As I mentioned last fall, we had our Ginormous Pine Tree trimmed rather severely in preparation for the El Niño storms… which never came. In the first weeks after the work was done, I worried that the trimming had been a little too intense; the tree, once fierce and proud, looked so frail and bare. I wondered how many years the GPT would need to fill out again – if it ever did.

But this week, walking back to the house at the end of a stroll with Sunny, I looked up and realized the tree has filled back in quite nicely in less than a year. The new growth is vibrant and healthy, covering the spots where limbs were pruned, and the overall shape is smooth rather than spiky.

I studied the tree a while, thinking of all the times we are stripped bare by the storms of life, of all the moments we are left feeling fragile and exposed because the forces of darkness have battered and broken us. We dwell on our pain, wonder how we can heal, and doubt that we can ever fully recover. But then, through the miracle of God’s grace, we are nourished and renewed. Our wounds begin to heal, and we find the strength to grow again – in newer and better directions. The new growth covers our scars and offers us the soft profile of love.

There will be harsh seasons, and there will be seasons of peace. No matter what the season, as long as we are rooted in His Word, we can grow. If we are refreshed by the Living Water, we can flourish. If we reach up to our Heavenly Father with humility and sincerity, He will lift us even higher. And when we reach together, when we encourage each other in every season, we become better, and we make His world more beautiful. Let’s grow together.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Titus 3:4-7