Sap Rising

 

Big tree

 

Here in our part of the woods, the Southern hemisphere,  Spring is coming.
The sap is rising is an often heard description of early spring.   If you cut into the stem or branch of certain trees  on a cool spring day, you may see sap dripping from the cut end.

Did you know ?

In early winter, deciduous trees enter a dormant phase.   They drop their leaves, move sugar to their roots and wait for warmer temperatures to return.   During this time, as long as the temperatures are above freezing  (water is still liquid), water will continue to flow into the roots.
Trees will absorb water until the water pressure in trees is equal to the surrounding soils.
When air temperatures rise, the tree is primed and ready to go.   It’s flush with water and starts moving sugars from its roots to the twigs, supplying the energy needed to grow new shoots and leaves.  Ref : Woodlandtrust.org.uk

Isn’t Nature wonderful ?   There are so many wonderful lessons we can learn by observing nature.   The soil, the seed, the plant, and the seasons – the essences and cycles of life.    And these cycles of life have one purpose in mind – to restore, replenish, rejuvenate and  resurrect.
All done in the silence and mystery of the nature of things.
Sometimes when a tree is cut right down, and the stump gets a scent of water, it will send out shoots in anticipation of new life, of resurrection.

Job 14:7-9.  says it beautifully

8.    For there is hope for a tree,  if it is cut down, that it will sprout again,   And its tender shoots will not cease
8. Though its root may grow old in the earth, And its stump may die in the ground.
9.  Yet at the scent of water it will bud,  And bring forth branches like a plant.

Resilient humans are like that too.    When brought low, they may be dormant for a while then at a hint of hope, will rise up, like the sap in a tree at the coming of a new spring.

To continue in the metaphor of the tree, there is also a pruning season. Why a pruning season ?   Well in nature, the reasons for  pruning trees are  –  beautifies them,  helps the tree to grow, encourages fruit production, removes hazardous branches, treats diseases and improves vistas !   Most humans need pruning too, that is spiritual pruning, probably for the same reasons trees do, only we may feel the pain of it more intently.

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In trees is the breath of life.  They take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, a commodity we cannot live without.   They fulfill such an important part of our existence here on earth.   They provide the nutrition of good food to keep us healthy,  wood to keep us warm, and paper to write our hearts on.  On a hot summer’s day they give shade to man and beast.     And they are a beauty to behold.

jacaranda trees

I love the parallel between people and trees.
In Scripture there are many descriptions of people like trees :

Psalm 104:16   The trees of the LORD are full of sap,  The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

Psalm 92:12  The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree.  He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.   13.  Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.   14.  They shall still bear fruit in old age,  They shall be fresh and flourishing. 

Isaiah 55:12    ….   And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

Job 8:16   He grows green in the sun, and his branches spread out in his garden.  

I think God likens people to trees.  I like to think that in His fields of Faith, throughout the ages and generations He has planted many seeds.  Some seeds (souls) lie dormant for a long time, some come to fruition in their time.
In the fullness of time, the seeds begin to grow, and if watered and nurtured by His Word, they fulfill their destiny and His purposes.
Of course there are dangers around every turn to prevent the souls from coming into their full potential.   Danger lurks everywhere once the stem pushes through the soil.
But once the seed becomes a fully grown tree it provides beauty, shelter, shade and food for others to enjoy.    In its season, the sap will rise, to bear more leaves and branches, to give more fruit and more shade.
A season for pruning may come, to cut away distorted growth, diseases and the necessary surge for new growth to take place.  All to the advantage of the beautiful tree.

God watches over His fields of Faith, the planting of the Lord.   He knows and sees the trees of the field, and knows their needs, their desires and their seasons.  He lovingly waters them and nourishes them with His care and by His Word.

So in this new Spring season I tell myself,  ‘don’t be a dying stump, reach for the promises of God, allow the sap to rise, and grow new praise branches.’

 

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Life Happens

 

Crowds
Life happens !
We are all different and respond or react differently in different situations.
Living life gives us the opportunity to experience different situations,  some that we would never choose for ourselves.   And through these life situations we get to know ourselves a little better – and perhaps that is the crux of the matter of life, to get to know ourselves a little better, through the hard times and the good times.

Sprouting a little wisdom here then ?

