A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Signs of Life Change

Hanging over our back deck are the limbs of a large poplar tree. This tree and I have a love-hate relationship. In the summer I love that fact that it cools the back of our house, it gives almost an awning type feeling over our deck, and it keeps the birdie droppings that would normally cover our patio furniture to a bare minimum.

But just before this summer love relationship begins, a time of intense hate ensues. Every spring while the forsythia is blooming.....

...and the dogwoods are filling the eye with their delicate beauty

And the violets are coloring the garden with sweet smiling faces

....I'm thinking that the tree is in need of Paul Bunyan because there is not a single sign of life on it anywhere.

Then, as instantaneously as a miracle can happen, it undertakes a total transformation- all in the space of 6 days. I never cease to be amazed at how much the tree changes from one day to the next. So this year, I decided to catch it all on film.

Signs of life

At the end of what seems to be a dead twig sticking out of a dead tree, a bud suddenly appears. The bud is covered by a reddish pod. This is the first sign that the tree is still alive.
The bud appears to be covering a leaf.

Surprise, surprise!

But instead of a leaf, these things that look like the red woolly bears appear. Not anything like what I expected.

And they start to grow........


And longer.....

...until they fall to the ground, joining the pods that once held them and creating quite a mess! Now these woolly bears are quite annoying! The only joy we get from them is when we have a dinner guest who would like to eat outside and one of these caterpillarish looking things falls from the tree onto their head and they scream in terrified fright! Of course they are expecting to have a creepy crawler pulled from their head and then they find that it is nothing more than a tree dropping. Every year, we manage to find at least one squeamish victim. This year it happened to be our friend Liz.

At the place where the caterpillars resided, a shoot grows out. I honestly think that if I would stay up at night and just stare at one, I could actually see it grow because in the morning, I awake to find this....

...another sprout and another bud in another pod (#2), but this time the pod is yellow. Along with the appearance of this newest pod is a sweet fragrance which fills our whole property. I could sit for hours under that tree breathing in that sweet smell if it wasn't for the fact that the pods covering this new bud are covered in yellow sticky stuff that gets EVERYWHERE! And I mean EVERYWHERE!

It ends up on my patio chairs, and gets on our clothing. It sticks to our linoleum and nothing but clorox will remove it's stubborn stain. Pretty soon, the sweet smell of it is more of a sickening reminder that I will not be able to walk through my house without picking up a pod or two. I will not wake in the morning for at least a week without finding a pod stuck somewhere on my body.

But the worst part of the sticky pods is that they end up here....

And here...

And here!

As you can see from this next shot, the dog is not so happy with these pods. This is her recovering from yet another feverish session of pulling pods from between her toes and spitting them onto my carpet. They are a bit like Christmas tree droppings. You really don't want to run them through your vacuum.

Meanwhile, while I'm busy inside frantically trying to keep up with the pods, the tree is in yet another stage of it's total metamorphosis.

Inside pod #2 are..........................LEAVES! FINALLY!

In a matter of two days, they go from these tightly curled anemic looking leaves to this....

and then to this!

Now when I walk out my door and look up I see this....

And the love that I have for this tree returns! Once again I can spend hot afternoons under the shade of these wonderful branches with my feet propped up on a chair, a glass of lemonade by my side and a good book in my lap! HA! Who am I fooling! That NEVER happens.....except in my dreams!

Our tree is very tall. No matter what direction I am coming from, I can look and see our tree and know where home is. I can see it from the interstate and I can know, that is home! I can enter the neighborhood from town and immediately see our tree and it's branches gently waving us home!

I not a real "tree hugger" type of person, but as I spent time taking photos of the transformation of our poplar tree, I couldn't help but compare it to the transformation that God undertakes when He saves us from our sin. We start out just like our tree, dead, no signs of life.

Then God infuses us with life all the sudden something appears in our lives that wasn't there before. It's the new nature, and all of the sudden it is evident to anyone looking that we are alive like we have never been before! What was once us has passed away and something new is on the scene! We, like the tree slough off the old nature!

Now usually, what appears is not what we were expecting. Just like I was surprised to see those those woolly bears, we are often surprised at what appears in our lives after we are born again. Some of it is pleasant, some of it is not.

We undergo a time of quick transformation and change just as those woolly bears nearly quadruple in size in just a few short days. Before we know it, God is allowing us to see that we are a sweet aroma of Christ to Him and the joy and peace that floods our life is like the sweet aroma of the poplar tree that fills our home, our vehicles and our property.

But at the same time, as God begins to illumine our hearts, we see that there are some sticky habits, some hidden faults, some stinkin thinkin that needs to fall away from our lives, and we have the tendency to think that we don't smell so nice as we once thought. But as we endure this stage of growth, we soon come to find God has a way of removing things from our lives that are hindering the growth that He desires for every believer and soon we find wonderful gifts starting to be revealed in our lives, just as those leaves uncurl, welcoming the warmth of the sun that is coaxing them to full maturity.

The final result? We too get to a place where we can bring shelter and relief to others. We can stand as a testimony to the plan and power of God to take us from a dead twig to a tree, planted by the stream, whose leaves do not wither! We can live strong, weathering whatever might come our way, without breaking. We can stand, as our tree does, gently waving to those who are seeking home. We can bring them in and shelter them and refresh them and show them the way.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful analogy. So much truth. I love to think that the same hand that created the heavens and the earth also knitted me together. I underwent a transformation in my life very much like what you just described. You were right on the mark! I guess we are all a work in progress, but it's nice to know that God has a plan for us! Thanks for the lovely post and stunning photos. BTW, cute dog!