God’s Message in a Redwood Tree

 

GLEN EYRIE - Garden steps

EL CAP in Winter color cprt

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Never pass up an opportunity to enjoy nature’s beauty ~ it’s the handwriting of God.” *

 

ED n Karl w giant redwood copyLast week we talked about nature speaking of God and focused on redwood trees. Those magnificent giants live hundreds of years, grow hundreds of feet into the heavens, and have roots as shallow as 5 to 10 feet. But those relatively shallow roots stretch 60, 80, even 100 feet out and intertwine, sometimes even fuse, with the roots of neighbor redwoods. They literally hold each other up. What a perfect metaphor for us.

Psalm 68:6 says:  “God sets the solitary in families” [KJV].  We’re born into families and seem to be wired to need others.  In fact infants recognize faces within hours, and are drawn to animated faces. When their adults suddenly presents a neutral facial expression, signs of distress are seen in children as young as 4 days old. **

ED climbing in JTAnd like redwoods, most of us thrive in a supportive community. This should be no surprise, I guess. Jesus has commanded “Love one another as I have loved you” [John 15:12, KJV].  We’re even told why He chose to link humans together:  Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.   [Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, KJV]

So how do we do this?  Here are just a couple examples:

In the Bible we read that Aaron & Hur held up the arms of Moses when Amalek fought the Israelites [Exodus 17:12].

Also when David and his men were hungry, Abigail generously provided food. [1 Samuel 25:18-20]

And from life ~ Years ago my young son regularly dragged the trash can belonging to our elderly neighbor back after the garbage men left it in the road.

A wonderful mom and an awesome friend, Ellen,  who’s been fighting a life/death health struggle for years, reaches out and mentors other young mothers with great generosity and love.

Katie Davis graduated high-school and went to Uganda to help in an orphanage during a vacation ~ and stayed, adopting over a dozen girls and starting a ministry that reaches thousands.

My friend Jill just held a dying baby who’d been left alone in a utility closet after an “unsuccessful” abortion. You can read more about her and other everyday heroes in my post from Feb. 4, 2016:  Basic Training for Heroes.

Many years ago, I suffered a miscarriage; and some months later my mother died. My friend Carol called and came by often, refusing to let me collapse into the black-hole of depression that beckoned me.

When my dad was still alive, he lived thousands of miles from us. Every time I went to see him, my sister-in-law opened her home for as long as I wanted to stay. Even from afar, she helped hold me up.

Ed + redwoods COPYLike the redwood’s roots, we reach out from where we are planted. There are countless ways in which we can be part of such a network of support ~ giver and receiver. And like the myriad, intermingled roots, each of them is important and amplifies the others.

Please share your thoughts. It’s another way we can intermingle our roots!  In what way has someone been part of your “root system” and held you up?

How can you be a steadying root for someone else? 

* poster seen on Tumblr

** http://www.parentingscience.com/newborns-and-the-social-world.html

Easy to think Christmas, but hard to act Christmas

“It is easy to think Christmas, and it is easy to believe Christmas, but it is hard to act Christmas.” [Act Christmas by anonymous]*

Christmas Tree Painting Scripture, especially Matthew chapter 25 gives me ideas of how to act Christmas. There I read that Jesus will say to some, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” because they fed, clothed, and in other ways ministered to Him. When they questioned how they ministered in such ways, he answered: 

“…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matt. 25:40

So it seems that doing Christmas is more about serving others, meeting others’ needs. Perhaps even sacrificial giving.

When my son was young, we started a tradition of hanging a stocking for Jesus. A dark green singleton that’d lost its mate. Humble, like Jesus. But throughout the Advent season it was a great visual reminder to think about what would make Him happy. We dropped in slips of paper identifying gifts given in Jesus’ name ~~ gifts of time, love, words, cookies. But also occasions we’d chosen to yield our way, our turn, our preference in favor of someone else.

Gift of a MealA couple of those early years were very lean, and we had need of help from Food Stamps or generous family and friends ourselves. Still we looked for ways to give to others. One year Karl added a few toys, a pair of jeans, and some getting-tight shirts to a box of food and homemade goodies we packed for a desperately poor family in our church. Late one night we nestled it on their front porch, rang the bell, and dashed away. 

