with your friend.
And there’s more.
The night of our Sips & Scripts chat was Hilary’s last day in California as she set out with her family of six to move to Knoxville, Tennessee.
THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES
Hilary and I have a friendship truly forged by God. On my first day of work as a professor at Tallahassee Community College, I prayed for God to bring me a best friend. I was certain that my best friend was going to be the other full-time hire in the English Department, who I had heard was female. After my first day, I didn’t feel a special connection with that hire and drove home in tears wondering why God didn’t answer my prayer. My new life in Tallahassee felt daunting.
But, I didn’t pay attention to something significant that day: I wasn’t seated next to the new hire in my department. I was seated next to Hilary.
A few days later, I got the keys to my office. There was overflow from the English building, so I was put into a neighboring building in a hallway with two offices. One office was mine, and one was Hilary’s.
I cannot adequately express in words what it was like to have someone to mentor me right across the hall. Sparing no grace, Hilary guided me through every new hurdle in my role as a professor. But more than that, when I became pregnant with my first (earlier than when I thought I would become a mom) Hilary helped me traverse the difficulties of pregnancy, prepare me for labor and delivery, and equip myself with the best resources for being a good mom.
I REPEAT: THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES
The spring of 2014 both Hilary and I gave birth— she to her third child and me to my second. And that summer both her husband and my husband would start new careers… in California.
Though we were two hours away from each other, and not directly across the hall, we were still able to use our friendship as a support beam for the new lives we were building in an unfamiliar place.
And now Hilary finds herself with a brave new change: a move to Tennessee. The move became the subject of our Sips & Scripts conversation.
THE MOVE IS AN ANSWERED PRAYER
“There is a verse in Philippians that has been helping me as we prepare to uproot our family and transplant in new soil:
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus
Philippians 4.6-7, ESV
We have been praying to move to Tennessee for years, and so the Lord is answering that prayer, but a move like this still can come with a lot of anxiety.
But I haven’t really had that much anxiety like in past moves. I just have this sense of peace about it— the peace that surpasses understanding.
He has us going there for a purpose and a reason, and trusting in that brings peace.”
MOVING FORWARD WITH UNCERTAINTY
“When my husband went to do the housing search, he was there for a week. Our goal was to have a home ready and waiting for us when we pulled into Knoxville.
You see, when we moved to California, we had not locked in a house and had to spend ten days in a hotel while we house-hunted. It was an unsettling way to start a new life chapter.
We vowed that we would never do that again. And when we made that vow, God laughed. Not a cruel laugh—but He is always in control, so when we try to assume that control, it must elicit a parental I-know-better-than-you chuckle.
I heard Him saying— you think you are going to control this housing situation, but I need you turn this over to Me. Wait on Me. Do not be anxious.
So while my husband was there, he searched but found nothing that felt like our new home; he went back to the hotel and was really struggling with frustration.”
OUR TRIALS FOR THEIR FAITH
“He called me, with my 11-year-old listening in, and described how long he had been on his knees praying for a house with nothing to show for it.
My 11-year-old interjected and said she wanted to pray for us.
It was the most beautiful prayer: she thanked God for my husband and me; she thanked Him for the move; she asked Him to help us find a house.
And I knew immediately— this is why He is having us wait.
It’s not to test my faith. It’s for the faith of my children.
A lot of times, we think our trials are just about us—but often, it is about our kids watching us.
She was able to hear her daddy say he fell to his knees and prayed for an hour when he was feeling discouraged.
She witnessed me and my husband fast for a day as we offered up our prayer to the Lord.
And when we do found a house—our home—she will be affirmed again that He is always faithful.”
LISTENING TO HIM; FOLLOWING HIS PACE
“We did get accepted into one rental house that asked for a deposit sight-unseen. But after praying a bit, both my husband and I heard: this is not the one for you. Keep waiting.
I heard Him loud and clear: I have a place for you. Release the control of the search. Stop going on Zillow 5x a day as a semblance of control.
Rest in me.
That’s what He is teaching me right now— wait and rest in Him, like in the passage in Isaiah:
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint
Isaiah 40.31, ESV
Funnily enough, after passing on that house, I learned some not-so-great things about that particular property management company. I don’t think we would want to sign with a company like that. I know that His “no” was protecting us from a sub-par property company, and maybe much more. He always knows what is best for us.
A FINAL VERSE TO BRING PEACE ABOUT THE MOVE
“One last verse that really helps me understand God’s plan for us is this one:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.