Well, taking a small overview of the past twelve months, and in particular the last five months, has given me a glimpse into the way I respond to life situations, and so getting to know myself a little better.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer and walking on the stepping stones of a new pathway I am a little surprised how the walk through the valley of the shadow of death has brought a subtle change in me.
A cancer diagnosis becomes a death sentence, well in my mind it was so.
First the symptom then the mammogram, then the visit to the surgeon, then the results of his biopsy, then its over.  Well so I thought, but discovered that it was not over, and that I did not die, but lived !

My demise was a mental address, real and sad to me that there was nothing beyond the final visit to the surgeon.   I was in a dead-end street.
I tried to tidy up my cupboards, throw out any excess so the family didn’t have much bother when I was gone.  Get my accounts in order.  Just generally tidying up my life, with no loose ends to tie up.   I made no commitments  so that I would have no obligations.  I had no desire to be creative or work on any project.   I only did what I had to do.   I kind of gave up on my life, after all there was no future.

I put on a strong face for the family, and was very positive in the beginning. I wanted them to ease into the reality of the death sentence, as I knew it is a personal blow to come to terms with losing a loved one.   They were all so very supportive, each in their own way, and the love they carried in their hearts were revealed to me in each one’s unique response to the situation.  They each grew in stature and grace at Life’s happenings.

The hormone therapy that the oncologist had put me on was easy, apart from the tiredness that went along with it.   The tumour had regressed and I was on my way to healing.   I became optimistic that things were working out  after all.   Somewhere along the way I lost the death sentence as I began to realise that there was much wisdom in ‘taking one day at a time’ and ‘to keep hope alive.’

Then the tumour started to grow again.   The oncologist suggested radiation therapy, and I was in a dilemma – to do, or not to do, was the decision I struggled with, until I finally made an appointment with the unknown – radiation treatment !

Radiation sign

The treatment itself was not to daunting.   “Its like having a chest ex-ray,” my oncologist said.   It is however the after effects that had to be walked through, with plenty of rest, as the treatment left me drained, physically emotionally and spiritually.  And rest I did, for the best part of six weeks.   My poor immune system had been rocked by radiation to destroy the enemy within, it deserved to rest and to be nurtured, –  so to my soul.

It was during this time that I realised I had to keep my mind busy.   I was not to let this situation, this ‘ life’s happenings’,  this malady with its tiredness dominate my thinking.  I had to bring in other thoughts, and good thoughts.  I had to focus my mind on something better, a bigger story than my own.
So I took to the Scriptures, and focused particularly on a project-read, and then bring it to a conclusion by writing a summary of it on my blog.    I chose to look at the great men in the Bible.   I wrote Minding Moses and Dancing with David, and am currently working on other Faith heroes.

The  radiation treatment is still doing its work, and the tumour is regressing.  Hallelujah ! And my oncologist is delighted with my physical progress.

crossing the bridge
Having said all that I must add, that emotionally it is quite a ride too, a lonely ride.  I regard myself as a fairly stable person, and was outwardly, and for the most part inwardly, calm through each step of the way.  Although open,  I’m a private person and like to handle my own “emotional stuff” my own way.  There were days when I felt very alone and very sad for myself.   And indeed I was alone, except when I drew my strength from the Scriptures.

Cancer has an ugly face, its not a nice companion, and I did not embrace it for one minute, but I had to surrender to God’s sovereignty in the situation.  Once I did that I was at peace with Him and with myself.

I am not only on hormone therapy, but on faith therapy too.     Its a therapy that has no bad side effects, and will in time manifest only the goodness of God.   Faith is spiritual, a heavenly thing,  and is another ball game, which I am slowly learning by His grace, and with expectation.

I am still on my pathway to healing, and calling on God to show me the way.
Perhaps there is new ground to break, I hope so.   I hope to see Him working in new ways in my life – help me to attain higher ground in faith and healing, and His way of doing things.

I keep in mind, that His grace is sufficient for a new day, for there is always faith, hope and love in, Life’s happenings !

The sun comes up

Transformation

 

I have been sparring with words like transformation, attainment, and ascension, ever since the Easter message of death and resurrection.  It was probably sparked by my favourite preacher Dr Mark Chironna’s often spoken phrase   ‘rising out of dead things’
The concept is shadowing me, and I constantly want to grope at it, but just can’t get a grip on it.   So I thought to let it mull and mature through the observations that come my way.

