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Why Do You Weep, Willow?

As I sat under the willow tree I stared up wondering why the willow’s leaves fell down as if they were wilting. The other trees burst upward, reaching for the sky, unlike this one.

Why does this one weep? I thought.

As a eight-year-old full of questions and not afraid of rejection, I looked at the tree and asked, “Why do you weep, willow?”

As I waited in silence I took in the green grass that swayed in the gentle summer breeze. I looked for jumping fish in the pond to the right. I saw baby birds as they chirped for the worm dangling in front of them. That’s when I heard the soothing, whispering sound coming from the tree that I rested against.

Turning around, I saw no one.

“For many reasons.” Said the voice.

As I looked around confused, my eyes returned to the tree where its trunk molded into a figure. The long dangling branches appeared to be hair. The leaves whisping around what looked to be ahead, then a body and two large branches that stemmed off as arms.

Her eyes, brown, reflected the green from her hair. What had been two knots in the wood had morphed into eyes. Her lips, a light brown, did not frown as the leaves did.

“What?” I asked, unsure if it was my imagination or reality.

“You asked me why I weep, did you not?” She asked in a gentle yet stern voice.

“I- I didn’t think you were alive.”

“You assume what many others do. However, not many have the courage to ask.”

“Well… then why do you weep?”

“For many reasons.”

I knew this already and was eager for more information.

“You already said that.”

“Yes.”

Clearly, I had been dreaming because this conversation wasn’t going anywhere. I pinched myself to wake up. But, she was still there when I opened my eyes.

“What’s one of the reasons?”

“Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you.”

Before I could reply I watched as the tree transformed back to its original shape. Having seen the woman, I could still make out her shape, her eyes, and mouth, but she was now still and frozen.

I walked away, unsure about whether or not to return.

***

“You’ve come back” She said as I came upon her low-hanging leaves.

“I want to know why you weep.”

“I weep for the beauty my Creator has given.”

“Why would you cry because something is beautiful? Isn’t that a good thing?” I asked.

“Not all who weep are sad.”

I looked at her, eyes squinted. All I had ever seen were sad tears, what other kinds could there be?

“You are not limited to sadness when you weep.”

“I’m always sad when I cry.” I responded.

“Yes, only because you have not felt a pure joy that only the Creator can bring you. Find this, and you will weep as I do.”

“How do you find the Creator?”

“Right in front of you.” She said as one of her long thin branches stretched out revealing the hills, the pond, the tall wildflowers swaying, and the birds flying in and out of them.  “But also in here.” She said as one of her branches pointed to my chest.”

I looked down where one of the leaves touched the skin that covered my heart.

“How could something that makes you so happy you weep, live in me? I am not beautiful enough to make you weep.”

“But you are.”

“Who says?”

“The Creator Himself.”

With that, she transformed once again back to the tree.

I never saw her again but visited the tree often. I began to see the beauty she once told me of.

I began to weep and for the first time in my life, I understood why the willow wept as she did.

 

Florida High School Shooting

I ran as I watched it on the TV.

As I watched an event unfold that should tear us all to pieces.

But when I looked around, I saw nothing out of the ordinary.

A few glances at the TV, then right back to lifting weights, biking or staring at a screen.

As I ran and saw the headline “Florida High School Shooting” I got angrier.

I got to the point where I couldn’t just run, watch and wait as if that would do anything for the parents, husbands, wives, mothers, daughters, brothers to these students and faculty who probably stood there stunned by what they saw.

When I realized how upset I was and I looked around, I was more angry at myself and the people around me than I was at the event.

School shootings may be more common than ever, but that doesn’t mean they should be easier to forget. Just because I’m not from Florida doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be devastated by this. Just because I didn’t know anyone personally, doesn’t mean my heart shouldn’t be shattered- and not for one second before I go back to doing my own thing.

Just because I have school, work, homework, meetings, doesn’t mean I can’t stop to recognize the devastation that is going on.

As I write this and hear laughter and conversations about other things I’m saddened. I’m saddened that a place such as a Christian university, I saw and heard of nobody taking a moment to stop what they were doing and just pray.

I’m saddened because people will see this on the news and be upset, but only as long as they want to be. Their phone will buzz and they might bring it up, but most likely, they’ll continue on with their conversation.

