On Staying Rooted in the Storm {Guest Post}


I am honestly delighted to have my friend, Tina Osterhouse, joining me here today. Tina and I met in 1997 when we were serving with OM Ships in Latin America, young, passionate, tender and wide-eyed. She is a precious soul, who has walked through much in the 19 years since we became friends. It is a genuine honour to introduce her to you. Her writing at www.tinaosterhouse.com is beautiful, raw and endearing, as well as challenging and deeply relatable. Next week I will be a guest at her home online (amazing how all these things in our life weave together, isn’t it?), so please hop over and sign up so that you don’t miss it!


Several years ago, during a huge wind and rain storm, my neighbor’s tree fell on her house. The tree crashed right down the middle of their home. They moved out and did an entire remodel. The surprising thing was that the tree was so huge. Tall and big. I would never have imagined such a strong tree capable of falling over. When I asked some other Northwest Washington natives, they explained the tree had shallow roots from too much rain. In order for a tree to have deep roots, it needs long seasons of dry in order to give the roots time to go deep into the soil.

I’ve recently gone through several years of desert drought, and profound change, which ultimately culminated in a divorce. It’s been raw and frightening and absolutely devastating. I’ve moved at least five times in the last four years, across continents, from suburban to urban to rural, through language and cultural barriers, through sad farewells and new friendships, and finally back home to my lovely Seattle, where God is indeed making all things new.

A year ago, I was exhausted on every level. The strength needed to make some of the overwhelming changes taxed me at the soul level. If it weren’t for deep roots, I would have toppled over and crashed.

How do we stay rooted when we’re going through big life changes? How do we keep from toppling over?

It doesn’t even have to be a change you chose. Maybe you’ve recently lost a job, or a doctor gave you bad news and the cancer has returned and you’re not sure how to make your way through any more rounds of chemo. Maybe you’ve recently lost a loved one and you can’t bear the thought of living life without that person. Maybe it’s a simple truth that your kids are growing up and you have to accept a new season, one you’re nervous about. Or perhaps, you’re like me. You’ve stepped into change because you could no longer live with how it was, but now the cost seems unbearably high and you don’t know if you have what it takes to see your way to the other side…. Here are few things that have helped me.

Find ways to reflect and process your pain. People have a tendency to stuff everything down because we’re afraid of our dark feelings. The problem is, feelings find their way out in destructive ways if we don’t give our hearts permission to feel sorrow and anger, sadness and loss. It’s better to accept them, deal with them, and keep moving forward in the midst of them. Journal, go on walks, rant to good friends, scream at God. Name your pain. Own it so it doesn’t start to own you.

Find ways to rest. Sleep is actually a big deal. The entire world looks bleaker when we don’t sleep.

Pick a few close friends who will stay by your side and support you. I chose a few friends to stay in intimate contact with. It was too hard to tell my story to hundreds of people, so I made the conscious decision to talk to a few and be as real as I knew how to be with them and keep my world small. This was a good decision. I didn’t need a hundred good friends, but I did need a few. You aren’t an island. You need input.

Let God surprise you with friendships you didn’t expect. Ellen noticed on facebook that things were changing in my life and she reached out. We met each other years and years ago. Rekindling a friendship with a woman who knew me when I was twenty, really helped. She mailed me a small package with a Bible verse and a book that arrived in the most timely way. There have been others. People who have gone out of their way to communicate love and support. This is beautiful and healing and restorative.

And finally, I’d encourage all of us to find small ways to stay connected with God and to our faith. The last thing people need to hear when they’re going through difficult transition is how important it is to stay “in the word.” But, there’s truth there. It’s important to stay rooted to your ancient scriptures. I read the Book of Common Prayer almost every day. The Psalms. They seem to speak the words I can’t always find. It doesn’t have to be every day. It doesn’t have to be long or overly “spiritual.” But, I’ve found that a consistent time to read scripture brings a sense of stability and anchors me to God in a way that nothing else does.

How about you? I’d love to hear some of the creative ways you have found to stay rooted in the storm as you navigate your way through change …

If you liked this, you may enjoy these words about remembering how far you’ve come

Tina Bustamante: Rooted in the StormAbout Tina Osterhouse
Tina is passionate about living deeply and authentically. Through fiction, blog posts, and creative essays, she writes honestly about ordinary life and the way God meets us in our everyday circumstances and creatively weaves the sacred into them. After high school, she spent three years at sea on a ship that distributed educational literature to developing countries, met wonderful friends from all over the world, and eventually settled down in the Seattle area. She studied ministry and theology at Northwest University. Tina most recently lived on thirty acres in Southern Chile, and finally returned to the Seattle area in June of 2015. You can read more of her writing at: tinaosterhouse.com