I Have Tree Questions

I am quite fond of trees. I suppose you know that already because I mentioned it in this post.

We have four trees in our yard — which is entirely too few trees in my opinion — but at least enough to attract a few robins in the springtime.

Oh, please come back soon, little robins!

Last summer our next-door neighbors planted this little evergreen tree.

 

I don’t know how the neighbors feel about it, but their tree brings me great joy each day when I stare at it through the window at my kitchen sink. 

How can a tree can be alive and green and growing despite bitter winter weather?

That’s a hardy tree.

Interestingly, Jeremiah 17:7-8 says people who trust in God are like hardy trees, too. It says,

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Four years ago in my Christmas letter, I said that said rather than growing like weeds, I want my kids to grow like those hardy trees in Jeremiah 17:7-8. I want them to be rooted and established in the love of Christ so they don’t get blown over by a storm or wither in a drought.

How do you grow strong enough to endure hardship?

Trees need water and sunshine and nourishment; likewise, growing souls need living water, light from the Son, prayer and lots of nourishment and encouragement from God’s Word.

What kind of tree am I?

What have I been trusting in lately? 

Am I helping my children to trust in God?

How can I help root my children in love?

Am I serving up nourishment and encouragement when I speak to my kids? 

Or I am just speaking in logistics? “Go here. Eat this. Put that away. Change that. Finish this.”

What does God want these children to be?

Will they be able to withstand the trials of heat and drought?

Will I notice when they bear fruit?

Will one be like an orange tree and the other more like an oak?

Okay, those were some deep questions. And we may never figure out all of the answers this side of heaven, but I had to share them anyway.

On a lighter note, Laurel has been dancing to this fun “Tree Song” by Ken Medema in her creative movement dance class. It’s so catchy. Listen and I think you’ll see why we like it so much.

 

Sunday School Dreams

I’ve wanted to teach Sunday School ever since I was a little girl. When I was still young enough to play with dolls, I would line them up on the floor in my bedroom and teach them whatever Bible lesson I had just learned the previous Sunday. The dolls behaved well in class, but they sure didn’t say much! Fast forward a few years to high school. That’s when, in the “dreams and goals” section of my senior memories book, I predicted that in 10 years I’d drive a green Ford Explorer, own a gift shop, be a published writer, and teach Sunday School.

Of course life doesn’t usually go as we predict. I never got the Explorer and I haven’t opened the gift shop. But nearly 15 years later, I am a wife, a mother and a published writer who is finally teaching a Sunday School class of real live 5th and 6th graders!

Well, co-teaching is more accurate. My friend Darla and I alternate teaching the lessons every other month. Darla is my hero, and we have a great class – seven boys and seven girls all together.

Sometimes the girls remind me of those dolls in my original class; they quietly stare back at me with a frozen smile when I ask them a hard question. As we teach them about the more than 700 names for God, I am certain we are learning more than they are.

But when these kids come to life, they are fascinating people! Some of them look up Bible verses with lightning speed. Others impress me with their diligence to keep searching until they find that elusive verse. Some of them brought us presents at Christmas, and one of them bubbled over with joy when I showed up at her piano recital. Each student is truly a blessing to get to know, and you quickly grow to love them.

Teaching this 5th and 6th grade class isn’t easy, but few things worth doing are easy. I spent hours and hours preparing the first time it was my turn to teach, and then my two-year-old got so upset about being left in the nursery she got sick! I was so disappointed when I had to ask Darla to cover for me. Looking back, I think that was a test to see how dedicated I was to the role.

It’s a joy and a blessing to volunteer in “The Oaks,” our nickname for the children’s ministry at church. It’s also a regular reminder to align my desires with God’s desires. I want Jeremiah 17:7-8 for these kids, and my own daughters, and my friends’ children. I want The Oaks to become hardy trees, rooted and established in the love of Christ so they don’t get blown over by a storm or wither in a drought. I want these kids to bear acorns of spiritual fruit for the glory of God. And when they reach the autumn of life, I want their branches to be ablaze with vibrantly colorful hues for the display of God’s splendor.

By the way, the curriculum we are using is from Children Desiring God (www.childrendesiringGod.org), and I think it’s excellent! We study God’s character, and there’s no sugar-coating it or watering it down. Over and over we’ve seen that God loves His name and will not allow it or His reputation to be dishonored. As my friend Carla says, “God is not a big fuzzy teddy bear; the last thing our kids need is another teddy bear!” Indeed! God is so much more: Strong Creator, Unchanging One, Almighty, Master, Provider, Healer, the God Who Sees, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord My Banner, the Lord Our Peace, the Lord My Shepherd, the Lord is There, the Lord God of Truth, the Lord My Defense, the Light, the Most High, Abba Father, the Word, Lamb of God, Savior, Messiah, High Priest, Cornerstone, Overcomer, Coming King, Judge, Counselor, and Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End.