Tag Archive | avocado tree

From Death, Life

IMG_3589This is my backyard. Looks good, doesn’t it? If you look closely, though, you can spot the imperfections. You can see the tracks the dog has made as he madly chases his thrown ball. You can see the weeds that have gone unpulled. And if you look closer still, you can see where some plants have just not made it, despite our attention.

Recently, I noticed several examples of places where we thought we had taken out a plant that was dead only to find, months later, that it is thriving again. This comes as a surprise to me, but it really shouldn’t, because it’s so much like God. He reminded me of that this morning.

First, around our pool enclosure we have rows of a pretty flowering bush called Ixora. We had a bad frost several years ago, and all those bushes suffered. Over the years the other bushes made a good comeback, but this little one never recovered. So my husband pulled it out.

Or so we thought.

Second, next to our koi pond, we had a little variegated plant called Stromanthe (at least I think that’s what it is). It grew and blossomed and did really well. For awhile. Then the leaves started turning brown. Though it was large and seemingly happy, something was not right in its little world, and it started to decline. I tried pruning it back, cutting away the dried brown leaves and trying to shape it up a little. But it didn’t respond to my touch. Eventually, we made the decision to pull it out and once again my husband did the deed.

Or so we thought.IMG_2048

Third, we had a beautiful avocado tree in our backyard tragically eaten by beetles. I wrote about that several years ago. You can read that story here. When we found a gnawed-upon fruit that the squirrels had discarded sprouted in the corner of the yard, we thought, well, what could it hurt? So we transplanted that tiny seedling into our front yard, watered it daily, kept an eye on it and hoped. You can read about that part of the story here.

And then something miraculous happened in all 3 cases. New life.

IMG_8106Our pulled-up Ixora is small but blossoming.

The seemingly dead Stromanthe is tiny but growing.

And that little avocado seedling is now a nearly 20-foot tall tree and has fruit of its own.

Amazing.

And the lesson here? Other than caring for, watching and hoping, we did nothing to cause the new growth. It was only and always in the hands of the Creator. Sometimes it took mere months to see the growth; sometimes, as in the case of the avocado, it took IMG_8077years.

In the letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6-7 ESV).

Do you have a child who is straying? Pray, love, care for, encourage, don’t give up hope. God is at work, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.

Given up on your marriage? As long as there is breath in your body, pray, nurture, and don’t give up hope. Oh, please, don’t give up hope.

Do you see only death around you? Death of dreams, of chances, of families? Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly.

IMG_8102Make no mistake, we have had other plants over the years that have, simply put, died. The uprooting was complete and they never came back to life.

Sometimes children never come back to the Lord. Sometimes marriages fail, despite our best efforts.

But God.

He is still working. Sometimes the new life and growth is in our wandering child or our wounded marriage. And sometimes it’s simply and profoundly in us.

 

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The Beetle Within Us

avocadoWe had a beautiful avocado tree. We purchased it, and another for friends who live less than a mile away, about 5 years ago, just before these friends returned from a time of living overseas. The first four years of its life with us were spent growing, thriving and providing hope for a future bumper crop of Florida avocados. The tree grew to more than 10 feet tall with shiny, dark green leaves providing a canopy in the back corner of our yard.

We weren’t disappointed. Last year, we had a bumper crop. Every day we could go out and pick an avocado to garnish a salad or a sandwich, or gather a few to make a tempting bowl of guacamole. There were so many that even the squirrels had their fill, much to our chagrin. But the dog had a grand time tearing out every morning and chasing them away. What was left on the ground with little rodent teeth marks we simply washed off, cut away the nibbled parts, and enjoyed the rest. We couldn’t wait for another harvest this year.

And then one day, I looked out at our lush tree and saw a plethora of brown, dead leaves covering the top portion. We have had a very mild winter here in Orlando, so I ruled out freeze burn. What could possibly be wrong? So I waited, hoping that it was just a fluke. A few days later, after a bit of a windstorm, I looked again and our grass around the tree was littered with dead leaves that had been blown off by the wind.

I took a picture and texted it to my husband. What in the world could be wrong with our beautiful tree?

Again, a few days later, we knew we were in desperate trouble. Nearly all the leaves were brown and, with just a touch, I could pull off a deadened bough.

I called the nursery from which we had purchased the tree. The news was indeed devastating: ambrosia beetles. Our tree was beyond hope.

The kind lady at Lukas Nursery gave me the signs to look for, and they were there. They might have been there all along; I just hadn’t known what to look for. Last weekend, we took the tree down. I kept inspecting the branches, wanting to see hoards of beetles pouring out, just so I would know that that really had been the problem. What we found was one.

Now, I don’t think that that one little beetle did all the damage itself, but that was all we found. Our once beautiful tree, grown strong and majestic, providing us with days of fruit last summer, had been felled by a tiny insect no more than 2 inches long. What we thought was a healthy, happy tree had been at risk for a long time, and we hadn’t seen it coming until it was too late.

The same could be said for the people around us. How often have we heard that someone’s child has fallen into sin and wondered how in the world could that have happened? A beloved and admired co-worker has an affair, ending a marriage you had believed to be strong. A mother leaves her family because she can’t handle the stress. Or someone is just so overwhelmed with the pressure of keeping up the façade that they fall into deep depression.

Just a casual glance at our tree, and an admiration of how lovely it looked and an appreciation for the work that it did to provide us with fruit we enjoyed, did not give us an inkling that there was something deeply wrong. Until it was too late.

Don’t let it get too late for the people you love. Ask the hard questions; take the time to listen to them; look past the façade. And do the same when you look in the mirror.

Really. Before it’s too late.

Thankful today for:

811. a pleasant back porch

812. toothpaste

813. clean water I don’t have to tote from a well

814. fun field trips

815. prayer times with friends

816. the success of others

817. gift cards to fun places

818. the deepening voices of my sons

819. a husband who still tells his teenage boys that he loves them

820. my animals

I’ve just reached the year mark of my thankfulness list–and my regular posts on my blog–and, as you can see, I haven’t reached my goal of 1000 yet. So I’m just going to keep going until I get there. Thanks for joining me on the journey.