It’s February. In our community, it looks, feels, and smells like springtime is here.

Recently, I have been focused on making all the plants that turned brown, or yellow, or frail in the winter months green again. I must confess, I am not really good at keeping plants alive. But the prospect of trying to bring things back to a place of strength that doesn’t actually hurt my world if I fail is a nice place to go on my rest days! I don’t know all the tricks. But I do remember, that water and sun are important, right?

Then I remember hearing something about fertilizer? Or was it making sure there was enough soil space? Or did I read something about rotating plants in reference to the light source?

Living in the Valley, with so many agriculturally savvy minds, I must be causing a lot of eye rolls. My apologies for disappointing. I’m in the beginning stages of learning. Last week I aerated the soil in my potted plants. I learned about this process by googling some of my sick plant’s symptoms. This week, literally only 6-10 days later, some of my plant babies have stronger leaves, and even fresh baby leaves sprouting up. It worked for a couple of my plants! For some of my other plants, I simply repotted them in a larger pot. This also worked! For some of my younger plants, I’m learning that they require more water than some of my “established” plants.

As I spend my Saturdays in the dirt, the Lord keeps quickening in my spirit about the soil of our hearts.

At first, when we are young in our faith, there is a certain regiment or level of discipline needed as the Lord is revealing Himself to us. At first, just attending church services regularly felt like my spirit was on fire for God! I was in it! I was growing and hearing fresh revelation through the pastors and teachers! It was incredible.

And then eventually, it didn’t feel like enough. Simply going to church, was no longer an adequate source of strength. I began to read the Bible on my own. (They told me to do this before, but I didn’t believe I needed to, considering how alive church services made me feel!) This began a new level of fire for me and my relationship with God.

As years progressed, in my faith, I learned to give financially, serve practically, and submit myself to mentors and leaders, and become a leader and mentor myself. These are all progressive steps in spiritual maturity. They did not all happen at once. I know my spirit looks different than it did five years ago. I require different habits to maintain my spiritual health. I cannot expect to continue growing fruit by just listening to others talk about God.

I am enjoying working out the soil of my heart.

Finding God when working through concepts like racism, or systemic poverty, or how to best care for those who are marginalized is requiring me to keep digging deeper, and seeking health in my relationships and perspective and calls to action. I am consistently seeking to know the next step of how to keep growing. I know that at certain times of my life, God is asking me to add something to my life, and others, He is requiring that I remove something. Growing in maturity requires something different today than it will tomorrow.

Like my plants, I need to keep working to figure out the next steps to grow.

Candace Cortez is the Youth Pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford. Comment may be sent to

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