First, it was hearing the bigger picture of the Gospel pattern, which may well reflect our own spiritual progress of death burial and resurrection  (rising out of dead things)
Then the pattern increased in scope with the Ascension and Pentecost.   But still, there was no clear understanding on my part.   Still groping !

Butterfly 1      

Butterfly 2

Second, it was the completion of a two-part watercolour pencil painting of butterflies, that I did as a gift for my friend Jenny’s newly moved-in home.
Butterflies, now there is a story of true transformation.    First the egg, then the caterpillar  then morphs the beautiful butterfly – not without a struggle though !   Isn’t Nature a wonderful teacher ?
But the butterfly had to go through the process of transformation.

worm to butterfly
Perhaps these serious thoughts of seeking clarity are because I have been in a safe and secure cocoon state for some years now.   I have been a little frustrated with my ‘futility’ and my ‘redundancy’, yet the solitary has brought with it contentment and a little creativity – big pluses !   Now looming is the unknown and a suspect of oncoming change.

I turn my attention to attainment.   But I cannot get to attainment.    Besides attainment smacks of self effort, at which I am not an ace!   So I wrestle on with words and thoughts, and procrastination.
I do believe though that we must endeavour to – attain.   We must be looking to always learn, grow, expand and develop our personalities, character and lives.  Else we stagnate, become dull and boring, or even worse – stay as we are.
But I am smartly reminded, and comforted from Scripture :
You have hedged me behind and before, And laid your hand upon me.   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.  It is high I cannot attain it.  – Psalm 139:5,6

Thirdly, I know that growing and developing is a process.  It does not happen in a day or even a year, – perhaps in a moment in time,  perhaps with just one word that brings another perspective, – but usually the processes have to sink in to bring about slow change.
Here before my eyes,  I see on the current TV news, a glimpse into our country’s political arena,  a very good example of slow change.
South Africa is in the grip of election fever, with 770,000 registered voters ready to make their mark on 8 May 2019.    The clamour of the political parties are vibrant, and their constituents all clad in colourful battle attire of T-shirts and caps.  The African National  Congress in yellow,  the Economic Freedom Fighters in red
Butterfly SAand a wave of blue from the  Democratic Alliance – all a
spectacular colour parade in stadiums for their last 
final push for political victory in democracy and
transformation – from ‘dead things’ – (if we can
only get passed the demons of greed and corruption !)

This colourful parade of politics brought to mind the writings of Dr Don Beck’s book The Crucible.   I think he was hugely instrumental in the ‘behind-the- scenes’ of the forming of a new South Africa, in 1994.    His research brought great understanding, for me,  of the developmental stages of people, organisations and even of nations, with his colour chart of psychological development, which is as follows  – and I over-simplify my interpretation thereof :
Beige  – survival minded
Purple – mystic, spiritual minded
Red  – expression  (militant anger and/or creativity)
Blue – conformity,  order  (disciplined and responsible)
Orange – competitive (sport, business, achievement)
Green –  community minded.
Yellow  –  networking, coalition minded.
Turquoise – Global minded.
Colour ?  –  suspected future development to come, is left blank.

And so with these colour dynamics one may identify, the state of mind of a person or organisation or group of people.   This is helpful to bring about or at least understand transformation, and bring solutions to problem people or groups of people.
It is not a chart of the hierarchy of successful development, merely an indication of where we are on the chart –  or in the rainbow, so to speak !
All these can be at the extreme ends or in-between on the colour spectrum.

Again, I ask, but what brings the actual transformation and development.   Well, the short answer is God’s grace, and His goodness, of course.   But I think its the seeing where we are at, and if we are willing to make a change that will in fact bring change.   Because change is inevitable.

So  presently, what is your favourite colour  ?
In my time, I have been a purple person, a blue and a green,  currently I think I am red – trying to express myself with to many words and drawings !!

Finally, Ascension, it is a high concept, that is still to high for me to attain.
I know in the Christian faith one is growing from the carnal to the spiritual.   The Spirit-filled life is higher than the physical life.
But how do you attain it, I ask ?   Again the short answer is only by God’s grace and His goodness.
But His ways are not our ways, and so the pattern of the Gospel may be helpful, as we see Jesus willingly going to the Cross, before He could come to the place of Ascension.