Acts 17.26, ESV
He determines our dwelling place.
He has chosen this time, even through COVID, and he has chosen the place (first California, and now Tennessee) for my family to live. He has created our kids for this time and place.
Our kids have strong wills, and I thank God for those strong wills because of what they will be up against in this current world of ours. And He will give us the strength to live in these situations.
I take comfort that He has a good plan.”
PEACE THAT SURPASSESUNDERSTANDING
“My husband seems to be anxious for a house on my behalf— I will be the one in the hotel with the kids while we wait on a house.
I reassured him that God is faithful in everything, and that a house is coming for us.
My response elicited peace in my husband. Peace begets peace.
I want to use this new home to bless others. As my kids get older, and they want to bring friends home, I want to have the space for that. But we still were able to host dinners in our tiny California house, and so the size of the house truly doesn’t matter. I just want it to bless others.”
Adelaide’s note: It makes me laugh to listen back to the recording at this part of the conversation where I went off on a tangent about the falls in Tennessee, and how I insisted she send me any and all fall foliage pictures.
WHAT WAITING IN HIM TEACHES US
“In our self-gratifying culture, it is very easy to fall into a view of God as a genie in a bottle. And it’s not always instant like that.
My 11-year-old had to pray and wait and pray and wait for friends to come along when we moved to California. And they did. She made such incredible friends, but it didn’t happen instantly.
It happened to me, as well. I would meet a new friend, and that friend would move. I had some friendship deserts during our time in California.
But upon leaving this week, there were friends I hugged goodbye through tears. Friends I know I will get to see in eternity, which is a message of His faithfulness.
There is always grief in losing things, in closing chapters. There will be things I will need to grieve. We didn’t want to move into that small house in California, and today, as walked through the house, we are mourning the loss of the space that held so many beautiful memories. Even my youngest child was born in that small house.
But we know the Lord has great plans for us in our new town.
Through digging online, we already found a church in Knoxville that we are really excited for, they are reading through the Bible chronologically as a church!
So as I embark on this move I say ‘Send me, Lord. Use me, here. I am going to open up my hands, fully letting go, and be here in your peace.’”
IT’S NEVER GOODBYE
Our closing prayer saw tears streaming down both of our faces. We recognize that we will not be able to see each other regularly like we have been doing for eleven years.
But our friendship is strong enough to withstand distance.
And as Hilary reminded me, it’s never goodbye for believers because we have eternity to be together.
But strangely, this time, it wasn’t a theme or motif but a tiny phrase that lodged itself into my mind. For a writer, a curious or memorable string of words is often a signal to lean into that phrase.
ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE: THE TINY PHRASE THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES
The phrase that God pointed my attention to is a little clause in the middle of a prayer that Paul is offering to the people of Ephesus:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3.14-19, ESV
Yes, that was one sentence.
Paul is not known for being economical with his language.
So let’s first break down the sentence to its backbone— not because the prepositional phrases aren’t important— but just to first grasp the core of what Paul is praying. I’ll pull apart this verse, and do a little re-organizing to ensure that we are understanding his earnest (albeit lengthy) prayer.
I bow my knees before the Father
that he may grant you [people of Ephesus] to be strengthened with power
through his Spirit
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
that you may have the strength
[that comes from] being rooted and grounded in love
to know the breadth and length and height and depth of that love
a love that surpasses (human) knowledge
so that you may be filled with the fullness of God.
NARROWING IN ON THE PHRASE ABOUT TAKING ROOT
So according to Paul, when Christ dwells in our hearts and we have faith, we are being rooted in love.
I looked up the Greek word in this passage, rhiza, which translates to to cause to take root.
This definition implies that the rootedness in love did not exist until a catalyst— in this case, Christ dwelling in our hearts— causes the rooting to occur.
Put another way, when we turn our hearts over to faith in Christ, we are not just growing the roots deeper into our existing soil; rather, we are being transplanted into new soil where our roots will then affix us.
And not just any soil— the soil of His love.
We are being transplanted into new soil where our roots will then affix us.
And not just any soil— the soil of His love.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SOIL WE ROOT IN
Soil is the lifeblood to the plants: “The right soil composition allows roots to perform their function properly. Roots capture water, nutrients, and minerals as well as anchors plants to the ground. Whenever the health of roots in compromised, plants are weakened, and without fertile soil, roots cannot grow” (Bayer Cropscience).
