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Christianity 0ut of the Box

An Ugly Valentine


My place of devotion is in the swivel chair in the den.  As I swivel it around to the back yard, I can see through our glass door.

Beyond our pool and the fence surrounding it is a cluster of trees off in the distance. Winter of course has shed the leaves of most of them leaving them nakedly bare.

We have lived in this house 4.5 years and there is one dead, ugly piece of a tree that stands out amongst all the rest. As you can see by this picture you will know what I am referring to.

I have often thought “what an ugly view.” I am assuming it’s dead because it never has leaves but sticks out like a sickly, sore thumb. My thoughts have drifted to cutting it down or at least part of it. It ruins the rest of the skyline; has no purpose except to maintain it’s uselessness.

Then I feel guilty for wanting to cut it for my own selfish view and feel sorry for it. It stands alone. No covering. Simply an unsightly piece of dead wood.

Until recently.

A few weeks ago I opened the back door just in time to see a blue heron fly right over the pool. His wingspan was as wide as I am tall (no short jokes here please.) His grayish, blue color signified his species along with his skinny legs. I was stuck in the moment of this huge bird’s graceful flight across my back yard.

Where was he headed? What did he have to do that day? Where was he going to land?

You got it. He landed on the very top of that ugly, piece of dead, useless wood.

As you can see from this next  picture, he decided to take a nap. I kept observing  this “fowl” of a picture until he finally spread his wings again and flew to the marsh area down below.

Later, I noticed another large bird land on that ugly piece of dead wood. And then another. And another.

As the days passed, I looked forward to see who would take flight to this stickly perch.

All of a sudden, the ugly piece of dead, useless, wood wasn’t so ugly anymore. I began to look at it differently. In fact it wasn’t useless. It is serving a purpose I had never seen before.

Now I know it is Valentines Day. Lately I haven’t felt so loving with so much going on. Most of you may think I am making this up but I am not.

Swiveling in my chair with God  this morning I saw  more birds land on that ugly, useless piece of deadwood than all the time I have lived here.

One after another they took flight to that particular tree. Not the other ones, that one.

It was almost as if they were playing a game. Like who gets to sit there next as if it was the best tree in the area jungle.  At one point it appeared as if a few of them were fighting over it.

Needless to say my opinion of that tree has done a 180.

I don’t want it to be cut down now. I would really miss it. It isn’t even ugly to me anymore.  It is not a sickly, sore thumb or an ugly piece of useless dead wood but a place of rest. A stopover. A tree with a view the others don’t offer. The bird world’s limb of peace.

It has purpose. It may be dead but if offers life to those flying by and moments of joy and pleasure for those like me who are watching.

This is just like God. He changed my focus.  What I thought was ugly and useless has turned out to be a very worthwhile view. A picture of his greatness among the dead hearts of nature. A light in the darkness even with it’s faults.

Isn’t that what Jesus did for us on the cross? He took what was dead, useless and ugly and made it pure, holy and clean?

So much for an ugly Valentine.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Copyright @ 2012 All Rights Reserved

Happy Valentine's Day!


15 thoughts on “An Ugly Valentine

  1. Really liked this one.

  2. Hi Cathy, man looks on the outside God looks on the heart, thank you for a great message, how can anyone say others are of no value or even to say they don’t like them, yet then claim to have God’s Love which includes friendship. So are they considering or valuing themselves better then others, they may not like what some people do or say but Jesus thought all of us worthy enough to die for and God sent His greatly Loved Son to us knowing They would both suffer but also knowing it was the only way to save not just you and me but everyone in the world and those who accept His free gift of Salvation which will be shown in their lives, He has made them Royalty with us, is anyone so deluded and blind to consider others less, or do they have God’s wisdom and consider them more. Philippians 2:2-4

    To God be the Glory great things He has done….. an ugly piece of a tree that stands out amongst all the rest.

    Christian Love Anne

  3. “…He took what was dead, useless and ugly and made it pure, holy and clean?…”

    Great analogy and great writing.

  4. I like your perch tree! Good story!
    God Bless You!

  5. You brought me into the top of this ”ugly and dead” turned into a ”beautiful tree” with a focus. This is just who we are but God got us up and made us whole, thanks for posting this ”loving” post 🙂 At first, I thought it was about a date of yours with your valentine but surprised that it was a date, with a tree, and most of all, with GOD. God bless you 🙂

    Thank you for your prayers! (regarding my post about the earthquake) We are safe and sound in God’s arm here in Cebu. Though we are saddened by the continous havoc it brought to our sister city (Gihulngan, Negros), we are constantly watching and praying to God that our fellow countrymen will find to call on the true God here in my country. God bless you! 🙂

    • Dear Joyce,

      I am so glad you are safe. You are a real warrior living in such difficult circumstances. I have thought and prayed for safety often and will continue.

      I have relatives that were missionaries in various parts of the world. My cousin taught English to the Professors at the University of BanjaLuka in Bosnia years ago when they were at war. Often we didn’t know where she was. There was a time she huddled in an apartment of friends because as an American she could not go out without being a target.

      She is the daughter of my aunt and uncle who were missionaries in Mexico for 10 years many years ago. She was born in Mexico along with her brother and sister. Their family is a real story.

      Thanks for my post yesterday. I believe all the birds I saw on that ugly tree were a real sign from God. Not sure what yet but today I haven’t seen one!

      Cathy Craig Neil, PMIC/Guardian Property Management, LLC http://www.wix.com/cathyneil/Property-Management 803-840-1946 blog: http://www.craigmotor.wordpress.com author/columnist: http://www.believers.bay.com


      • Indeed we are warriors to our God and thank you for sharing about your cousin. I couldn’t imagine how much difficulty the situation brought them than mine but the good news is, we have the same great God who takes care of us and make us able to say ”thank you” for all the care He puts in the hearts of our family and friends (like you) 🙂 Oh, not seeing them today would be an ugly view right? But let’s see for the coming days, maybe they’re gone for a reason and God will bring them back for it 🙂

  6. Nice work. Thanks for sharing. Very insightful. Would love to know more about your property management business at some point.

  7. God created the foolish things of this world to confound the wise…a dead looking, useless seeming hulk of dry bark with apparently no life coursing through its veins, yet in spite of that, teeming with life…giving to others…a true blessing. I think sometimes there may be people in our lives and we may wonder what their purpose is…maybe in those we might overlook or deem useless, there are lessons for us which would give us life and make us a true blessing.

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