Burn piles and Strong struggles

We’ve lived in our house for about 2 1/2 years now. When we bought this little plot of land we inherited a massive “burn pile”.

You city folk are like, “What does that even mean?!” Allow me to explain… We live outside city limits. Which means no one gets to tell US what to do! Huzzah!

That includes burning. We burn what we want, when we want, however we want.

Trash? Set it on fire.

Scraps of wood from Chipper’s wood shop? Throw it on the pile!

Random crap that won’t fit in the trash bin? Throw. it. on. that. pile. brother.

When we had lived here about a year or so, we had an old couch that needed to go. Know what we did?

I don’t even have to tell you. You already know.

Burn, baby. BURN.

The burn pile is definitely one of our favorite things about our mini farm out here. When Chip came in the other day to tell me the that a tree had grown up out of it, budding leaves, we started laughing together.

I didn’t think much of it… Until I walked outside and really looked at it for myself. And the words that came to mind were: beauty from ashes.


That burn pile has a lot of crap in it.

Let’s name a few items, because it’s always a good time to name the gross stuff that my life consists of:

1: The shavings at the base. These are from long gone by cleanings of the chicken coop. Just imagine…. Or maybe don’t.

2: The overturned Monster Truck. This ended up here as Frank threw it into the pile in the middle of one of his toddler meltdowns. They can get very dramatic and extravagant. (I have NO idea where he gets this from… ehem.) This particular tantrum was no different.

He had:

  • screamed at me
  • told me how angry he was
  • took a running leap to throw that truck with all the rage of a full grown man.

Lord, have mercy. Needless to say, the truck remains there in the old chicken coop shavings heap.

3: A sign that someone stuck in our front yard for a satellite internet carrier that we don’t even use! (I told Chip….. “throw it in the pile!”)

4: The old patio table from IKEA that we had before Chipper made me a fabulous outdoor set.

Other things live in there too that aren’t pictured.

1: Our feral cat, Madeleine. Thanks to that sly vixen we have’t seen a field mouse in at least a year.

2: Bunnies upon bunnies upon bunnies.

  • Bunnies for dayzzz
  • #bunnyfamilies


I love the picture from this angle. It shows the massive weeds around the base. The mess of things (baggage, you could say… I think you see where we’re going here). But that tree stands strong and tall and look at the beautiful green leaves. We don’t know where it came from, but it’s there.

And it’s thriving.

So many thoughts. The loudest, biggest thought is this: No matter what we sprang up from, no matter what our circumstances, no matter what weeds are trying to creep up, strength can be found. If we are rooted deep, we have a life line to Someone who wants to make something beautiful from us and our mess.

Chip and I didn’t plant anything to grow in that pile. In fact, it is a burial ground. What we intended as ground zero for bonfires has become the spot where this tree decided to take root, grow strong and incidentally become the stuff sermon illustrations are made of!

I know in my own life right now I’m struggling with feelings of inadequacy. Not all the time. But sometimes I allow the voices to creep in that say I’m not enough. They throw my past failures and bad choices in my face. I’ll remember things I’ve said or things I’ve done that cause me shame and guilt (Neither of which are from my Creator, I might add).

I’m struggling with the fact that I can’t make everyone happy, no matter how hard I try. By the by, I am a millenial and the baby of the family, so my people-pleasing problem is #onpoint y’all. I want everyone to get along, to keep the peace and I would also like someone to take all the hard conversations out of my life, please and thank you. I know a lot of people will hate me for that, but whatevs. If we’re being honest it’s true. #hatersgonnahate

I struggle with juggling work and home and being a mom and wife. I don’t have time to clean the house. I’m feeding the gazillion animals we have every evening and it takes longer than it takes Bob to eat a yogurt cup. And trust me……. That’s a long time.


I struggle with eating healthy all the while balancing the budget and doing laundry and working out and training for a half marathon and finding time to just R*E*L*A*X.

I struggle with being a good and intentional friend, with following through on my commitments so I’m not flaky.

I struggle with the fact that there are broken relationships in my life that I can’t make right, because I can’t force people to see how stupid they’re being.

That I have been betrayed so deeply by people I trusted that even 2 years later I’m having a hard time praying for forgiveness towards them. (what I’d REALLY like to do is throat punch them, FYI. But that’s sort of frowned upon, so I guess I’ll keep working towards forgiving..)

I struggle with the untrue things that friends and others have told me over the years. They ring in my ears at times when I’m feeling vulnerable and I can’t seem to shake the words.

Are you catching my drift? Is it just me? Or do you struggle with some of these things too?

When I find myself in one of these places of struggle and I get a clear head about me, I can combat the lies with truth. And that’s what I see when I look at that tree in the middle of the burn pile. The roots of that tree are holding firm, no matter what is happening around it.

STRENGTH in the struggle.

While the weeds and the chicken poop shavings are trying to choke it out, and monster trucks are being chunked at it by angry toddlers, and the fires we’ve burnt in it haven’t kept it from dying, it really makes me think…. When God wants something to live and grow, it will. Simple as that.

That tree must have some deep roots. We’ve done nothing to help nurture the thing. We’ve only done things that could harm it, because we didn’t even know it was there! But yet there it stands. Beautiful and green and strong.

As long as we live here that tree will serve as a reminder to me of the truth of who we all are and the potential we all have.

And it will serve as a reminder to drown out the lies and swap them with the beautiful truth of who we are.

….and that is Beloved.


7 thoughts on “Burn piles and Strong struggles”

  1. Love it! I have always had a connection with trees. So strong and rooted. They can withstand so much. Just like Ys when we are grounded and rooted in Christ!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THIS. All of THIS! Best writing yet. Oh the authenticity rings loud and the illustration of the depth of God’s love for us. Continue to drown out the lies and bask in the beauty that can only come from the ashes.


  2. I can check all the boxes on “Is it just me”
    The tree…beauty for ashes ❤️ I love that. I often use that phrase. Just think lovely He our creator knew.…When he spoke you into existence. That your ashes would bring comfort to others. That are going through Struggles. I can’t wait to see you at church and hug you.


  3. That forgiveness, tho. Tonight Bob Goff said he’s 35 years into working on forgiving someone. 35 years. And he’s not there yet, but taking steps in that direction.

    Step on, Beloved.



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