The Root Ball

Over the years, I’ve transplanted various bushes, shrubs, and trees. I’ve learned – through trial and error – that transplanting is rather tricky. You must dig around the roots, leaving a fair amount of dirt and a sizable root ball to ensure that the plant has a good chance of sustaining itself in its new location. But even if you dig out a sizable root ball, you always wind up severing some of the existing roots. No matter how hard you try, you always create shock for the plant when you remove it from its home.

To minimize the effect of this shock, you get the plant into its new location as quickly as possible, surrounded by freshly turned dirt, lots of good soil, and all sorts of mulch, compost, and other nutrients. If the plant survives the initial shock, then it likely will survive. The goal, of course, is that the plant will do more than survive…you want it to thrive. That requires a great deal of patience, because the plant needs time for the root ball to begin to grow again. Once the plant permeates the new ground around its new location with a new root system, the plant once again will thrive.

It just takes time and patience.

"Time".  "Patience".

Two words that have become a central part of my life over the past couple of years. Two words that, quite frankly, I would rather not have to deal with. Because sometimes I get tired of waiting to reach the goal. Sometimes I just want to arrive and be done.

Our relocation has much in common with transplanting. When we finally pulled up stakes in Fullerton…when we severed our roots…it definitely was a shock to the system. But we arrived here and we were placed in the good soil of Garden Way Church. We have been welcomed and loved and affirmed. We have survived the shock. We know that God has called us here, so we have every confidence that we will thrive. But now we must wait. We must have patience. Why? Because putting down roots…the deep, live-giving roots that form the essence of long-term relationships… simply takes time.

I have a mental picture of our emotional/relational root ball. We are sitting comfortably in our new bed, surrounded by rich soil that is full of nutrients. We can see tiny new roots starting to form, sending their tendrils out into the surrounding soil. In the weeks, months, and years (years!) ahead, these new roots will thicken and grow. They will extend out further and further. They will dig their way deeper and deeper into the earth. And the end result will be a plant that is firmly established; a plant that is thriving; a plant that is producing rich relational fruit.

Blessed is the person…whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers. [Psalm 1:1-3]

We long for our roots to be as strong and deep here as they were in Fullerton. We look forward to that day with eagerness. So we hold firmly onto God…we daily build more connections with the people around us…and we try to wait patiently for this process to unfold.

- Bruce

Mental Transitions

We’ve been here just a little over 4 months.

The physical transition from southern California to the southern Willamette Valley has been relatively smooth. First of all, we just love this area. It is beautiful! Second, without too much difficulty, we have learned our way around town. We have found new doctors and shopping centers; we have hiked and biked some of the local trails; we have explored some of the surrounding countryside. All of this creates comfort and familiarity, helping us increasingly to feel “at home”.

But the mental transition? That is another story, because my mind keeps playing tricks on me.  For example...

I will be driving down a street, something in my peripheral vision somehow reminds me of our former life, and suddenly…just for a moment…I think I’m on West Avenue.


I will get up from my seat at the local movie theater, and my mind tells me I’m at the AMC in Fullerton. So when I step outside there is a moment of wondering “Where am I?”


I will be thinking about the weekend and the need to do errands, and my mind – at times – starts thinking about Lowe’s and Home Depot where I used to shop, rather than Jerry’s Home Improvement Center where I now shop.


Back in January these “ghosts of Fullerton past” were occurring regularly, but now they are much more intermittent. These tricks of the mind are understandable; we don’t just erase 25 years of history from our memory tapes. And yet these mental gyrations hold me back; they are like a tentacle reaching out from my past that won’t let go. And they create a sense of disorientation that slows down my ability to fully engage my new life here in Eugene/Springfield.

I anticipated that this move would stretch me in many ways, but this particular challenge – the retraining of my mind – is one that I did not expect. So I find myself pondering the wisdom of Romans 12:2: “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is….”

I now see this verse in a new light.  I know that it is God’s will for me to be here. My mind, at times, tries to keep me anchored in the past. So as I renew my mind, not only do I sever the tentacles that hold me back…I increasingly experience peace with God’s decision to bring me and my family to our new home.

- Bruce

Waiting on the Lord

But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.   Isaiah 40:31

I’ve been pondering this Scripture recently...particularly the word “wait" I continue to wait for God’s next step to clearly unfold in my life. There are two kinds of waiting that come to my mind:

- waiting for the known: when we know something specific is coming our way (the wedding to take place, the baby to arrive, the vacation to begin, the school year to end…)

- waiting for the unknown: when we’re not sure what lies ahead (looking for a new job, hoping for a raise, waiting for the doctor to call with test results…)

If we are confident of the end point, does it make any difference in how we wait? I think it does. While waiting for the known, we can be excited, nervous, and even anxious…but these emotions are easier to handle because we can see a reasonable end point.

When our children were little, I remember waiting for Bruce to come home. I would be watching a clock at times, weighing the kids’ behavior and what I wanted to put up with, based on how long I had to wait. If it had been a difficult day, I would find myself dispensing just enough patience to get me through until he arrived. I was pacing myself, so I wouldn’t get too weary or faint…and this worked (at least sometimes).

But it’s entirely different when I can’t see what the end point will look like…or when it will come about.

If I’m not careful, I find that my ability to handle the waiting dissipates, because I become worn down by anxiety, by worry, or by fears of what might happen. In fact, I can become so distressed that I start to believe things will never change.

But as a woman of faith, that is when I am supposed to lean most heavily upon God. For Isaiah isn’t just telling me to “wait”, he’s telling me to “wait upon the Lord”. It is in waiting in relationship with the Sovereign, Creator God that I will find new strength. The Bible is filled with individuals who waited on Him to receive strength in their time of need, and I find myself examining the circumstances of these people for inspiration as my own time of waiting seems to grow ever longer.

Joseph – who was unfairly imprisoned for more than a dozen years – reminds me to persevere.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – who stepped into a fiery furnace – remind me to live with courage.

Moses – who led the Israelites for 40 years of wandering – reminds me to never stop trusting.

A Syrophoenician woman – who cried out to Jesus for mercy on behalf of her demon-afflicted daughter – reminds me to believe in God’s healing power.

Rahab – who hid the Israelite spies and asked to be rescued – reminds me to never give up hope.

Mary – who watched Jesus as He lived and died and rose – reminds me to live with a view towards eternity.

Even though I’ve waited for many things in my life, in this new season I realize that I need to learn how to hold more firmly onto the Lord. Isaiah tells me that as I wait for the Lord, I will fly on wings like an eagle; I will run without getting weary; I will walk without growing faint.

I’m captivated by that image of the eagle.

The powerful wings of an eagle enable it to soar to great heights, giving it an incredible ability to view things from a long distance. If I hold onto God more firmly as I wait, perhaps He will allow me to gain a better perspective. A higher perspective. Perhaps even a glimpse of His perspective that will help me better understand His unfolding plan for me.

Eagle chicks remain in the nest for more than 3 months before they try to fly; much longer than most other birds. What a great reminder that time in the nest provides comfort, care, and the opportunity to gain strength. It is essential waiting.

I feel so ready to step out of my nest, and this extended time of waiting can make me frenetic and anxious. But increasingly I sense that God is holding me back; that He is having me wait so that I can gain the necessary strength – physical, emotional, spiritual – for whatever lies ahead.

Because if I wait until He’s ready to let me go, then…and only then…will I be able to catch the wind and soar like an eagle.

- Julie