Crimson Leaves

I went for a walk in the woods, a place I love to walk. It was late autumn and the trees had lost most of their leaves. I shuffled along a path that was filled with leaves grown brown and crisp beneath my feet. As I rounded a curve and came upon a tree that I often sat beneath.I stopped amazed. My tree, which I fondly called Miss Maple, stood there in full crimson glory with fall color. Rushing over, I took a place on the ground beneath Miss Mable and struck up a conversation. “Miss Maple” I asked, “Isn’t it a bit late in the season for you to still be wearing your glorious fall colors? Most of the other trees are bare by now, ready to face the winter snows.”

“Oh, I suppose I should be bare by now,” said Miss Maple, but I just could not face another dreary winter in a dull grey dress like the rest of the trees. I feel so special in my crimson gown. I need to feel special! So this winter, I will NOT shed my leaves.”

As a brisk wind stirred the leaves on the ground I thought a moment and then said: ” But Miss Maple, what will you do when the storms blow and the snow grows heavy trapped on your leaves? Won’t your branches bow and break? You could become misshapen, or worse yet, broken!”

“Oh I am not worried about that”, said Miss Maple. ” It rarely snows that much here, and I like my crimson gown, don’t you? And, after all I’m not like the other trees in the forest, you said yourself, I’m special. ”

“Yes, Miss Maple, you are very special to me. I come here often to sit in your shade in the spring or summer. I bring my grandchildren in the spring to play with your babies on their helicopter wings. I come in the summer to picnic or read in your shade. And I especially enjoy coming her to spend time with our creator.”

“That settles it for sure”, said Miss Maple. ” I’m keeping my gown this winter. You can sit beneath my leaves all winter sheltered from the winter sun, or snow which ever the day holds.”

I sighed. ” Miss Maple, it will be far too cold for sitting on the ground in the winter, and if the snow should damage your branches I would be so sad for you. You must let go of your leaves. You must do it quickly before the winter comes.”

“I will NOT, I want to feel special. I cannot feel special if I look like all the other trees in the forest. Don’t you think the splendor of my gown is especially striking against all the grey bark of the trees around? Everyone who comes to the forest will notice me first. They will see just how special I am.”

“Miss Maple, you do not need a beautiful gown to be special. And besides, if you don’t lose your leaves, there will be no helicopter babies in the spring. No planting seeds of other maple trees to grace the forest. It would be such a loss. This is the season for letting go…for putting aside things that may do you harm, or hinder fresh growth. It’s also the time to forget trying to stand out on your own and be special because of something you have done. It’s time to listen to our creator. Let go of your leaves.”

“But…But…Iff..I do…”she stammered, “how do I know that I will grow a new gown in spring?”

“Haven’t you always, Miss Maple, for all the springs you have been here in the forest? And don’t all the other trees around you do the same?”

“Well…so far…but how do I know that I will be given a new gown next spring?”

“That is called faith Miss Maple. Our creator promises us that he cares for us beyond all others. To him, as well as me, Miss Maple, you are special.  I’ll stroll by this winter on a warm day and stop to chat. Then in the spring, I’ll come again to sit beneath your leaves.”

“But how will you know me?” said Miss Maple,” if I look like every other tree in the forest?”

“Oh don’t worry Miss Maple. I found you last winter didn’t I? And the winter before? Now is the time for letting go. Let go of those things that hold back your growth. Let go of the things that you control, and trust our creator for a new work in your life. Wouldn’t you like a nice spring green dress next spring? And a fresh crimson gown next fall instead of one worn and tattered from seasons of storms and wind?”

“Well….”said Miss Maple, “I would like to make room for that new gown…”

I smiled, as crimson leaves began to swirl around my feet….Miss Maple and I together facing what our future holds with a whole hearted devotion to our creator’s plan.


Written several years ago, this is not a political statement and predates “Frozen.” It blessed a friend this morning so thought perhaps I’d share a bit more widely.

Also sharing here:

http://holleygerth.com/

Light In The Dark

Now is the time to shine! Don’t let the news of the day drag you down. Do not submit to cultural norms. Remember who you belong to. Remember the promises you have been given. Don’t fear change. Just keep your eyes focused on the light then you too, can be the light just as you were intended to be.

The sun slants into the windows of my sun room nearly blinding me. I can’t focus on anything else.  I soak in the warmth and my heart lifts giving praise to God. Now, to hang onto that as I face the day!

