Thursday, December 31, 2009


Yesterday we returned from our long trek following a visit with my husband’s family. On the way home we were able to stop for the night to spend time with my husband’s grandmother. As we pulled into her driveway she pointed to her neighbor’s lawn. “See all his trees are gone?” She explained how the owner had his trees chopped down in order to sell them. He needed the money for mortgage and cutting down his trees allotted him the funds to be able to stay put. He had at least forty trees cut down.

That night as I slept, preparing for another long drive the next day I kept thinking of Grandma’s neighbor. I tossed and turned. I weighed his decision. Their neighborhood has been dubbed “the forest.” The lots are shrouded with towering pines, maples and plenty of other trees. As I thought about his bare land I felt a heavy weight press in on me. In the morning I sipped tea and stared out the window where frost would allow. My eyes glazed over when I noticed the snowy land bulleted with polka dots.

I saw stumps.

Dozens of stumps poked up from his backyard. I blew out a grieving breath for him. Why I felt such sadness over the trees confounds me. The feelings probably stirred as a result of a left over holiday thing (or a Lorax thing…but who’s to say for sure why…I just felt it).

Then, just as the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes on that one particular day, my thoughts bubbled over themselves. Ideas ballooned inside me. I understood the events of treeless neighbor man in a whole new light.

We sacrifice. We give. We make decisions moment by moment. And we do all of this to fight for what we love. We choose our priorities. Second by second we demonstrate what we value. Maybe instead of waking up with his cup of joe strolling to his windows teary-eyed and simmering with regret, maybe treeless guy next to Grandma feels something entirely opposite. He might appraise his yard freckled with brown spots like the one found on the inside pages of The Giving Tree and instead of remorse or bitterness about selling his trees, maybe the man experiences an entirely different sensation.


He may no longer have his trees to shade him, to hear the birds chirp overhead in, or to watch the canopy of leaves sway and rustle in the breeze. But he still has a window to go to when he wants to take in the outdoors. He’s still warm when night temperatures drop to frigid degrees in the twenties and below. He still has a home.

Every single second we make a choice about how we receive life. We can take in our circumstances and feel them push in on us to the point of sorrow and stress or…OR…we can be thankful we are still living and go from there. There is always somewhere to go from there.

Besides, stumps make a fine place to sit and think.

What is it for you today, are you seeing life house full or stump empty?
*photos by flickr
**next week I'll share about getting to meet my critique partner and blogging friend
***this is a special Thursday post b/c I missed blogging


  1. This is a great post, Wendy. I would have felt the same way you did, when you saw the stumps. You did an amazing job turning it around and thinking about why he might have done it. Very good reminder.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. What a great way to look at the situation! I am a glass half full kind of person, but occasionally fight the half empty thing. Stumps, perspectives, and opportunities - good post! Blessings and Happy New Year to you and your readers:)

  3. What a beautiful post. See, this is why I missed you Wendy!

  4. Thoughtful and beautiful post! Thank you for sharing that story. Truly, if we don't sacrifice, we can't wholly love something. Or someone. The gratitude is certainly part of that.

  5. My husband tends to be the house full guy and I tend to be the stump empty. Thanks for the reminder to be grateful!

  6. I love the Lorax!

    Great post. And you know...when he has his financial security again, he'll probably plant new trees. That's the great thing about trees. They grow.

    Happy New Year!

  7. Hey, Wendy! Great post! You gave me a lot to think about.

    On the tree side, I know the feeling. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of trees and love it. For some reason, we've had to cut down three of ours, including the biggest, most beautiful pine. We still have many on the other side of the yard, but half of it feels really empty. It's hard to see. We still have our septic system because of it (the roots were growing into it), but we lost something beautiful. I get really upset when I see people cutting down trees for reasons other than need. They're so beautiful and so difficult to replace.

  8. Glad you're back to give my mind something to turn over. I think I can be alittle of both sometimes. I'm learning that in whatever state I'm in to be content- both how to abase and how to abound.

    Thanks Wendy! Have a great New Year!

  9. I was grieved when I read that he had to cut down his trees. I think if I were that man I would have focused on the loss for awhile but would eventually smile and be glad that I had a resourse that allowed me to keep my house.
    Thanks for showing another way to look at situations.

  10. Wonderful thoughts here Wendy:) Trying to be happy too with the stumps in my life.
    Glad you made it home safely! Can't wait to read about you and Jill!

  11. Wow, what a sacrifice he had to make! But I'm sure you're absolutely right in that he's at peace with his decision. It's always sad when we have to give up something for the greater good, but the outcome is usually worth it.

    Have a wonderful New Year!

  12. Your outlook on life is inspiring. I hope to see life full instead of stump empty. Happy New Year!

  13. Beautiful post, as always...I like how your mind works :)

    Happy New Year, Miss Wendy.

  14. I have a lot of stumps, one from having to move from a place we didn't want to, but thought it was necessary for the good of our family and the church we were serving. Ten years later I still wonder what the best decision would have been. But, because I believe God wants us to move on, we still have "life house full," b/c he has given us numerous other blessings. Good article.

  15. Such warm and deep thoughts, Wendy, and I thank you for sharing their importance. Also - The Giving Tree is one of my very favorites!

    Happy New Year, lady.

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