5 Essentials to Thrive {The Grove: Thrive}

I stood outside the little noodle dive and waited. And waited. And waited. “It’s a little salty,” said one of the customers at a pop-up table by the glass door hinged open. Nick was at home with our tot after a long morning in language classes. The window for our lunch together was getting smaller and smaller as I approached my long afternoon of language classes and tutoring. Our simple lunch of salty noodles finally came through the door and I pedaled home as quickly as I could thinking:

We can do better than this.

I came home from class and tutoring, and it was time to serve up another meal. Nick and I exchanged the “what’s for dinner?” look and shrug. We headed out to a neighborhood restaurant. The tot recognized the ritual and exclaimed, “Rice!”

Yes, give us this day our daily rice.

Discontent lodged firmly within and between us about our food choices and time constraints, we began to reach for something better. That initiated an upward climb that emerged into a land named thrive.

The gate was our eating habits five years ago, but it didn’t have to be that way. There are other gates, be they time management, emotional health, spiritual practice, or relational harmony. Five essentials hinge them all.

Alignment. Make choices, large and small, that stem from what you believe. It’s not necessary to analyze every choice or reign in every impulse because the default is to choose what jives with the way you want to live. Alignment has occurred when you can do that with ease. Thriving begets thriving. If you reach alignment in one area, strands of another get tugged into place. We are integrated people.

Interconnectedness. Patty wrote a striking post about this concept in the early days of VA. The short of it is: I thrive when those around me thrive. It’s contagious. Therefore, I do not envy you when things go well, as though what you’ve obtained is no longer available to me. Nope! I dance a jig because I observe what I admire. That leads to distilling it to the core virtue, deriving principles for life, practicing and modifying to my unique person. Have you seen the comments in the posts this week? Ideas and advice and experiences and struggle and JOY. Thanks for doing the hard work to flourish right where you are.

Circumstances. These are shifting sands, which leave us working not so much with the materials of right and wrong, but rather of cause and effect. This is what Paul is getting at when he says that all things are permissible, but not all are profitable.[1] We are free to adjust our lifestyles and even change our minds according to our experiences and limitations. What is thriving in one season may be dead branches in another. Saw ‘em off, burn into ashes, and spread on the roots to nourish new growth. It’s easier, of course, when values transfer beautifully, or require minimal adaptation. Give thanks for those.

Paradox (two of them). First, it’s already there, in you: everything you need for life, flourishing and abundant, and everything you need for godliness, right living. It’s not yet because of your sin, the sin done to you by others, and the sin of the systems of which you are a part. Second, thriving is both active and passive. We choose and we act. We stay and we wait. This action and passion (to be acted upon) are not juxtaposed but in tandem.

Grace. It’s not about having enough control, being smart enough, or procuring the right kind of help. (This is not to minimize the fruit of the Spirit, nurturing intelligence, or seeking/receiving intervention.) It’s when the truer voices silence the liars. It’s okay, good even, and God is at work. Nothing more hopeful or comforting can be said in the pursuit of a thriving existence.

We can sum it all up this way. Being more fully human, like Jesus. Being more authentically the unique person God made. Thriving is not having all the little duckies lined up and pigeons holed. There are gifts in imperfection, after all.

I’m reaching again for wider opener spaces. I am looking for a gate, watching for those around me who are thriving, and confident that, “God will transform my dead ground into Eden, my moonscape into the garden of God, a place filled with exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs.”[2] May it be so for us all.

What’s been your gateway to thrive? What essential have you discovered?  


This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions.

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[1] 1 Corinthians 10:23

[2] Isaiah 51:3 (MSG)


  1. Kelly February 6, 2015

    For me to thrive, I’ve got to get to place where there is no guilt or shame in saying no. It goes back to that idea of how I assume people are perceiving me 🙂 And so when I can shift my attention to my Audience of One, that’s when I thrive. And also, this is my year to “tend”- and tending my heart, my family, my marriage, my home- is really helping me thrive this year as we prepare for baby #4. I’m trying to do the necessary work and still be kind to myself. Such a process!

    1. Kimberly Todd February 6, 2015

      An admirable word for the year, tend. I’m filing that one for a year to come. And yes, absolutely an essential, to be free of the guilt that drives us to say yes for the wrong reasons. I had an encounter with that one just this week…

  2. MaDonna February 6, 2015

    I’ve enjoyed this week’s theme, as it is my one word for the year! I’ve been challenged to thrive in all sorts of areas of my life, but the past month I’ve been pondering how to do it….that is what my post will be about once I get it finished and linked up.


    1. Kimberly Todd February 6, 2015

      Cool! I love synchronicity. Looking forward to reading your post, MaDonna.

  3. Monica February 7, 2015

    These lines really caught my attention:

    We are free to adjust our lifestyles and even change our minds according to our experiences and limitations. What is thriving in one season may be dead branches in another. Saw ‘em off, burn into ashes, and spread on the roots to nourish new growth. It’s easier, of course, when values transfer beautifully, or require minimal adaptation. Give thanks for those.

