It's the middle of the night. I just put a whole turkey in the oven after swirl of activity over it's defrosting method. It is 21 pounds. My hands smell bad. It's weird that we eat birds. And yet, something about this ball of meat will make my table full of people feel at home today. The power of tradition.
As I think about this day, I desire to express something to you before it begins. I am thankful for you. I believe the Father is also deeply thankful for you. You bring joy to our world. Your spunk and personality color for the rest of us. Your decision to listen well is a gift. Your sacrifices really matter. As you live your life, you are seasoning this planet and we are all better off because you are here.
Keep expressing yourself.
Keep taking up space.
Keep letting your hair down.
Keep choosing that hat.
Keep valuing yourself.
I am thankful for you.
I am sitting in a rocker with a bottle, eyes staring at the darkness outside of my window. It is morning, a dark cold morning. The blackness of the earth speaks of night, the time speaks of day. Sometimes reality tells you one thing, but your heart discerns another. It’s supposed to be morning, but it looks like night. Aimee is hungry. I pulled myself out of bed to feed her. Her eyes are shut as she eats. Mine watch the horizon. The light will come. As the sky enlightens, ever so slowly, I notice first the silhouette of the trees. Their branches are strong and dark against the early morning sky. They speak to me about growth, and my reflection on growth begins …
Growth. If. How. Where. When. Why. How do we actually grow? Not in size or stature, influence or reach, but in depth of spirit. How do we grow in the way that matters?
My eyes follow the biggest tree outside my window from its roots to its to sky-scraping branches. Father, how does that happen? How does one grow to such depth and height, such strength and beauty? Is it about my willingness to stay on the same plot of land? My willingness to extend kindness? To embrace humility? To repent? Is it nurtured by memorization of the Scriptures? Taking risks? Holding unto convictions? Is it about reading? Listening? Discipline? Resting? Is it about my attitude holding this bottle?
Growth is a part of life. Things that are alive grow. Things that are dead no longer grow. The way that growth happens is a bit mysterious from the outside looking in, but that is because it is not an external process. Growth always has to do with something internal working its way out. Growth is about space for what is authentically inside of you to expand. The seeds that now press these trees into the sky did not discover their grandeur through an external opinion, impressive presentation, or recognized influence. They were tiny pockets of life inside that were given the right environment to expand. True growth is about your authentic self getting bigger.
There is a lot of pressure in our culture to grow wide with influence, wider with accolades, wider still with followers. But in the darkness of an early morning, in the face of a few towering trees, holding a bottle, I am caught up in the wonder of what it looks like to grow deep and high. These trees are magnificent. They are loyal to their plot of land. This physical stability gives their seed the best opportunity to reach their potential. They are staying still long enough to grow down deep. Their reach is not wide, it’s high, it’s the sky.
Deeper – in authenticity.
Higher – in nearness to God.
Growing deep begins with honesty about what is inside of you. Then, giving yourself permission to expand. God’s leadership creates the environment that you need to grow. He will draw your authentic self into explosive growth if you are willing to let your roots grow down deep in Him. You are God’s seed. He believes in the “more” of you, and so do I. Permission to throw off the pressure to grow wider. Get into growing deeper. The higher comes as a result.
Father, help me to grow - deeper in love with You.
Reflection: Are you growing? What can you do to position yourself for growth?
This year held unexpected experiences for many people. It is historic both in activity and lack thereof. The challenges of the pandemic, unemployment, fires, distancing, rioting, etc. birthed a tension that wrangled the lives of many people, and left others in a disoriented chaos. To some the tension of this year was physical, to others emotional, to all of us - something significant. Whatever your situation, this year is important. It will long hold history that is ours to live and tell.
In the midst of both the living and telling, we have yet an important decision to make this year, and that is - how are we going to land this year? Are we going to be found in mental distress or in joyful expectation? Despairing disappointment or trust in God? Grasping for security or being held secure by our Father? Depressed or expressed? Burned out or renewed? Shouting or listening? Hoarding or giving? Negative or hopeful?
I am part of a community, ConnectUp, that is setting out for a 21 Day journey leading up to Thanksgiving Day through a daily devotional on the topic of gratitude. I personally want to invite you to join us. We want to encourage a washing of hearts through the power of gratitude this season. It is time to re-discover the beauty of a single focus on Jesus, His goodness, and the ways He is working brilliantly around us - every single day.
Starting on November 6th, we will be posting a daily devotional on gratitude to guide this process. Each devotional is written by someone different in our community, each holds a nugget of hope about how we view our lives, each is an invitation to consider the immensity of the goodness of God.
Come along! Starting November 6, 2020! Follow on the ConnectUp Blog, Facebook, or Instagram.
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.