Sunday, March 24, 2013

Gazing At My Tree

Although we have awesome trees in our backyard, I'm not talking about any of those trees. I'm speaking of the project my cousin (actually a few cousins) have been working on: our family tree.

Perhaps because my children are fascinated with the fact that we are indeed decedents of John Adams from my father's side of the family (I think), and the interesting fact that my grandparents along with all of my uncles, aunt and my mother were born in Palermo Italy, and according to documentation (and first hand account) arrived at Ellis Island in 1940, among other very exciting details of people in our lineage that keep coming up on our tree. It has made me think about how about my parents. I lost my mother when I was 10 years old and my father when I was in my 20s. I'm going to be officially middle aged tomorrow. My mother was not much older than I am now when she passed away.

I know..this is not a light and fun post. I'm about to change that - hang in to the end. As we prayed before bedtime tonight, my boys wished me a happy birthday, and thanked God for me, told me how much they loved me...I was keenly aware of the many blessings in my life.

Yes, I did live a very difficult life. My one cousin fills me in on some details of my childhood from time to time..and I sit back and mourn for that little girl. This little girl, who was being raised so tumultuously, who was placed in environments no child should ever have to endure. Yet...even in the worst of times, it is as plain as the nose on my face...the Lord had me in the palm of His hand.

I can remember the people he placed in my life that brought rays of sunshine in some of the darkest moments. That included my parents...both of difficult as it was for my mother during those years...she loved me deeply. There were others that God placed in my life too: camp counselors, Sunday School teachers, teachers, principals, friends, extended family....and I am who I am...because of their influence, their prayers and the Grace of God. (Oh Lord may we be rays of sunshine to others, may we look beyond their difficult disposition or the weight that they carry...and be a ray of sunshine to someone else!)

I can't help but think that 44 years ago, when my mother went into labor with me (and apparently almost died), that the Lord knew every detail of my life. The darkest moments as well as the rays of sunshine that he would place at those strategic times so I can recognize His glory. He knew and still knows all that lies before me. Reflecting on all of this has made me so aware of the enormous joy it brings our Heavenly Father knowing what He has planned for me is wonderful, amazing and far better than I could ever think or imagine. I'm sure I wasn't thinking that He had great plans for me when I was being abused, but that doesn't change the fact that He did indeed have great plans for me (and still does). 
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
I'm living them right now. I believe if God were, in haste, tell us what lies before us, we wouldn't be able to be as appreciative. Perhaps we'd even come to feel like we are somehow entitled. Friends, it is only His Grace...and never ending, unconditional, incomprehensible love that we can indeed have a Hope! I so desperately want to always remember, and continue to shout it from the rooftop, to always be on the look out for His personal love notes to us. They are there. Those little rays of sunshine in our dark times. They are always there.

So as my cousins work on the family tree, I sit and gaze in awe and wonder. My Father in Heaven, created this tree. Every single leaf was intentional. Every single leaf that has died, was special to Him. He watered that tree, He nurtured every single leaf on that tree. However, I know that some of the leaves weren't even aware of His presence. They were unable to see the Son shining. Some still refuse to see His tender hand pruning, and tending, and loving. Not me. Especially as I gaze on the tree and look at the very young leaves, I think...oh my Master Gardner has such great plans for these precious leaves. They will bloom, bring Him glory, do their part for the Glory of His Kingdom. Likewise, as I turn a year older, I know I'm changing color on that tree, but I will take all the tending, pruning, watering, and Son shine that I can soak in until He calls me home. I want to bring Him Glory! I like the trees that David talks about in the Psalms, I too will clap my hands before Him and sing praises to His name. He has done great and mighty deeds when it comes to this ever changing leaf...and I don't want to ever take one moment for granted. Thank you Lord...even though the words don't seem to do know what lies deep in my heart!

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