Soil surrounds, holds, and feeds the plant.
The quality of the soil determines the quality of the plant.
And if we are not rooted in the soil of love, then what are we planting ourselves in? What are we allowing to feed and sustain us?
Am I rooted in busyness, productivity, and worldly achievement?
Sadly, this is the first answer that comes to mind for me. I am task-driven, and on some level, I mistakenly believe that my value is wrapped up in what I produce.
If I get everything done on my weekly to-do list, I pat myself of the back for running a household well. If I don’t get some things done, I start shaming myself: you only work part-time, why isn’t all of this completed? You are letting your family down.
And that’s not what Jesus wants for me. There is no prize in heaven for “accomplished most household tasks” or “had it all together” or “very responsible.”
If I am feverishly climbing the rungs of the to-do list like a ladder, to where will I ascend? I won’t. It’s a trick ladder, you see. There are always more rungs ahead. It doesn’t end.
I’m not saying I should shirk my responsibilities, of course. God has entrusted me to be a wife and to raise three little boys to be men of Faith.
But the busyness I am referring to almost never describes my core purpose; it’s simply an exercise in the mundane. It ultimately doesn’t matter if I price-check dog food or get birthday gifts mailed out in time.
Being rooted in His love means letting go of striving to produce and achieve, and remembering to rest in Him. To talk to Him. To listen to Him.
Am I rooted in other people’s opinions or worldly praise?
If we are saturated in the desire to please or impress people, we make every decision with that desire feeding us.
Perhaps we buy trendy or designer clothes rather than tithing.
Perhaps we stifle the truth of our hearts so not to offend anyone.
Perhaps we mask our identity in Him to be cooler or more popular in the eyes of man.
Perhaps we work and work to see the numbers of our “likes” and followers go up without once asking God if he likes what we have been doing.
Ironically, it is all futile. We can do everything perfectly by the world’s standards and people will still find ways to criticize us.
But if we stretch our roots deep into the soil of the love of Christ, we will strive to be perfect in His eyes and the result is eternal prosperity.
Am I rooted in comfort and the desires of the flesh?
If you have internet connection and a device on which to read this, it is safe to say you are living comfortably. In fact, have you ever considered that the majority Americans can avoid temperature discomfort at all times?
Think about it, you emerge from your blanketed bed and step into a shower with instant warm water. You get into your temperature-controlled car and drive to your place of work that likely has central heat and air.
One can go an entire day in perfect bodily comfort, and many of us do.
Now, of course there are exceptions, and of course I am not suggesting we risk hyper- or hypo-thermia in order to make a point.
What I am suggesting is that we often are driven by what will satisfy the flesh and not the Spirit.
I am entirely guilty of this.
I get antsy if it’s been too long between meals.
If I have a stacked day of work and adulting, I believe I deserve a fancy drink from a coffee shop.
If the water heater doesn’t warm my shower in time, I get impatient and irritated.
A significant portion of first-world inhabitants, myself included, are not conditioned to deal well with discomfort.
But then what of our spiritual condition? What message am I sending when I am guilty of the above? That the desires of my flesh should be met at all costs?
Paul’s letter to the Galatians indicates the exact opposite:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other
Again, am I saying we discard the comforts of modern life? I am not.
What I am saying is that being rooted in the soil of love means we serve the Spirit above the flesh and strive to produce its fruits: love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 22).
That last one— self-control—means I can ask the Spirit to help me engage in moderation with bodily comforts. I can turn over desires and impulses to him— particularly ones that would prove damaging to the bearing of fruit.
WHAT IS THE SOIL OF LOVE LIKE?
When we accept Christ into our hearts and become transplanted into the soil of love, we are experiencing a complex, multifaceted love.
We are rooted in unconditional love
We do not have to earn God’s love— and even if we mess up, we still have it: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5.8, ESV).
We are rooted in everlasting love
His love does not end; it is eternal: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16).
We are rooted in love so valuable, it was worth the life of Jesus
If you are a parent, you will be able to grasp the magnitude of this sacrifice: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4.9-11).
Do our roots sometimes stray into other soil— the soil of chronic busyness, the soil of pleasing others, the soil of bodily comfort? Sure, we are human.
But when we remain rooted in earthly matters, we are in a soil that doesn’t feed us well. We don’t grow, we don’t blossom, we don’t bear fruit.
So we ask for grace and forgiveness, and for our roots to find their way back to the soil of His love where we produce the good fruit.