I was at a youth meeting last week where a student leader was leaving for bible college. The pastor, his father was there to offer up prayer and support for his son. We started talking about him taking down 27 trees surrounding his home. Because the drought had been so severe for so long, the trees had a weakened immune system. Normally, he said, a tree fights off a predator over time by squeezing the invader out but instead the compromised trees were hollow on the inside and no longer had the strength to persevere.
Three years ago, I responded to an invitation. The challenge was to think differently about ourselves. We are women and entrepreneurs. A stay-at-home mom and host, she pitched the notion that if we could do anything beyond our current circumstances, what would it be? It was in the assumption that we could squeeze a bit more of ourselves outside of the toothpaste tube of our circumstances. Hers was to write. As we were really just acquaintances, I noticed on social media that her itty, bitty idea made the New York best seller list for her book last month. Effort, hard work and a mental determination to endure the opposing battle, her direction shifted as a result of a gathering.
For me, it was a silent whisper to reach others for the Kingdom of God - a lofty "church" goal in a handing out of ministry assignments. In actuality, perhaps it was more about my competitive edge but either way, I'm not the same person I was when I started this website. My roots are a bit more exposed, my witness a bit more transparent and my words a bit more silent. It was a stripping down of hard work and everything loud.
This video clip hit a chord with me: a subtle shift from hope to resignation. The father's astute attention to the elusive details of his son sought what every father knows - he may not become what he dreamed. Age and circumstances, the basketball is put in the plastic bag with a gentle shake and we are swept into the delicate crumbling of a man or woman.
I walked beneath a lush, green canopy; it was an umbrella of color where sunlight stretches it's afternoon warmth into a soft hue of petals of golden kindled light. The illumination sat suspended in a filtered whisper of droplets. I smiled yieldingly as it's covering protected all that stood within it's shadow. It was there I was free to wander unapologetically through the security of It's power. Through photosynthesis, the dialog between sunlight, leaves and air had me trapped within a contrivance transformation of a sweet unfolding blossom. I walked.
Exposed and tirelessly tough through the elements of wind and rain, the gathering of cords on the surface of soil and dirt lay ponderously across a hardened floor. Just beneath the surface, however, an intricate ruffle of tiny threads of agility whose aggregate absorb water and nutrients as well as anchor the tree upright. Most of these roots, 12-18 inches, lie below our watch but reach upward toward the heavens where oxygen is abundant. Still, others whose stability is found in it's depth may have a main root whose far reaching grasp may be 15 feet beneath the surface resting in deep, dark soil under that which we cannot see.
A wooden rib of cars on a four-lane highway. These tissues act as a means of transportation. It is a race to the finish where it's very existence is dependent upon a turnpike road of efficiency. There are many cells on the road, from the deep rich color of dying tissue, those internal truths we carry, the heartwood provides strength, the youngest sapwood providing enthusiasm and the cambium or the dreams where a thin, tiny layer of growing tissue produces new cells each season. It is an umbrella of armor within a barked skin of vulnerability.
Stepping out and being raw and transparent before friends has left a bit of tarnished bark upon faithful floors. It is a challenge to grow - but not to hinder the growth of others. The truth about me is an aching not to hurt anyone or anything. We have these caterpillars everywhere I walk these days; they head toward the path of footsteps that will trample. I endeavor to rescue them from their earnest pursuits. They coil at the touch which makes it difficult for me to grasp - i grip a nearby leaf to scoot it upon dry, brittle foliage in order for me to walk it toward green pastures of safety. It is a passageway.
Another truth? That my hard, bark-ish exterior will insulate a single tree but some roots extend far beneath the soil toward other trees in order to be stronger and survive the heavy conditions of fire and rain. God designed us to need and support each other toward a foundation of everlasting threads. Heartwood the deep, dark sap that help to form the centrical lines in a single tree trunk. Some rings harvest a legacy of 1,000 years or more.
We live in a world of teflon intimacy where we are scared to let others see barren roots and flaws. In my immaturity, I believed if I didn't let people know where I fell short or how I was hurt in the past that somehow I was protecting them. It was a job I took seriously upon shoulders of a tiny, frail leaf. It was me showing guns of muscle in a display of foliage. Integrity, responsibility, compassion: these are the spokes of an umbrella.
Christ is a rib in a tool of covering. I need to know - those I love are safe within the shadow of my prayers.
God sketched a world that is alive and vibrant under the crown of faith. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not just ingredients for a good recipe but are the life-giving water in a world where eyes are closed to the majesty of his presence.
Somewhere deep within my soul is a tiny root that grew with the tender hands of a child's heart pressing soil snuggly and lovingly around it's stem. It is a seedling that produces good fruit. We often say in youth group, faith is not just difficult, it is impossible without the holy spirit to guide us. The church pews nestle beside the strong roots of trees whose splendor is seen in their obedience to do what is right and true and whose trunks stand tall under tempest turbulent skies of blue.
I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
A layer of wood formed in a plant during a single period of growth. Growth rings are visible as concentric circles of varying width when a tree is cut crosswise. They represent layers of cells produced by vascular cambium.
