Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Hatfields and McCoys in me

Now before you start worrying -- I'm not confessing to a violent murder (or pig theft) with this week's title, but I am confessing to a flaw in my character: a stubborn unwillingness to let go of past wrongs. While I come by the stubbornness honestly (I think my folks could easily point out stubborn streaks in the family tree), I'm pretty much alone in my ability to hold a grudge -- at least among my closest family members.

My struggle to forgive is not something I'm sure I want to air publicly, but Easter has convicted me to write about it anyway. Easter is that wonderful, joyous holy day of the year when we celebrate Christ's victory over the grave and the sacrifice he made to save us all.

His death on that wooden cross wiped the slate clean for all of us. His resurrection gives us hope of our own salvation. We are a forgiven people of God.

We are forgiven. And we are to forgive.
Just as we are forgiven, we are to go out and forgive those who hurt us. For a biblical reminder of this, check out the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11: "And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us" (Luke 11:4).

In recent months, my struggle to forgive some deep hurts has been difficult, especially because the hurt came from within my own church family, a family I have been part of my whole life. Hence my reluctance to even discuss it.

Aren't Christians all supposed to love each other and greet each other joyfully every time they see each other? And aren't we all supposed to join hands and sing Kumbaya? And in general put on a "Pollyanna" front to the world?

Fortunately not! However, for some reason, the world has created that stereotype of us, and so when the Church (big C, institution of Christian faith) fails in some very public way, non-Christians point to those examples to show that Christianity must not really work and churches must be filled with fake people and hypocrites. My argument to that is that being Christians doesn't make us perfect, but it should make us want to be better human beings.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weeds or Treasure

I spent the last week and a half in California on a whirlwind vacation with my husband, where we tried to pack in lots of different activities and destinations during our time there. One of my favorite stops was Yosemite, a place neither of us had visited before, mercifully still open despite threats of an impending government shutdown.

Talk about huge trees and waterfalls beyond my comprehension! If you have never been, go (and I say this to you no matter where you live in the world). Yosemite surpasses all of its hype. April means early spring there, and the waterfalls are competing to outdo one another with their flow of snow melt. The massive sequoias and grand boulders made me feel smaller than I've ever felt.

While at Yosemite, I found a quote from John Muir, conservationist and national parks champion, that I wanted to share with you:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature's peace will flow into you as the sunshine flows
into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness
into you, and the storms their energy, while cares
will drop off like autumn leaves.

We didn't have storms while we there (and fortunately saw no bears either), but I definitely felt nature's peace filling me as cares dropped off. Well ... except for that nagging fear about seeing bears.

Before even getting home, though, those cares started building back up. While we were away, we heard reports of devastating tornadoes through our city and state. I knew from phone calls, texts and emails back home that our friends and family were safe and that our house had not been damaged, but I also knew to expect some cleaning up when we got back.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Hi, folks,

I'm neglecting my computer while I recharge my batteries. Look for a new post next week, and in the meantime, I hope you find a few ways this week to recharge your batteries, too.

I'd love to hear what recharges you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

High stakes

I wasn't planning to blog about trees this week, but then we had a storm come through overnight with lots of wind and rain, and this morning, a cherry tree we planted just a couple of years ago was leaning over far enough that I was afraid it would fall over and die.

This has already been a rough Spring for plants in my garden. Varmints (chipmunks, moles, voles ... take your pick) claimed a camellia bush -- one that had been fairly young but thriving -- and yet another butterfly bush. It's enough to discourage this gardener. And truth be told, I have been channeling my inner Bill-Murray-in-Caddyshack, wondering just exactly where I might find squirrel- and bunny-shaped putty explosives.

So when I saw the cherry tree atilt, I headed straight to the store, not for explosives but for something to use as a stake for the tree. I also called my dad for help. I figured this would be a four-hand project, and his calm demeanor rubbing off on me wouldn't hurt, either.

The cherry tree now has a stake supporting it, one that will help the tree recover over the next year before it should be strong enough to stand on its own again. And that stake got me to thinking about how we sometimes need someone else's support to survive our own storms in life.

Who's there to pick you up?
The Bible says this about weathering life's storms:

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to pick him up." -- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)