What You Need When You Have Been Uprooted

I feel like a repotted young tree, in new soil, new environmental conditions, and pruned back in order to survive the transition. Familiar places under which I received shade, close friends, 2nd mile church, routines and rituals of Cambodian life, are no more. I have been uprooted.

Probably the most important thing I can do following this transplant is to focus on my roots. Deepening them into the rich soil you always provide; your word, your people, your creation. And to give thanks for the existence of new shade in this harsh dry land; for our Australian families and sisters and brothers in love. And even a new school community for the kids. And of course you Lord. You who provide rain, sunshine, control the wind and sustain all that is needed for life.

I am the same tree, my core needs and desires haven’t changed, but I need to allow you time to see how and when I can produce fruit for others here, and the branches that need to grow. The nature of my fruit; my desire to help others thrive and honor what you have called them to do, probably won’t change, but my branches will and must.

A stronger and healthier domestic grace filled family focused branch is needed. Branches that provide shelter for others who need them and where birds make nest and joyful sounds abound. Branches that don’t necessarily look like the type of branches many Australians desire . . . may I choose fullness instead of busyness, rest instead of exhaustion, fruit to share instead of filling our own barns, and compassion instead of competition.

May I always remember that any growth and fruit is yours, existing to bring you glory and not my own ends. And Lord when you choose to crush and press my fruit, may I not avoid or resist these times. Help me to remember that out of your winepress comes new wine. And if new branches are slow to grow, don’t blossom, or fruits fall; still may I rejoice in you (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Lord may my roots and branches intertwine with Josh’s. May we provide shade, protection and shelter for one another. When one of us is vulnerable, may the other be strong. May our roots both deepen into your rich, love and life giving soil. May we know the vision you have called us to, in this place and a glimpse of what lies ahead, and even if it seems slow in being realised, may we wait faithfully for it. (Habakkuk 2:2-3).

And right now, when I am already hoping and dreaming about the branches I might develop, help me to remember that above all, my roots matter. In the process of being repotted I am still in a state of shock, as is our family. Knowing in advance one will be transplanted does not prevent one from the reality of needing to reconstruct a new life in new soil and unfamiliar conditions. And this is exhausting. So I ask for wisdom to know when to extend grace to myself and others to just be, and when to reach high and grab hold of what might be nothing, but hold on in faith until Lord, by your grace, it becomes something.

As you think about roots and branches, which are in need of some attention in this season of life?


  1. Michele Womble January 6, 2016

    Elisa, thank you so much for sharing this with us.  A prayer I can pray along with you – we’ve been uprooted this year, too – from a place that had very much become home for us.

    We are also still “in shock” and exhausted, all of us.  Thank you for the reminder that roots matter, and I need to give myself and the rest of my family grace and space to take root anew in this new (although temporary?) pot.

  2. Lauren Pinkston January 7, 2016

    Love seeing you here at VA! Thanks for writing this and sharing it with us. Sending love your way! <3

  3. Lydia January 7, 2016

    The phrase that stood out to me was “pruned back to survive the transition”. What an insight! While I have been bemoaning my lack of energy and inability to get things done, perhaps it has been a gift all along. My transition has been moving deeper into the culture, from living safely outside the village where we work to right in the middle of it. When we moved in October, I was four months pregnant and hoping for 2nd trimester energy that never came. I feel like I’ve been surviving on 30% of my energy – enough to do ministry, keep the public areas of our home tidy, and either handle dinner or dishes and laundry. I have so much more I want to do, but roots grow slowly and probably need as much rest as my growing baby. Running at 100% would lead to exhaustion, not growth… and this is the gift I hadn’t seen before – that I have been pruned for this season to let the roots begin to grow in new soil.

  4. Ruth Bryce January 7, 2016

    Hey Elisa, Love seeing your thoughts written here. Thanks for sharing – warms my heart! and lots for us all to ponder and learn from. Praying this prayer along with you.. Focusing on the roots is so important – courage my friend. Love you xx

    1. Elisa Pepall January 12, 2016

      Thanks Ruth… hoping you guys are all doing well. xxxx

  5. Michele January 7, 2016

    Thank you for your insights. There is a lot for me to meditate on here, as our years in overseas work have included a lot of moves and transitions.

    1. Michele Womble January 7, 2016

      Hi, Michele.  I just did a double-take, I thought you were me.  And I thought, “I don’t remember writing this…” but I COULD have written what you said….so it took me a second to realize it wasn’t me in the picture and to remember that I signed in with my whole name…

      anyway: hi!

      I’m Michele Womble.  Nice to meet you. 🙂

  6. Danielle Wheeler January 8, 2016

    This is beautiful, Michele.  My word for 2015 was “Rooted.” I chose it knowing it was going to be a year of uprooting for us.  The day we left our home in China literally felt like roots snapping.  Knowing it was coming didn’t make it any easier.

    And yet again and again through the year, I felt him reminding me to find my rootedness in Him.  I love the imagery of trees and all the layers of meaning that you brought up here.  Hugs and heartfelt understanding to you, for the pain and exhaustion of transition, and for the hope found only in him.   So glad you shared here!

  7. Jessie baxter January 11, 2016

    Hi Elisa,

    The lord was speaking to me about the exact same thing yesterday even giving me the vision of trees moving from pot to land as it grew. I have just returned home to Australia after 3 years serving in Siem Reap Cambodia and trusting in the Lord for the courage and wisdom to create a new life here in Brisbane with my sister and brother in law. I would love to catch up some more to encourage each other as it seems our journey is very similar. God bless xxx

    1. Elisa Pepall January 12, 2016

      Hi Jessie,

      Similar circumstances indeed. Feel free to email me at [email protected]. We probably have some mutual friends. Take care, Elisa

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