I live in an area of California where the trees are dying. Dry and brittle like the leaves I use to lift up caterpillars, they are trampled or fall down in a deluge of water. I saw video footage yesterday of an entire firetruck toppling into a sink whole on a newly formed highway. I came home to one large tree lifted from it's dead roots lying on it's side barren and broken upon the surface of wet soil. The storms will come; we are promised that.
I escaped the foliage between roots and leaves in a small town in the hills. Fresh snow, I gathered myself in the morning light, just as the sun was rising. No people or vehicles, the trees were weighted with clumps of pillow-white mounds, their majesty was seen in their height, not as single trees but as a gathering of them reaching toward the height of heaven and I felt small. I stood still in the stillness, awe and majesty; I could almost taste the storybook sense of wonder. The sound was gloriously quiet as if a great orchestra was about to begin. Suspended - soft white flakes fell iridescently and gently toward roots that imagined themselves reaching upward.
It is day 2 under winters morning light. There are no longer clumps of white in trees as rain and sunlight have had their transforming way with them. It is a puddle of ice whose lines and circular markings catch my eye. It was brilliant in design! It is an articulation of transparency and vulnerability. One step and the ice is broken. I gather my thoughts against the ventricle circles of a tree.
With a dull window of clarity, I walk. A hot cup of tea around a narrow rim, i sip. Bundled beneath the warmth of layers, I place my clumsy snow boots into footprints much larger than my own walking toward the resting place of a gazebo with rays of warm sunlight. Worship music, prayer and God's word is woven into the ticking of the clock as I basque in the presence of holy ground. It is walking back that I notice smaller footsteps, a little boys boots beside his father - and I smile making my footsteps in snow. I smile because the most important part of the video is ... love. Even if the son doesn't become what he dreamed, the father embraces him with a love that is pure and true and the father smiles.
This month's post is about obedience. Yes, our dreams are important but not as important as the person God dreamed up when He thought of you. Without a doubt in my mind, my heart is filled with the truth that we are loved deeply and intimately by a God who knows our names. More often than not, I want my plans and my perspective but trees are made with the hope of strength and longevity to withstand the storms. If we are to be men and women of faith, then the wooden beams of a cross must matter.
The planting of a seedling immersed in the loving hands of a child whose sunlit faith is bright. Paul writes letters to people he cared about. By accident or design, you are here. I pray that you find a bit of Christ in these words. I pray that you are surrounded by people who will nourish and provide water for your soul ... and most importantly, I pray that those I love are better because they stand under the umbrella of an intercessor who prays on their behalf.
Crown: jewels rendering the things that matter
Roots: nourishment of God's word and his people
Trunk: the armor to protect invaders while we are in the process of becoming
This month marks a season of Lent. Out of the stillness of Winter, comes the anticipation of Spring. The discourse of our vocation is to furnish water and light upon bare and broken trees before it is too late. Infants are born with an abounding capacity to love but this world tramples and robs it's trees of the vital life-giving nutrients of endurance. If circumstances dictate an ability to preserve saplings into adulthood, then as mothers and fathers, we let go of our children not as the fulfillment of our own desires but a willingness for them to reach others for the gospel of Christ.
Our faith is not found in the security of our circumstances but out of the pain, we find hope. In the video, a father sees his son's reaction to a dream being trampled ever so slightly.
The secret of the gospel is found in it's simplicity. Courage is found in humility. Jesus was an example of God noticing trees, in the barren, broken roots far beneath the surface. In our own preservation, we cover up the roots so as not to become vulnerable to perpetrators that kill trees. Far beneath the surface, however, are roots gravitating toward other roots in order to survive. The crown, where the leaves and fruit are the result of roots being properly nourished, provide oxygen and shade. The cells within the trunk are a highway of communication, both vertically and horizontally, as a promise of eternity.
Our strength is found in the vertical and horizontal beams of a wooden cross whose nails are pierced through the roots of humanity; the sap was red and oozing. As women and men of faith, we stand in the vulnerability of barren and broken roots in order to notice other trees. Because for us, followers of Christ, the story did not end at the cross but in the three day journey and resurrection of Jesus on the third day where he again walked, talked and had fellowship with those he loved.
We begin with a simple truth: we are forgiven and loved - deeply. God sent his one and only son, Jesus, as an atonement for our sins and if we confess our vulnerability that we need him, then through the Father, Son and Holy spirit, we will be nourished to withstand the drought and rain.
We surrender the pursuit of our dreams in a journey to become who God dreamed. Therefore, it is a journey of becoming. We are in a season of Lent because we grasp, cling and reach ... for Easter. The growth rings stand as our marks of the cross. We love because He first loved us. 1John 4:19
May Winter make way to:
green fields of faith,
four-leaf clovers of hope,
and sunlight of golden love.
In His love,
Pictures provided by Fotolia
Videos linked from YouTube
Information found on Wikipedia
The parts of a tree are found: https://www.ncforestry.org/teachers/parts-of-a-tree/
A child's armor is found: http://www.dltk-bible.com/cv/armor_of_god.htm
Video 1: From the movie, Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 autobiographical drama
Video 2: From YouTube is by Minds Eye Design
Scripture: From Life Application bible
Stories are my own, copyright 2017
A person who searches for depth and beauty in the simple things.