In today’s episode, Tamara shares 4 lessons we can learn from from trees, wind, and the storms life throws at us.
Got Storms? God is At Work, Even in This
Welcome to another episode of Tamara’s takeaways in the Stories of Hope in Hard Times podcast. This week we are going to talk about my takeaways from PeggySue Wells episode last week. And she is just unbelievable and amazing. And I am so inspired by her strength and courage as she weathered her divorce with faith and came out stronger and better and able to pass on so many incredible lessons.
So there was one lesson that I loved in particular that I’d love to talk about and tell you a personal story as well, and that is the fact that God is at work–even in this.
No matter where you are in your life, whether it’s being quarantined because of the coronavirus, cancer, diabetes, or other challenges, know God is at work. He can take that challenge and have it turn out for your good.
The Story of the Straight Line Winds
Now, I want to take you back in time, probably about 25 years or so. And at that point, I was preparing to be a missionary for my church. On one particular day I was just hanging out, and all of a sudden this huge storm hit and began blowing like crazy. Of course, we ran inside and took cover. Ten minutes later the storm was completely over, and I went back outside. There I was shocked to see the extent of the damage.
And what had happened was there was a weather phenomenon called a derecho, which in Spanish means “straight.” Basically, it’s a storm that has straight line winds. This storm happened to go through Utah and the Great Basin here of the United States. And these winds were so strong, that about a mile away from where I was, they clocked the highest wind at 121 miles per hour. So you can imagine there was extensive damage.
What I noticed the most were the trees. Before the storm there were trees that looked beautiful and vibrant and totally fine. After the storm, those same beautiful trees were laying flat on their side with their roots tipped up.
And what’s interesting about this is that the trees that was stood the storm were the trees that had sunk their roots deep into the earth. The ones that had fallen over had shallow roots. In fact, I’m looking at a picture right here of me standing by a tree and it had shallow roots, because it it just hadn’t been exposed to strong winds.
The Scientific Study on Trees
And what’s really cool is there was a study done by a bunch of scientists on trees that were exposed to wind versus trees that were not exposed to wind. And the little tiny saplings which were exposed to wind did a couple of things to the trees.
- The first thing is it stimulated diameter growth. So it made the tree trunk build thicker and stronger.
- The tree also sent out stronger roots.
So exposing a tree to wind helped it have stronger roots, stronger branches.
Lessons From Storms and Trees
Lesson #1 God is At Work–Even in This
Every situation you face in life can be interpreted as wind or a storm. And we can either look at the wind as something that’s trying to uproot us. Or we can look at the wind as something that is trying to give us thicker roots and thicker branches so that when the next storm comes, we are stronger and our roots are more deep.
And I love that is what Peggy Sue is able to now look back on her divorce and say, This gave me stronger roots. This gave me stronger branches. God was at work even in this.
Maybe during this season of the coronavirus you’re totally stressed out because you’ve been home. We all have situations in our life where the stresses and strains get to us. At that point, we can begin to build those stronger roots and branches so that we can withstand the next storm.
Lesson #2 Nourishing the Roots
Peggy Sue gave us an example of how important it was for her to help her children have a firm foundation. She and her children did Bible study and daily devotionals. They also prayed. These were two things that she really helped her children learn in their time of stress and strain.
So, two things we can do at times of stress, strain, life detours, wind, rains or storms is we can sink our roots deep into prayer; and we can sink our roots deep into scripture study. Because when we do those things we’re drawing on God who is much, much stronger than any of us could possibly be.
The Wise and Foolish Man
When I was a young girl, I remember my mom teaching us a little song about the wise man and the foolish man. This song comes from Matthew 7, where Jesus is teaching this parable.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not. For it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; And great was the fall of it.
I love this little parable that Jesus teaches. He teaches us that He wants us to have a firm foundation.
If you’re a tree, He wants you to have thick roots and thick branches. If you’re like you and me, he wants us to be strong and to be able to withstand the storms of life.
And so every little storm he helps you get through is preparing you so that you’re stronger for the next storm. So that when those 121-mile-an-hour winds come, you’re not uprooted. You’re not just a beautiful tree on the outside, but you’re strong on the inside.
Don’t Feel Strong?
