Word of the Week

Recently in my porch sitting and children chasing and settling into my new home, I've thought a lot about this word: rooted.

Rooted: to establish deeply and firmly.

We often think of rooted in terms of gardening, don't we? We plant seeds in pots or in the ground and hope that their roots grow into a beautiful harvest. Or the case of my family these days, we are thinking a lot about roots in our grass growing process. Every night my husband goes out to water the lawn and checks to see if the sod has truly rooted yet? For if the sod doesn't take root in the dirt, our huge investment of grass for our yard will wither away (but so far mostly good!)

The guiding principal is this: when strong roots are present, long-term growth is possible. Without roots, the beauty of today simply is fleeting!

But have you ever thought about how your life has roots?

Recently, I picked up the book by Melody Warnock called This is Where you Belong-- a memoir about a family's journey to stop moving around the country with they got bored or wanted a new opportunity, but to intentionally claim a town as their place. In it, Warnock offers this:

People can be divided into three categories: the mobile, the stuck, and the rooted. We tend to focus on the first two—the mobile, who can pick up and move to opportunity—and the stuck, who lack the resources to leave where they are…but we cannot forget about the rooted: those who have the means and opportunity to move, but choose to stay…because they’re content where they are.

I really loved thinking through these three words: mobile, stuck and rooted. And then considering how rooted regardless of circumstances, is a choice. Sure we could do a thousand things but we can choose the path of stability and the long view.

For be rooted somewhere is to want the very best for it and to do your part to help its becoming.

Warnock writes of her journey to be rooted in a city in Virginia and all of its surprises. The more she sought give back to her new home, more it became life-giving to her too.

Kind of reminds me then of the scripture from Jeremiah about a group of people finding themselves living where they would have never chosen to live, yet the spiritual wisdom God gives them in a hard time is this: "Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."

I don't know where you are today in your satisfaction with your life geographically, vocationally or even in the relationships that surround you. But I do know this: there is an invitation to you to grow where you are.

How can you water your life with a commitment of "this is where I am" so that your roots lengthen this week?



Where do you belong? To whom to you belong? I've been thinking about this a lot this week realizing that . . .

Most of our definitions of what it means to belong comes with constraints like rules and regulations. 

If you want to belong to a gym, you’ve got to pay a monthly fee and sign a contract with terms of service.

If you want to belong to a neighborhood association, you’ve got to sign up and pay your dues (and not be late when you pay them!)

If you want to belong to an alumni group of the college you attended, you’ve got to show your alma mater some love from your check book.

Just this week, in fact, I attended a women’s organization meeting in my neighborhood—with the intend of possibly joining the group only to hear after: “Well, you seem nice, but here are 3 more things you need to do before you can consider belonging to us.” (Sigh).

And while the experience of belonging to something is what we all crave—often times the experience of trying to belong does not bring comfort to our souls.

The rules get in the way! Because what we miss is the feeling that we’re seen. We’re heard. And we’re loved. JUST AS WE ARE.

This past Sunday I preached on Jeremiah 31:31-34, a piece of scripture that has a lot to say about belonging.  Such was true because the nation of Israel was trying to find its way in post-exile living. They belonged nowhere!

Can you imagine the grief and loss? Their homes were gone. Their livestock was gone. Any authorities present to help them re-build were no longer in charge. It was the definition of living in an "out of sorts" way.

God interrupt their despair. 

And says this: “I will put my law within them, and I will l write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, and say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me.”

It was a total 180 degrees shift for this God who'd previously based relationship with his people on laws written in Stone, like the 10 commandments.

God says their relationship would no longer be something they had to figure out. Study well enough. Or honored in a particular way. Nope!

They’d know the LORD because it would be a part of their DNA. The LORD would be closer to them than they were to themselves, even. The Lord would be a key part of their identity.

God says we'd BELONG because of the LOVE written on our hearts.  

I couldn't help but draw from the work of Brene Brown at this point in my thinking about belonging.

One of my favorite quotes from her latest book, Braving the Wilderness says this about belonging.

"True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are. True belonging is not something you negotiate externally, it’s what you carry in your heart"

Such is exactly what God was trying to communicate to the children of Israel that day through the prophet Jeremiah.

Though their life was in upheaval . . .

Though they have made less than best choices for themselves . . .

Though they may not even know how to find their way back . . .

They belonged.

When I think about the courage needed church for the living of these days like the ones we’re in, I can’t think of a more powerful attribute of God to take with us than belonging.

For though we might wake up on so many days and look around our world and not recognition anything around us that feels familiar, we can be in relationship with a God is about the work of making things new.

We can be in relationship with a God who tells us we don’t have fret so much about acceptance from this authority person in our lives or this organization with prestige.

Because we ALREADY belong.

We can carry ourselves with this knowing. We can always come back to this centering point. God says you belong. You are enough. You are so loved.

It's my hope for you today that you believe what your Creator believes about you.