Have you ever met the lone golden tree on the dark hill of deadwood?  A few burnt umber oaks flame distant.  The bare white of the birches long naked in the autumn sun punctuate the darkness of the forested hill.  That yellow is a breath-taking splash of color on a sea of monochromatic monotony.

A Christian can stand alone, like the yellow tree on the hill. It is an unexpected pleasure to meet these blazing-aspen Christians at some secular event, discover the jewel of joy they store like hidden treasure deep within. I've met a few in the past few weeks - unexpected gifts in my day from my Father from whom all blessings flow. They've grown afraid of letting Him flame off their lips, this Truth they know. Tentative, they mince through the conversation with you until they find a place of safety - not only do you share faith, but you won't judge them for walking churchless through a secular world. They are precious sheep wary always of wolves, far from the flock, vulnerable.

God grows His children in many ways, it's true. He is the paramount example of the ideal, accept people where they are (the essence of salvation drips from this very truth).  But I see such quiet beauty and ease of learning surrounded by others who love Christ.  My eldest sat at a farmhouse table on Thursday night, deep in Nancy Drew.  She probably wasn't consciously aware of the 50-year-old love affair playing mundane but miraculous; two chairs arched like a pair of eyebrows in a singular, sweet expression culminating years of habit, choice, selflessness.  The conversation, the bottle of wine, the meal shared at the end of the day, chairs pulled close, and voices humming...these two are like the oldest and best of friends, as comfortable as your favorite jeans and t-shirt.  And, for her - the 7-year-old who happened to silently share in this meal with them - this will become part of the fabric of her "How Life Goes" quilt.  When she feels it happening in her own life, it will be right and good and Truthful.  If it doesn't happen - she finds herself in a relationship without this close knot of chairs, the heads bent together, the ease of conversation and warmth of value there - she will know something is wrong and bad and twisted.

There is value in being surrounded by other blazing aspens.  A richness and fullness of blessing, when Truth flows in your life from generation to generation, from church to home and home to church, seamless, effortless, fitting. Certainly, He can strengthen you as the lonely yellow tree against a forest of barrenness: that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Ephesian 4:16-17a).  Yet, He also desires that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 4:17b-18)

Thanks, Bob and Veriena, for sharing your love with all of us.  We see it, we treasure it, and we love you!

This mourning Monday, I am thankful for...
One aspen blazing yellow on a sea of black

Two old lovers deep in habit, celebrate each other

A 7 year old absorbs it all without looking up

The yellow light of an old farm on a hill

The caress of old friends at the end of a grueling day

Amelia is still alive

Schedules have been cleared by some miracle, so they can be filled again

My heart is peace when the world is tumultuous

Checks are coming in just in time for Christmas giving...Christ understands this is how I speak love, and allows me to speak extravagantly and promises to provide for those I cannot be extravagant toward