Lives, young lives, were lost today, and many before them in a crime that I will never understand. Lives were lost. Does that mean anything to us anymore?

As Christians, we’re told to pray about everything: Philippians 4:6.

Is that something we are committed to?

Are we so self-involved that we have forgotten how to care for our brothers and sisters that aren’t in our “bubble”? These people might be hundreds of miles away, but that doesn’t mean we should care less, pray less, listen less or love less.

I often wondered what people meant when they said Christians aren’t as unified as they could be. Now I can understand why that might be.

I hope that this article makes you feel hurt, sad and honestly convicted as I have felt. Convicted to remember that these are precious lives that in God’s eyes, are just as important as ours. None of our lives are more important than another, no matter the distance, the difference in culture, race, age, gender etc.

How much time are we willing to take away from our own lives, to think about others, to mourn, cry, hurt, pray and love with others during horrific moments like these.

I encourage you to think about these things, Christian or not. How careless are you willing to allow the society you live in, to be?

 

The Woman of the Earth

Magnolia laid there, her mother had come in, shut the curtains, kissed her on the forehead and closed the door. She jumped out of bed and tiptoed to the window where she drew the curtains away. She sat on her knees and looked up, the pale light illuminating her face.

She looked up at me and smiled, waiting.

“Tell me again, tell me again!” She attempted to whispered.

So, again, I began the story as I always do.

“In another time, I was not yet confined to the sky. I walked among you, in search of something incredible. It wasn’t until I passed her in the street that early July morning that I knew what that something was.

She surpassed incredible. Her dark features were a contrast to her pale skin. She had dark brown hair that was curled to her torso and dark blue eyes that might pierce you if she were capable of such a thing.

While I saw these things first, it wasn’t what made me fall in love. It was the way she looked at the fresh flowers at the flee market. The way she smiled as she left coins in an old man’s hands and inhaled the flower’s scent. It was the way she walked; as if she had no other obligations in the world. It was the way she read in the park, on a bench alone, as the busy world went on. Somehow, unaware of her presence.

It was the way she sipped her strawberry lemonade under a yellow umbrella. It was the way she sat and stared at the lake in awe of the beauty. It was the way she ran in the morning, strong and determined. It was the way she looked at a complete stranger, someone everyone else had not noticed.

It was the way she laughed and smiled when I struggled to find words to ask her to dinner. It was the way she said ‘yes’ and beamed at me as though I were some king. It was the way she spoke about her passions, the way her words were crafted in her mind to inspire everyone.

These were the reasons I fell in love with her.

We walked and talked, I bought her flowers, smiled at the old man as I dropped the coins into his hand. She taught me how to run, encouraging me despite my heavy breaths. We sat under the yellow umbrella, me with a lemonade. We sat in the park where she taught me the importance of old books. She showed me how to love the wilderness and the complexity of the waves. She showed me the man in the moon, someone she had confided in on nights like these.

She taught me how to love everything around me, even myself. The only thing she couldn’t teach me was how to unlove something. She couldn’t teach me how to live without her or the necessity of moving away. She couldn’t teach me why it wasn’t the right time. She couldn’t teach me how to stop loving her.”

“So, that’s why you’re up there!” Magnolia yelled before she covered her mouth worried her parents might hear her.

“Yes, my child. Do you know why?”

“So you can watch over her day and night, and love her from a distance because she couldn’t teach you how to stop loving her.” She said in excitement. This time loud enough for the city to wake up.

“Magnolia, who are you talking to?” her mother asked stepping into the room.

“The man in the moon, of course.”

Looking down, I fell in love all over again.

 

 

It’s been a while, I know. After a crazy schedule, I had the urge to create something new and different and that’s how this short-short- story was born. Let me know what you think!

Forgiveness Road

Have you ever asked for forgiveness from someone? If you’re like me, you have and when you do, you expect all to be forgiven. Turn that around though, and someone asks you for it, are you ready to return it as easily as you ask for it?

When I drive to and from school, it’s about a 200-mile drive. Sometimes that drive feels endless. Sometimes I think I’m two hours in and I’ve only been on the road for 20 minutes.

Many times I wish I could fast-forward to when I arrive and I’m comfortable with the people I love and miss.

