Whenever I have a night’s sleep like I did last night (or rather a night’s lack of sleep), that usually means it’s time to do some writing. Too many thoughts swimming are around to let me have a few hours of peace!

The winter months, for me, are naturally reflective and provide much more time to write. But spring is an active season, both at home and at work. It takes more discipline to sit down and process life — especially when it’s sunny and beautiful outside! It’s amazing, though, how nothing takes the place of getting all the random thoughts organized. More often than not, what originally seemed like random thoughts turn out to be more connected than I ever would’ve thought. Like this, for instance…

I was working in the yard a little yesterday evening, trying my best to get ahead of the weeds already trying to take over the lawn, and I glanced over at a young tree that was casting a shadow in the evening sun. It was hard to believe that tree could cast a shadow at all after its rough beginning.

When my son was in the fourth grade – four years ago – he brought home a bare root tree on Arbor Day. The school gave one to each student. I was so thrilled when he told me the school gave everyone a tree… until I saw it. It was literally a twig! But he was excited and wanted to plant it that very day. So he and hubs dug a hole for it, watered it well, and we hoped for the best.

A few days later, to my horror, I saw that our black lab mix, Maggie, had chewed off the top half of the already-pitiful twig sticking up from the ground! Scott and I quietly discussed it, hoping Jackson wouldn’t notice. But he noticed. And we all agreed that if that little tree wanted to live badly enough, it would live through Maggie’s attempts to destroy it.

Now, four years later, our little tree has proven it wanted to live. Its green branches reach wider than my arm span and it outgrew my height at least a year ago. During the winter, it brought us incredible pleasure to see a little bird perched in the top of our “little tree that could.” We couldn’t believe this little miracle tree could actually hold the weight of a bird!

This tree has reminded me that when we want to grow, and reach higher, and get stronger… it really doesn’t matter how fragile we used to be. Or how humbly we began. Or even what lies ahead. Each day, we need only to keep standing and let our roots get stronger, feeding on everything good we can possibly absorb.

Growth is a miraculous wonder. And it is not saved for the strong, or the privileged. It cannot be stopped by others’ opinions or doubts. But we’ve got to want it. We’ve got to believe it’s worth the long seasons when we didn’t see much progress and wondered if it would ever happen. Because one day, without much fanfare, we will inevitably discover that our willingness to be patient and grow brings us full circle and we begin to provide shelter for someone else who wants to believe they, too, will stand taller and stronger one day.

Our Little Tree That Could

4 thoughts on “Growth.

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  1. Thanks so much for this encouraging word Emily! I’m dealing with a lot of stuff right now and have some choices to make and this was just what I needed to hear! You rock girlfriend!

    The story of your little tree reminds me of one that we had. My Dad planted a Tulip Poplar in our backyard a year or two before he passed away. Bugs and several things nearly killed it on at least two occasions but it kept coming back, bigger and better. We had to have more field lines on our septic system installed in our back yard about 17 years ago and that special tree had to be bulldozed. It broke my heart….


  2. Emily, I love this analogy, and I am really identifying with your little tree. Suddenly and unexpectedly I’m discovering that those long, long seasons where I’ve been determinedly standing my ground, refusing to give way but feeling fairly stagnant, are coming to an end. I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know how it happened but maybe I needed to stand still for my roots to get deep enough for proper growth to happen. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, God has definitely used them to enlighten things for me.


  3. Em, What a great encouragement. Ironically, I was working on a tree yesterday. The one at the corner of of house. The work involved trimming a lot of “suckers” – those ugly volunteer starts of branches and limbs that are unecessary and growing in all the wrong directions. They make the tree grow out of shape, but more than that, suckers sap the strength from the rest of the tree.
    After 64 years of experincing God’s unconditional love and Grace in life; 43 years of marriage to my soulmate; 42 years experiencing the joy of raising two incredibly gifted and loving children God entrusted to us; 14 years of loving and attempting to influence , for the good, six precious Grandchildren; 13 years of new learning and experiences in the financial planning world; and four years of pastoring a church family that emulates its name, Grace Ministeries; the lessons of Growth (capital G – intentional) are never ceasing. I just want to keep growing – and in the right directions.


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