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*The Pruning of My Heart*

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If you enjoy this free email service, I encourage you to spread the word to family and friends that we may bring inspiration into the lives of many! If you are not on the list and this has been passed along to you, join the thousands of HeartTouchers.com readers around the world by sending a blank e-mail to:

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Visit our inspirational web site and read all the past stories in our archives at:
http://www.HeartTouchers.com/Archives

Be sure to check out our brand new inspirational list just for teenagers!

Heart4Teens.com

To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to: Heart4Teens-subscribe@myinjesus.com or visit:
http://www.Heart4Teens.com


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Good morning HeartTouchers.com readers!

Just wanted to let everyone know that our new little baby boy is doing extremely well, as is Kristi. Thank you for your prayers last week and all the encouraging emails over the birth of our third son last week. I will be sure to get a baby photo on the website by next week!

From my family to yours,
Michael


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The Pruning of My Heart

By Ginger Boda


I gazed out my kitchen window as my husband, Mark, climbed up his ladder to begin cutting away the bare branches of our Chinese Persimmon tree in our backyard. Watching Mark wield his saw this way and that way, as each leafless, fruitless branch fell to the ground, I caught his eye and smiled. In due time we would reap the efforts of his labor.

I let out a sigh and my eyes fell to the unwashed dishes I had been tending to. Staring into the sink, the tears began to fall from my eyes. I too, was being pruned, I thought. Oddly enough, around the month of February, trials or changes occurred that resulted in the cutting away of relationships, bad attitudes, transgressions, or all of the above. Recalling many of those "painful pruning seasons" that day, I shook my head in utter understanding.

Looking up once again, I remembered the first time we laid eyes on that odd looking tree just three years before. Its disappointing harvest, with only six persimmons, seemed to take forever to ripen in the fall. What use was that tree, except for a bit o' shade, we thought.

When February came that year, Mark chopped away at the barren limbs, without much knowledge of why he should, except for hearing that pruning was important. The bare branches, reaching for the sky, seemed to cry out for attention anyway. Therefore, he snipped and shaped away.

Through the next two seasons, our leafy tree did provide protection from the sun's torridity. Moreover, we noticed that not only were the leaves fuller; the harvest of fruit nearly tripled. My sister in law (who worked in a grocery store) recognized the fruit, informing us of its high-priced value. "Hmm," we thought, "how strange that something that seemed undesirable, could actually be of worth to others." Therefore, we bagged up the 15 pieces of edible solid mass, giving away most to our friends and family.

The following pruning season Mark went about his dutiful task of cutting away the empty outgrowth once again. By fall, our Persimmon tree produced such an abundance of apple-like sweet fruit, it took us hours to pick and bag it all. Amazing, we thought, from six pieces to over a hundred! Who would have known that to cut away -- is to bring forth?

While I stood there at my kitchen window, watching the barren limbs fall into their dumpster destiny for the third year, I clearly saw the handiwork of our Creator through the hand of my gardening husband. The verse from scripture popped into my mind:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit; he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15: 1-2.)

How many times had I struggled in uncomfortable circumstances, making the inevitable process more painful? How many times had I wept over my losses, unable to embrace their meaningful purpose? How often had I cried out to God to stop the pain, rejection and death that surrounded me, only to find myself a better and wiser person, for the experience?

Consequently, the pruning of my heart resulted in lasting lessons. Each time a piece of my fruitless life was cut off, I learned to blossom. Through the testing of relationships, I learned patience. Whenever a loved one passed away, I learned true empathy and compassion. Because of health afflictions, I learned to intercede for others more deeply. Whenever my feelings were hurt or my expectations shattered, I learned to let go and forgive.

A familiar verse; "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Prov. 7:17), finally made sense to me. Furthermore, if my life was going to produce spiritual fruit, I had to be pliable when God reckoned it was time to cut away the old and make room for the new.

In raising my own children, the human spirit appeared truly fragile to me. I remember taking great care not to break their spirits as I tended to their stubborn wills. Having survived that parental pruning, those young adults have often come to Mark and I, thanking us for many of those tough decisions we made when they were young. The fruits of our labor were evident in their lives; it was like getting a glimpse of the heart of God for us - His own children.

I looked again at our faithful Persimmon tree, standing dormant and still that day. The sun would shine through its empty limbs for a while, bringing nourishment and warmth. It would not look pretty for sometime, nor would it give shade. However, the day would come when its lush leaves would flourish once again, casting an umbrella of comfort against the heat of the day. Its abundance of sweet fruit would soon bless many that pass by, freely satisfying their taste buds. Those who knew its value would be grateful.

I wiped my tears away, and relinquished a nod of acceptance to my Creator. This trial will pass, I surmised, and I too, will feel the warmth and nurture of the Son in my life. Though some may view me as dormant for now, the time will come when I will be able to comfort and shelter others with the same comfort I have received. Therefore, as the next pruning season for me approaches, I determined to struggle far less, and trust more; I resolved to cry fewer tears, and endure with increased faith. I decided to "be still and know that He is God."