Like the metamorphosis of the butterfly, it does not come about without struggle, a struggle for survival, whether it be physical or spiritual.
In any one life there is always something higher to attain to.    Transformation is needed to grow into what we are meant to become.  We can reach for it, but it is God who will bring us through, by His Spirit, His resurrection power of new life, …. and in His time.

Butterflies.jpg

Looking for … Joy

Looking for Joy.
I know I have it … but where ?  I must have put it somewhere to keep in case I needed it.  I’m like that.  I don’t like to throw things out.  I’ll store them for a long season if I have to, but to discard what I think is precious, is not likely to happen !  Now where did I put it ? If I let this thought simmer on the back burner it may come to me.

And so it did.  In the oversized tubs I store all my collectibles ? Yes, but which one? So the hunt began.  I scurried down to the garage and began to unpack the lavender tub.
No, it wasn’t there, but what I found was colour.  Colour in the form of off-cuts of material I had kept.  There were stunning reds, bright yellows, deep blues and purple, checker greens, even a little silver and mottled gold.  What a delight ! Then I looked up and looked around, and began to see colour everywhere. What a Joy colour brings to our lives.  Just imagine life without colour – and its a free.
Light from the sun is white light, if looked through a prism the light fractures and becomes a spectrum of colours, the rainbow of red, blue, green,yellow, orange, purple and indigo.  Colours have different lengths (frequencies – like music notes) shorter is higher and longer is deeper.  These notes / frequencies of colour bring colours to plants – everything is grey drab, until lit by sunlight.  Next time you’re feeling glum, look up and look around for the free gift of colour –  and be glad !

But that was not what I was looking for.  The next tub I opened was my Word tub.  It was full of words.  Letters, writings of other people, poems, special cards, scraps of paper with Bible verses and notes on courses and seminars I had attended.  It surely must be in this tub.  So I spent the next few days scrutinizing all the treasures in my Word tub.  What a joy, re-reading the hearts and minds of others and feeling their love all over again.  The Joy of friends, and relationships.  We can’t do without them. Well, maybe some of them, but no not all.

Then I found it !  At last, I knew I had it.  Tucked in the pages of a manuscript were the words of Dr James G Friesen of The Life Model Course I had attended some 20 years ago.  I remembered the “Joy bucket” and “Joy Camp”, and getting back on top of “Joy Mountain” which he so clearly wrote about and the fundamental importance of  regulating our feelings back to Joy.  Dr James Ph.D  is a Clinical Psychologist, and an expert in trauma recovery and Dissociative Identity Disorders.  Here are some concepts from the powerful words of The Life Model : “Joy is a powerful force in life which shapes our lives from the baby stage of our development.” (brain development) He explains this very clearly in the manuscript and states  ” Joy becomes the foundation for all other emotions.”  Dr James Wilder, a co-writer and researcher  writes on  www.lifemodel.org   “Joy was the engine that drove thriving and recovery and even produced the strength needed for prevention of trauma and addiction.”  Wow, those are strong words. Please check out The Life Model’s website and find out more on this life-giving course.  And visit Dr Friesen on http://www.jamesgfriesen.com.  Also visit  www.joystartshere.com for more information.

Life from a psychological view can bring an understanding to our inner world. Life from a spiritual view can bring healing and recovery from mental and emotional breakdown.
Undeniably suffering and sorrow are strewn along Life’s path. It is then that we find that Joy has companions  :
Joy and Sorrow  –  Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning.    Psalm 30:5
Joy and Mourning –  To give them beauty for ashes and the oil of Joy for mourning. Isaiah 61: 3
Joy and Strength – Do not sorrow for the Joy of the Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10
Joy and PeaceNow may the God of hope fill you with Joy and Peace.
Romans 15:13
Joy and Gladness –  He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord, Joy and gladness will be found in it.  Isaiah 51:3
        Joy and Fruit –  But the fruit of the Spirit is  Love  Joy  Peace  Long-suffering          Kindness Goodness  Faithfulness  Gentleness  and  Self Control.  Against these there is   no law.   Galatians 5:22

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Finding Joy is well worth the pursuit, and for me, it came one evening when I heard the Preacher from the big church on the corner say  : Joy is a decision you make,  to get your power back.
Joy is the essence of good mental health, so …  CHOOSE  JOY !