Oh, Christmas Tree

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Our Christmas tree this year is unlike any we've had before. Our family tradition is to go to this cute little farm + have one cut down. But this year after Thanksgiving we decided to go into the woods and let Ezra pick one for us. He picked this small, cute, round ‘Charlie Brown’ cedar. It was so small we thought it would be perfect for his playroom. When we got home + put it in our living room we knew it was going to be our main tree. When Zach and I were engaged + newly married we always got 9 foot trees. Then last year we decided to get a smaller one around 6 feet and realized that was our new favorite height. As I look at our 3’ tree the word humble comes to mind. This past year God has humbled us. For the best; He has stripped things from our life + shown us what life really means. We have been pressed on all sides of our life, but we have persevered. We have had some really high mountaintops + really low valleys.

I was talking to a friend a while ago and I was explaining how I feel like God is taking everything out of my life that I put over him or rely on more than Him. I am a visual learner. I have to act things out to learn; sometimes I think this can be a downfall for me. Just some examples of things that have been removed to help God mold me into the person He wants me to be. Keep in mind this is for me, not everyone. I do not think I am better than anyone because I am trying to remove these from my life. This is just something I was putting in a higher place than God. Each person may have something different than me. My sins might not be a sin for you. Coffee; I rely on that hot liquid gold to wake me up and help me make it through the day. Wine; I rely on this cold liquid goodness to help me some evenings when I am stressed out or my anxiety is through the roof. I have a glass and things level out. I think it is just for a season, but who knows maybe God’s plan is for me to give it up for a couple of seasons. I was relying on those things instead of relying on God to give me strength to get through my day. Maybe that's part of the refining process though. Being stripped bare to be made beautiful again. I have never felt like I was a lonely person, but Zach and I are going through a transition stage in marriage right now. While I know there is light at the end of the tunnel, it still has left me feeling lonely. It would be very easy for me to turn to things of this world to try to fill those voids in my life. But luckily I have friends + family around me that help me stay grounded in Jesus + not this world. I bought Lysa TerKeurst’s book 'Uninvited' + let me just say this by far is one of my favorite books of hers. I wanted to share this part with you about an olive tree. I had no idea there was so much involved with making an olive edible. How she compares it to us is so beautifully written I had to share.

 ‘“The final thing I want to consider about the olive is the best way to preserve it for the long run. It must be crushed in order to extract the oil. The same is true for us. The biblical way to be preserved is to be pressed. And being pressed can certainly feel like being crushed.

But what about 2 Corinthians 4:8, where it says, “we are…pressed…but not crushed’? Lets read verses 8 and 9 in the King James Version: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in a despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

This was one of the biggest aha moments for me while standing in the shadow of the olive tree: crushing isn’t the olives end. Crushing, rather, is the way of preservation. Its also the way to get whats most valuable, the oil, our of the olive. Keeping this perspective is how we can be troubled on every side yet not distressed… pressed to the point of being crushed but not crushed and destroyed.

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The olive tree is such a beautiful reminder that this isn’t how its going to be forever. On the other side of the process of being broken and waiting is a useful heart free of bitterness. On the other side of being pressed and crushed is oil…the most valuable part of me set free to emerge.

On the other side of every hardship is a resurrection.

We must believe that what God has said He will do will be done. Don’t focus on the problems. Instead, have the resurrection mind-set that holds fast to Gods promises. Good is coming!”” pages 200&201 Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

 

Then sometimes it's not God taking things away from you it's the broken world we live in. Porn/sports/hunting stealing the husband away, comparison/busyness/rejection stealing the mom away, or hard times stealing the joy away. Every relationship has a story. There are good + bad parts to everything in life. We are always a work in progress. Someone once told me this statement, which hit me to my core…

marriage isn’t about being happy it’s about being holy.”

I probably would never come to that conclusion on my own. The past couple of months Zach + I have been working really hard on being intentional in our marriage. We are praying how/when we can share some of our walk with you soon.

 

Maybe feeling lonely is exactly where God wants me. He wants me all alone…with Him. He wants me to turn to no one or thing, but Him. My husband, kids, friends, family, nor anyone will be able to fill the voids in my life. If I try to shove them in each of my holes that only God was intended to fill they will fall out. They might stay around for a while and everything looks great on the outside; but they're like a volcano waiting to explode. People + things will fail you at some time or another. I have failed many people in my life so how can I not expect someone to fail me? God is the only person who will never fail me. He is the only person who will stick around on my worst day + pick me back up. He is the only one to walk beside me in the hard seasons of life, so why do I push him aside and try to use others around me to fill those voids. God’s love is perfect. If I wake up everyday and decide “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24 NLT), do you know how much better my days would be if I carry His joy with me throughout the entire day? If every time I feel rejected + lonely I turn to him to build my spirit up I will be in a much better place. 

Even on our worst days there is always something to be thankful for. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what God is not doing in my life I miss everything He IS doing. I have to be so intentional about focusing on what He is doing. If we focus on everything we are thankful for, our joy will spill over to everyone around us. The day we went to find our Christmas tree I was thankful for a healthy little boy who was able to run around and pick out his tree, who could see the vibrant fall colors in the woods, and one who helped his daddy chop down the tree he picked out. (Don’t worry his hatchet had the sheath on it, but shhh don’t tell him)

 

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Looking at our humble tree now gives me hope. I know God is working on our family + we will be in a much better place than where we first started. My eyes have been opened to so many things around me that I would have totally missed before. So many lessons God was trying to teach me, but my heart was not prepared or able to understand it before. Going through a lesson is never fun. But my prayer is I will always have a teachable heart, not a callused heart from the world. If anything bad has happened to you, I promise God can use it for good. We just have to have open hearts to let Him work.

XO Colleen Cashio

 

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know Gods will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” Romans 12:2 NLT

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 NLT

 

 

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