It is Sunday May 22. Four days until we deploy, and I am feeling it. Nervous anticipation, impending doom, total peace and complete turmoil. I have been on many missions before and led teams as well. But this one is different and yet still the same. This one is more personal for me. We are building in honor of my friend and fellow Marine Bryan Bertrand. Six of his family members are joining us and so this ads an unpredictable element to the trip. Will I be able to lead effectively with this build so personal to me? Will I be able to honor Bryan’s in a way his family will understand and appreciate? These are questions I have no answer for. This team is also 2x the size of a normal team. The family, the camera crew, the team and my staff. This takes alot of logistics to put together and to top it off we have elected to teach classes our first day in country. These classes coincide with the book i have written, packed with lessons I have learned on the missionfield. 30 tickets, meals, billiting, tshirts, books, handouts, personalities. The normal team is 15 so this will be a true test of our infustructer and my ability to lead. Since leaving the military and batteling ptsd, I have lost alot of my self confidence. War does that to you. You start to second guess yourself. The people back home dont understand you so you isolate yourself even further. Simple tasks like going to the grocery store become overwhelming and you feel like more like a failure than a hero. It is easier to stay home and stop challenging yourself.
Why do I do it?
Why do I leave the comfort of my home?
Why do I stretch and set unrealistic goals?
Because this creates growth. This is how I test my metal. One of my previous blogs spoke about how you must put your metal in the fire to refine it. Today we will use another metaphor.
As I read the bible and now write this blog, I understand why Jesus spoke in parables. He wanted to teach them something new by giving them examples of something old in their daily life.
It is spring. Flowers are blooming grass is growing. New life is all around us. Some of us are planting gardens or flowers, or tending to our house plants.
I am sure at some point each one of you has done some gardening so these examples wont be lost on you.
When I was young we always grew a garden. We would start by germinating the seeds. We would take a cloth or paper towel and fold it several times and put it on a small dish. We would then put the seeds in the folds of the paper towel and soak it with water. You then put the dish is a warm dark place and wait, checking each day to see if you needed to add more water and if the seeds had sprouted. Not all of them would. Some just wouldnt grow. Once they began to sprout we would plant them and wait. After a few days we could see them start to poke out of the ground. From years of gardening I know that as soon as the sprout came out of the ground its roots would begin to grow down and find nutrients for the plant.
Now we can just leave the plant this way. We can just water it and it will grow. But if we want to super charge our plant. We add manure. By doing this it creates significant groth in the plant.
So what is manure?
It is processed organic material, manure is a natural choice as a garden soil enhancement. Farm animals are routinely fed the byproducts of plants either in the form of dried grain and meal or through the open grazing of live vegetation. Manure is thus not only the actual animal waste itself but a combination of waste and other organic substances such as straw bedding, liquid runoff, and spilled feed. Manure is a complete amendment in that it not only adds important nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil but also completely changes the soil’s structure.
As manure continues to decompose in the soil, microbes and bacteria absorb its nutrients, producing their own byproduct called humus, which attaches itself to soil particles. Humus separates the dense particles in clay soil, improving its drainage, and it fills the large spaces between dry sand particles, holding on to more water in the process. Manure supplies plants instantly with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients by warming the soil, which speeds up decomposition, and lowers the soil’s acidity level, or pH, less than chemical fertilizers. Manure also supplies energy to fungi and earthworms that help to further break down its components in the soil.
There are many benefits we see from adding manure to our gardens
Our seeds have been planted, our fertilizer add and we can start to see fruit fruit blossem. We could leave our plant this way and it will grow just fine. It will grow in all directions and bare fruit. But if we want a healthy plant, one that produces good large fruit, then we must prune the branches and cut away the dead and dieing parts. This will redirect the energy to the remaining branches and fruit creating a more productive and health plant. Three benefits of pruning are:
1. Improves the overall appearance and structure of the tree, keeping it from developing broad or weak branches. Trimming prevents limbs from growing with weak crotches, or eventually crossing each other and competing for space in the crown.
2. Trimming your tree(s) will increase sun exposure and air circulation throughout the tree and underlying landscape, which will improve the tree’s health. Just be sure to watch out for signs of sunscald, which often affects leafless deciduous trees in the winter time.
3. Pruning fruit trees can actually improve the size and quantity of the crop.
Much like our own lives.
We are like the seed.
For us to grow, we must first experience darkness, isolation, heat and pressure. Water activates the seed to begin to struggle and change form. Just as the living water causes us to struggle againist our flesh and emerge in a new form. (2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.)
Just as the sprout gets its head above the dirt it sees a whole new world. The world had not changed but the perspective of the seed has changed. Just as our perspective changes when we accept Christ and live a God centered life.
Covered in crap!
The seed will grow just fine without fertilizer. It will grow and may even produce fruit. But when manure is added the plant struggles once again absorbing the good nutrients from the manure and growing stronger because of it. When manure is added more water is needed or the plant will burn and die. When we are faced with trials in our life, when we are neck deep in crap, look for the nutrients. It is because of the trial, the crap of life that we grow strong.But only if we add extra helping of the living water to our lives. Anyone who knows my story can tell you, I have been neck deep in crap on more than one occasion. But it has made me stronger because of my faith in God and not of my own strength. If we donot add an extra helping of God the the crap of life will burn us out and we can die.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.)
Pruning the tree.
As the plant matures parts of it get damaged or grow outside of where it should. With to many branches they all suffer and compete for valuable resources. We can see this in our lives. For us our branches are things we spend our time on. One branch for family, one for friends, one for kids, church,job, house work, fishing, hiking, serving, tv, movies, the club, facebook, and the list goes on and on. Each branch in your life is also competing for a valueable resource, your time. If you try to do to much, all areas of your life will suffer. Sometimes we need to prune out the things that are not healthy for our tree. What in your life is stealing resources. If you redirect that energy, what kind of fruit could you produce?
Each one of us produces fruit in our live. Is yours good or bad, small or large? When we produce fruit, donot let it rot on the tree. You must give it to others or it has all been for not. Each fruit you give away is a blessing you give to your fellow man. And in each piece of fruit… there is a seed.