Friday, February 1, 2013

Becoming Children of God: A Story of Adoption

*shamed puppy dog face*

Sorry. [Insert sundry excuses here.]

It's definitely been awhile since I've written, and many exciting events transpired in the last 8 months. I celebrated a whole year with my handsome hunk of a husband, God called me to a new job, I was blessed to play the Audrey Hepburn role in a play, and I applied for grad school! However, the best event actually occurred in August.

My parents adopted two sweet girls! I have two new sisters!

Words simply cannot express my joy. (Perhaps, my feelings of inadequacy in this area contributed to my procrastination?) Throughout the two years we fostered them, we had naturally come to love them like our own. Several times it looked like CPS might take them away, and we cried out to God in anguish. "These are our girls! No one else will love them like we do." And we doubted God. If He were to send the girls elsewhere, how could that be the best thing for them? For us? Then finally, God gave them to us permanently.


Throughout the entire adoption process I was struck by the biblical parallels.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" - Galatians 4:4-6

If you grew up in the church like me, you are probably readily familiar with these verses. "Jesus died for our sins, and we're children of God now, yeah, yeah, I know," you might say. But do you? In the last 2 years, I have really come to doubt my understanding of being adopted by God. To realize the full implications requires more knowledge than I think I will ever possess, but my family's experiences in the earthly adoption process have brought me closer to understanding.

I literally could think of nothing else but this concept of adoption. We wanted it so badly, but it seemed so unattainable. And so when my turn came to do devos in Doctrines class, I decided to discourse on adoption.

Probably a bad idea. At the time, we were in one of those periods when we struggled to keep the girls. I was barely into my devo before I started weeping. Not just tearing up or crying, but weeping. It sounds cliche, but I possess first hand knowledge that "heartbreak" isn't called that because it's an analogy. I thought I felt my heart being ripped in half. My thoughts were definitely not coherent, but I do remember saying something like this:

"We love these girls just as much as our own family members, and the thought of losing them is just as painful. We want to adopt them so badly, it feels like we would do anything. God did anything. He sent his own SON to die for you. As much as we love the girls, I'm not sure we could do that. But God wanted you in His Family so much that He did. I cannot imagine the conflict He must have felt, and the pain. Don't you ever doubt God's love for you!"

Sometimes, I interact with people who are candid enough to admit they don't think they could love adopted children as much as their own. And sometimes, they even go so far as to hint that it's not possible. Deep down inside, all parents with adopted children must love their biological children more. Whether that's ever true or always wrong, I leave to you to decide. But I can assure you that in God's Family, adopted children are loved so much that the biological child was sacrificed in order to adopt them in the first place.

Whether Jesus volunteered for the mission or was voluntold, I cannot imagine that decision being an easy one to make and endure. And I wonder in the final hours of Jesus' life, if His heart really did tear in half - just like the curtain in the tabernacle. Giving you and me access to Him and a place in His family cost Him more than we can ever understand. How can I ever doubt His love or treat it casually?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Morning Glories

Morning Glories.

I LOVE them! I think they are absolutely GORGEOUS!

But it always bothered me that they would shrivel up in the late afternoon and die before the sun went down. You may think this phenomena is just the hazards of gardening in Texas, but it isn't really. I'm just in love with flowers whose life cycle naturally kills it off by the time I get home from work.

I need to start getting up earlier in the morning to enjoy my flowers. (Ha!)

As you can tell, this particular trait annoys me, and I had just about decided to rip them up and not plant them next year. But this morning as I got ready for work, my brain was in turmoil. I was deeply troubled with so many questions to ask of God. And as I walked through my arbor out into the world, God brought to my mind three precious Morning Glories:

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." (Isaiah 40:8)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

What Scriptural flowers!

Morning Glories die every day, reminding me to place my hope in the One who is eternally unchanging. Humans can be so silly. We place our faith and trust in other people. In what people say. In the government. In the teachings of man. In an exercise or diet regimen. In the church. The list could go on and on. But the point is this: those things don't deserve our faith, because ultimately, they will fail us. Only God is always trustworthy. Only he will never change. Only he is the victor now and forever.

