Several years ago, after having received the miracle of moving into our wonderful new home that God blessed us with, we had the privilege of experiencing our first spring on the hill. As winter passed we had gotten used to the view across the valley through our leafless trees. But as spring blossomed, much like it is now, we got to see the beautiful transformation of God bringing our hill to life, hiding our new home in a shroud of green as the trees came alive.
One of our first projects at the top of our to-do list was to build a flowerbed along the sidewalk which connects our driveway to our front porch. The sidewalk had a pretty substantial drop off around the edge which raised our concerns about our smaller children playing on it and falling, so we got busy and built a very nice wall around the sidewalk complete with a flowerbed.
Now that the flowerbed was ready, we had to fill it up with all kinds of greenery and color, so Katrina got busy planting flowers, and I decided to look into finding a small ornamental tree that would look great in the middle. One of the blessings of living on our hillside full of trees has been enjoying all of the dogwoods blooming every year, so I decided to try and find one of the smaller dogwoods that would be good to transplant to the flowerbed.
After finding the perfect candidate, I carefully dug it up with the largest root ball possible and transported it to its new home in the flowerbed. We gently packed it in, watered it well, and stood back and admired our crown jewel arrayed with a variety of colorful flowers.
It didn’t take long for the dogwood tree to begin wilting, which is not terribly uncommon when transplanting trees. We became worried when it did not bounce back. After a long hot summer, the tree just didn’t seem to make it, and its tiny limbs dried up along with the few leaves it attempted to display. As fall came along and the limbs became brittle, we cut the tree off to a nub about a foot above the ground thinking that we would have to look into getting another tree the following year.
Winter beat down on us and we forgot about flowers and trees for awhile, and then spring arrived again; time to plant flowers and begin tree shopping. We had decided that we might just have to get a nice tree from a local nursery, but to our surprise, our little dogwood stob that we had written off began to show some signs of life, sprouting some new limbs. As its gangly twigs reached for the sky it looked pretty scraggly, but we decided to give it a chance to see what it would become. Although it was not much to behold at first, it greened up nicely and took on a life of its own.
The next couple of years the tree grew and grew and with a little pruning here and there has shaped up to be one of our nicest trees. Now, three years after our little stob came back to life, it has three strong branches coming out of its original trunk. This pitiful pauper of the flowerbed has displayed its glory and become the crowned prince of the hill. This year, for the first time ever, it is displaying some of the largest, beautiful dogwood blooms we have ever seen.
Many years ago two families were devastated and ravaged by the terrible reality of divorce. Helpless, confused, and lonely, a young single mother started a new life with her two boys. Not far away, in a similar circumstance, a young single father lived the same existence with his son and daughter. Much like the dogwood tree, cut off to a stob, raw and seemingly hopeless, these two souls lived an existence of survival, never to return to the ravages of a relationship with someone else.
One spring day, after some time and healing, God had another plan. Through miraculous circumstances these two souls came together, and new life began to sprout inside each of them. Hope began to flourish once again. Then, almost a year later, these two souls united in holy matrimony and brought their two little families together to begin a new life.
Today that man and that lady, my wife Katrina and I, are celebrating eleven years of marriage. It has not been easy, especially in the early years of our stepfamily. What we have been through has not been for the faint at heart. Certainly without God it could not have been possible, as He has provided a great deal of much needed “pruning”. Now, as our two little families grew into one big family of eleven, our little stob of a tree, our existence that we thought was hopeless, has branched out into three strong branches.
One branch that has been the centerpiece of our growth is our strong marriage. Without it we would have failed, miserably. On each side of our marriage has grown two other branches as well. One of these branches is our four older children, brought together by no fault of their own. Each of these fabulous four children is flourishing in their own right and have risen above our circumstances to become a success all their own. And last but not least is the third branch, the five beautiful children that God has blessed Katrina and I with, blossoming each day as we watch them grow.
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Were it not for our branches growing from the firmly rooted trunk, none of this would have come to pass. When we thought life was hopeless, God provided us a hope, a future, and a new life.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5