Yes, the pruning is necessary, but it is only for a season. I can hardly wait to taste the fruit of His labor.

Ginger Boda, 2/2004
Rhymerbabe@aol.com

Write Ginger and let her know your thoughts on her story!


Ginger is an award winning writer and contributor to various online publications, such as Heartwarmers, Write2theheart, Insight of the Day, Storytime Tapestry, HeartTouchers and Emerging Courageous. One of her stories is featured in Chicken Soup For The Bride's Soul, which was released in January 2004. Ginger weaves faith, tradition and humor into her stories and poetry, as she strives to lift the spirit and cheer the heart. She has penned her thoughts since childhood, writing mostly for her loved ones, until last year when she began to share her works with the public. She is eternally grateful for all the encouragement, friendship and "pruning" she has encountered on her journey. Ginger resides in Southern California with her husband, Mark and three grown children, Jason 25, Danny 22, and Alisha 20.



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Thought For The Day:

"Be careful of your thoughts: They may become words at any moment."


Verse for the Day:

"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." --Proverbs 22:1


Kid's Thought For The Day:

"Sharing isn't always the right thing -- like when it's Chicken Pox."


Parent's Thought For The Day

"Before I had kids I went home after work to rest. Now I go to work to rest." --Simon Ruddell


Coach's Thought For The Day

"Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day's work absorb all your interest, energy, and enthusiasm. The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work extremely well."


Writer's Thought For The Day:

"When I send things off to my publishers, it's a bit like cleaning my room and having my mom come up and say, 'You call this clean? Look under the bed.' I look under the bed and it's a mess, so I clean it up, grumbling, even though I secretly knew it was messy the whole time. And then the editor says, 'You call this clean? Look at this stupid poster up on the wall!,' and I look at the poster and say, 'You know what? I like that poster.' What we end up with is a room that's cleaner than my first draft, but not so clean that it's become a room in which I don't want to live." --Daniel Handler


Deep Thought For The Day:

"The longest wait in the world is when the nurse tells you to take your clothes off because the doctor will be with you in a moment."



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Have you been to the HeartTouchers.com website lately? If you like what you see and would like to have your own professional looking website, visit the link below. Bizstudio has been a wonderful service for HeartTouchers.com and with 345,000 visitors in the past three years, the website has been a tremendous tool in helping us to "Touch Lives, One Email at a Time." Although I had no prior experience building a website, I was able to create and build the HeartTouchers.com site easily utilizing Bizstudio's online editor. It includes an Online Site Editor, Unlimited Updates, Unlimited Pages, Professional Themes, Pre-Programmed Features, E-mail Accounts, and free Search Engine Submission. If I could do it with no prior experience you can too! Check it out at this link:

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MICHAEL T. POWERS
www.HeartTouchers.com

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
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Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever! Love, Trisha Silverhill, AL

Let me make you a video from your photos! Check out my video production business by visiting:
http://www.hearttouchers.com/video_imagery


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Would you like to see your story in HeartTouchers.com? Writer's guidelines can be found on our Web site here:
http://www.HeartTouchers.com/guidelines/
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Do you feel as if life has no meaning for you?
http://www.greatcom.org/english/four.htm


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The copyrights to the stories that appear in HeartTouchers.com are owned by the authors and are used with their permission. We refuse to run stories without the author's permission and contact info listed after the story. We also refuse to publish stories listed as "author unknown." (All of which violates Copyright Law and the rights of the authors.) This e-mail may be forwarded in its entirety, but please do not cut and paste the stories to be used elsewhere unless you have contacted and been given permission by the individual writer. Thank you so much for honoring the rights of those writers who graciously share their stories with us!

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Reading Books, Changing Lives!

For those of you who would like to purchase the books from the HeartTouchers.com bookstore via your credit card, you can now do so!

You can now order a number of different autographed best-selling inspirational books for the same price you would get them in the store, the shipping to you is paid for, and you are helping change the lives of teenagers and those they come in contact with! And best of all, every penny from the book sales are going to youth ministry!

http://www.HeartTouchers.com/books


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A number of people have written to us asking what an EBook is, since our book is being offered in both print and EBook versions. An EBook is a book that can be downloaded and read right on your computer. The advantage of ordering the EBook is that is costs less, $8.95 (No other charges), as compared to $14.95 + shipping and handling for the print book. Plus you can download the EBook and begin reading the stories in a few minutes! EBooks are read via Acrobat Reader, which is software that most of you already have on your computer. And if for some reason you don't, it can be downloaded free of charge at the web site. So for those of you who don't want to wait for the print book to be delivered, check out this web site to order the EBook version of Straight From the Heart "A Celebration of Life."

http://www.booklocker.com/bookpages/michaeltpowers01.html

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