You would think that someone who is so trusting (too much so at times!) would find it easy to trust God. I'm afraid that while I could easily say "Only God is trustworthy. Only he will never change. Only he is the victor now and forever" I don't always live this out. I worry. Constantly. But these flowers will hopefully remind me every morning that He is Trustworthy.

Morning Glories die to produce more fruit, reminding me that producing fruit requires sacrifice. My flowers are currently podding, forming seeds for next spring's blooms. (What foresight!) And I have to remind myself, that the beautiful flowers of next spring will not come to pass without the withering and torturous twigs of this late summer and fall. It's painful.

Likewise, the spiritual journey God leads us through cannot always be as colorful, fresh, and fragrant as spring flowers. Sometimes, it's tortuously painful. We have to make sacrifices in order to be more Christ-like and to be His salt. We will have to realize how undeserving we really are. We will not be understood or accepted by the world (a hard one for a people-pleaser like me!). We will have to recognize ugly truths about ourselves before Christ can better us. We may even have to face civil or physical persecution when we spread the gospel message.

But God promises, in his sovereignty, that the flowers of his followers do not die or wither in vain. A beautiful promise!

Morning Glories bloom anew every morning, reminding me of God's mercy and grace. I may strive for Christ's glory through withering and dying, but so many times in so many ways I know I fail. I fear the withering and the dying. I want to be accepted. I complain. I ignore my own faults while seeking out others'. I speak out of indignation instead of love. I diminish the gospel message because people are offended. I am unkind. The list here could also go on and on.

And yet, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning."  I cannot tell you with what amazement I read these words (but that doesn't keep me from trying!). I may fail to trust God, to become more like him, and to be the salt of the earth. But God is patient and loving. He helps me through my own fear and selfishness. And not just once! But as often as I need it.

Every morning.

The Morning Glories are here to stay: in my garden and in my heart.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Baby Gecko & the Dishwasher

"Who does the dishes?" It's the ultimate sign of a loving spouse or a lazy spouse. You know what I mean, it's in all the movies. Some woman whines to her husband because he never helps her with the dishes or better yet does them for her.

Because it's so hard to put dishes in a dishwasher and press start.

 Don't get me wrong, I think one should be considerate and look for ways to serve your spouse, but I have no sympathy for a couple who can't figure out who should put the dishes in the stupid dishwasher.

Be grateful, you whiny wife. Allen and I have no dishwasher. And to think, I used to like hand-washing the dishes!

Then one day - yesterday - I had a revelation.

I'm more or less trying to fry my garden at the moment. But when I do remember to water the garden, there is always a gecko hiding out behind our hose. I lift up the hose, and a gecko skitters across the wall and buries itself in my mini forest of a garden.

Yesterday, it wasn't Mom or Dad - it was a baby gecko! It was soooo cute. (And re-emphasized the fact that MANY people I know - and animals, too, apparently - are having babies.)

I was suddenly struck by an immense feeling of gratitude. I may not remember to water my garden much, but when I do, I know I'll be greeted by a cute little gecko family.

It's a small thing. But it's a wonderful thing. Something to make me smile, to make life unique, to make my home a home, to remind me how completely awesome and good God is. It's only a small gecko - a small blessing - but even a small gecko is still so complex! And when I think of the bigger and more complex blessings God has given me, it absolutely blows my mind.

God didn't have to put that gecko in my garden. He didn't have to give me a garden with more flowers than I can count or a wonderful patio to enjoy the summer evenings. He didn't have to give me a job with people who care about me. He didn't have to give me an amazing, handsome, hard working husband who loves me or a spacious two bedroom apartment with no dishwasher for our first home.

And that's when I realized. That whole no dishwasher thing? It's a blessing.

