It's obvious by now that I love trees, I notice them wherever I go. Trees teach. Nature has a way of proclaiming the creation and the wonder of its Creator.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
I've had times this last year where I feel as though I'm in a season of Fall in my life. My spirit sags after frosty days of frustration and limps along when I give into debilitating disappointments. When I allow winds of change to toss my feelings to and fro. Who can rely on feelings anyway? Leaning a little too heavy to one side when mom guilt or failures weigh in. Sapsuckers and caterpillars? They happen too when we inflict ourselves with the comparison and control of social media, leaving wounds weeping with 'not enough' ? Its easy to allow resentment to cause a hardening off effect. And then there is fear. It strips the leaves of joy and character right off the limb, leaving the soul stark , running for cover from the oncoming winter, and it can so easily seem like all else around is standing tall and strong, ready for whatever comes. Coming out of a postpartum phase this last year I can mark the seasons: a Spring and a hope with the beginning of a new baby, adjusting to newness of family dynamics. A Summer of tending and growing; wiping, changing, feeding, washing, cleaning, little sleep, long days and short nights. Fall follows, kids in school, the third a preschooler, baby not so baby anymore and sleeping through the night. Baby duties turn to busy tot running around. Husband has had a full plate this year and all around life has felt demanding. This season hasn't really slowed but maybe it's my heart that has and awareness to who I am or have been in the past years. I have felt the pressures of needing to be productive yet feeling empty, like my surroundings are grey and weather beaten around me. It seems as though the days of the last years I've done the what I had to do, but bigger projects too daunting, the want-to-do's falling by the wayside. Not feeling the liveliness that makes me tick, wondering where that streak of brazen flitted to and knowing I need to be rejuvenated. Like a depleted tree needs water and nutrients so need we the same.
"He is like a tree planted by water,that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit."
Sometimes it's care we can do for ourselves like a tree that conserves energy for the changing seasons and sends strength into it's roots as it prepares to rest. I've been reminded in the last while that it's important to take time for the things that make us feel alive. For me that was being purposeful outside this summer and enjoy the yard, either through gardening or some fun things with the kids or having
a coffee in the morning sun. A surplus yield of apples inspired me to make some extra pies and offer them for sale. It seems minor but it took some mustered up confidence to venture out with that. Sitting down to write today was a choosing to help myself; sorting out my thoughts and connecting them to what's happening around me. Learning to say no is ok too, or maybe stepping away from social media for a bit. The best thing I've done for myself is to choose to be more consistent in reading God's word. It's not always a continuous stream, some days just a trickle, but there have been many penetrating moments of reminding me of who I am in Christ, how to remedy where I've falling short and how to keep growing.
Trees are added to a yard to create contrast and and to compliment what else is growing beside. They lend shade to that which needs protection from the hot sun, a wind break for shelter and a refuge for wildlife to live. Sometimes our care and rejuvenation comes from the relationships around us, those that God sends in to lend a hand or maybe encourage through words. My week started off somewhat grey and went to bed one night feeling quite discouraged. Help came in the morning through a friends prayer and text of this verse:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
How timely that was for me and it changed the entirety of my week. That same day I was loading kids and bags into my car in the store parking lot, and a man came by in passing and simply said "you're doing a really good job!" He doesn't know that those words have stuck with me all week, reminding me that despite where I think my limbs look a little gnarly God sees the work in a whole different light. To the broken places he adds beauty.
Any tree grower knows that a good pruning is done in one season so that in the following seasons it will be stronger and give a better yield. A young tree is pruned so that it's roots are firmly established, able to support it for years to come. Early sacrifice for later bounty. In raising children we can especially relate to that as much time is sacrificed to train and teach our children to become productive and grace filled adults. We are driven to do this because of hope, for what we have in the present and what we hope for it to become. That's what keeps us growing, reaching upward to greater heights with thankfulness in the sway and bend in life and a prayer in the wind. So do what makes you your unique you, your blooms are different than the other flowers in the garden. Find moments to be ablaze with color, shining so vivid. Your Creator cannot take his eyes off you. He looks out of Heavens door and smiles. Lend that color to the ones growing and striving around you. Shine and hang on to that which remains the longest; the steadfast love of God. That which no one can uproot, that no season can destroy; so that those who behold it may be filled with hope. That when winter rushes in after the fall, the love of God lingers and remains, and that whatever fury the winter may bring there remains a covering of grace, giving rest for the roots of our being and a renewed trust.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose hope is the Lord.