And you may be thinking Tamara, I don’t feel very strong on the inside right now. And you know what, if you feel you’re not strong, you’re not alone. None of us are none of us are strong on our own. None of us are going to build a big strong tree on our own.
In fact, if you acknowledge that you’re not strong, that’s probably the first step in the right direction is knowing that you need a source stronger than you are. Because no tree is going to grow without living water. No tree is going to grow without sunshine, and we get those things from God.
We get our sun, we get our light from God, and He’s the one who helps make us stronger so that we can withstand these storms in life.
God is Building a House
I’d like to share with you a really neat quote that I found from C.S. Lewis, from his book Mere Christianity.
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
And I love the imagery of God is making us into something much bigger and grander than you or I can ever imagine. And it doesn’t end at death. We’re not done at death. He’s still got some work for us to do. And He’s going to keep polishing and refining us until we are perfect, resurrected, beautiful palaces (or strong trees). I love the thought of that.
Lesson #3–Let Go and Let God
But it is hard to let go and let God have that control. Sometimes, if you’re anything like me, I have a hard time letting somebody else be in charge because I like being in charge. And so that whole idea of letting go and letting God take control is hard. But we’re not in control anyway.
And we try so very hard to do our best. I don’t think letting go and letting God means that we shouldn’t make any goals. I think it means when things don’t turn out the way we want, that we trust God has got it figured out, and that He’ll help us turn this quarantine situation into something good. Something great will come of it.
Let God be that wind around yet to help make you stronger like that that story of the trees where the wind is helping you build deeper and more firm roots in a firm foundation. It’s helping you build on the rock, and that wind right there’s also helping you build stronger branches. So don’t be mad at the wind. It’s making you strong. Don’t be mad at your trials. God is remodeling you to be a palace in celestial glory on high someday.
Lesson #4–Find the Positives
In fact, I saw a thread on Facebook just this last week where somebody was asking what are some of your pandemic positives? Here are some of the comments that people shared:
- Some people really enjoyed being able to cook more.
- Some enjoyed having time to eat dinner as a family because there weren’t so many activities pulling them so many ways.
- One person loved the time to organize.
- Another person enjoyed playing board games. I know our family has enjoyed doing that. It’s been really, really fun.
- One person just loves being able to hang out in sweats. That just sounds so fun!
- One person commented that they felt they had time to be still and know that God is God.
- One person said, it’s great not to have early alarm clocks.
- Another person commented, it’s nice not to have traffic on the roads when they’re going to work in the morning.
And so, sometimes when we have these situations that are so hard and so challenging, it’s good to pause and say, What are the positives? Find those good things.
So, remember those amazing lessons:
- God is at work, even in this.
- Remember to nourish your roots. Sink your roots down deep into a foundation of prayer and scripture study and be strong with God.
- Let go and let God.
- Find the Good. Look for those pandemic positives and good things have come out of your trials?
We are now at the end of Tamara’s Takeaways where I always teach you something fun about me.
I have been a nature lover since I’ve been a little girl and I love being out in nature when I was a young girl I love going to girls camp. And I loved it so much that even after I graduated from high school, I went back again to kind of over help oversee my sisters at camp.
When my husband and I first got married, we thought we were going to be huge campers. We invested in a tent and as the children started coming and autism became a part of our life through our children, camping has not been a very big part of our lives. This is due to the fact that we have children who already don’t sleep well because of autism.
And so we have tried to keep everybody sleeping as happy and great as possible. So we have had to adapt. My husband has taken the kids (minus Nathan) camping. We have stayed in cabins, homes and tent cabins as we have explored nature, and it has gone pretty well.
And here we are many, many moons later and I’m excited to report that we’re going to rent an RV and try camping again. Not in a tent, but a little step closer to camping so that hopefully Nathan will sleep well and I’m going to report back to you how that goes.
Because that is something that we have always enjoyed. We love being out in nature both my husband and I do and we’ve tried to instill that love of nature and the national parks, state parks, in our children as well. The world is such a beautiful, beautiful place.
So sometimes our loves are awesome. And sometimes they have to be adapted a little bit and that’s okay. We’re going to “let go and let God” even in my circumstance, and try to enjoy life to the fullest.
So, I’ll report back to you how that went after we have our little RV trip. Anyway, that is just a new little tidbit that you can know about me and my family. And I hope you have a wonderful and blessed day.
PS–Hang on during those storms!