My Life is Like a Burl

I saw two large burls on a tree yesterday as my husband and I hiked through Buttermilk Falls State Park. This is one trail we had never been on before.  As we were hiking up, the gorge dropped away to the left and the forest was to our right… all green and fragrant with living things.





There are signs everywhere:


There are other signs, like a splash of white on a tree, for trail guidance, or the name of a trail:


Gorge Trail, Bear Trail, Rim Trail, Finger Lakes Trail Spur, and Lake Treman.


I wanted a photo of that 2-burl tree, so I went off the trail…a bit. It wasn’t so far I’d get lost and I’m mindful of deer ticks, but there was no brush there.

The forest ground was soft underfoot. Season after season of dropped leaves and pine needles turn to dense carpet, and all was quiet but a few birds.

It smelled rich, earthy. I felt at home.


There was no touching the 2-burls on the tree they were too high up. I would have liked to run my hand over the bumps, twists and twirls on it.


A burl is not a tree’s friend.

Somewhere along the way in the tree’s growth it became infected. It might have been some kind of stress, injury, virus or fungus that attacked it. Often the tree is attacked beneath the ground in the root system and builds up. Even there the burl is covered with dense bark.

I wondered about my life and what if people could see a burl on my physical body– how I had been attacked by something and it left me deformed.

Or worse, what if I had strayed from the God who fiercely loves me?

What if the rest of my life I had to live with the shame of an obvious burl on my human form?

PicMonkey Collage

Paul talked about his purpose in Colossians:

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”


And he goes on to say:


“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus, as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Col. 2:2-3,6,7 NIV



The most interesting thing about these deformed burls is that they are very highly prized as dense wood. Their grain is twisted and interlocked, and extremely dense, which makes it all the more rare. You can search on Google and find items such as small tables, bowls, and wall hangings, made from burls.

I think of you and me. We all have wild and crazy burls, but God knows them. He has gone through the battles with us. He knows every inch of our being, from before the womb.

And he still loves us.

Think about your burls in life today, and with me, thank God he never gives up on us. His plan in the beginning will be finished in his time, and we are all part of the plan. Whether we stay with him or wander away, his plan is still in place and we can do nothing to change it.

Today I’m thankful for the burl reminder that whatever I am, God is in me doing his work, and he is pleased to work in me.

Me…a small insignificant person on this big earth! I’m not a Hollywood star (thank you!), a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief. I’m just me, and not just content to be used by God, but to live in wonder.











It’s All About the Yoke


Plenty of stress builds up when you have a large family like ours. Life can throw you real curve balls and blind side you right into full-blown panic. Things seem to run along smoothly and then…flat tire.

My response has been panic too many times. (Believe me, I talk with my sister about this too often). But I’m speaking more about relationships in our lives, not flat tires.

There is so much to juggle with being sure we say the right thing so we don’t offend any people. Even if we think we are walking in the Spirit, we can be blindsided by something that causes us to react…instantly.



I can honestly say that in my humanness I still try to set up “the plan of attack” when something hits me…something of grave consequence. I think I need a plan so things will go smoothly…according to me. Often I don’t even take a breath before I charge in and put things in order. Order, sure I like order. I’m a first-born and need to put my chicks in a row. It’s easier that way…for everyone.

Probably not.

I have trouble with feeling responsible to fix anyone who wants help, or complains about something or someone. After all I’m a mother, am I not?

Have you ever felt this way?



All Google images

I need the hands off policy when it comes to people and relationships. I should be able to listen, but only encourage, and not necessarily agree…and definitely not worry.

These are a few things I need to remember:

  • Stop blaming myself for things I can’t control, such as other people, (past or present).
  • Stop letting people force their problems on me and expect me to fix them.
  • Stop letting people complain to me about anything, as if I should do something about it.
  • Stop making rash judgments of others. I don’t know what they are going through.
  • Stop expecting people to be what I want them to be.
  • Stop waiting for someone to change, because it’s not my job. Even if I pray for them, they may not change. I need to accept my daily portion.
  • Hardest of all: stop expecting close loved ones to fulfill my needs.

I am not God!

The more I take on, the less I trust God. The more I act my own boss…the more I am anxious!

I clearly can’t hear God at all!

When things in life get hot, troubling, or stressful…He wants me to rest.

Sometimes it means physical rest, and sometimes He makes me!

Note to myself: remember what Paul said…

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

                                                                                                 Phil. 2:12-16 NIV

 Instead of grumbling…

 “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”

                                                                                                 Eph. 6:19-21 NIV

 And then remember some of my favorite words…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

                                                                                              Matt. 11:28-30 Msg

Have you ever seen an owl stress? I couldn’t resist posting this one.