When The Tall Trees Rest

She was an artist and a poet. But more than anything she was a friend. Her art began with trees reaching high into the sky. They are all praising God at the move of her paintbrush. I marveled at her creative process. I am so grateful for every painting and every poem. She left us with such beauty, and it never stops blessing my days. 

It is Susie’s art and poetry that I saw when we were by the river yesterday. A tree had fallen. A big rip from an old trunk still standing on the bank of the river. A hard fall, based on the jagged edges of the trunk. It must have been loud in falling; it must have shaken the ground. The tall, strong and beautiful tree lay quietly in the flow of the river’s current. Ah…the tall tree is resting. 

Today we celebrate the life of another friend. Nothing will be able to contain her life. No words or prayers. No song or Scripture. But everything will point to the Creator who gave her to us for a little while. Everything will praise the One who placed the Holy Spirit within her and created a channel of intentional love.  Every breath we breathe is mingled with the same breath God breathed into her. She is a tall tree resting now. So deeply loved. I do wonder if Susie is talking with her; welcoming her friend into the eternal peace, eternal joy, eternal rest. 

the roots of tall trees
crumble granite
penetrate core
by the knowledge
that they are
the linchpins
that hold this

– Susie Sims Irvin, The Tall Trees

Lord, for all who mourn today, please bring peace and comfort. For all who need healing, place your hand on their eyes and bodies, restore gently and completely. For the one who is searching, may your spirit guide them clearly to discover you. Let no one who needs a friend remain alone today.
Please keep us growing, Lord. Keep us reaching tall to find you; digging deep with roots that sustain us in the long journey. And for all you hold in your arms today, Jesus, thank you for the gift of their presence. Thank you for the tall trees in our lives. Amen. 

Harpeth River, May 2022. Melinda Britt photo credit

Trusted Teacher

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.  – Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:4-5.

Jesus gives some last instructions and words of wisdom to his disciples before he is arrested. He reminds them that the time they have shared together and all that he has been teaching them has prepared them for all that is to come. There is a caveat to the work ahead.  If the disciples want to be involved in what God is doing on earth, they must abide in Christ. They must stay as close to Christ as a branch is with a vine. That’s pretty close.  

Abiding doesn’t mean performing for approval. A branch does not perform and then look back to see if the vine approves or not. Nor does a branch disconnect from the vine and do anything that replaces the nutrients, power, and life that the vine gives.  When a branch disconnects from its vine, it eventually dies. Abiding in Christ means living in and with that connection. It is life itself, breathing in and breathing out moment by moment. It is not a program or mandate; it is a way of being alive. 

There is freedom abiding in Christ. We are not alone. We do not have the world resting on our shoulders. We are in this life with Christ. We are drawing from the strength and love of the one who came to earth for us! Not to harm us, but to show us what it looks like when the love of God is fully in human form. 

Jesus, our trusted teacher, came to help us experience a different way.  Our trusted teacher came to save us from distorted truths and a hijacked religious hierarchy that had lost connection with God’s loving intention for our lives on earth. Jesus came to redeem all these things and to fulfill the kingdom of God on earth. What a gift our Creator gave the world – and continues to give us every day. 

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 10:10

We seem be in a constant stream of focusing on a group of people and literally tearing them apart with our opinions, judgements, and disappointments.  We’ve seen it happen with law enforcement, teachers, doctors, nurses, and numerous other groups.  A mistake by one person becomes a condemnation of everyone. An error that needs forgiveness and justice becomes a pass to never trust anyone again. 

It may be that the noise of it all begins to make us think there are no trusted sources in a world that really needs wisdom to navigate through the circumstances of daily life.  Hear the good news:  Jesus is a trusted teacher. Jesus is the son of God; the Messiah the prophets said would come; the resurrected Christ that is with us even now.  The teaching he shared while he was on earth is trustworthy.  It is a teaching that sets us free.  The way God continues to teach and guide us through the Holy Spirit is trustworthy. Abiding in Christ helps us remain tethered to that stream of wisdom. 

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. – Jesus in the Gospel of John 15:11

Check out more of what Jesus said by reading the 15th chapter of John: https://bit.ly/3wT9pkf

Three simple ways to practice “abiding” in Christ right now:

  1. Read from the Gospels several times a week or even daily. Start small. Ready for five minutes. Read a chapter. When you finish all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), start back and begin again. We need to be reminded daily of these teachings. It provides focus and food for our spirit. 
  2. Ask God to hold you close to the vine of Christ. Simple & powerful prayers: 
    “God, please keep me close to Christ today”. 
    “Lord, help me to walk faithfully through this day.”
    “Jesus, come right away; I need help!”
    “Christ, you are my vine; I am your branch; let it be.”
  3. Do one small act of kindness for someone. It can be as simple as saying, “I love you” to people in your household; taking a bouquet of spring flowers to a friend or stranger; thanking someone for their service (waiter; store attendant; co-worker; teacher; etc.); listen to the one who needs to simply say their things. Anonymous kindness strengthens the spirit. Known kindness strengthens relationships. It’s always good to intentionally be kind to others. How can you be kind to someone today? 

