Monday, February 21, 2011


I was in the back yard with my dad the other day. We were sitting in the sun on this unusually pleasant February day.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the snow had melted away.  My dad and I have been hanging out a good bit lately.  We talk about all kinds of things.  We retell old stories, we discuss politics (and by "discuss" I mean, I stay mostly silent while he rants), we talk about the future, we pick on each other and laugh our heads off.   Moments like these have been few and far between for us over the years.  My dad isn't much of a phone talker, and to be honest, neither am I.  My mom and I used to talk on the phone a lot, back when I didn't live in the next room.  Our conversations consisted mainly of her telling me the goings on around the town of Buckhannon, and I would say things like, "oh yeah?" and "mmm" and "okay, I gotta hop off here".  These phone convos with my mom weren't based on content, believe me. She didn't seem to mind that I didn't talk much.  These phone calls were her way of making sure I was home safely without saying that is why she was calling.  And my grunts in response were my way of saying, "I'm fine".   Some days I would receive a rare call from my dad.  Most of the time he would call when I was at work and would leave a message on my voicemail if I didn't answer.  I save every one of them.  When a man a few words speaks.  You treat every word like a precious stone.

Sad little tree
This particular day our conversation fell on the topic of this sad little tree in our back yard.  As you can see from the picture, it's sparse at best and half dead at the worst.  When we first moved into this house 16 years ago, that tree wasn't much better off than you find it now.  It was a little bit bigger than what you see now, but it was growing totally out of control and was in desperate need of some trimming.  It looks more like a dogwood bush than a dogwood tree.  My dad trimmed it back pretty far that year.  That first Spring so little buds appeared on it that my dad thought he had accidentally killed it.  But I remember him saying that he wanted to wait one more year before he dug it up.  The following year, a few more buds appeared, but man-o-man was this sorry tree a sight.  I was almost embarrassed to bring people into the back yard.  As the years went by, the tree continued to grow back bit-by-bit.  My parents eventually had their whole backyard transformed into this beautiful garden oasis.  They planted all kinds of gorgeous flowers and shrubs.  My dad and my brother built a 6 foot deep coy pond with a water fall.  Many weekend nights were spent in that back yard with friends and family.  I thought it was a little strange that at the center of all that wonderful landscaping was this sad little tree. 

I asked my dad why on Earth he never just dug it up and planted a new tree in it's place, he said this to me, "Well, I thought about it.  Each year your mom and I discussed getting rid of it and planting something new, but each year we decided to wait.  And each year it blooms.  When we first trimmed back all the dead branches, we thought we had killed it.  But you see, this is an old tree.  It's roots go down far and extend out all over the yard.  It can take a trimming.  We've done a lot of damage to it by putting brick around it and smothering the roots.  I'm sure some of the chemicals we've used to keep the brick clean have seeped into the soil and hurt the roots.  But...each year, it stills buds.  It looks dead, but it's not.  Nothing has killed it yet, so I'm certainly not going to be the one to do it.  Even though it looks bad in the winter, when the Spring comes, the blooms make it look full again.  It's a good tree."

If I had to quit my job and move home only to hear my dad say this.  It was all worth it.

No matter how bad things have gotten in our family or for us as individuals...we don't give up.  Our roots are deep.  Even if on the surface we don't look too pretty, and we struggle to keep blooming, beneath it all...we are rooted. 

Birds nest in the sad little tree
This last week, God has been showing me, over and over again to NEVER give up on the desire He has placed on my heart.  Don't give up.  Don't give up. Don't give up. Wait one more year.  Even if your dream isn't in full's not dead. Even those things that seem impossible...they will bloom.

As you can see, the tree is already starting to bud.  Another year is coming that we won't cut down this sad little tree.  Another year it will stand proud in the middle of our yard; half of it blooming, the other half waiting to bloom.  I have respect for this little tree.  It shows me that appearances aren't everything.  All I can see is what is on the surface, but there is a deep and mighty root system below this sad little thing.  Would you be so bold as to place your nest in this dead looking thing?  I suppose the birds know better than I do the strength in this old ugly thing. 

I look forward to another day of talking to my mom and dad.  The more I know about my roots, the more certain I am in how strong they are.  The more I learn about where I come from and who I am now, the more I am able to stay grounded in my faith and hope.  Some may say it's the fighting Irish blood coursing through our veins that keeps us going, but I know the truth.  It's the blood that Jesus shed for our lives that keeps us going.  I know this because I know what it's like not to have that life blood.  I know the difference.  My root is in His word.  His love and grace has allowed me to be grafted into his branches.  As long as I stay attached to His root, I will not be chopped down.  Because when we are grafted into His branches, our lives will bear His fruit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23



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