Be Like a Tree

After spending a few frozen days cooped up in our house, I ventured out into the snow-covered world courtesy of my husband and his faithful four-wheel drive vehicle. As he was navigating the hilly country roads, I was marveling at the beauty of the ice-laden landscapes. Everywhere I looked, trees were topped with thick layers of ice and snow. Even with only the filmy winter sun’s appearance, they were dazzling.

After a coating of ice had fallen, multiple inches of wet snow piled on top. Many of the trees’ limbs were bent low to the ground under the increased weight. Other trees had succumbed to the added stress and were surrounded with broken branches at their base, their limbs unable to sustain the storm without injury.

Life is like that sometimes. It comes with storms so harsh and cold that it threatens to shatter me into pieces on the cold, hard ground. Buried beneath the weight of my circumstances, I am overwhelmed. Disappointment, disillusion and heartache pelt against me, piling their heavy load upon my branches. How can I sustain such a storm? How do I bend, not break?

The answer for me lies in the scriptures. Psalm 1: 3 tells me that blessed is the one who meditates on the Word. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” In every season I must be connected to the Word. My roots growing deep into its rich soil, fueling my spirit so that it remains tender and pliable.

The book of Psalms is just one of the treasure troves of God’s promises. Promises written to me that feed my faith. They tell of God’s unfailing love and protection. Reminding me that God is an ever-present help in time of trouble delivering me from all my fears. So that whether it’s the blizzard’s blinding breath or the sun’s scorching rays, I can stand tall with supple branches, roots growing deep, drawing my life from the promises of God.

The best intentions

Today was the day I had originally slated to begin a juice fast. With the advent of the new year I had decided to set aside some special time to fast and pray. However, winter blew in a ferocious snowstorm which landed my younger daughter, her husband and their dog at our doorstep. So I made chicken and dumplings instead.

Oh, and I also may have baked a loaf of molasses wheat bread, too.

And about four dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Not exactly what I had planned, but you seriously can’t expect a household of people which includes a pregnant woman (my daughter, not me) to exist on a diet of juice and water when it is -17 degrees outside. We’re used to cold winter weather in the Midwest, but yesterday the temperature was actually warmer in Alaska than it was in Indiana. The land of igloos and sled dogs would have been balmy compared to what it felt like outside my front door.

So instead of fasting, I feasted. There’s something about a houseful of family that beckons me to the kitchen. A homemaker at heart, I love to cook from scratch and serve up heaping portions to whomever gathers around our big dining room table. I can’t help it. It’s like it’s programmed into my DNA.

But then, of course, I know that I was designed by an awesome God who put me together just the way He wanted. He is the One who placed the desire in my heart to love and care for others. And He is the one who taught me that by serving others I can show His love for them. So I’m not going to guilt trip myself into feeling bad about not beginning my fast today. The year is still young and there will be another day soon to devote to fasting.

Just as soon as those cookies are gone.