Rare Beauty

A rare beauty if one will look closely. Autumn gives way to winter with swift winds that stir the leaves and gray skies that leave a somber setting for the branches that lay bare. While the warm colors of fall have faded to brown remnants of leaves barely hanging on, there are stoic and majestic trees to behold. Look closer. Stripped bare of what once clothed them, there is raw beauty.
Now etches in the bark can be seen where the beaks of the birds did their work, pocket knifes left memories, and moss began to form a blanket. Once hidden, nests of sticks and leaves are clearly in view, no longer protected by the green fleshy leaves. Yet, the nests are safe in the embrace of sturdy branches, white now with age. There in the stalwart trunk a knot where the owls have made their home too.
Step back; breathe in the fresh coolness of winter. Gaze and wonder.
So it is with the life of a believer, seasons change, age brings a quiet wisdom, it is etched into a being. Suddenly with a swift wind a soul lays bare. Finally His work in the life of a believer is seen, because all of the splendor of outward works and deeds are stripped. There is a strength that has grown through many seasons gone by. What appeared to many a knot, or weakness, was used by God. Life's memories have been etched with every wrinkle that crowns those eyes and smile. Countless have found refuge, been received, into the arms of this dear one. To be sure, a rare beauty if one will look closely.

Mystery in the Dryer

    You know the familiar sound, yet always unknown. Click, click, click…small rattle. There is a mystery in the dryer with your clothes. Open the dryer to the heat, fresh smell of the dryer sheet, and then begin pulling it all out. What was making the noise? Hmmm…in this particular load an unknown pink cap, a penny (goes directly to our Rice Bowl), gum wrapper, the lone sock, a button, and a purple marker top! GASP, where is the marker?

P.S. In one week's time we gather at least enough change out of the dryer to provide 2 meals for a child in India. We put it in our Rice Bowl.

www.ricebowls.org    It's free, collect change, and feed orphans!

The Giving More Tree

One of my favorite storybooks is Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. A book with a telling tale of sacrificial giving of a tree to a boy that she loved very much. However, when my days of college were done, having used this particular book to teach creative writing, even math, I picked it up again. This time I was a mom reading it to my children. It struck me that after all of the love and sacrificial giving of the tree to each whelm of the boy, the boy learned nothing, but grew in his selfishness.
As a mom, I must learn to give more, teach my children well. So when asked to share at my children's Mother's Day program at school, I decided to rewrite my favorite story. This story from the point of view of a mom who loves the Lord and desires so much more for her children….hence,

The Giving More Tree

    Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.

"For you created my inmost being;

You knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful. I know that full well."

Psalm 139:13-14

And every day the boy would come and listen to the stories the tree would tell. And he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest!

"She will set a garland of grace on your head

and present you with a crown of splendor."

Proverbs 4:9

He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches, and eat her apples. The tree would tell him often, so the boy knew exactly from Whom she bore this sweet fruit.

"She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

Proverbs 31:26

And they would play hide- and- go- seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. This was often the precious time that the tree would spend praying for the boy. And the boy loved the tree very much. And the tree was happy.

"Her children arise and call her blessed."

Proverbs 31:28

Soon time went by, and the seasons changed. As the boy grew older, the long hours spent under the tree grew much less. The boy often seemed distracted, but the truth was ~ he was hearing every word!

Still the tree prayed, gently corrected, and seasoned her instruction with love.

"Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge."

Proverbs 23:12

All too quickly the boy grew to be a man, married, and had children of his own. He shared with his children the stories that the tree had told him. He prayed often, corrected gently, and seasoned his instruction with love.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."

3 John 1:4

Once there was a tree, and because of a mother…

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yield its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers."

Psalm 1:3

Chasing Waterfalls in the Rainfall

It was time to get away from the every day world, so my family entered one of our favorites - the mountains of North Carolina. The skies were grey and there was a heavy mist, but we know that waterfalls are worth chasing in the rainfall. In the thick woods of the Nantahala Forest there were waterfalls to be found. Beautiful trails (even in the rain) were everywhere. Once we decided on one, it wasn't long before the tall pines, aged oaks and young maple trees formed the perfect canopy along our way. The rain made the leaves of autumn all the more brilliant, they glistened their fallish hues. From a distance we could here the rushing of water, we knew we were getting closer. Finding our way over the small, mucky creek following that sound we went even deeper. Then an opening…there it was rushing with incredible might, roaring as it spilled over the top, sending a massive mist into our faces. It was Rainbow Falls. We stood for a while and gazed at her beauty, taking in deep breaths of the air, mist, and pines. Then we stood just listening.
Oh, but let's get closer! So we did. We hiked a little further and with some slipping and sliding we made it to a small landing right next to this majestic beauty. I do know that creation cannot even begin to give us a glimpse of God's glory, but at times it is a twinkle of His eye for me. Something about me always want to get closer, see the beauty from a different view…so we continued our hike. We made it up the wet roots, and rocks, following a narrow, rarely used trail until we were above the falls. There was nothing overwhelming to see from here, just the river gently flowing. But if you dare (and I often do) make your way out onto the rocks that jet out over just as the river makes its descent. Peek over to see the river go from a gentle flow to a river white, rushing, and quite loud. Suddenly I am back to being little me and reminded of the river's power…so I made my way back to my family.
We headed back down, making our way back down the wet roots, fallen leaves and slippery rocks when my daughter stopped in her tracks. She spotted (she is good at this, failed to mention the salamander we befriended on our way up) a perfect snail. His little home matched the leaves that he was making his way on. She picked him up, held him in the palm of her hand and then waited. There he came, peeking his head out. We wondered at the little creature, enjoyed him, and then put him back onto the leaves off of the trail. As we continued to hike hand in gooey hand, my daughter looked up and said, "I think I liked him just as much as the waterfall!" We will have to do this again soon, because chasing waterfalls in the rainfall is worth the views, both big and small.