Posts Tagged ‘cedar’

Building a tree fort for four boys is a very important act of Fatherhood. I have heard, “You’re a genius!” spoken in my direction from my offspring more in the past couple of days than I have the entire 17 years of this parenting journey so far. Many of our years of parenting have reflected something my sister-in-law posted on Facebook this morning. “My daughter is like green tea. She draws out my toxins and impurities. Then rubs them in my face.” Thank you Erin, that about sums things up. But having my oldest two attest to my genius-like attributes makes holding the baby worth the birthing process.

Building a tree fort is kind of like building a family. At times I really am not sure I know what the heck I’m doing and then all of the sudden things look alright, only to be lead into long moments of bewilderment and complete confusion.

One of the hardest moments so far in the construction of this elevated fort of awesomeness comes with a bit of irony as I drive huge lag bolts through the bark and into the woody trunk to hold pieces of it’s cousin onto its side. The human cut and planed boards being attached to a living tree holds a whole sermon in thought but will probably never be preached. The tough part is making these boards level so the tree fort can hold some resemblance of a highly crafted structure.

Piece by piece leveling the floor.

With only one branch to build upon and the great desire to have a fort that enjoys 180 deg. view it began quite difficult to keep things level, not to mention the difficulty of building the platform frame with no supports.

First Wall and Bracing.

But with a little help from a couple of strong young men, a four by four brace and a four foot level it finally started to take the resemblance of sketches floating in my head. Once we figured out how to build the first section of the base the next few became easier. Then screwing down the floor and building another wall was as easy as making nice MLT: a mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.

Finished Platform and Second Wall

Kind of like living, isn’t it? Those foundations are so hard to build but when they are built so much can happen and so quickly. Problem is, so many of us decide the foundation building is just too hard, so like pansies, we give up and go right to building the structure without the foundation. We think all the glory is in the structure – no one ever notices the foundations  –  everyone sees the structure.

My foundation for the fort was in place long before I fastened the first plank  to it’s uncle, Mr. Cedar Tree. I actually learned how to build from my dad, then from school, then from a company that built barns, then from my own construction business I ran for several years. All of that gave me the ability and confidence to place a firm foundation so the structure can be good looking and safe.

Don’t cheat foundation building. Give it time and enjoy it. Work at it. It will always pay off. These times of struggle and hardship are what glorious tree forts are built upon.

 

James 1:2-4, Romans 5:1-5, Psalm 139:14, Jeremiah 1:5

mushroomThere in the woods was a small plain mushroom of one brownish color who discovered that it was the smallest creature of all the woodland world. It found its place in the world at the base of a magnificent cedar tree of unbelievable size. The cedar stretched to the highest reaches of the forest towering high over the rest of the woodland trees.  All of the woodland creatures looked up to the mighty Cedar, its height was the envy of all the other trees. They constantly compared themselves to the glory of the mighty Cedar; it’s thick trunk was a symbol of unbelievable strength, it’s hundreds of huge limbs spread out wide, shading the forest floor from the severe elements of the mountain weather, it’s yearly production of seed cones helped thousands of new trees begin life in the forest floor miles around. This grand tree was the mightiest of the mighty, the strongest of the strong and the healthiest of the healthy and it was the envy of all the other forest vegetation.

The younger trees longed to be as big and strong as the mighty Cedar. The shrubs and bushes envied the Cedar’s height. The flowers of the forest floor admired the Cedar’s strong sturdy trunk. The deciduous trees longed to be green year around and strong enough to hold so much snow in their branches as the mighty Cedar could. The ferns wished they could produce as many little ferns as the Cedar produced new trees each year. Even the little mushroom, the smallest creature of the woods dreamed of some day being as big as the mighty Cedar, knowing that it would be impossible. She hoped that someone would only notice her growing quietly in the shadow of the Cedar, beside the massive trunk and under the huge limbs. There seemed to be no purpose for her. It made her sad that she did not have the amazing qualities of the mighty Cedar and soon she started to resent the Cedar and wished it would just go away.

One day a terrible wind storm blew through the mountains where the little mushroom lived. It blew very hard all night long. The wind, roaring through the trees that towered over the mushroom, made an awful rushing noise that made the mushroom very much afraid. In the early hours of the morning the mushroom held her head low trying to close the noise out when a loud cracking sound split through the rushing wind. It was so loud the mushroom almost jumped out of the ground from being startled. She was very much afraid for the rest of the night.

But like all storms this one came to an end as the sun peeked up over the far hills. The mushroom lifted her head to look around in the cool morning light that streamed through the surrounding branches of the many trees in her forest. She saw many broken branches laying on the forest floor and the whispering of the trees about the violence of the storm that night. The forest soon came back to life with the animals and trees and plants chatting and playing.

