The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Monday, July 11, 2011

An excellent friend is one who more than waters.. she fertilizes.

Welcome home. We are so glad to see you.

The enormous stalks of sunflowers in my flower box seemed to be cheerfully whispering to us as we stepped into our backyard. I couldn't BELIEVE how beautiful they were. My daughter had wanted so desperately to plant sunflowers this year. I have NEVER been able to grow them. We had been watering them and watering them since April and still nothing. It seemed those stalks were going to grow up and over our fence with not even a morsel of yellow. I bid farewell to them before we left for our two week vacation and, even though one of my friends would be watering my plants while we were away, I figured they would simply die. I was wrong.

"I didn't think your sunflowers were going to make it so I gave them a little fertilizer. Hope that's ok," my dear friend, Melanie, texted me upon our arrival. "Welcome home," she said.

I clipped those flowers and immediately placed them on our kitchen table. My heart swelled in gratefulness. I have wonderful friends. Melanie is one of those wonderful friends.

She is a listener. She is wise. She is a servant. She engages. She is a mother and a wife. She is compassionate. She loves animals. She loves Jesus. She is a real person... with real struggles. She struggles with honesty. She wrestles. She fights for Christ. She is an excellent friend.

There are few excellent friends. An excellent friend is one who more than waters your plants. She fertilizes. What kind of friend am I? Am I caring well for the body of Christ? Am I more than watering? Am I taking the time to go above and beyond? Am I noticing dry, parched souls in need of more than I was "asked" to give?

Jesus says, "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)

I am so easily irritated by people. I long to love more. Jesus help me love the body. Help me notice those hurting. Give me eyes to see. Give me the wisdom to know how to more than water... to fertilize.

Thank you, sweet Melanie, for being an example of a friend... the kind of friend Jesus describes. You have poured more than water into our family over and over again. My soul is richer having been blessed by your friendship.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I am not alone. I never was.

I was running along the shore early one morning. I don't know why I was up so early on my vacation. I think sometimes God wakes me up when I need a "wake up" from life. He beckons me to spend time with Him. He is so good. It is a gift that my heavenly Father longs for time with me.. enough to come into my room.. into my sleep.. and call my heart to awaken.. call my body to rise.. stirs my soul to follow.

So I put on shoes, grab the iPod, insert the headphones.. and I'm out the door at sunrise. I run. I feel my ankles and calves adjust to the sand and continue. I turn down my music to hear the roar of the ocean. The steady crash of the waves. The call of the gulls flying..fighting the breeze. I, too, fight the breeze as it pushes hard against my body. On the beach I sense His greatness. I remember the Psalmist write about how God made the sea. How he fashioned the very sand with his hands. I look down. His hands were all over this ground I run upon. His hands touched it! I watched the water creep over beached shells, then retreat. Back and forth.. back and forth. Right now, He is standing and telling that wave exactly how far he can go. He is keeping watch. I think to myself. I gaze out into the horizon. Into the VAST horizon. God you are so mighty and big. You are so great and good.

It's been a hard week for my personally. There have been many battles the Evil one has seemed to have won. Christ has seemed smaller this week. But here, now.. as I gaze out, He is growing. Well, in my eyes again, He is growing. He has ALWAYS been mighty. I had lost sight of this truth this week.

My legs are getting tired. The sun is up and shinning and I'm getting hot. I turn back. There is a group of people gathered together along the shore. They, too, are staring out into the horizon. I look in their direction.

Dolphins. Beautiful, graceful dolphins rocking in and out of the water. This IS a wonder. I see the children point in amazement. "Look!Look! See?!!!" It makes me smile and I think about those dolphins.

We are like dolphins. Living in a world we were not meant to breathe. We must come up for air. We were not given gills for this murky, dark world in which we swim. We need more in order to survive. We do our best navigating through the broken shells and trash others have expelled in our waters. By His grace, we escape the nets. We avoid the predators. To the best of our ability, we keep ourselves moving and free of beaching ourselves. We are beautiful creatures. We come to the surface and breathe before we plunge back into the dark world. We do this because we were put in the water. We are not fish, yet everything else about us were created for water. So we live here, because our Creator for some reason, though it seems strange, has placed us here. We trust His sovereignty over this decision. His reasons are wise. So we continue, as long as we have the ability to come to the surface, we continue.. swimming right along with the other "gilled" beings. We have no place in the deep, deep places. We must be able to surface frequently. How beautiful it is when we do! Others watch and cheer us on. Others stand along the shore and watch in amazement.

And as I watch these gorgeous specimens of God's creation, I am reminded of the hope I have in Christ. Though feeling out of place as I often do, I am always provided air. Sometimes I swim too deep. Sometimes I don't take a deep enough breath. But the surface is there.. wide open. Like His arms. Like His strength. I rise. As I rose early this morning, I rise now on the beach and take a breath. I breathe in His life. Hope meets me here. Faith jogs alongside me as I turn and plunge back into my run. I am not alone. I never was.