We've made it a policy to do dishes together because it's easiest to have one person wash and one rinse. Thus, all that time I could have been loading the dishwasher by myself, I've been handwashing tons of dishes whilst flirting with my husband or having an intellectual conversation (or both ;)

That gecko reminded me to relish the small blessings in life. Like having no dishwasher.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Insanity: Loving my Husband

"People do crazy things for love" my mom always said. In her case, she got married at 19 and finished college in 2 1/2 years. (Disclaimer: she does not recommend either of these things, and in fact, threatened to tan my hide if I ever attempted either.) However, I have to confess I never really quite believed this particular saying. Until I caught myself promising my husband that I'd pass his military PT (physical fitness) tests with him. (!!!)

Now why did I do that? Am I crazy? Well, yes, now that you mention it. Crazy in love :D

With that goal in mind, I also agreed to do a new workout with him that our church is offering this summer. It's called "Insanity." The workout, that is. Well ... and agreeing to do it, too.

To be completely honest, I'm kinda freaked out about it. In fact, I'm very intimidated by it. I'm the only girl doing it, after our first session yesterday I'm rather sore (and really unimpressed with my own endurance), and it's called "Insanity" for goodness' sakes!

I have a feeling that before the end of the summer I'm going to be very familiar with Isaiah 40:31:

"But those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint."

Out of context, yes. But you try a workout called "Insanity" and see what you use to encourage yourself to keep going.

I know what you're thinking. Seriously, woman, stop complaining. If you really don't want to do it that much then just quit. 

I'm primarily of Scottish ancestry. We don't just quit. 

But that's not what's really keeping me going. See, besides the obvious benefit of being in shape, there's also this thing called quality time with my husband that I'd really like to encourage. Surely, I could find another way to spend time with my husband? you say. Well, yes. I'd much rather do something else in terms of quality time. But as it turns out, he likes this kind of quality time.

What?! you say. Is he crazy?

Yup! Crazy in love :D

Recently, Allen and I have been watching a video series called "Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He's hysterically funny and does perfect imitations of the crazy quirks that both men and women have (I'd swear he lives with my family), but most importantly, he explains how biblical marriages are supposed to work by means of solid research and the even more solid Word of God.

"Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
- Ephesians 5:33

Now before you get your political and independent hackles all up, let me explain. (Believe me, no woman is more stubbornly independent than a Scottish one.)

This verse (and its context) isn't meant to suggest that women are inferior in any way. Rather, it is saying the marriages will work best when women feel loved and men feel respected. Think about it. Have you ever heard a man say in the middle of a fight "You don't love me"? Have you ever heard a woman's primary accusation be "you don't respect me"? Of course not. Because women want to feel loved in a marriage, and men want to feel respected in a marriage. Neither is wrong, and neither is inferior. They're just different, and that's okay!

This isn't to say that both genders don't need both love and respect, but just to suggest (again, with both biblical support and research) that each gender has a specific emphasis on one or the other. I can't go into the full explanation here, but Allen and I would highly recommend this video series and/or the conferences (my parents went to the conference). It won't address all of the nitty-gritty details (finances, number of kids, etc) that marriage counseling addresses, but it would be a great thing to do in addition to marriage counseling or together after you get married. For more information, visit (For those of you who know my parents, talk to them!) 

I'm kinda excited about this series, can't you tell?! But before I digress too much let's get back to why I brought this up.

I learned in this video series several different ways that would motivate my husband to love me more (which would in turn motivate me and then motivate him and then me and then him, etc, etc, in a wonderful cycle). One of these things was what is called "shoulder to shoulder" activities. The research results that Dr. Eggerichs put forth was that women generally prefer face to face encounters where they can talk and feel connected. Men typically prefer shoulder to shoulder activities where they have a comrade in their activities even - and usually, especially - if they're not talking.

So there you have it. I'm doing a crazy workout with my husband to let him know with assurance that I am his supportive comrade in his PT requirements, his career, and his life.

Is it crazy? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely! : )

Even if I don't lose a single pound or get any stronger or more fit, I'll know that I've accomplished something far more important: making a stronger and more fit marriage.

