For years my goal had been to see my marriage healed and made whole. Now, I seemed to be adrift with no clear direction. I had no idea what I was supposed to do or what I was working toward.
“Lord, what is the desire of my heart?”
That is when I saw it.
Hanging down, snagged in the fork of a limb, a result of last night’s storms. The broken end close to the children’s swing set. A rather long limb big enough to do a lot of harm to any body, most certainly a child’s body.
Broken limbs. I sighed deep. A common occurrence in Texas in the spring. Not one I enjoyed, especially not now when I had to figure out how to get them to the ground.
Were there more?
I stood and turned to see the top of the house. Sure enough. Lying on the garage roof just hanging onto the electric wire a nice size one, too large to push off with the rake like I had last week’s sacrifice.
God, I don’t want to have to call anyone for help. Really? Was this necessary?
I studied the limb and remembered one of my favorite things: PVC pipe. I went to my extensive collection of pipe, found a long piece, attached a T-joint to the end, and put two short pieces on either side. I put the “T” end of the pipe against the limb and pushed.
The limb leaned, resisted, and suddenly flopped backward off the line. At least I wasn’t going to be a crispy critter today. How to get it down though?
Again, I studied the limb. What if I could…?
I shimmied the T into a fork of the limb, twisted it slightly, pulled gently…
Excellent. Just what I wanted.
Then I walked far from the wire, pulled the limb toward me, and ran when it fell off the house. One limb down. One to go.
Feeling proud of myself, I took my ingenious T pipe, put it against the bottom of the hanging limb, and pushed. The limb obviously had not been well advised because instead of popping up and falling out of the fork, it sort of grunted at me and didn’t budge.
Maybe I hadn’t pushed it far enough. I added to my length of pipe and pushed again. The limb still did not budge.
I stepped back and studied. I saw where a broken limb created a fork. Aha! I’ll snag that just like I did the other one, give a pull, and run when the limb tumbles down.
The snag was easy. The tug was easy. The top section of the pipe left hanging attached to the limb was unexpected.
I tried different angles, different pipe sizes, different everything I could think of. The limb did not budge.
Finally, I sat down.
I had spent who knows how long working on those limbs, and I hadn’t even had a chance to hear God, which is why I was out there anyway. And now, I had to cut up the limb from the house and still had to figure out how to get the limb out of the tree, and I didn’t want to call anyone because although I know God says He blesses people who take care of widows and orphans, I don’t want people getting blessed on my account.
Actually, that isn’t true. I don’t want to bother people or be a burden, and it’s only a limb for crying out loud.
A limb I couldn’t get down.
The rocker creak. I stared at the limb.
“God, really? Was this necessary today? What are You doing anyway?”
“Giving you the desires of your heart.”
I looked at the limb on the ground, and in an instant, I was over three decades away in a wooded area, my hands on the handle of a crosscut saw, my dad’s on the other handle. We were sawing up a tree for winter firewood. I wasn’t even in school yet, but Dad patiently taught me how to pull the saw, not push it, and when he carried big pieces of wood, I carried small ones. We spent many Saturday afternoons in the early fall felling trees, cutting them into woodstove size chunks, and splitting those with an axe.
It was one of my favorite things as a child. Dad and I spent time together, talked…as much as a preschooler and adult can, and were just there…together. I learned about teamwork and found out I could move big trees if they were cut into small enough pieces, and sometimes pieces were just too big for me, and Dad took care of those.
In another instant, I was back at the limb on the ground, the smell of cut wood floated around me, and the shwhoosh of a bow saw grinding its way through the flesh of the limb followed by the thwip of the back-pull kept my attention. Only this time, I wasn’t looking at my dad. I was looking at my daughter. A young lady in the becoming whose hands have never known a blister, much less a callous, with gloves on her hands and her hair pulled back into a ponytail, pushed and pulled the saw in her grip, buckled the blade, and tried again. This time the coaching voice was mine.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw my son, tying another bundle tight, spool of twine and scissors at his feet.
I smile with pride.
They are learning…
…That hard work won’t kill, how to work as a team, that big things cut into small parts are manageable.
And we talk. We blurt out our frustrations. Buckled saw blades really can jerk the body hard. Limbs are not the most cooperative things ever. It’s not as hard as we thought it might be. By the way, did you know…? And, I was thinking…
In that instant I saw them.
The desires of my heart.
A family that understands the value of a team, embraces doing what needs to be done…even when it is hard or new, is prepared to face life whatever comes, and is sure they can move any obstacle as long as they get it into the right size pieces. My preparing them for when I’m no longer here and it is their turn to be the coaches. Life skills not discussed on a comfy couch but learned in life ways so they really mean something.
What was I to trust God to resurrect?
Our sense of wholeness.
Our knowing we are a team.
Our ability to see obstacles and know there is a solution.
Our joy in being there…together.
My vision for how to get us where I want us to be and the wisdom to see prayers answered…even in the form of broken limbs.
Speaking of broken limbs, what about the one still hanging there?
I looked up, and I saw the answer: A rope with a loop on the end threaded through a long pipe. Use the pipe to place the loop around the broken part of the fork, give a hard tug, and run.
Yep, that should be fairly easy to do. In fact, we’d get it done later that afternoon…as a family…living the life I really wanted.