The world right now is filled with messages shouting for my attention, warning me that change is near and I should brace myself for the change. But I have news, change has already come into my life and I must focus on that light as I tune out the shouts of darkness and dread. I know who holds my future in his hand. I trust his promises are true.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

If you are feeling a sense of dread and despair. If you’ve watched too much news or hung out a bit too long on Facebook, then you may find yourself unguarded against this lion. Turn your eyes back to the light!  Let the light pour over you. Spend time in the word. Then, let that light shine out from you. In the darkness, your light will be even more evident. So will the lack of light.

Now is the time to shine! Don’t let the news of the day drag you down. Do not submit to cultural norms. Remember who you belong to. Remember the promises you have been given. Don’t fear change. Just keep your eyes focused on the light then you too, can be the light just as you were intended to be.

I’m linked up here today.

http://holleygerth.com/

What Fills You Up?

Today I was offered a consulting job. Back in the world of work I knew before I retired. Developing an on-line course for the public health community. This is a world where I know what I’m doing. A world where I’m an ‘expert’ or at least competent. The pay wasn’t bad and it would involve a bit of easy travel. I would be working with folks who respect me and it would add some structure to my days. It would fill my days with a lot of things I enjoyed about my former position, and less of the things that frustrated me.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? But I’m glad I didn’t just jump right in with a yes. I said, let me get back to you. And then I took it before the Lord.

Well….I got my answer. God did not speak to me out loud, but he made his response clear.  Loretta, would you choose to let that world fill you up rather than me? I’ve given you an assignment. Spend time with me, learn more about me, share what you are learning with others. My lesson right now is to let God be my constant source of fulfillment. This is coming at me in many forms.

And I will tell you, I am struggling with this new assignment. I miss the enforced structure of my professional life. I want to fall back on the familiar, the known, rather than blaze a path into the unknown that God has invited me to walk.

So, it really comes down to this. Do I let the work that I’m familiar with fill me up, or do I let God fill me? The temptation is to go with the familiar. The place where I know I’ll get my kudos. But I’m still reading Jeremiah, and I read that God told Jeremiah ‘I can’t bless disobedience’.

At this time in my life God has invited me on an adventure. It’s a bit of a maze where I can’t always see what is ahead, but this adventure is an invitation from God to let him alone fill me, and to do otherwise would be disobedience. I’ve decided to give a ‘no thank you’ answer to the offer. Even though I don’t have a clue where God is leading me on this new adventure, I’m learning to choose him over the apparent security of the known.

 

I’m linked up here today.

http://holleygerth.com/

Your True Value

My friend Mary diligently collected a certain type of dishes for her table. They could not be found in a store, They had to be sought out and collected from someone who’d owned them previously.  She loved the beautiful blue on white pattern that graced her table. Sometimes, I’m sure that others thought she overpaid to have this prize when she found it. After all, those dishes originally were given away in the grocery store as a reward for groceries purchased. They were not fine china nor were they originally seen as pieces with great value.

We all have our own opinions about the worth of something. But that doesn’t make us right! Is value based on the cost of the creation? The time, materials, and care that went into the creation. In reality, the true test is the price that someone is willing to pay.

It doesn’t matter how others see your value. I was redeemed at great price, although there are days I tend to forget that and sell myself short. You too, were redeemed at great price. No one can take away your value!

 

I’m linked up here today: http://holleygerth.com/

Getting it Right

My nephew and his wife have a new baby. Today, he wrote an eloquent post on their family blog about the challenges of balancing life, the changes they find in their thirty-something lives and I heard the unspoken plea, let us get this right!

This feeling never really goes away does it? At every stage we want desperately to get it right! And, we often are focused on the next step ahead as we fight this battle, so much so we miss living in the here and now.

From my perspective, recently retired from the ‘day job’, I completely understand this desire to get it right as we focus on the next stage or step in life. Life becomes a race and we are focused primarily on the end or at least the next milestone. This can be a heavy burden. It’s difficult to do today well when our focus is on tomorrow. Then, as you look back, it’s difficult to realize what you missed by being so forward focused.

I don’t think God ever intended us to rush so much or to focus so completely on what is ahead. I also know that he is not the harsh critic of my life that I am at times. He said, my yoke is easy, my burden is light.  That doesn’t sound like a God who beats me up for more, more, more. He also said that we should not worry about tomorrow, he’s already got it handled.

