All Trees Matter

All Trees Matter

A little girl with big blonde curls excitedly bounced along behind her mother as they searched for the perfect Christmas tree to chop down. They were hurrying along when she saw her mother step on a tiny sapling. She cried out, “Mama, you just stepped on a little tree!” Her mother turned around, looked down at the ground, and seeing the sapling that was squashed beyond repair, replied, “Oh, I see. Oops. It’s okay, it wasn’t worth anything. You couldn’t even hang a single ornament on one of its little limbs. Come along now. We need to the find the perfect Christmas tree.” They quietly continued along when the little girl was sure she’d discovered the greatest Christmas tree in the history of Christmas trees. “Mama!” she exclaimed. “I found it! Just look at this one!” Her mother gave the tree a once over and laughed out loud. “Oh, silly girl. This tree is on the brink of death. It’s not worth our time or effort. Come on, little one. We need to find a tree that is in the prime of its life!” She turned around and continued on with her little girl, clearly disappointed, trudging behind her. As they searched, they stumbled into the owner of the Christmas tree farm and he asked how their hunt for the perfect Christmas tree was going. The mother explained they had not had much luck, to which the farmer replied, “Hopefully we can find you something that you’ll love, but maybe you’d like some of these seeds to plant on your own land. It will take some time to grow, but by the time your little girl is old enough to chop down trees herself, she can cut down a Christmas tree from your own yard.” As the farmer handed some seeds to the mother, she promptly let them slip through her fingers. “Oh, I don’t want any old seeds. They aren’t worth anything right now. Sure they’ll grow into Christmas trees, but they’ll be too much work. The little trees and the old trees you’ve got on your farm aren’t worth anything either. We want a perfect Christmas tree!” With that, the little girl began to cry, “Mama, am I worth anything? I’m little and can’t do much. And what about you? Are you worth anything? After all, you’re old!” Her mother, feeling a little embarrassed, kneeled down to look her little girl in the eye. As she wiped the tears from her rosy cheeks and held a tissue to her nose for her to blow into, she reflected on her daughter’s words. After a few moments, she quietly said, “Sweet child, of course you are valuable. And these trees all have value too. The little seeds that are planted will become saplings and the saplings will grow into beautiful Christmas trees. Some of the trees won’t be cut down for Christmas trees, but they will remain in the forest, adding value to its beauty, until their time to live in the forest is over. Yes, the trees are all valuable. You are valuable. And I’m valuable too. But, little one, I’m not old.” With that, they both smiled, stood up, and continued on their way, loading up their trees and heading home. They used the branches of the broken sapling to make a wreath for the front door and the old tree was the perfect Christmas tree after all. They even planted those seeds that once lay haphazard on the forest floor, and diligently took care of their little saplings as their appreciation for all trees, and all life, blossomed.

Read More

Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

Waiting Well (Even When It’s Painful)

I’m really not the best person to write about waiting well. I mean, I get antsy waiting for people to finish eating their dinner when I’m ready for dessert. And that’s a mild example. I try and work on my patience, but when I’m tired or hungry or don’t feel well or…well, you get the picture…my patience? She wears thin.

I’ve heard it facetiously said that you should not pray for patience because if you do, God will give you something to be patient about. I must have messed up, because I have been waiting on something for years: a child.

When my husband and I were first married, we were frequently asked when we were going to have kids. We would jokingly tell people “5-10 years”…as we get closer to 13 years of marriage without children, this isn’t a joke anymore. But our story isn’t really the focus of this post. Rather, the focus is on waiting well…even when it becomes painful.

In my own experience of waiting to become a mother, for many years, I felt patient. Given my history of lack of patience (see paragraph one), clearly this has not been a small feat. In Philippians 4:7, we’re told that the peace of God surpasses our understanding. In my case, the peace I’ve experienced while waiting for a child has certainly exceeded anything I could comprehend and can only be attributed to God. But after a couple of years of being in the adoption process, it has become difficult. Challenging. Painful. And like it is with grief, there are good days and bad days. Moments where I am perfectly fine and moments where I can barely catch my breath out of sadness or frustration. Thanks to God, I’m able to manage this well most of the time. But not long ago, after an already rough morning, I was meeting up with a friend when I became choked up about our current childless situation…this was an embarrassing and important break through.

I haven’t sat and cried with anyone over this. Yet, as a counselor educator and former therapist, I know how cathartic crying can be. How comforting it can be to share the burdens of your heart and hear someone say “me too” or even “I’m sorry and I’m praying for you.” Despite being a part of support groups and connecting with other parents in waiting and adoptive parents who have “been there, done that”, I have mostly kept my struggle to myself.

I hold back for many reasons: Because I want to be strong and I want others to see me as strong, because most people won’t understand and because I don’t want them to feel awkward, and because (and here’s the good news) I know this painful wait will come to an end. Oh how I look to that with great hope! This truth helps me cope with this difficult wait: God has a plan and this a part of it. Really, I think the best way to wait well is through prayerful anticipation that our wait will end and our prayers answered. By focusing on God, His promises, and His blessings, we are able to keep our attention on things other than our wait. Most of the time, anyway. And when the emotions well up and come out in the form of tears, that’s okay too. In fact, it’s a helpful release.

You see, it’s not really about being patient. And it’s not about holding back our pain. It’s about giving ourselves the freedom to be weak, because it is then Christ in us is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). And it’s mostly about holding on to hope that the wait will end. For whatever you are waiting on, the seemingly never ending day will be over. It’s worth waiting well for.

Read More

The Importance of Fathers

The Importance of Fathers

Reposting from Father’s Day 2015. Still as relevant in 2016. Happy Father’s Day!

When I pull up to my childhood home, I am instantly reminded of my time as a little girl running around the front yard catching lightening bugs while my daddy rocks on the front porch. I walk inside the house and it’s as if I go back in time where I sat in the living room watching the Andy Griffith Show with him. Out back, I am swinging in the hammock…or giving daddy a push. And I know that not everyone has these experiences. Experiences with a loving father who cares for, provides for, and protects his family…

The National Fatherhood Initiative sites many important studies on their website at www.fatherhood.org. They tell us that having involved fathers leads to an increase in emotional functioning and decreases risk of poverty. It results in improved behavior and less chance of incarceration. In fact, children with involved fathers are less likely to experience a teen pregnancy, obesity, or drugs. While there are certainly exceptions to all of this, the impact of fathers cannot be denied. And, yet, one in three homes with children is missing the biological father.

But there are good ones out there, and Father’s Day is a day to celebrate our dads. And while many are missing a healthy relationship with their dads, we do have a Heavenly Father. We have 24-hour access to Him! God never sleeps, He always listens, He always comforts. Psalm 68:5 tells us he is a “father to the fatherless.” He’s a father to us all, but for those without earthly fathers, I pray this message brings comfort on Father’s Day and all year round.

And, dads, please remember the incredibly important role you are called to have in your children’s lives! Please watch this beautiful video to serve as a reminder:

Read More