Last Words

Having the last word may be of benefit in a discussion, but of what benefit will your last words be?

As though it was yesterday, the last words my mother spoke to me before going Home at 93 still echo in my heart . . . “Later Freddy”. Those two words spoke, and continue to speak, the confident hope of eternal reunion someday.

Four words, cried out in inconceivable anguish, sealed that reunion on a cross 2,000 years ago . . . Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?  . . . My God, my God, why hast thou  forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

In the words of Pastor John Ortberg:

The cross is the ultimate paradox: God experiencing the absence of God so that He can draw closest to us in our loss and grief. Jesus was in a sense never closer to us than when He was furthest from the Father”.

Wherever this Easter may find you, be it in trail or triumph, my prayer is you will find the confident hope of reunion in knowing the One whose last four words uttered in death, conquered it, and loved you into eternal life.

Forgiven- Thomas Blackshear II

This picture sits on my desk reminding me how totally forgiven and loved I am, and the reunion that awaits

Spring Splendor

On the western side of the Great Smoky Mountains lies Ashville, NC, an eclectic small town and home to the Biltmore Estate.

America’s largest private home, George Washington Vanderbilt II had it built during 1880s. A quaint, châteauesque style, 135,280sq. ft., 250-room edifice, it’s tucked away on 8,000 acres. George affectionately referred to it as his “little mountain escape” 😊.

Wandering among their meticulously manicured gardens is a sure-fire, spirit boosting, creation wonder walk!

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”. – Luke 12:27

Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Contemplating Mortality

Youth’s active exuberance struggles to comprehend the laid-back contentment of many senior citizens who have Been there – Seen it – Done it,  particularly when it concerns mortality. Why is it those in the latter chapters of their life’s story are often those most at peace with reaching The End?

Mother Nature highlighted mortality on yesterday’s woods wander . . . bracket fungi decaying a once mighty oak and an empty mud dabber wasp dwelling clinging to a rock face found me . . . in mystical, peaceful, grateful contemplation . . . pondering the former joys youth and  homes enjoyed.

Why? . . .  while this life steadily decays and dwellings eventually become abandoned, each page turned in my life’s story authenticates that –  in spite of myself – not one of the calamitous, grim, insidious segments I wrote negated God’s unending . . . Forgiveness . . . Mercy . . . and Love towards me.

Looking closer at the abandoned mud dauber dwelling, I perceived an image symbolizing  this . . . in His-story The End is just The Beginning of my forever’s finest story.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have to you. I go to prepare a place for you.’ – John 14:2 . . . there’s an immortality promise you can take to heaven.

I realize I’m a little weird . . . but honestly, aren’t we all in some way? That’s the one-of-a-kind, individual uniqueness He placed in our DNA to spice up each others’ lives . . . thanks for sharing yours 😊

Pity Party Perspective

I’m definitely a sunshine fan. The recent stretch of rainy, cloudy weather has me yearning for the sun to pop back out and dispel the damp, gloomy overcast. Such were my thoughts up on the mountain, on the verge of having a little pity party.

Gazing out over the gray shrouded Smokies, a lone pine cone caught my attention. If anything rates a pity party, it’s that solitary pine cone clinging to a branch on the edge of a cliff . . . “Hang in there buddy!” 😊 

A quote from The Prince of the Tides came to mind . . . I would like to have the seen the whole world with eyes incapable of anything but wonder, and with a tongue fluent only in praise.” . . . rain or shine, my pity party perspective needs revising.                                 
Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Giving Trees

Oak Tree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite children’s books. It’s a story about a tree that keeps on giving, and a boy who keeps on taking. Finally, upon becoming an old, the man cuts down the tree to sit on its stump “… and the tree was happy”. Such where were my thoughts traveled today as this ‘old’ man roamed the forest.

Trees have always invoked a sense of reverence in me. Who cannot stand in awe at the base of a thousand-year-old, 300 ft. massive redwood? Imagine the stories these towering, silent witnesses to history could tell of what has passed beneath their limbs over centuries.

Trees are Nature’s quintessential givers. Providing a hodgepodge of lumber, firewood, food, paper, rubber, medicine, etc., and the O2 we inhale, they filter the CO2 we exhale along with that released by environmental and the fossil fuel emissions. In return they require only H2O and nutrients from the soil, both of which they replenish through transpiration and decomposition in death.

Besides giving, trees are role models of strength and adaptation. Rooted  in the harsh alkaline soils eastern California’s White Mountains, confirmed to be 4,854 years old, stands Methuselah. An ancient bristlecone pine tree, it’s the world’s second oldest known tree. Nearby, unnamed at protected secret location, is Methuselah’s 5,069-year-old grandfather, the world’s oldest tree . . . imagine the stories this gnarled, ‘elderly’ pair could tell!

Trees epitomize the Scripture “… to have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” – Philippians 4:11. Sprouting wherever their seeds fall to earth, they are surrounded by generations of progeny, conversing with each other in rustles and whispers on the wind. Perhaps trees’ ultimate source of strength, adaptation and ability to give lies in their unchangeable behavior to ever grow towards the sun.

Legend has it there once was a Great Oak tree from which the beams of Christ’s Cross were hewn. Consequently, the Great Oak was paradoxically both cursed and blessed.

Cursed to forever become a Dogwood tree, small with crooked branches, unsuitable for building anything. Blessed with white, cross shaped, four petaled flowers having a cluster resembling a “crown of thorns” at their centers, each petal tipped with a ‘nail dent’ tinged in red, reminiscent of drops of blood spilled at Calvary.

Throughout this Lenten season, this Easter, and beyond may we enjoy the folklore of the Dogwood legend; rejoice in the Resurrection’s ultimate sacrifice; and claim the certainty of the Cross’s gift of Salvation offered . . . and, like the trees that fill our forests . . . may we live each new day giving back, ever growing towards the Son.

Dogwood Flower

Creation’s Wonders

Water dripping from rocky outcrop spawns a ‘leafcicle’ on the forest floor . . . an oak tree rises from hostile soil where it’s acorn once fell . . . Creation’s ingenuity and resiliency never ceases to amaze me!

        “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted”. – Job 9:10                                   
Keep Looking Up . . . His best is yet to come!

Grow where you’re planted