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
- Dr. Seuss

I'm totally there! (And I'm sure that doesn't have anything to do with how sore I am! ; ) I love you, Allen! <3

Friday, June 1, 2012

Clay in the Potter's Hands: Encouragement for Misplaced Clay

"You got some sun this weekend!"
"Yes! [*thinks* Tell me something I don't know] We went to a pool party, and we totally reapplied."
"That sounds like fun. Too bad about the sunburn. Hope it doesn't peel!"
"Gee, thanks!"

Multiply this conversation by thirty, and you basically have insight into my interesting life recently (*holds up sarcasm sign*). So, the purpose of this blog post is to inform the general public that "Hey, you got sunburned!" is not an appropriate follow-up to an amazing pool party; and thereafter, I will recount and bemoan all the superficial conversations that make up my day and beg that you do not speak to me unless you have something else to say besides "Hey, you graduated!" "You got some sun this weekend!" or "How are you?" as you walk right on past me.

Just kidding.

Though superficial conversations are a current pet peeve, I really just wanted to say "Hey, sorry for not writing for so long, but my life is incredibly uninteresting right now."

Yeah, okay, I wouldn't excuse me either. I'm just completely incapable of writing a blog post without attaching it to some cutesy funny story about me and revising and proofreading it a billion times. No cutesy story, no time, no blog post.

But I digress. This is supposed to be an experimental "couple of paragraphs long spiritual thought without a cutesy story attaching it to me" blog post. (Oops.)

The truth of the matter is, I've been feeling very much out of place lately and wondering if I'm really supposed to be where I am. Receptionist work is really boring, and definitely not my dream job. Heck, it's not even really in my field.

"You don't really want me here, God, do you? Are you sure? What about over there? That's more in line with the calling you gave me."

No answer.
"Gee, thanks."

And then one day, I hear a preacher tell a story, and I've been pondering it ever since.

"My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. I'm fairly certain most of my readers probably have a copy. You probably have two or three if you just graduated from high school, and you might even have a copy that is leather bound like a Bible. And even if you don't any copies at all, you've probably at least heard of it. (And if you haven't, for heaven's sake, go buy a copy!)

But I bet you didn't know that Oswald Chambers didn't write a single word of any of his fifty published books.

You see, Oswald was married to Gertrude "Biddy" and that made all the difference. (No, the moral of the story is not "get married". Though if you wanted to tack "to the right kind of woman" on the end of it, I might consider it.)

Biddy decided at an early age that she was going to be the secretary to the Prime Minister some day. So she spent most of her childhood days studying Pitman shorthand. She practiced a lot especially when she got sick, as she often did, with bronchitis. By the time she entered the working world, she could take dictation at the amazing rate of 250 words per minute!! (Girls, that's faster than you and I can talk.)

In 1908, for some inexplicable reason that this lazy writer has not researched, Biddy when on a voyage by ship to America. She met Oswald during the voyage, and they continued correspondence after they parted ways. In 1910, they were married. (Boys, learn to write good letters.)

And just like that, Biddy gave up her dream of being the Prime Minister's secretary. Instead, she and her husband started a small Bible college in their own home. Biddy cleaned the dorms (their house), cooked the food, and attended all of her husband's lectures and sermons to boot. And when Oswald decided that God was calling him to be a Chaplain in WWI, she packed her bags and went with the man to Egypt (!) and hosted soldiers in her house.

Sadly, in 1917, Oswald died of appendicitis complications leaving behind Biddy and their young daughter, Kathleen. Biddy sent a telegram to his family: "Oswald, in His presence" and chose the hymn "I To the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes" to be sung at his funeral. Having devoted most of her life to Oswald, Biddy was at a complete loss about what to do next.

Until someone asked Biddy for a copy of her verbatim lecture and sermon notes. (Evidently, it was well known that she was the teacher's pet and that she was that one student who took the best notes.) She, of course, complied. She transcribed her notes to regular readable English, sent off a copy to her friend, and returned to her desk only to discover still more requests for copies of her lecture and sermon notes.

As you might have guessed it was at this point that Biddy knew why she had been sick so much as a young child. Why she was so talented at shorthand. Why she had been given the dream to be the Prime Minister's secretary. Why that dream was never fulfilled. Why she was married to Oswald, and why she had given up her dreams to support his.

