When Matthew died, we received a tree as a gift for him from a friend. She said she was driving down the road and God told her, plain as day, to go to the store and buy us a tree. She didn't understand why, but at that very moment, she turned her car around and bought us a tree. A couple of hours later, my friend stood at my door with a tree she pulled from the back of her minivan. She looked a little embarrassed and confused. As she said, "I don't know why, but God told me to bring you this." It was so strange, we told her, because we had just been talking about buying a tree to plant in the backyard in his memory.
We planted Matthew's tree and I was so eager to watch it grow tall and strong. I was devastated the day I looked in the backyard and discovered that our puppy had destroyed the tree, basically chewing it down to the ground. It was like a punch to the gut. Matthew’s tree, his memorial tree, was destroyed.
It was fitting, really, I thought. Quite symbolic. Much like that tree, I felt as if I'd been cut down to my core. I felt like I'd never be the same again. I could relate to that poor little tree.
The next spring, I was pregnant again. I wasn't back to normal, but I was better than I had been the past fall. My husband came into the house from doing yardwork looking with an amused yet astonished look on his face. He let me know that the tree that we had assumed was dead had started showing signs of new life. It was growing from the ground once again after it had been destroyed. I had an appreciation for this tenacious little tree and felt a strange connection to it. We were living parallel lives.
Each day, each month, each season, the tree grew a little taller, a little stronger. It wasn't a quick, easy process, however. The dark winter freezes did their best to kill the small tree. The torrential spring rains pounded at its weak frame, yet somehow, it managed to stay upright. It had taken up strong roots during those days when we had thought it was dead. It wasn't dying. It was being restored, preparing for these hard days ahead that were sure to come. God knew what this tree would face and He prepared it accordingly.
Today, nearly seven years later, this tree stands nearly ten feet tall. It’s not a giant, strong tree but it grows tall and proud, overcoming great obstacles. It went through some hard times and it still doesn't stand looking as majestic as I'm sure it someday will, but it has survived. It has never looked healthier or stronger. I know it is rooted and grounded against what may try to take it down. It can withstand puppy attacks, strong winds and cold winters now without fear. It only has to focus now on spreading its branches and expanding its influence so that others may seek refuge in its branches. It is ready for that step now.
Yes. I can relate to my Matthew's tree and I'm so thankful that Kerry listened to God when He asked her to put a small tree in the back of her minivan in September of 2010.