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Pruning for Best

Updated: May 12, 2021

It is late Spring around my yard here in the South. The Azaleas have ceased their explosive colors and are now putting on their new green foliage. The Daylilies have begun sending up their flowered stems and will soon be in full bloom. Most of the birds nesting in our yard have fledged their young and the nests stand empty. The oak leaves have mostly quit falling after being pushed out by newer growth. For my yard this signals one thing: It is time to prune the overgrown azaleas and roses.

Azaleas and roses only bloom on new growth. So, in order to have the most blooms possible, we prune back the limbs right after the blooming is done in order to encourage more blooms the next year. After the severe pruning this week the plants will look horrible. They will seem naked and dead. But give them a week or two and they will flush out with new growth. The blooms for the Azaleas won’t come till next Spring – but they will be thick and abundant. The roses are the “Knockout” variety and they will actually bloom continuously – but thicker after a pruning.

I always hesitate on this pruning process because it means I will have to endure the “not-so-attractive” period of waiting for the new growth to happen and the new blooms to appear. I feel this way every year – and then I focus on the outcome and I forge ahead.

I am okay with the pruning in my yard, and it is not always as drastic as it is right now. Sometimes it is just a little clip here and there for an unruly branch. It can be almost unnoticeable. But when it comes to the pruning and cutting back of me, and my “unruly” heart – well that is another matter altogether. Oh, I can always see if someone else needs “pruning,” but me? Well, maybe I just need a little clip here and there.

In the Bible it is referred to as “refining:” as in, the refiner’s fire when the refiner must purify silver or gold by fire. I do not tend to like being “in the fire,” so much. But I know it is necessary if I am to “come forth as gold.”

I suppose it is during these times I should also be focusing on the outcome, and the “fruit and flowers” of a refined-by-fire life. God is refining me to fulfill a purpose. My job is to submit to His hands and focus on the outcome: making me more like His Son Jesus.

In the middle of the pruning or refining it may not feel good at all. It may be painful. I may not be able to focus on the outcome because I am so focused on what I am losing right now. What if in this life I never see the outcome, or the fruit of the pruning? What then? Will I give up? Will I lose my faith? Will I rebel? Will I question the God of the Universe and ask Him what He is doing? Ashamedly, I have done all of them at one time of the other. I am embarrassed to say I have not trusted as I should. Thankfully, when I wanted to give up on Him, He did not forsake the work of His hands. He continued His work of grace.

I am burning the fallen leaves in my yard today. I have raked, and raked. I have wandered around in smoke. I have pruned more plants, and cleaned out a new flower bed. I will plant Zinnias. I am late in beginning to sow the seeds – but we have a long growing season and I am sure to enjoy at least a few.

Landscaping or gardening is a faith-building endeavor. I have watched my mother and father for years. They each bring different areas of expertise to the task. They “pruned” me when I was younger – I hope they are satisfied that I have grown and flowered as they had hoped. I hope that have more to look forward to in all our lives.

As the children and I were driving down the road today Cheyenne was asking questions from our “Table Topics” box ( A Conversational game). My favorite question of the day was “Which week from the past would you like to relive and why?” Cheyenne wanted to witness David Paul's birth (How sweet is that? ) And Dylan - 9 year old that he is - responded "I would like to witness a bank robbery!" I nearly drove off the road laughing!

I thought of lots of famous events that I would have enjoyed witnessing, people that I would have enjoyed meeting, family members that I wish I had known better. But then it occurred to me: One day, I will wish that I could go back and spend one more week with my Mom and Dad. And so, I vow to “prune away” some things in my life that keep me from being fully present with them now. I don’t want to waste a single day. Years from now, and I do pray Y_E_A_R_S, I hope I will be able to say “I cut away that which was unnecessary” and I was there – in heart and soul and body, and the fruit of that “pruning” will help me to say, “It was good – It was all good – no regrets.”

Of Flowers & Flames,

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