Biddy hand-transcribed 1500 printed pages worth of shorthand notes and, still refusing to take credit, had the 50 books published under the name of Oswald Chambers.

I am amazed. From a mainstream perspective Biddy's life was a tragedy. Because she sick. Because she had under utilized talent. Because her dreams were never fulfilled. Because she succumbed to that archaic and chauvinistic idea that a woman should give up everything for her husband.

And yet it was these very things that caused her to have the greatest impact that she could possibly have had. Tragedy? By no means! On the contrary, what a blessing! And what spiritual foresight she had to take advantage of the opportunities that God gave her!

I don't know about you, but I'm completely ashamed of myself. (Yes, I know, this wasn't supposed to be attached to me, but I'm officially declaring the "short blog post" experiment a failure anyway.)

I'm ashamed of how I've blamed God for misleading me into circumstances contrary to my calling instead of seeing how He is giving me an opportunity to be utilized. I'm not in my dream job, it's true, but I could still be making an impact by doing the best job possible. I'm ashamed of how unused my down time at work is. I could be learning a new skill, regularly writing spiritually uplifting blog posts (key word: regularly), exegeting a new Bible passage, or making those superficial conversations into more meaningful ones. I'm ashamed of how I've selfishly and callously complained to my husband about my unfulfilled dreams because I'm helping him with his dream. I should at the very least be remembering that he is "my new dream" and at most putting every effort into making his dream stellarly successful.

I have not, unfortunately, been submissive clay willingly being molded into beautiful useful pottery by the Father to serve his purpose. I'm not misplaced clay. I have been cracked and crumbly clay trying to ooze and squelch my way off of the potter's wheel, so I can try and mold myself into something better in some musty corner.

And I find it extremely disconcerting that the Potter is laughing at me.

But he's right. His plan is infinitely better than anything I could imagine. His intents are purer, his mold is better, his hands are surer. All I can do is hunker down on that wheel and wait to see what God does with me. And when I read this amazing account of Biddy Chambers, no fear is left in my soul. I can only be filled with wonder, excitement and eagerness to be used for his Purpose and his Glory!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Confessions of an Engineering Grad Student's Wife

#1: I sleep with my arms around his pillow because it smells like him.

#2: I get up in the middle of the night to plug in his phone which he drowsily forgot to do, so I can text him during the day.

#3: I secrete addictive ingredients in my cooking so he'll keep coming back for meals.

#4: I Facebook stalk him to find out how his projects are going.

#5: I struggle with the desire to dress drop dead gorgeously so he'll find it hard to leave.

#6: I learn to use a dremel tool so I can spend time with my husband.

#7: I do homework in an environment completely foreign to me - the lab - in order to catch a glimpse of him.

#8: I watch X number of old NCIS episodes hoping he'll come home before I fall asleep. (I won't tell you how many - this isn't THAT much of a confession! ;)

#9: I consider falsely telling him I'm pregnant, so I can recover a few moments of the attention his projects stole from me.

#10: I ponder acts of terrorism against the engineering building, specifically, the faculty office wing.

Ah yes. That last week of school, fondly referred to as: Hell Week. Unfortunately, for engineers - and especially for graduate student engineers - Hell Week seems to be a misnomer. Hell Month-and-a-Half seems more suitable even if it is a mouthful.

Finding time to spend together is quite a challenge and creativity is required. I have, in fact, cut out pieces of plastic for one of his projects (but between you and me, there's pretty much no talking to him at all when he gets fixated on an engineering problem) and he has, in fact, come grocery shopping with me as a "homework break." A few lunch dates here and there, and that should be enough to tide me over until graduation, right?

Wrong. Call me greedy if you like, but I can't help wanting to spend more time with my husband. Though I am immensely grateful for the time I do get with him, there's no one I would rather be with in my copious amounts of spare time.

Happily, graduation is only a week and a half away, so things should be looking up soon!