Lord, when your ways are so different from ours, it is probably going to be hard for us to see. Please draw each of us and all of us near to you so when you teach us, we are able to comprehend. We want to abide in you, and we need you. We love you, Lord, and we trust you completely. You are our trusted teacher; our Savior; our friend. Amen. 

My Trust in the Lord – Psalm 11

Winter’s Last Dance?

My grandfather always said to wait until after Easter before counting on winter weather to be finished.  Like any good farmer, he held even that with open hands, often reminding us that God is the one who created the world, and we don’t control the sun and the rain.  A farmer works on faith and prayer in all efforts. A good approach for a Monday morning!

Was this winter’s last dance?  I don’t know, but it was beautiful. 

I am always fascinated by how quickly nature adapts to changing conditions. I don’t see resistance or hear complaint. Life persists fully and confidently forward.

Monday Prayer
Lord, you are our dwelling place. Wherever we are and whatever the conditions of the day, we need you to order our steps. Give us courage to walk into the week with confidence of your presence, and trusting that in your presence there is fullness of joy and life everlasting. We believe in YOU. Where life is overwhelming, please come quickly Lord to assist. Thank you for your faithfulness in all seasons. We pray in the name of the resurrected Christ, Amen.

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; and in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
– Psalm 16:11

Monday Prayer

The morning peace arrives differently for all of us. But it still arrives. God is faithful. I pray God shows up for you in exactly the way you need today. 

God bring peace to bedsides where people are making transition. Let the presence of the resurrected Christ standing guard with them be very clear today. 

Bring peace to the people we love who are healing. Let their cells receive nutrients and care; let their blood flow richly through their bodies; fill their lungs with your breath of life and sooth the rhythm of every heartbeat. Free their minds from anxiety and fear.
Thank you for equipping the medical teams with your healing grace. May their compassion and skill be guided by you.

Give strength to the ones who are weary but still face the day of long hours. Equip every person for each call and task. Cover them with safety and give wisdom in decisions.  

Please grant rest to those who have a holiday and slower pace. Give them joy and restoration however they need it. 

Where hope is needed, merciful God, please provide the flame that causes us to catch our breath and say, “it must be the presence of Lord with us!”  

Thank you for the creative ways you respond when we ask for help. Open our spirits to see you and receive. We trust you, Lord, and we love you. Thank you for being right here! 

Breaking Open

The first time I traveled to Central America I was studying: “Spirituality in Third World Countries”. It was 2004. Nicaragua. I stood in streets filled with waste, spend the night on coffee farms to learn their practice and got my taste of making tortillas over a wood stove. I also rested in beautiful places and watched the sunset in Leon.

I learned about the fireworks and made peace with the rooster’s adamant heralding of the morning. I shared conversations with strangers and made new friends. We met with religious and political leaders and witnessed firsthand the realities of another culture and people. Something broke open in me during that experience and it’s been breaking open ever since.

My heart has grown. My mind has been sharpened. I have learned hard things and have watched beautiful cultures turn into dark spaces of suffering, while others emerged with hope, strength, and humility. My spirit has been pruned and shaped for something much bigger than me. I hope, on most days, it is shaped and breathing in a way that honors my Creator.

A lot of things break us open. Experiences leave us wide eyed and surprised. Grief and sorrow take our breath away and make it hard to live through the next hour. Beauty breaks us open. Love breaks us open. God breaks us open. Marriage, divorce, death, birth, illness, strength…all so incredibly intimate; breaking us wide open while also making us whole.

If you are breaking open today – may God give you peace to know that you are not alone. Help is on the way. Ask!
If you are celebrating a joy you can’t contain – I hope you see Jesus’ hand reaching out and inviting you to dance. Do it!
If you are surviving one day at a time – know that the plans God has for you are for good and not for harm .Trust this!

We are given life to live. Live fully. When beauty is present, make time to appreciate it. When you or someone you love is hurting – sit in the valley with them; your presence is enough. We are doing this life together – the sorrow and the joy; it is a gift. Above all, remember that you are loved.

A few photos this morning as a prayer offering.

Lunes por la Mañana en Guatemala

Rooster calls across the dark morning tell me to rise, a new day has come. Before the people move or I can launch my mind to the work ahead, every bird, animal and plant is making a clear claim of praise for the faithful rise of the son. Villancico; song of praise. Santa Maria is invisible; the clouds shield any human sight of her presence.  Nublado.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 
This is what the ancients were commended for. – Hebrews 11:1

Morning Prayer
God, thank you for the creation that never ceases to praise you for the morning’s arrival. You have ordained another day; you speak it into being for all creatures.  And whether we wake with heaviness or joy – you are here with us. Please walk with us wherever our steps trod today, we need you. Clear our minds of fear and shame. Remove the weight of worry. Fill our spirits with your grace and mercy. Remind us that we were created with your love, and we cannot destroy what you are making whole. Where we are broken – keep mending and restoring. When we are moving too fast – redeem within us your pace. Wherever love needs to pour over our wounds, we welcome your presence however you come. We trust you completely. Let it be. Amen. 

