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Flourish: Creating Space to ThriveSample

Flourish: Creating Space to Thrive

DAY 1 OF 7


Within driving distance of my home is a fabulous botanical garden. Bursting with flowers and plants in every shade of green, this garden is one of my favorite places. Tension seeps from my shoulders the minute I step onto the property.

Something about nature soothes my soul and draws my heart heavenward.

I’m attempting to create a little piece of paradise in my own yard, though I readily admit I’m not the best of gardeners. I’m much better at killing plants than cultivating them. Still, I’m determined to grow (pardon the pun) in my horticultural skills.

God and I have had some deep conversations in the garden. Spiritual parallels abound where plants thrive. In the week ahead, we’ll explore some of these garden truths as I share my life’s journey from surviving toward thriving.

If you long for the abundant life and ache for more than white-knuckled obedience, I invite you to join me in the garden as we look at ways to flourish from the inside out.

Rooted in Love

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…

Dori’s words from Pixar’s Finding Nemo were like my mantra the year after my third child was born. Her inability to sleep through the night, along with my middle child’s night terrors, caused the little sleep I got to be fragmented and restless.

The nights were oh, so long, and the days even longer.

Just keep swimming . . . Make the next meal. Change the next diaper. Settle the next sibling squabble. You can do this. Bedtime’s just six hours away.

But guilt hung like a millstone around my neck.

I should have gotten up earlier for a longer quiet time with God. What’s happening to my discipline?

I shouldn’t have snapped at my son. He didn’t mean to spill the entire bottle of salad dressing.

I should feel happy. I love my kids and wouldn’t wish their little years away.

Or would I?

Seasoned parents said these years would fly by. That if I blinked, they’d be gone. Sometimes I tried blinking really fast, but the days continued to drag.

Outwardly, I plodded along, doing my best to keep up with all the things. But inside I steadily withered away. The abundant life Jesus promised seemed like a distant dream—a nice ideal, but certainly not my reality.

Then a series of events accelerated my inward shriveling. Within six months, our marriage hit an all-time low, I experienced intense burnout, and a spiritual leader’s betrayal left me questioning everything I believed. I felt like a failure in nearly every area of my life.

Yet there, in my driest of seasons, I discovered true grace—God’s favorable inclination toward those who don’t deserve it.

Oh, I’d heard about grace. I’d sung about it and even accepted it when I responded to Jesus as a five-year-old church kid.

But until my carefully cultivated good-girl life withered, I didn’t realize how amazing grace truly is. When all I had to offer Jesus was my nothingness, I discovered grace is not only for the repentant sinner turning to Jesus for salvation, but also for people like me—a child of God trying desperately to hold her Christian life together.

When Jesus stepped onto my scene, or into my life’s garden, He brought with Him zero condemnation. He didn’t scold me for failing to produce fruit or for questioning what I believed. Instead, He allowed me to experience His acceptance as I never had before. He dazzled me with His tenderness, His open-hearted welcome, and His compassionate understanding.

Like a wise and gentle Gardener, God showed me I’d rooted my Christian walk in the wrong place—in what I should do for Him, instead of what Jesus had already done for me. He took me, a shriveled-up plant, and transplanted me into new soil—the life-giving soil of His incomprehensible love.

Everything began to change.

Instead of focusing on a list of do’s and don’ts, I was free to relate to the God who calls me Beloved.

Instead of submitting to the demands of white-knuckled duty or soul-numbing guilt, I surrendered to God’s love as my daily compelling motivation.

Instead of swinging between feeling acceptable or unworthy based on my performance, I found rest in His unchanging acceptance because of Christ’s performance on my behalf.

This new perspective grounded me in the only soil fertile enough to produce a flourishing life.

It dispelled the pressure to hurry up and fix myself. It wiped clean the spiritual to-do list by which I had measured my worth. It set me free to respond to the God who has poured His love into my heart.

I began to thrive when I embraced the truth that I am already accepted by a Father who treasures me.

Personal Reflection:

How’s the soil of your soul today? If you’re shriveling inside, here’s my prayer for you:

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV).

Prayer of Response:

Personalize Ephesians 3:17-19, putting your name in place of every “you” or “your.”

Day 2

About this Plan

Flourish: Creating Space to Thrive

Jesus offers abundant life to those who follow him, but many Christians are stuck in the try-harder life instead. This seven-day study beckons readers into the garden and invites them to listen for the heart of God. Just...


We would like to thank Meredith N Mills for providing this plan. For more information, please visit:

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