However, as I pity-partied myself to sleep last night, I was suddenly struck by the broader spiritual implications of my behavior.  I'll be honest, for many weeks I've hogged Allen's mornings with frivolous conversation or having necessary conversations or cuddling instead of reading God's Word with him. I wonder how often God wants to do something in our lives so we'll remember to spend the time we should and need to spend with Him. Is there something He's telling us with everything He does in our lives?

5th red light in a row. "Talk to Me about your uncle's hip replacement surgery." The wireless is down most of the evening. "Get off Facebook and your games and study My Word with your brothers and sisters." The dude with the loud diesel truck woke you up before your alarm for the 3rd morning this week. "Spend some time with Me this morning." That really annoying girl interrupted homework time and now she won't shut up. "Talk to her about Me. She needs Me."

Countless opportunities were lost because of my failure to be spiritually attuned to the Holy Spirit's direction and because of my failure to be as committed to getting time with Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church, as I am about getting time with my husband. I don't stay up late at night to spend time with Him, I don't value His Word like I do Allen's pillow, I don't consider blasting anything or anybody that stands between me and Jesus, I'm not greedy about spending time with Him.

How indescribably sad!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Tree

I hopped along behind my brother investigating every flower and ladybug on the way and inspecting the sky for the rude raindrops that dared to fall on my hair. Somehow, picking up ladybugs for pets and naming them seemed more exciting to my 7 year old mind than our mission: to find a branch.

Christmas that year was cancelled because the Army had stationed Daddy in Bosnia during the month of December; but since he was going to be back in time for Easter, Mom said we could have a Christmas/Easter celebration instead! I was glad because Christmas was my favorite time of the year. All we had to do was find a branch that would suffice for a "tree."

I looked skeptically at the branch my brother found amongst trimmings left by the dumpster. Dead and ugly, gray and bare, it hardly seemed an adequate replacement for the soft, green tree Daddy always chopped down for our Christmas tree. I guess Christmas really was cancelled, I thought. Reluctantly, I followed my brother back to our apartment wishing that we had found a better branch. I let the sky cast droplets of water on my head without reproach, and I tearfully explained to my pet ladybug why I couldn't keep her anymore.

Mom spray-painted the ugly branch white, planted it in a little pot to keep it upright, and we decorated the it with wooden Easter eggs we had painted. It didn't look too bad really. The white paint really helped. But still, it wasn't quite the same. Painted though it was, the tree was still dead.

The tree was forgotten when Daddy returned. I wanted to show him everything! The tree just didn't make the cut compared to my school projects and my new toys. Then, of course, came the wait for Easter. Mom tried her best to distract us with those strange Easter cookies that cook in an unheated and locked oven, but it didn't really work.

Finally, Easter came - and the biggest surprise of all! Our Easter tree was ALIVE!!!

Green shoots sprouted from all over. But how could that be? The branch had been dead. I was sure of it. I had never seen an uglier branch in all my young life. And this tree. This tree was beautiful. Instantly, I wished that all trees were white and had green buds on them.

I inspected the tree carefully wondering if this was one of my brother's magic tricks. The tree was white, the branches were the same, and the decorations were in the same place. Sure enough, this tree - the ugly branch that we had pulled from the dumpster - was one and the same as this beautiful, blooming, white tree.

I understand now what Daddy tried to explain to me then: Easter - not Christmas - was really always about a tree.

A tree that was solely used as an instrument of an excruciating and horrifying death. Nothing could be sadder or uglier than the cross. So bare, so dead, so red. Red with the blood of Jesus, and not my own blood which should have stained it.

Dead and useless, cast out to be burned, not even white paint could hide my true state. And yet, Jesus salvaged me from the dumpster. He took my hideous revolting sin, embraced the painful thorns as his own, and ultimately, he claimed my identity and my judgment: a tree of death.

Death failed to keep Jesus forever, and it will fail to keep me! From that tree of death sprouted the beautiful green buds of eternal life! His resurrection means my own resurrection!

"For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:53-55

Praise the Lord! Jesus has transformed me from a dead and useless branch, to a living and budding one. I can only watch with complete and child-like awe as he continues to nurture me - once a dead and cast out branch - into a mature and flowering branch.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.... By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."
John 15: 5-6, 8