Tag: leaves

God Speaks Through a Tree

When was the last time you asked God to speak to you? To give you wisdom?  Direction? Encouragement? Or even correction?

He speaks to me a lot through His Creation. And often trees have played a big part.  This year, this Fall, I’m hearing that it’s time to let go of some things, just like the trees let go of their leaves when the time is right.

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Not that I intend to strip my house bare of items we need to live, but there are some things that we’ve been holding on to that we could do without.

Beyond the physical items, there are more important things I need to let go of:  negative emotions, unmet expectations, anger, regret, hurts, disappointments.  These take up even more space in my life and have a greater impact on it.

How do you let go of past hurts and unmet expectations?  Unproductive attitudes and unresolved anger?

It starts with identifying them. 

smiley-2979107_640Set aside time to think about and write down where your mind goes along those lines and how strong your emotional response is to those things.  Make up a scale 1 – 5 and give each item a number according to how much it bothers you.  These are your leaves.  If you want you can cut them apart so that each issue/leaf has its own slip of paper.

Thinking about it, put a YES or NO by each one indicating whether or not there is something you can realistically do about the issue. 

writing-1149962_640Next write down what action you can take that may lead towards resolving the issue for you.  Praying is sometimes the only thing that comes to mind and is always a good step especially if you’re unsure how to move forward. I realize knowing what you can do and wanting to do it are two different things.   

On a separate paper, start another list.  These will be your branches.  If you indicated a YES, write down any lesson you’ve learned about the issue – like what hasn’t worked in the past and what you’re willing to try or do about the issue now.

female-865110_640If you indicated NO, write down something you’ve learned – a lesson so you don’t make the same mistake again, something you can do that will help you move forward beyond it, a way you can change your perspective so that it’s no longer so emotionally charged or even some unexpected good that has come out of it.

Here’s an example of a Leaf.  My kids moved far away to take a job they needed and it was my expectation they would always live close and I am disappointed, heartbroken.  Because I love them and it affects my ability to be with them there is a very strong emotional cost.  5 out of 5.  No, I cannot change this.

And a Branch.  Lesson learned: always show my love and appreciation while loved ones are near.  And what can I do?  Learn new ways to show my love and stay connected now: FaceTime, Zoom calls, care packages of food or gifts or just small items that say “I care,” cards, actual letters they can read, reading the same book or watching the same movie and then talking about it together, praying for them or even with them over the phone.

If you are the tree, the negative emotional issue is the leaf.  The branch that the leaf is attached to is either something you can do about it, or some lesson you’ve learned in dealing with the issue.

fall-foliage-1740841_640You can let go of the leaf – the hurt, the unmet expectation, the disappointment, the regret.  But you keep the branch – the lesson you learned, or the action you will take.  And the branch will continue to grow and bear fruit in the future.

autumn-212733_640To complete this Leaf exercise, gather your leaves, and taking one leaf at a time, read it out loud asking God to bless you as you name it and the negative response connected to this issue, and then let go of it, dropping it into a leaf bag to dispose of. 

As you drop the leaf, thank God for any lesson you’ve learned from the situation and ask for the strength to take the steps you’ve written on your branch for that leaf. 

Bag up your leaves and put them in the trash!

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Now take a walk. Ask God to speak to you through His Creation. Notice the trees, the wildlife, the sky whatever is around you that He’s made.

Ask him if there’s anything He wants to say to you personally about your life, your circumstances, your relationships, your attitude, or your behavior.

Ask Him to silence all other voices in your head that come from your own thoughts or from the world or from any source other than God.

And then open your eyes and your ears and your spirit to God alone.

When we listen…God speaks!

Is it Fall already?!

20180802_145757.jpegToday, walking out to my car, something yellow on the ground caught my eye. When I bent over to pick it up, I couldn‘t believe it! This couldn’t be a fall leaf. It’s still August! The kids aren’t even back in school yet. We are still in the process of figuring out who needs new notebooks, calculators, mechanical pencils and underwear!

Surely this was out of place – a joke someone was playing on me? So I looked up in the tree, and unbelievably, there were others just like it! – still green in the middle, but mixed with yellowing, and downright brown on the ends. I felt queasy, disoriented, like someone had put my life on fast-forward without my knowledge. I wanted that time back. This felt all wrong.

Why did this little occurrence upset me so?

The seasons change, I know that. It happens every year. And they always occur in the same order, so it’s not like it was totally unexpected. Yes, the days have been getting somewhat shorter, and the nights have been a little cooler to relieve the high temperatures of the day, but the leaves turning already?!

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There’s something to look forward in winter: Christmas break, hot chocolate, snowmen, the chance for a snow day at school, or a lazy, snowy winter day to curl up by a fire.