PEACE 2022

I confess to praying for snow. It is selfish and I know not everyone needs or wants it. I need the falling mystery that changes everything overnight. I welcome the joy of overwhelming delight; the invitation to play. I hope for it every winter and even in the quiet of the night, I sometimes pray, “Lord, if we can experience the snow, please bring it.” This morning we woke up to beautiful snow. How absolutely wonderful! A gift. 

I realize now that I was waiting for it…the snow. Perhaps even this particular snow on the 3rd of January 2022. The “word” for this year came a few weeks ago and was confirmed as we listened and let the days pass through the new year. The year of Peace. 

Jan 3 2022

Lord, we embrace the peace you give: 
Peace in your timing; it is perfect, we trust you. 
Peace in our life’s work; it is meaningful, we need it.
Peace with our pace; not ahead of you and never too far behind.
Peace in our serving; for your glory and never our own.
Peace in our location; for wherever you are and wherever you send us, is where we need to be.
Peace in our friendships; may they bless and encourage; sharpen and never harm.
Peace in our joy; let it come from deep wells of your grace, unhindered by circumstance.
Peace in our whole being; for how you created us is enough. We are formed in your image. 

Gracious Creator, give us Peace in our grounding of you
for though the mountains fall and the earth shakes 
though our spirits mourn and our hearts break
though our laughter is fleeting, our joy is unending
For in all of this:  
 – you are forever and ever our God. You do not leave or forsake. You are steadfast and trustworthy. You bring possibilities out of our impossibles. You redeem what we thought could never be. You pick us up, dust us off and call us beloved. You are the author and finisher of our faith. Our Savior. In you and through you, we find and hold our Peace. 

Welcome to the year of Peace. Whatever comes, we are confident of God’s holy presence with us.  

The Candle In my Kitchen

I learned the practice from a friend several years ago. When prayer is needed and it’s all you can do, light a candle and let it burn. Let it be a sign and a reminder to hold that person or situation in prayer as you go about your space. Trust God to hear your spirit and love to cover the gaps.

There is a candle burning in my space today. It’s for those I love who suffer, and those who are fulfilling dreams. For leaders trying to navigate an unknown future and healthcare professionals offering healing in whatever way they can. It’s for those whose past haunts them and for those courageously walking the path of recovery step by step. The candle burns with prayers for hope, healing, strength and joy. The candle burns with love. If it is all I am able to give, I trust God that it is enough. Light a candle. Pray. God will move mountains at just the right time and place to reveal the presence of Christ among us.


I love the way fall arrives. Every day there is a change, some signal that transition is happening. We anticipate the beauty that will come. We delight in the changes that we enjoy. We sigh (and maybe complain a little) about things we don’t embrace so easily: like an hour less of daylight!

Creation tries to teach us to receive it all, and trust that something right and amazing is unfolding. If I stop at the stream long enough I will see things falling away. Hedge apples drop to the ground. Leaves turn colors and float to some landing place. All the while, something new emerges. The deer is in pursuit, focused for the season. The squirrels prepare for winter, gathering up all they will need. Frost sneaks in the early morning hours and covers the earth, preparing for the winter on its way. All waiting for a child’s spirit to notice.

Perhaps God speaks in these transitions. Reassuring us that we are not alone in any season. Reminding us that way leads to way. Encouraging us to trust the Creator to keep guiding us along the path. Walk slowly and watch. Walk softly and listen. The whispers of the Spirit arrive in many ways.

Creator God, we welcome you to reveal yourself to us today. We invite the whisper of your Spirit to stir us from our slumber. We ask for the grace of your help – giving us wisdom in moments we most need it. Bring hope into our days and fill us with your Peace. Amen.

Fix My Eyes on You 

The Morning Prayer

Holy God, you bring the sun to its rising
with no help from us.
The birds begin their songs
the rivers run without any 
command or assistance from our hands.
The dew will dissipate
breezes will arrive and just as easily disappear.
We created nothing; you established all.
We humble ourselves before you and all that you created.
We praise you and thank you for all you have established.
Let our breath be drawn from yours
Let our steps be ordered by your grace
Take the work of our bodies and minds; it belongs to you.
Please bless whatever we offer.
Take the cares and burdens of our spirits; they are too heavy.
Bring peace where the deepest wounds and sorrows
have lingered too long.  
May your wisdom that created this day
guide our lives through the hours 
with safety, with love, and your mercy that 
is offered to us new every morning. 
By your Spirit, may the moments we live today
bring honor and glory to you. 
What joy we have to live in your presence today! Amen.