Tag: tree

When was the last time…

When was the last time you laid in the grass looking up through the branches and leaves of a tree? Or watched puffy white clouds float across the sky?

To be honest, I didn’t set out to ponder the universe. But after making it up the street to the high school and around the newly reconditioned track encompassing the football field I was beat.

Spotting a bench in the park on my way back to the house my intention was to sit down for just a minute to catch my breath. But the grassy hillside in the shade was so inviting that just moments after I sat down, I leaned back to take in the soft coolness of the grass and gaze up between the branches and the leafy-ness.

I found my thoughts drifting…the branches in the trees with the leaves at the end look so much like the structure of our lungs.  And as a lightning strike in the distance grabbed my attention, I noticed how much it looks like a neuron – a nervous system cell.

I marveled at how much of biology is repetitious with structure and function – like the leaves of the tree help it take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, and our lungs do the same for our bodies – take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide.

But also how no 2 fingerprints are alike and no two snowflakes either.  So much simplicity in repetition, yet so much complexity in individuality.

Made me realize how long it’s been since I laid down under a tree and just watched the clouds go by and pondered the universe.

And how little time kids have to do just that these days…with the minutes that aren’t structured with school and teams and clubs being filled with technology and video games.

Anyway – had a little communing with God about creation and wrote a short poem – dictated into my cell phone, and then came on home.

Here’s the start of the poem I wrote – You’re invited to sit under a tree and finish it – or write your own!

Thank You, God, for the sun
For making trees
For sending the breeze
Thank You for making the mountains so tall
And the sky so blue
It all points us to You

The beauty of the world
The puffy clouds
The gorgeous flowers
The highest peaks
The tiny bee
Amazes me for hours

The complexity eludes me

The simplicity astounds
The repetitiveness amazes me
and the diversity abounds

How about you?  When was the last time you just looked around and marveled – thinking about everything…and nothing?

Get outside this week if you can. Take in God’s Creation. And listen to what it says to you. 

 

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.

fall-1072821_640 (1)

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!

I want to be an Olive Tree

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What a blessing it was to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk and meditate and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I am forever changed by that experience.

 

 

115America is a fairly young country, so even our old buildings are not that old. Historically and intellectually it was amazing to see ruins and structures there that had stood for hundreds, even thousands of years. And to walk among those remains of buildings and walls that were there when Jesus walked among them was even more meaningful and resonated with me in a way that added to my faith.

Olivetree1

Seeing stones is one thing.  But to see trees, actual living things that were alive when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane was mind-blowing!

To know that two trees I stood near, sat near, were the same trees that Jesus sat next to 2000 years ago created in me a connection that was so intimate, it seemed surreal.

Our guide taught us things about olive trees I did not know.   And when I read this Psalm, it added a whole new level of understanding and meaning to all that an olive tree actually is.  And it becomes my prayer:

Psalm 52:8-9  NIV

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
 for ever and ever.

For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Lord, make me like a green olive tree in Your house –

– one that is alive, and vibrant and growing,

one that produces fruit in season

and has long deep roots that penetrate deep into spiritual soil

– one that is protected because I am in Your house O Lord

one that You care for individually

and tend to personally

making sure I have everything I need to grow strong

– one that is surrounded by others in a community, the way olive trees grow

so that I can persevere and remain strong even when winds come

– one that will stand, in the midst of the others for years and years and years to come

even as the olive trees that have remained in the Garden of Gethsemane are still living, for two thousand and four hundred years,

and are the same ones Your precious Son knelt by on that fateful night He purposed for Your will to be done in His life on earth

 

Let me be like the olive tree that is both beautiful and amazing to look at

May others see me, and see Your care, and be drawn to You through me

As the olive tree produces food to eat,

and oil for lamps,

and ointments for anointing and healing,

Let me be nourishment, and light and blessing and healing to those around me.

May I draw on the strength of the community of other trees You have placed around me,

leaning into them,

drawing restful shade from them, without comparing myself to them

knowing that there are times when we take, and times we give back

 

May I trust in Your lovingkindness for ever and ever –

olivetreegogmeeven when I am confused

even when I can’t see Your will at work

even when I don’t feel You present

even when the world denies it

even through tears and pain and sorrow

O Lord, May You continue to guide and guard, heal and bless my life with Your Holy Word.  And I will give You thanks forever for what You have done; and will hope in Your name, for it is good; and will give You praise in the presence of Your saints.  Amen

God’s Gifts on your Christmas Tree

I don’t know the author of this poem.  My oldest son, who is 40 now, came home with it from Pre-school 37 years ago.  And it has been a part of our Christmas ever since.

No other comments or pictures.  It is my prayer for you all.

I
pray
that you
will always see
God’s gifts
upon your Christmas tree.
You cannot touch them
with your hand
still they are there at you command.
They’re joy and faith
and hope renewed
with laughter for a happy mood.
And gratitude for each new day
with time to think and time to pray.
May the infant born
this Holy night
give grace to make your pathway bright
and grant that you will
always
see
God’s gifts
Upon your
Christmas tree.