Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lessons from a Rose Garden

Edited to add a picture I drew, based on this post, as part of my stroke recovery therapy process.
This weekend, I posted a long update on my  stoke recovery blog, Stroke of Grace.  I wanted to share a portion of that post with you here, because, while not a topic directly addressed in my upcoming book, it will give you a taste of the "flavor" you might expect to find behind the devotionals in Harvesting Hope from Heartache:

God decided yesterday's gardening hours were a great living object lesson time. I had one really huge, really wild and overgrown, totally healthy [rose] bush. This spring it has gone crazy, throwing out lush stalks several feet long in all directions. It looked so vibrant, it seemed a shame to prune it at all, but it had grown so intently that it totally blocked a walkway between it and the next bush. I could find very little to prune for the health of the plant, but knew the only way to both reclaim my pathway and to encourage voluminous blooming of the whole plant later this spring, would be to bring the unshapen plant under the harsh cuts of the pruning sheers while the sprouts were young and pliable today.

After clearing out a very few branches in need of pruning, I took some well-planning, but perhaps seeming brutal whacks at the path side of that plant, adding dozens of feet of long, strong, beautiful, thriving branches to my discard pile, taking that side of the plant down by half or more in size.
June, 2013: end result of pruning!
I told God that it seemed amazing that rather than shocking the plant to death, I knew my actions were simply to bring around more intentional design and purpose, resulting in a more pleasing and fruitful bush. The more pruned, the more plentiful the expected flowering later this spring and summer.  He replied to my heart, "This is what I am doing in you!"
Once I had that first side molded to my design again, it occurred to me that now the plant looked pathetically out of balance, lopsided, so I continued hacking my way around the whole bush until it was beautifully rounded, but only a shadow of the lush plant I had started with. Still, I am confident that in a month or two, the pain I inflicted today will result in a multitude of glorious blossoms in my healthy, well-grounded bush that no longer risks uprooting in our violent wind storms, like the tumble weeds that roll down the street, much too substantial in size for their relatively tiny root structures to hold them fast in place.

The more I thought about it, God seemed to explain that my life was much like that rose bush, wild and thriving and chasing after every opportunity to stretch and send out exploring fronds. It took ten years of infertility, losses, and decades of chronic illness to begin to tame me, but while I didn't enjoy the pruning process in the least, it was necessary so that my vigor for life didn't lead me so far out of God's intended design that I couldn't accomplish the purpose He intended me to fulfill. It wasn't that those passions were unhealthy or unwise, but the abundance and scattered directions threaten to leave my roots unstable, thus becoming undesirable in their very abundance.
 Once that first season of pruning was brought toward conclusion, I had one area of my life mostly trained into obedience, but that seemed to make the rest of all my wild longing more prominent. I see the additional shaping of this strong, healthy plant as my strokes, the ongoing recovery journey toward recovery, and our private family battles. I have been left shattered, violently pruned under the often seemingly unkind hand of the Master Gardener, but he knows that the only way to refocus my many thriving branches (abundance of gifts I had been blessed with, such as a signing voice, playing my flute, the ability to gracefully communicate with both hands via Sign Language, physical beauty, artistic expression through a variety of crafts and mediums I can no longer physically manage, the abundance of home-based business I have tried my hands at over this past decade, even the continued homeschooling of my children, and so much more I haven't even had time to identify yet) is to remove all that fall outside His intent for my life, to not leave me all those opportunities for "chasing after the wind," but bring me down to the bare essentials and start the training process anew (if I had to guess today, I think the critical areas God would have me focus on now would be family, home, health recovery, and writing that may eventually lead to public speaking) so that I may eventually harness that untamed enthusiasm and bring forth a bountiful harvest under His intended plan. I get it, more clearly than I ever have, God. 
Jennifer Saake, last professional picture taken pre-stroke, October, 2010.


Jeanette Hanscome said...

This is a beautiful post Jenni! It has been so exciting to see God's miracle in you.

I love and miss you!

Denise said...

You are such a precios blessing.