Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Trees & an Easter Lily

Eight years ago we planted a tree in our yard in the spring; an Autumn Purple White Ash.

It was six feet tall when we planted it.

Oh, how we took care of that tree. We put a protective "barrier" around the bottom, we tied ropes to it in different directions to keep it pointing straight to the sky.

We faithfully watered the tree every day at first and then every other day for the first two years. We knew that we needed to keep the tree watered so that the roots would grow down deep instead of out and shallow.

This spring, I expect the tree to be over 20 feet tall with a full set of leaves.

"It was strong and beautiful, with wide-spreading branches, for its roots went deep into abundant water." Ezekiel 31:7 NLT

Across the road the in park, is a tree that has caught my attention.

This little tree was planted almost two years ago.

He's just a little guy. His trunk isn't very big, he doesn't have very many branches and to me, and he looks rather fragile when I consider the winds that can whip through our area.

No one has cared for this tree like we cared for ours. As it grows, I wonder if the effects of the weather will hinder its ability to grow up straight.

"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards." Matthew 7:26

Enter another tree.

Our Christmas tree. We planned a day to go with the kids to pick out our tree to a local tree farm. We had so much fun; riding on the wagon out through the rows of trees. Stopping in the area where the kind of tree we wanted was planted. Walking through more rows of trees until we found the right one. Cutting it down, taking it home and, well, you know the rest.

After the decorations were off and all safely packaged and put away for another year, the tree exited the house courtesy of Clint.

Later that same day, I walked out the front door of our house and down the two steps off our deck onto the driveway and there, right there, was our Christmas tree. Stump stuck into a deep snow bank.

We had a cold winter and enough snow, that this tree "stood" for a good long time; stood until the temperatures started warming up and the snow melted.

"...on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." Matthew 23:28

The Easter lily.

As I admire my lily I wonder why it is the "Easter lily." Maybe it's because the white symbolizes purity; maybe because each year there are new blooms symbolizing hope and rebirth.

This year, Easter was more than a day; it is a season for me. Like April in the midwest; the fields, for the most part, are still brown from the fall harvest; the trees have no leaves; even the roads bear the dirt and sand from a long winter. Things are still dead.

Jesus was dead.
In Hell...

Spring will come; leaves will appear, crops will grow, flowers will bloom.

Jesus conquered death.

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." Job 19:25

Which tree do you associate with? No matter which one you feel like, the Easter lily is for all of us.

I did find this on the internet:
These snow white flowers symbolize new life and hope.
The bulb of these flowers buried in the ground represents the tomb of Jesus and the glorious white trumpet-like fragrant flowers which grow from the bulbs symbolize His life after death. The snowy white color stands for the purity of the Divine Savior and the joy of the resurrection while the trumpet shape signifies Gabriel's trumpet call to rebirth and new life.

Friday, April 10, 2009

All Because of Today

Imagine what it would have been like to be Simon, and to have
Carried the Cross of Christ while following Him up Calvary.

What would it have been like to have endured the jeers and the cheers that swirled around
Him like a golfer’s gallery in hell?

What would it have been like to have shared in the humiliation of rejection as He was cast

out of the city as though He wasn’t good enough to remain inside?

What would it have been like to have felt the sticky warmth of His blood from the Cross on your skin?

What would it have been like to have felt the encroaching
horror as the place of execution neared?

What would it have been like to have looked up through the sweat that trickled down your face, and see the executioners who stood waiting impassively with hammers in hand?

What would it have been like to have the burden of the Cross lifted from your back as someone said, “This is His Cross; ;you’re free to go now,” and He was nailed to it, not you?

Carry the Cross. He promises that if you do, you will share in the power of His resurrection and the glory of His crown.
Taken from “Just Give Me Jesus” by Anne Graham Lotz

I can't possibly imagine, but today I'm trying to.
I want a front row seat today.
I need to get as close as I can.
I need to see the bruises and torn up flesh; smell the sweat and blood; see the pain.
And to see the look of love in HIS eyes when our eyes meet.

Simon's life was a life that was changed, I'm certain of that.
And because of the sacrifice that Jesus made, I claim that I am a life that is changed.

Tonight, at our church, our pastor is taking us through the Last Supper; communion will be celebrated as well. We won't be there.

We have a small Bible study group that meets together on the weekends, usually on Saturday's but this week we decided to meet on Friday. We will be sitting around a table sharing and talking about Jesus and how he is at work in our lives. Around that same table, we plan to share Communion together.

I am praying that once again, my heart will be changed.

It's Friday...but Sunday's comin!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Smarter than a Fifth Grader

When: Monday evening around 6:30 p.m.
Where: The kitchen counter/bar
Who: Me and my fifth grader, Cole
What: Tough love
Why: Cole's homework

Cole has never been that interested in homework and school can be difficult for him; but it shouldn't be. He's capable of doing well (at least "above average") but he just doesn't care. He has a habit of doing just enough to get by.

He's also gotten into the habit of lying about his homework and various other things in an effort to get what he wants (i.e. to go play with friends, play Play Station, watch TV, etc.) because he knows if his work isn't finished, tests/quizzes studied for, piano practiced, he doesn't get to do the other stuff.

On Monday evening, the scenario was like a re-run for me, and I was tired of trying so hard and putting more effort into his school work than what he does.

I don't regret my decision, but I do have some regret over the way I handled it.

I told Cole that I was not going to push him to get his work finished or to study for tests unless he wanted me to help; then he had to ask for it. I told him I would continue to remind him to get his work finished but I was going to let him put the effort into it. At that point I was handling it well. Then I opened my mouth and said "I don't care if you want to do fifth grade again; it may be easier the second time around anyway."

Up to that point, his guilty conscience was getting the best of him and he was feeling very badly about things; when the thought of having to do fifth grade over again came out of my mouth, it was all he could take. He had to retreat to the safety and solace of his room.

I've had some time to process this and I've apologized for the ways I mishandled the situation. But I remain strong in my position; I'm can't force him to try his best. It needs to be his decision; and when (I'm thinking positively because he's my son and I want the very best for him) he decides to put some effort and heart and guts into things, I will be right there ready to help in any way I can; supporting him while he is trying to be the best "young man of honor" (that's what I frequently challenge him to be) that he can be.

This morning I realized that this scenario isn't really that different than my relationship with my Abba Father.

God can't make me want to be closer to him or make me do my "homework" either; so, he quietly (no nasty comments) and lovingly steps aside and lets me do things my own way.

When I'm ready, he is ready and waiting to help me to and be the best that I can; he forgets about the days, weeks, and sometimes months, that I've only done just enough to get by. He's just pleased that I'm putting in the effort and doing my very best once again.

I decided that I would have to share this with Cole tonight when I got back home hoping that it would encourage him and always wanting to bring Jesus into every life situation of his that I can.

I was dressed and needing to get out the door and on my way to work; a few more things to do and running out of time. And then...

"Tell him now," I hear from my Abba Father. And I did.

I was late leaving for work but arrived exactly on time.

It's another thing I've learned from my "studies": if I want to be a "here I am, use me" person, I need to surrender my schedule. Including the minutes that I gave this morning to leaving my calendar more "open" for other opportunities to present themselves. I have been intentional about not scheduling so many earthly opportunites (many of them "good" things) so that I am more available for the eternal opportunities. Like the one I had this morning.

"...when you seek me you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart..." Jeremiah 29:13