To tiptoe with trepidation onto unknown branches? Will they hold my feet? To follow in footsteps that are long established and far more savvy? Should I even venture? To be another voice in the vast world of bloggers who, by way of the Cambridge definition, share a regular record of thoughts, opinions, or experiences on the internet? Many before have responded to these heart-callings, and yet, I shake and quiver in response, with feelings of unworthy lips. Questions of why and for whom? Praying, seeking God’s direction, talking to family and friends, admiring others who do it so well, and gleaning from many insights, just the last couple days I have circled and avoided this computer by way of scrubbing toilets, vacuuming remote corners, gingerly wiping the leaves of houseplants and windowsills of sticky cobwebs, and drinking copious cups of coffee!
On a wider swath of writer’s avoidance, our middle child was married nearly a year ago, and for that wedding celebration, we finished the upstairs room over our garage. Having lived in myriad military quarters nearly our entire marriage, this is the first room I have brainstormed, designed and delightedly watched come to life – with the color scheme, fabrics, surfaces, fixtures, and accessories of my choosing! In the corner, with a strategically placed swing arm lamp, there is a sparkling quartz-topped desk, perfect for pondering and writing. This is exactly the second time I sit in the pretty white diamond-upholstered rolling desk chair that compliments the space – in just under a YEAR! A flirting dance with the dreams that brought this space to fruition.
The heart-scope of beginning on this blank page. Creating a blog-site – with expert help and kindest guidance. Most essentially, responding to God’s calling to write for Him. Not starting to write – but continuing in a calling that He placed when I was a young girl and that has grown to this moment.
In sixth grade, there was a school writing competition. A story of a young girl’s mortality poured from my pencil, now just faint memories and shadowed recollections. The 40-something-old story is certainly long gone from any paper-box memorabilia my mother may have saved. But the impact of that story remains. Chosen by a panel led by a high school English teacher who became a mind-shaping mentor some few years later, I went on an overnight adventure to Seattle, Washington to a young writers’ symposium. There, I remember rooms filled with others who wrote winning pieces and convened to share their musings. One girl shared a poem that was stunningly beautiful, insightful beyond her years. For me, over those few hours of sharing our writings, words took flight in a new way. Transporting, lifting spirits, tendering thoughts, affecting change, shaping souls, influencing hearts, and pointing to life!
Faith through words was the flight of my heart, specifically the timeless timeliness of God’s Word. Living, relevant words that have always been and always will be and that miraculously pinpoint my needing moments of each day, speaking into exact groans of my heart, needs of my family, and people I love. Sharing the powerful impact and imprint of words – especially the Word of God – is the call.
Calling – all hearts, minds, souls for the good of the gospel. Gospel truth. What is that? Truth that penetrates to the quick of a person’s soul, to the needs of a desperate spirit, to the heart of life-matters, to the reasons for a person’s being.
So, why? And for whom is this response to write, to be a voice, to cautiously crawl out onto this branch and to share my life. Into the baking sun and exposed light of open life pages. The why is simple and has been the greater story of my life – because God is calling and, though reluctantly fearful and heart-nakedly vulnerable, I choose to be obedient – even if it has taken some considerable cobweb removal!
And for whom do I write? For those who need a friend that understands – who find themselves facing life-struggles, who move frequently and wonder how to make it work, who wonder if God hears them in the most critical circumstances, who desperately cry to be heard, understood, known, and believed. Not for answers, but for solace. Not for solutions, but for life. Jesus met people where they were. I love to be met where I am, not for where I want to be but where God has landed me in the moment. And then to have arms surrounding for the steps ahead. Don’t we all want to be met in such a way?
Through the adventures and trials of raising three kids, the ridiculous JOY and sometimes sorrowful valleys with three grandchildren, upheavals and unsettledness of multiple moves and relocating with the U.S. Army, serving and loving soldiers and soldiers’ families along the way, encountering PTSD in my own beautiful family dynamic, children’s triumphs and sorrows, heart-aches of loss, joys in life celebrations, falls and landings of greatest impact, my life is but a microscopic blip on the screen of humanity. But to God, it matters. And to you, my hands are extended.
We all have branches onto which we’re called to inch forward. Some hold strongly. Others give way. In the beautiful grand scheme of life’s journey, God gives us each a different vantage point and depth of experience. It is my limited and yet transparent experience I pray to convey. From different life branches as a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, musician, writer, and fellow-sojourner.
God Branches stems from several places of my heart. In 1996, the seedlings of a Bible study were planted in my heart, branching from James 3:13, 17-18 and Proverbs 3:18.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom…But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:13, 17-18, NIV).
Of wisdom, God’s Word says:
“She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed” (Proverbs 3:18, NIV).
In 2006, while my husband was deployed to Iraq, the seeds of that Bible study grew to be Understanding Wisdom. Published with Crossbooks, a subsidiary of LifeWay, who have since sadly folded that branch of their publishing house, the study sits fallow – for now. From what God planted and grew out of my heart, I believe He will still produce fruit!
Last year, my husband and I visited Israel, a trip I faced with fearfulness, imagining all of the dangers and snares we might have encountered along the way. With fears in this world ever a life battle, awe-inspiring fear of God is always the overwhelming counterbalance! Fears were quickly swept aside by the holy beauty of that land. Like Eastern Washington, my homeland, the hills and valleys, landscape and terrain felt familiar. The trees, however, are delightedly dissimilar. They are the trees of childhood Bible stories – of short-stature but not short-sighted Zacchaeus when he climbed the heights of the sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus; of stone-carved pomegranates in the temple and on the faces of gates, hanging real, like droplets of moire fabric from morning branches; and grove upon grove of olive trees, brimming with beautiful fruit. Gnarled with knowing age on the Mount of Olives, nestled into the Garden of Gethsemane, where my Savior wept for humanity. Trees of life pointing to the ultimate Tree of Life for which we collectively groan, grafted and grown into God’s heart cry for life!
On occasion, I’ll share an olive branch of life possibilities. Look for them, share them with another friend. Let’s shake branches of life together; see what life-giving fruit will fall into our open hands.