 

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And when that gets old, we can’t wait for exciting spring! A time when the earth reawakens: Easter, flowers, baby animals, light, hope. Spring is my favorite season: warm sunshiny days with cold nights to snuggle, the whole earth bursting forth with new life.

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And who among us hasn’t dreamed of and waited with excitement for summer? School is out, swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, no homework, and long, lazy days of watching the clouds in the sky…

 

So how does fall fit in here? I think of songs we usually hear around this season:

Will I See You In September – a worry that fall will bring the end of a love relationship – not a great ode to fall

Wake Up Maggie – about a guy who realizes in the fall he’s been led on and dropped by a girl.

When I was 17 – is about the years of life, but when he gets to the autumn of his years, the days grow short and he thinks of his life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, as he says “from the brim to the dregs it pours sweet and clear…”

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The problem is that this year I’m feeling a bit like I am in the autumn of my years too. The days growing shorter reminds me of so many things I might have done with my life – which I haven’t done. I’m truly feeling there are more days behind me than in front of me.

And it makes me feel a sense of urgency about things yet to accomplish, and a sense of loss about things left undone.

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I don’t see my life as vintage wine. Or in fine old kegs. And dregs definitely do not sound good.

You could say my teens and twenties were “spring-like.” There was lot a lot of growth – things to learn and begin – lots of enthusiasm and energy.

And in my thirties and forties, there was sure a lot of busy-ness – a lot to show for all my efforts: the children growing up, involvement in church, school and community, teaching classes. So much was going on. That’s typical of summer – everything blooming and growing, looking busy.

But fall? That’s a time for the leaves to turn and wither, and blow off the trees, leaving a barren look. It’s a time of coolness turning to coldness, and a gradual darkening of the days. And I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my “leaves “– all that I’ve grown, produced – my children, my projects, my job.

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Fall is a time to gather in the harvest: freeze it, pickle it, jar it, can it up for others to enjoy throughout the next year. Is it really time to gather in my life? Is it time to “store up” all I’ve done? I can’t imagine my life in row after row of bright, pretty jars on shelves.

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And yes, the leaves are beautiful in the fall. The colors are vivid and add to the panoramic grandeur of the view. And yes, you can collect the leaves, make arrangements, even press them between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their glory. But it’s a past glory.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” King Solomon examined everything – nature, man, wisdom, foolishness, wine, women and song. And he concluded his writings with “This applies to every person: Fear God and obey Him.”

If I can say I’ve done that, then it’s all I need to do. Regardless of the season. It’s not about how showy my spring and summer were. It’s not who has more cans on the shelf.

We sang a song Sunday that gives me hope and focus. “You [God] make everything glorious. You make everything glorious and I am yours – what does that make me!” In every season of life, I am glorious! I accept that, and trust the Father is with me always. He will guide me into and through all His seasons.  And I will do all I can to honor and obey Him.

click to hear:  See you in SeptemberWhen I was 17; You make everything glorious

 

Smart as trees?

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In Colorado, the trees are bursting forth! Some have pods opening to reveal the tiny green beginnings of what will be big beautiful leaves.

 

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Some have burst into blossoms in white and many shades of pink – from light pastel to deep maroon. Beauty is all around, and the signs of life reawakening.

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It didn’t happen two months ago, when the trees in Arizona popped out. It didn’t happen on the first day of Spring, according to the calendar. No, trees seem to have a God-ordained wisdom of the earth and time.

 

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They respond when the temperature of the earth gets warmer, and the hours of light get longer. They know when the time is right for them to bud, leaf out, blossom and produce fruit.

 

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And they recognize when the days get shorter and the temperatures colder, to prepare for winter. That’s the time they change the color of their pigment, let go and let the wind take their leaves. And then in winter they go dormant and store up energy for the coming season of growth.

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We, on the other hand, seem to have no understanding or even awareness of the spiritual climate we live in. We try to produce fruit out of season. We try to hold on to our stuff and be showy when we should be letting go.

 

We don’t take time to draw on our resources. We often want to run ahead on our own timetable, then keep all we have forever.

tree streamWe could be listening to God’s voice as He speaks in our ear – “this is the way, walk in it”. Yet, we don’t often listen for it. Or if we hear, we don’t obey.

There will come a time, when what is not productive in God’s heavenly economy, will be uprooted and burned. All that is “fruitless” will be stripped away.

To everything, there is a season. It’s time to ask God to show you where you are – what season you are in with regard to specific issues in your life.

Ask God to prune you where things have gotten out of control, or where you are not being productive. Ask Him to speak to you about new projects, ministries, opportunities to see if it’s the right time to move forward. Let Him show you if it’s time to let go of some things. Or simply rest. And be willing to listen.

With His help, we can be as smart as trees.

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