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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Second Chances in the Woods

Eight years ago, Jason and I moved our home from the city to the woods. We'd desired and prayed for land for a long time, ever since we'd sold our remote property in Alaska, so living in the country was going to be a dream come true for us. Our contractor cleared a big area to make it usable, but in the process the house site became like a dust bowl. After our house was placed on a foundation, we took the above picture of the backside.

The thick forest remained behind us, but we had dirt all around us. Since I'm allergic to dirt, that became a problem. We planted grass seed and watered like crazy. Night after night, in the dark after work, Jason would water in the front yard, and I would take the back. Unfortunately, we didn't understand about topsoil, so we faced an uphill battle to get those seeds to grow.

Because of the deer population, we enclosed our backyard with fencing. There, I can grow what I want without fearing another deer raid. Unless, of course, they jump a seven-foot-high fence—or someone leaves the gate open.

I took this picture today of the same viewpoint as the one above, eight years later. A testimony of new life and regrowth--and our determination!

If you've read any of my writing, you know I love second chances. This morning, with all the summer growth and beauty around me, I pondered second chances in nature. Jesus spoke a lot about natural occurrences and likened them to spiritual things. It means a lot to me to walk through my land and see His handiwork teaching me too.

Before we moved in, the previous owner had harvested some trees, and the loggers cut four roads to the top of the mountain. While kind of ugly, these cleared roads were handy as we loved to walk all over in the woods. Surely, these passageways would always be there for us, I thought naively.

After eight years, it's amazing how these roads, which were scraped almost bare by heavy machinery, have entered a new season of life. It's like a miracle!

Here's a picture I took on my walk this morning. We used to drive our Ram Charger up this road to gather wood. Now it's impassable.

My husband recently drove the lawnmower up this path, just so we could use it for our evening walks.

Isn't it amazing how God planned for things to re-grow, to have new life, to reconcile past wrongs, to live again? It's so fabulous, it's mind boggling. Where destruction happened, new life springs up and not only is reconciliation birthed, freedom and growth thrive! When God makes a plan, He makes a good one. It isn't weak. Or helpless. It's strong and powerful.

Several years ago, Jason felled a tree. When it dropped to the ground, part of its branches crushed a small tree beneath it. Over the years, we've observed this plant stretch out and grow bigger and taller, crooked as it is. Each spring, I thrill to see it emerge from winter straighter as it reaches for the sky. Sure, a wrong happened to it. A big old tree fell down "wham" on top of it. But, today, it's thriving in its second chance at life.

Here's a picture of my little miracle tree in the forefront. Notice its crooked limbs. Oh, but it's reaching for the sky!

I love transplanting. It's a risk every time I uproot something, not knowing if it will survive my human efforts of relocation. But with love and tender care, and if the deer stay away, they do quite well. Because the back of our property is woodsy and the roadside area is open, I'm attempting to bring the woods forward. This will give us privacy and hopefully, in time, absorb some dust from reaching our house.

Watching these small trees thrive in their new environment reminds me of the saying "Grow where you are planted!" I think that ties in so well with second chances. Sure, these transplanted trees would have grown in the woods. But I choose to transplant trees that appear to be growing too close to another tree, where they're not getting their share of light, or they might die. In some ways, I'm giving these saplings a new chance.

Just try to hold back the forest from re-growth and new life! It's not going to happen. And it won't stop happening in believers either. God is a God of second chances. Of new beginnings.

In 2 Corinthians 5:19 it tells how God has "committed to us the message of reconciliation." It's all around us. Starting with nature. The things I see as I walk in the woods are a demonstration of the Lord's great love us. We're starting over. Brand new. Blessed with second chances every day. I love it! 

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