    I love this.  I wish I would have grasped this truth early on in my M life.  I resisted even the idea of new limitations or new opportunities, despite changes in my personal or family life.  This is tiny gem that I will hold onto and am writing down in my journal.  Thank you:)

    1. Kimberly Todd February 8, 2015

      Oh, you’re so welcome!

  4. Christy February 8, 2015

    I’m 5 months into my first time and feel like I’ve hit a new wall each month. Along with each wall is someone coming along and telling me that they just want to see me thrive here. But, it seems that each person who wants to see me thrive also has a different version of what they think it means for me. All good intentions, but confusing nonetheless. Kelly had a great point with the importance of remembering our Audience of One. And the line about “What is thriving in one season may be dead branches in another”? I’m finding out (the hard way it seems) just how true that is. The methods I’ve used to thrive -or just survive- in the past no longer work here and so it’s on to discovering what it means to thrive in this new season… Or at least allowing myself the time and grace to define thrive first and realizing that it’s okay to not know and need time to figure it out. Thrive can be an elusive little duck when all the other ducks are seemingly in line. I appreciated the points listed, especially the reminder about grace. I often find that grace seems easier to give to others rather than myself.

    1. Lauren Pinkston February 8, 2015

      Christy, I really like what you’ve written here. I’m only 10 months in myself, but can totally relate to hitting different walls along the way. I love how you’ve articulated that what ministers to your heart in one moment doesn’t at all in another, and I think that’s rich information to anyone hoping to speak into the lives of foreign servants. Good stuff!

      1. Kimberly Todd February 8, 2015

        Hear, hear.

      2. Christy February 8, 2015

        Thank Laura! While there’s a part of me that’s sad to hear you’ve hit walls (mainly because I know how hard and painful they can be) it’s also encouraging to know I’m not the only one.

      1. Christy February 8, 2015

        I did see that post! I’ve been spending lots of time reading posts over on A Life Overseas and here as well is one that I’ve read over and over). Both are encouraging and provide insight – or just shared stories- that help with this season, which leads me to believe they’ll help with future seasons.

        I think the root of my struggle with giving grace to myself is that I still struggle to understand God’s grace to me. It’s a realization a few years in the making and no quick fix is going to change my misunderstanding, but time and grace (go figure) will. One of the biggest things I’m realizing that helps in all of this- learning to thrive, take time, and show grace- is the need for a continual for resting in truth rather than anything else.

        1. Kimberly Todd February 9, 2015

          Oh, yes, that’s a good word. Thanks for linking.

          As you rest in truth, Christy, may God’s eternal word intersect with the reality of your experience, that you may be one with Him like never before. Amen.

  5. Grace L February 8, 2015

    I have really enjoyed the theme of thriving this week and it has had me thinking a lot about the aspects of our life on the field that have helped us to thrive here for the last 8 years. We share our house with a small handcrafts factory and have locals in and out every day. The only room that is exclusively for my husband and myself is our private bathroom off our bedroom. Even our bedroom serves as an office and we have people in and out all day. But somehow, by God’s grace, we ARE thriving!

    From the beginning we began to develop our kitchen and make it work well for us and the small group of employees who use it at lunchtime. We have many western kitchen tools and appliances and we love to cook and entertain. I think our kitchen is the heart of our home and hospitality.

    And second is that we have a small (local) dog that we are crazy about. Mimi goes everywhere with us and is well known all over our small city. I find it comforting that I can speak English with her and she understands us totally. When we have to travel, another family takes care of her, but we are ever so glad to return home to be with her again.

    Third, I must say that I am helped to thrive in this culture because my husband is such an extrovert,  and yes, I am more of the introvert. We both love the local people we are called to work with, but I like to focus on a few close relationships, whereas he just loves to get out and talk with everyone.

    Fourth, it really helps me to have a local (English speaking) friend that I can be myself around. These relationships take time to develop, but it is well worth seeking out. My current best local friend works in our factory with us and I was the one to teach her English. She went through a season of being very weak physically (and spiritually) and I had the privilege of walking with her through this. And now when I am weak or struggling, she is always there for me, encouraging me and feeding me God’s Word.

    Fifth, I have come to appreciate things that I can buy or do here that are not available in my passport country. And in recent years we have been able to buy many things online so our kitchen is always equipped with a great cup of coffee, or butter from NZ, or homemade bread.

    Yes, I think we start to thrive when we love being in our home overseas more than we would if we were back in our passport country. But this doesn’t happen overnight or in the first few months or even the first few years. But when God calls you to a place, one of our priorities should be to start working at creating an environment that will help us to thrive. For us, one of the first items we bought for our kitchen was a bread maker. It is still one of the main essentials for our home and our comfort here.

    1. Kimberly Todd February 8, 2015

      Thank you for these specifics! It’s so helpful to hear about your environment and the people and pup that make it “work.”

  6. Lindsy Wallace February 10, 2015

    I’m late to the party but am so grateful to have found this community as I’m learning what it means to thrive in the midst of transition. The Lord is calling me to saw off my dead branches and burn them and it’s both beautiful and painful. Looking forward to linking up in the future too;-)

    1. Kimberly Todd February 10, 2015

      Welcome! Welcome! I look forward to seeing you around this space, Lindsy.

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