alternatively :: A Conversation with Myself

Pruning is an arboricultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant. This practice usually entails removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, or otherwise unwanted tissue from a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplant, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. [source]

The week after Gideon was born, my father and Curtis James took out 3 trees on our property.  As an environmental educator for 10+ years, I taught others about trees.  I planted trees.  I built ropes courses with trees.  I did not cut trees down, I saved them.  The three trees in our front yard, however, were stunting the growth of the trees next to them.  In and of themselves, they were good and functional.  Over time, they had grown too close to each other- the result of poor planning 15 years ago.  We all watched with fascination as the two men’s-men got out the chainsaws, wench, Land Cruiser, wedges, and ropes.  They love a good project.  Ry still talks about hearing the trees fall.

Pruning is difficult, I think, because it requires shedding some really decent stuff along with the deadwood in order to re-invigorate growth.  It’s painful.  There can be scars.  It’s exciting to know change is coming, but initially there is a hole where a viable tree and its branches used to be.

You see the metaphor, I’m sure.

Last week, I sent out an SOS to the world… my local world… asking for prayer (for Ry’s speech and Gus’ foot), for time (to rescue Rylie during Gus’ many casting appointments), and for food (to give me a night off each week for the next month or so).  Not because we were dying.  Not because I couldn’t do it anymore.  Not because I had 7 children and a broken leg.  Just, simply, for help… to ease the journey. To make this crazy time simply a chapter in our life and not a Great Depression.  “To mainain and improve health, reducing risk.”

It took some serious pruning on God’s part to clear the way for me to send that email.  Was I desperate for help?  No.  Do we live 30 miles out of everyone’s way? Yes.  Do 80 bajillion other people have 2 kids and their own eggs to gather?  Yes.  What if something more serious comes up 6 months from now and we need big-time help?  What?  My community is only good for one meal in my lifetime?  One ‘help’ and they’re through?  They’re counting?  Shame.

Independence is good.  Grace under pressure is also good.  But, asking for help will not take down the tree.  It actually makes it stronger.  It’s ok to let others help.  It’s even ok to ask for help BEFORE you reach the end of your rope. 

I’m sorry for taking so long.

Thank you for everything.


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

16 responses to “pruning

  • Miss Laura

    How did I miss the absent trees when I stopped out? I’m always amazed that ordinary men can take care of CUTTING DOWN BIG TREES when they don’t work for a tree service with cranes and cherrypickers and such. (This coming from a girl who grew up around men who wore ties to work and pushed paper all day – who knew?) (Funny story – when I was a little kid I asked my dad what he did at work, and the only answer he would give me was, “I move paper from one pile into the other pile.” Now I totally get it.)

    Okay, so…pruning…I’m so glad you brought this up. I’m going to have to think about this, because I’ve been struggling to describe a few things I’ve been dealing with, and I think this certainly applies. I just wasn’t coming up with the right word. Thanks for that…and I’m so glad you asked for help 🙂 Good mamas need help sometimes so the people around her can develop their good friend, good neighbor, good family member skills. Did you know you were benefitting us, too? 🙂

  • Mandi

    What an excellent post! I have so much to learn about asking for help. (And about the process of pruning in my life). Thank you for showing me how it’s done. It reminds me of John 15.

  • Sunday Grant Photography

    goodness woman you are speaking to my heart yet again! I know we are having different struggles, but similar, and this just hits home with me. I am so prideful about asking for help and I have no idea why because once I get the help I can’t understand why I never asked in the first place. My friend commented on my post about Grandma saying it is good to be vulnerable because it allows for healing and I see that now. You are a good person there Katie. I wish I was closer so I could make you meals and take Rylie. I am still trying to figure out how to send you lasagna from NC. Thank you also for the last post that I never commented on. I am so sorry for sweet boy that he has to have so many casts and snowboards (although I think snowboards are pretty cool!) Thank you also for speaking about how he is going to have to “get his own sleep”. I am in that phase right now where Hollings is just going to have to work at it on her own for a little bit. Momma arms need a break.

  • Julie

    beautiful post. Men sure do love cutting down trees!

  • Jtp

    I needed to read this today…for my own reasons…thanks for reminding me to ask for help…people want to help. I wish I could send you dinner- but 3 day old Chicken Divan that’s moldy in the mail would not be very tasty….

  • Carley

    What a great post. So well said.
    Praying for you.

  • Callie Baldwin

    I think you are wonderful. Having chronic health problems is hard to deal with – I couldn’t imagine worrying about a child like that. I think it’s harder on the parents to watch them go through it and try to help and comfort them. (My mother – God Bless her- just wrung her hands and thanked Jesus for having an independent child (well- I was 12) that could somehow deal with it all herself)

    I wish I could ask for help too. I don’t know if my needs can be met than anyone other than God. But you have inspired me to keep at it and not to give up praying to Him for the help I need.

    Sunday, Katie and JTP- please accept whatever anyone has to give – no matter how small it seems. Even if its words from afar telling you all how beautiful and wonderful you all are and that it is okay and it’s going to be okay. Every Super Hero needs a little help sometimes- why do you think they have the Justice League? They didn’t hang around the Halls of Justice for the free donuts!

  • Suzanne

    beautiful indeed from

  • Susannah

    I’m so glad you asked for help- you’re a genius. And I was just reading my daughter a book (Brundibar by Maurice Sendak and Tony Kushner) and loved this quote: “ People are very happy helping. It’s never hard to find help. It is only hard to know that it is time to ask.”

    The tree bit also made me laugh. Do those men of yours then spend hours stacking the cut wood into pretty piles and calculating how many hours of burning they’ve created?

    • texasnorth

      s- do you know my husband? I mean, seriously? Because he CAN tell you how may burn hours are stacked out there. That’s part of the joy.

      And, that’s a great quote. I may have to do something with that.

      • Susannah

        don’t know him, but the more you write about him, the more i think that our husbands could be twins… maybe it’s an engineer thing?!?

  • stephanie

    i most certainly get myself all tied up in knots because i think i should just do everything myself. even when people offer to help, i turn them down thinking i should be able to handle this on my own. but then i get stressed, and become a not pleasant person, and my poor hubbie gets the brunt of that stress…and well, i need to learn this lesson too. Miss Laura is right…we all need the opportunity to develop our good friend/neighbor skills. not nice to rob others of that blessing. i’m sending you cajun delights in the mail. start drooling NOW!!

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