Karl did Christmas the next Sunday after church when he glowed, telling me he’d seen the young boy of the family wearing a shirt Karl had given. Karl was thrilled—and never told anyone aside from me. 

Some ways our family has chosen to add to Jesus’ stocking is to reach out to homebound neighbors, bring Christmas cheer to those sidelined in the hospital,work with Angel Tree (a part of Prison Fellowship), or make donations in the names of our kids and grandkids to charities— Amazima Ministries, World Help, International Justice Mission, Heifer International, Sonshine Haven, or Samaritan’s Purse. 

Please share some ideas you have for filling Jesus’ Christmas stocking. We can all use some good tips. And may you have great joy doing a Merry Christmas.     

Believing Christmas versus Doing Christmas

“It is easy to think Christmas, and it is easy to believe Christmas, but it is hard to act Christmas.” [Act Christmas by anonymous]*

Scripture, especially Matthew chapter 25 gives me ideas of how to act Christmas. There is related that Jesus will say to some, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” because they fed, clothed, and in other ways ministered to Him. When questioned about when they had ministered in such ways, he answered: 

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’” Matt. 25:40

So it seems that doing Christmas is more about serving others, meeting others’ needs. Perhaps even sacrificial giving.   


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Creative Influence

Had a lively conversation this morning with my son about friendship and how great friends spur each other to new ideas, greater creativity. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were members of the same literary discussion group in Oxford, England ~ The Inklings.

Great art touches people. We want to see it for ourselves. We travel to it,study it, watch documentaries about its creation, learn ways to preserve it. No surprise though ~ God the Ultimate Creator has planted part of Himself in us and I believe our creativity is one slice of that.

I love observing some of the forms creative expression takes. My mother-in-law painted portraits & landscapes in oils and watercolors~~also pictures or designs on clothes!

 

My cousin Ray, battling brain cancer for perhaps 15 years, makes lovely wooden vases and bowls.

 

Friend Kay leads a group called Creatively Connecting with God.

My daughter-in-law Sandy painted beautiful designs on furniture and makes any room into something lovely. I suspect when camping, her tree stump table has a few flowers or acorns on it at mealtimes.

Watching HGTV, you often hear home buyers say they want to put their own stamp or style on a house. Then there are the visionaries who turn a train car or concrete bunker into an amazing home. (Have you SEEN the movable apartment one guy has in New York City made from a garbage dumpster?!)

I’ve always been nudged to express things creatively—poetry, drawings, playing guitar—all mediocre, at best! :-) I worked with choreographer Liz Lerman who paints pictures with people in motion. Before spinal surgery restricted me, I made pictures with needle and embroidery floss. One of the oddest results of a burst of creativity was a chess set made from bits and bolts from the hardware store. That was fun! Now I paint stories with words.

 

I love seeing youngsters at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch have summer fun and paint horses, then give them great loving massages as they wash them. Amazima Ministries raises funds for programs to empower women in poverty in Africa by selling jewelry THE WOMEN MAKE.

 

There are likely thousands of organizations that help folks use their creativity to empower themselves, multiply its impact, and reflect God.

So, please think about how you express yourself creatively. (You do.) And the next time your youngster plays in a mud puddle then fingerpaints a work of art on the car, be encouraged—they are reflecting God’s image.

Doing Christmas

“It is easy to think Christmas, and it is easy to believe Christmas, but it is hard to act Christmas.” [Act Christmas by anonymous]*

Scripture, especially Matthew chapter 25 gives me ideas of how to act Christmas. There is related that Jesus will say to some, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” because they fed, clothed, and in other ways ministered to Him. When questioned about when they had ministered in such ways, he answered: 

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’” Matt. 25:40

So it seems that doing Christmas is more about serving others, meeting others’ needs. Perhaps even sacrificial giving.

When my son was young, we started a tradition of hanging a stocking for Jesus. It was just a dark green singleton that’d lost its mate. Humble, like Jesus. But as we went through the Advent season it was a great visual reminder to think about what would make Him happy. We filled the stocking with slips of paper identifying gifts given in Jesus name ~~ gifts of time, love, words, cookies. But also times we had chosen to yield our way, our turn, our preference in favor of someone else.  Continue reading