Other times, the ride flies by and before I know it, I’m 10 miles from my exit.

This is often how I feel about forgiveness. More often than not, it feels like the first example and usually with the same person, even if it was years ago.

Forgiveness has never been easy for me, and maybe it isn’t easy for you either. I won’t lie and say I’m good at it and I’m the first to extend grace because honestly, I’m not. I feel things pretty deeply, especially the hurtful things and I tend to hold on to them with a tight grasp. One that I know will end up suffocating me if I hold on for too long.

I’m sure you’ve had someone who hurt you long ago or even recently. I think we all have in some way. And despite everything in you, you cannot bring yourself to completely forgive them for the pain they caused you.

Something as simple as seeing their name on your screen can ignite all those feelings in a second. I admit that I get angry. I admit that I overreact. I admit it’s harmful to hold on to the anger, that it does nothing for me. But sometimes the passion that rises up in me is the most that I feel toward that specific person and for once it’s something different than numbing the pain.

Forgiveness is a road we all have to travel on eventually. Sometimes it’s the neverending kind where we pass exit after exit, refusing to get off and let go. Other times, it’s a road we take that leads us to the first exit where we leave and move forward.

If anyone tells you it’s easy, I would challenge that or ask them how they got to that place. If anyone tells you it will set you free, sit down and learn from them.

I look forward to the day when I can lay all the anger and frustration down. Where I can take that exit and come to peace with it all. But, unfortunately, that time has yet to come. I’m learning, and each day I’m getting closer to that exit.

Forgiveness is something we all ask for but are so reluctant to give away. Somehow it’s more important to receive than to give and I’m not sure where that began. All I know is that it ends when we take the selfless route and learn to love others just a little bit more than ourselves. But, like anything that takes time, it’s a process, don’t get discouraged by the long drive.

Until next time,

Aubree

(God, I pray for whoever reads this that You use these words for their good and for their needs specifically. And that anything I might have said that does not align with Your Words and beliefs that You change it so that it does.)

 

How to Be the 20 Instead of the 80 This New Year

 

New Years is just around the corner in case you’ve missed it on all the commercials and advertisements everywhere. 

Retail stores are stocking up on athletic gear. Grocery stores are stocking up on the latest health trends. Instagram advertisers are throwing the newest diets, teas, pills, and instant hot body hacks at their followers.

The funny thing is, we all fall for it. Myself included. We’re sucked into this time of year where trying new things and sticking to them feels like a great idea. We’re motivated. We find new inspiration in all of these things we see on our screens.

I even find myself thinking I’ll really start to eat healthy once the new year begins. , I’ll work out more, I’ll be more adventurous, I’ll keep my room clean, I’ll write more, I’ll read more, I’ll binge watch less, I’ll travel more. The list goes on and on.

Now, not all this motivation is bad but it definitely runs out.

It’s interesting how we wait until the first of the year to begin all these things. I’m curious if that is the reason 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by mid-February. We overload ourselves all at once with all these improvements.

What if instead, we started now? Here is how you can create goals any day of the year that are reachable:

Start small: Begin with something you can easily achieve so you can show yourself it’s doable. Examples: work out at least 2 times a week, put clothes away after taking them off, write for five minutes before bed.

Reality Check: Don’t make it something you could only do if you had been consistent with it up until now. Unrealistic example: Squat 250  pounds by next week like that girl on Instagram does. Example: increase weight by 5 pounds every time you go back to the gym. meme

Visualize the improvement:  Make sure whatever you’re trying to succeed at can be measured and you can SEE the achievement. Once you have done your reality check it’s easier to see your success over time. Example: Create a chart, written schedule or take pictures to visually see the change.

Don’t wait to be inspired: If you wait to be inspired it most likely will never come. Think about your goal and picture what it will feel like if you reach it and then get to move on and create another one. ( Ha. This one is funny because my body just cringed at this idea).

This is much easier to write than actually do. I’m one to wait for inspiration and I’m also one to desire instant improvement. This is going to be just as much of a challenge for me. But, I want to be that 20 percent that makes it past February. I want to be that 10 percent that makes it past six months and the 2 percent that makes it all year.

Think of it this way, if you start today, you’ll be days ahead of everyone else…

With all that said, have a happy New Year and good luck!