This season of thanksgiving has a new meaning to me. In many ways, a new beginning. A new way to be thankful. Thanksgiving, for most, is a very traditional time of year, where so many gather with loved ones, enjoy way too much amazing food, and thank God for all the blessings in our life.
However, this Thanksgiving, I want to shed a light, of a different kind of blessing that we all too often overlook. May this inspire you, to reflect at all blessings in your life. Not only the good things in your life, but all the blessings that we still do not know the out come.
A few weeks ago, I was driving back from Dallas Texas with Derek after he received some therapy at the Cerebrum Brain Centers. There were times I thought of all the amazing people we met, overcoming some of the hardest obstacles I have ever seen, and though I had beautiful thoughts on the heroes we had met, I also experienced many moments when I felt so frustrated and deflated that Derek has had to endure so much suffering. No solid diagnosis, leads the mind to run wild with worst case scenarios, which leads to great uncertainty that is shadowed with pure exhaustion, forming a fog all around your body, paralyzing you from seeing anything positive come from any of this.
Certainly, no blessings here. Just pain and pure frustration.
Those feelings force me to look at life from a different angle. There was a reason, God had us going through this. There was a reason, we had to drive through Missouri. I knew that in Mansfield Missouri, there was a place, I had to stop and see.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.
Most adults, when looking back at their life, have a special person in there memory from their childhood that imprinted on them. That person, can even become a hero to them. For me, my hero as a little girl, was without a doubt, the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
It was a Saturday morning, Derek and I detoured off the main interstate and found our way to the original homestead of Laura, called Rocky Ridge, where Laura lived with her husband Almonzo Wilder. This was the location, of one of the greatest authors of all time. Every book she wrote, was written on this property.
Driving up the driveway to Laura’s home, felt in every way, like I had just come home for the first time.
Derek and I, as if in a dream, spent several hours touring this property, reflecting on the life of a pioneer woman and her spirit that not only captivated a world during her life, but her spirit of a pioneer is still captivating people, generation after generation, decades after her death on a global level. Her Christian perceptive of overcoming adversities, along with her deep respect for freedom in a country she was so proud to be a part of, was nothing but pure inspiration to both Derek and I.
It was Laura, that ignited the spark in me to write over 30 years ago. She inspired me to write, since I was about 10 years old, the journey of my own pioneered life.
Seeing the desk that she wrote her books at, her home and personal belongings, just as she had left it when she had passed away, was remarkable. It allowed me to truly step into her life. Thanks to her daughter Rose who donated everything Laura and Almonzo owned after her parents deaths and started the museum, that gift alone, has inspired millions around the world.
As I stood in her front yard, looking at her house, I looked up and noticed a huge old oak tree. Derek was standing beneath it.
That sight alone, filled me with an overwhelming feeling, of love, joy and eternal peace. In my own childhood, I for hours on end, talked with my imaginary family, the Ingalls family. It was the true stories of Laura, that I sought refuge in during very tough times, when in my real life, I felt betrayed, abandoned and hopeless.
Laura’s books, also dropped me to my knees where I prayed to God, to bless me, with my very own Almonzo, one day. My prayers started around 10 years of age, and I prayed and journaled as a little girl, with tear stained writings, for God to give me someone to love me my whole life,
just like Laura had Almonzo.
As if I was having a d’ejavue moment, I could see myself as a little girl, praying for a new life, a new beginning.
Here I was, 30 years later, standing in the one and only Laura’s Ingalls Wilder’s front yard, with my husband of 19 years, who is in every way…
my very own Almonzo.
As my attention went back to the Oak tree, where Derek was standing under, I couldn’t help but wonder if this tree was there when Laura was alive. When I asked Derek if he thought this tree was old enough to have been here when Laura was living, he looked up at it, and said,
I continued to be lost in my thoughts, as I wandered around the yard, imagining Laura and Almonzo, walking, laughing, drinking lemonade on hot summer days, at this very same place. How I would have loved to have been able to sit and talk with the woman, whose family filled me with such hope and love as a little girl.
I was so lost in my own thoughts, I hadn’t noticed what Derek was doing, till he approached me. His hands were cupped together, he had several acorns in his large hands and he looked at me with one of those serious, yet at the same time adventurous looks, the kind that always make my heart melt, and he said,
“Sarah, why don’t you plant these on our farm, and grow an oak tree from Laura’s tree. Then you can write under an oak tree of Laura’s, just as she had done.”
This may sound like the dumbest thing ever to most, but to me, that was one of the most beautiful things Derek, my husband has ever said to me. Because, without a doubt, he knows my heart.
You see, as he placed those acorns in my hands, it was like he handed me a miracle from God himself. How a huge, strong and resilient oak tree could grow from a small acorn, is a miracle in itself. Those acorns represented so many symbols of something so much larger than myself.