The little mushroom wondered what the loud “cracking” noise could have been during the storm, so she thought she would ask the one being who she thought would know the answer: the mighty Cedar.

She was nervous because the Cedar had never talked with her before and he was so big and intimidating, and he probably didn’t have time for such a small creature of the woods.

“Excuse me.” She said timidly.

“Excuse me.” She said a bit louder.

“Yes?” Came a booming voice right next to her. It was the Cedar, he was speaking to her. The little mushroom shivered out of nervousness and surprise that he had spoken to her.

“I was wondering if you knew what that loud Cracking sound was last night.” She replied, thinking he would just push her aside and get on with his greatness.

“I will tell you, Little Lady, but you must promise not to tell any of the other forest creatures.” The Cedar said to her.

Surprised, she answered quietly, “OK.”

The mighty Cedar leaned closer to the little mushroom and said, “Last night the wind was too strong for me to handle. It was a great North Wind of mighty proportions and it has cracked my trunk, I fear that I may not be able to stand much longer. My fear is that I may fall and hurt many of the woodland creatures in the path of the destruction.”

“But how? I mean, why? I mean, how is it possible that someone as great and mighty as you could break?” Asked the littlest creature in the forest.

“Little Lady, over the past 600 years I have grown tall and strong and have become the envy of the entire forest. I know that my trunk is of unmatched proportions and my limbs spread wider than any other tree and I produce more seed cones than any creature of the forest. I am a mighty cedar tree that has no enemy and no comparable peer. But, Little One, over the years I have allowed this greatness to become my idol and have not given my praise back to the One who has allowed me to become so mighty. This pride, I have secretly enjoyed, started to eat away at the core of my trunk almost 80 years ago, weakening my in most being. On the outside I still look strong, but my heart is weak and sick. Years ago I could stand up to such a strong wind; I would laugh at the North Wind. But now, because I have taken pride in the envy of the woodland creatures I have become unable to withstand the winds, which lead to my fragile shell of trunk to crack and I am afraid I will soon die.”

The little mushroom didn’t know what to say. It was hard to believe that such a mighty being could be at the edge of death.

“I do not understand. How could you die? You look so big and strong.” Asked the mushroom.

“This is a path that I have chosen for myself because I did not turn the praise of my fellow woodland creatures back towards the Creator. I have taken all the praise for myself and although I have repented of my wrong, my time is passed and I now must face the end.”

“But there is more young lady.”

“What is it?” asked the mushroom.

“You are a sign of good things to come. You are growing because of the rot that is in my heart and which has gone into my roots. You’re simple beauty has flourished because of the death within me. The Creator of all things has set a certain Truth in place, which says that beauty can emerge

out of pain.

You, little mushroom, have spent many days wanting to be like me while all along missing the amazement of who you are. You carry certain qualities that I will never have.”

“I do?” Questioned the small mushroom.

“Why yes! You are dainty, an attribute I could never attain. You have grown out of the ground in the shade and from a soil that most would call ‘rotten,’ but which you have used for good and growth. You alone, Little Lady, are in a shape that only you possess, and that shape is beautiful.  You are extremely interesting in your own right and that interest should never be taken lightly.”

“Please understand that while you are longing to be like me, you are desperately trying to flee from the beauty you were created to be, and instead of giving your praise back to the Creator you are telling him that what He has created is ugly and not good enough. You are in jeopardy of the same sickness I have found myself in, that of a sick heart. Please learn from my mistake and take glory in your unique beauty and give glory to the Creator for His amazing creation: You.”

The small woodland creature took the words of the might Cedar and thought about them for many days. She didn’t want to believe the words were true and that she was wonderful and amazing just like he was. She felt there was truth in the words but they were so hard to accept, especially looking up every day at the Mighty Cedar.

One night the North Wind swept back into the forest. It made the mushroom quite afraid as the branches of the mighty Cedar shook and swayed and creaked for hours. Then it happened, there was a splitting noise that echoed through the forest with a ferocious cry ending with a crash that exploded through the noise of the wind.

Soon the North Wind passed and as the sky turned light again the mushroom turned her head towards the sky only to see the Mighty Cedar had been broken down in a mighty fall, and she saw that what the tree had said about his heart was true, for there in his trunk was a rotten core with only a few inches of living tree around it.

The small mushroom cherished these things in her heart and began to praise the Creator for the beauty she was given and she learned to give praise for her amazement.

The following spring the little mushroom was joined by hundreds of other mushrooms all growing from the decaying roots of the Mighty Cedar and she was able to teach each of them of the unique beauty each individual mushroom has and the wonder of giving that glory back to the Creator.