God’s focus is on relationship. His relationship with us, our relationship with him, and our relationships with others. Relationships require we live in the moment. Want to join me as I readjust my focus?

 

Shine

I will be teaching a class at the Shine event August 27. http://lakeshorechristian.com/index.php/ministries/women/84-shine-event-for-women

Preparing to offer encouragement and tools. Passing the Baton: You Can Make a Difference!

It’s going to be a great day! Register soon!

Surviving the Rough Times

Oh the angst!  No matter where you get your news the focus of the events of the day can easily lead to a sense of despair.  It seems that no choice is a good choice.  We look around at the events of our day and see senseless violence, greed, corruption and hopelessness in so many places.  You can focus on leaders, laws or other man-made solutions to the problems, or …

You can make a conscious choice to keep your focus on the one who has promised to be with you no matter how tumultuous the world grows.

I am choosing to keep my eyes set on the one who is above all governments.  The one who is above all creeds and agendas.  The one who is simply…above all.

Rather that get dragged down into the despair and hand wringing look up.  Focus on the one that has promised to hold tight to you no matter how much the winds of change and evil blow against you.  No matter how high or fast the waters grow.  The one requirement…just like Peter, as he walked on water, we must not take our focus off of him!

How Do You Know For Sure?

I’m still reading Jeremiah. God called Jeremiah while he was still a young man. He said, “Before you were, I knew you, I set you apart and appointed you”.  Jeremiah tried to argue with God, “I’m still to young!  I can’t speak for you.”  But God was not having it. He simply said, go, right now!

I notice right off that Jeremiah never said to God, I don’t understand what you want me to say or where you want me to go, he just made excuses. We aren’t told how God spoke to Jeremiah, only what he said. But clearly he heard what he was supposed to hear. God also addressed the root of Jeremiah’s reluctance, fear! He said, I will protect you, but when that didn’t do it, God had to get tough, he said, now get out there and do it or I will make you lo0k foolish in front of those you are afraid of.

Hmm….It made me think about my own excuses.

√ Fear of failure.
√ I’m not sure what you want me to say.
√ I’m not really qualified.

In so many ways, I’m like Jeremiah.  I’m not young, but I still struggle with many of his insecurities. If you think that the Old Testament is filled with dusty old stories we can’t relate to, I’m pretty sure you are wrong!

Lately, God’s had to get a bit tough with me just like he did with Jeremiah.  So,  I’ve decided to get out there and do it before God makes me look foolish.  If you find me absent for a day or two, just know that I’m hanging out with Jeremiah.

 

 

 

Finding Your Value

There is a video on Facebook about an overweight young woman who begins to do yoga and it changes her perception of herself. Despite her weight she masters yoga. She says” I’m free, I feel worthy.” While it’s a touching video it made me sad. Sad because I, along with many women, judge my worth on the wrong things.

Ladies, you don’t need to be thin, beautiful, successful, popular or wealthy to be worthy. You are worthy! You are worthy because God made you worthy. He created you to be the unique individual you are. He loves you, period, no qualifiers needed!

We experience a lot of pain and rejection because we let others define us. Let yourself be defined by God, your creator and savior. It’s an awful tool the ruler of this world, our enemy, uses against us. But, “Greater is he who is in you, than he who is in the world” 1John 4:4.

You are his masterpiece! Stop wearing yourself out chasing a false idea that when you become ____ (fill in your own blank) ___ you will become worthy. It won’t work. The accuser will just bring another lie against you. Look to the one who created you for your worth.

Getting a Do Over

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah, described by a friend as a great book but kind of depressing. I have to say from what I’ve read lately I’m not depressed, I’m relieved! Here’s what I’m learning. Even though God was totally exasperated with his people, he had Jeremiah prophesy for 41 years asking them to repent. That speaks to me of a God who really wants to give us a chance to get our act together and follow him like we should.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a lot of situations in my life were I desperately needed another chance to get it right. I’m a bit hard headed at times and I am totally driven when I’m aiming for a goal. I can miss those warning signs along the way.

In Lamentations 3:23 it says: “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  (NLT) So, I can start fresh any time I need to. That is pretty amazing! I’d be a fool not to take advantage of this gift.

Are there things right now you wish you could do over? Well, you can!  Just start over right now.