Larger, than a person can imagine.
What does this story have to do with thanksgiving you might ask?
It has everything to do with thanksgiving.
Most people think of Thanksgiving and they are thankful for all the blessings in their life. All the good things.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being most thankful for all the beautiful things in a person’s life, but there is something so much larger, to be thankful and grateful for, and looking at these acorns, I couldn’t help but to think, we are completely missing the point of thanksgiving.
Are you thankful for future blessings?
Are you thankful for adversities like hardships, illness, pain, broken hearts, and even death?
These are things that we don’t ever say prayers of thanks for. Who on earth, would thank God for a broken heart, or a terminal illness, or something that hasn’t even happened yet?
That just sounds like the talk of a mad person doesn’t it?
Here’s a thought, I want you to all consider.
What if, adversities and hardships in our life, are like an acorn?
What if, a hardship in your life, is something larger and far greater in your life, than you possibly imagine.
But right now, its in the shape of an acorn.
It needs soil and nutrients. It needs sun and rain. It needs protection from the elements or deer nibbling at it.
It simply needs time.
In time, your acorn will grow roots, that will grow so deep and wide at the same time, spreading out like wings underneath the ground. Those roots, will soak in the rain, nutrients and will make the oak tree solid in every way possible.
Think this through for a moment.
Are our hardships any different than an acorn?
It is through the deepest level of pain, grief, illness, sadness, hurt, and despair that a person can
grace, forgiveness, peace, trust,healing and strength.
Not just any strength, but strength that grows roots of faith,
so deep and wide,
that will soak in all the love, peace, forgiveness and understanding
in your life and radiate
a true heavenly strength that is stronger than anything humanly possible.
These hardships have the ability to form the making of a true warrior, as strong, hardy and solid as any oak tree.
So strong, that a person not only has the physical strength of a great warrior, but also the mentality of a warrior, a true champion. When the warrior is in the biggest pit of their life, they literally are pulled back up, from the hand of God. They are lifted from the depths of despair and get back up in life and STAND.
They become so resilient in life, that one day, all those horrible things they have endured, have shaped their life, strengthened their faith, to grow into the largest, deeply rooted, secure oak tree.
However, like a fork in the road, if we chose not to water our acorn and provide the nutrients the acorn will need it will die.
This path can also destroy a person.
Some, will go through hardships in life, ignoring the lessons, refusing forgiveness, and denying faith. This can leave them with such a void in their hearts, a dark despair, that their suffering swallows them whole, leaving them bitter to the core with hatred and vengeance.
A person will never recover, their roots never take hold, they wither and die with broken hearts.
Acorns resemble the free will of choice. They drop down from the tree, just like blessings drop down from heaven. Some acorns, get covered too deep with dirt and can’t get enough sun, while other acorns don’t get enough dirt and just wither and die. Then there’s the acorns that get covered with just enough dirt and leaves, and begin to sprout roots. To the eye, you don’t even see the acorn, for it is buried beneath the soil, the acorn is not visible to the eye.
To the world, the acorn is forgotten.
But not to our Creator.
He knows all.
He sees all.
He’s performing his miracle beneath the soil,
the little acorn receives exactly what God has given to it.
God has a plan.
He gives exactly what that little acorn needs,
just when it needs it.
The rain, sun and nutrients soak into the little acorn, till one day, a new little twig pokes through the dirt.
The choice is yours.
To chose adversities as blessings or as a curse.
All things, good and bad, are in there own time…. blessings and you never know when they will turn into future blessings.
My life, is one small tiny example of just this.
All that I endured, as a little girl, was made beautiful, and standing under this oak tree, acorns in his strong hands, with love in his eyes for me, a love so deeply rooted deep within the earth ,
that the roots formed the strongest oak tree I have ever seen.
Those roots of love were surrounded all around me at this very moment.
Derek was my proof.
My very own testimony that God will bless adversities.
This Thanksgiving, give THANKS for all the ACORNS in your life. Even though you may not see the produce of the acorn yet, and your acorn is small and hasn’t sprouted its roots,
just know this…..
acorns will eventually grow into something so strong and beautiful.
Blessings will, in God’s time, pour out from all those hardships in your life. Be thankful for ALL things in your life. The good and the bad, even when it doesn’t make sense.
If you are in the middles of some real struggles this thanksgiving, think of the acorn and may it reflect you all to simply rely on the greatest blessing of all,
the gift of ultimate love and the sacrifice God gave to us all.
His son Jesus.
This is truly the only blessing we need in life.
Derek and our son Gavin planting Laura’s acorns on our farm.
Special thanks to Amy Hall photography for capturing Laura’s acorns in my hands, and inspiring me to write this through her amazing photography.