Last week it was the national tree planting holiday in Israel called 'Tu'bishvat.'
In honor of this holiday my family and I decided to join a group from the pro-life organization called 'Be-ad Chaim.'
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This group of courageous women visit the 'Garden of Life' grounds located in Central Israel in a place called Latrun. They were coming together for one purpose; healing.
They had each experienced the pain of losing a child, whether through abortion or otherwise. Be'ad Chaim provided an opportunity that day to plant a tree in honor of their child and help bring healing, release and closure into each one of their situations.
As each one shared their unique story of pain and struggle we too raised our hand to share ours with open hearts and honest words. Last year one of my older brother's passed away after a long fight against illness. Each one nodded their heads and wiped tears from their eyes as they resonated with the familiar grief of losing someone you love.
Picture above: Women walking towards planting area at Garden of Life, Latrun, Israel.
Together we prayed for the strength of God to penetrate our souls as we move forward out of shame and sadness into a new season of life. We made our way over to the planting area where Albert, the gardener with kind eyes and a laugh at the tip of his lips guided us towards our designated tree.
Picture above: Albert the gardener helping the planters
As we dug into the soft soil and lay down the roots of our young tree we were symbolically burying the pain of the past while simultaneously making a place for new life to spring up. New hope, new beginnings & a fresh start.
Picture above: Be'ad Chaim staff ministering to Women at Garden of Life
I was moved as I saw the women around me getting prayer and receiving emotional & spiritual healing for the children they lost through the pain of abortion.
How crazy is it that at the same time New York passed a bill just last week legalizes abortion up until birth which of course grieves me, as does most of the believers I know.
In these dark times where evil seems to win and morality continues to crumble into corruption, my heart clings firmly to these wise words found in Romans 12:21 which advises us to "not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
For more information of the work Be'ad Chaim does check out their website at: http://www.beadchaim.com/
Photo to right: statute in the garden of life
Just like I don't know the individual stories of each of the women & families that gathered that day to plant their tree - I don't know your story. But I think we can all connect with the concept of loss. We've all experienced it in some way, though in different degrees.
Whether your loss reaches from family member, friend, co-worker or even a beloved pet, we have all come into contact with it in some way and it's a difficult thing to walk through.
"Our walk of faith will not be free from pain and loss, but it will be filled with God's presence and He leads us every step of the way."
- Sue Detweiler (Women who move Mountains)
Picture Above: Dead, burnt trees in the midst of flourishing garden of life in Israel.
When I finished helping plant our tree I looked around at the gnarled, burnt and dead trees that stood glaringly out of place in the beautiful garden that was flourishing & buzzing with life.
Someone explained to me that a fire had ravaged the garden last year but because of the the decomposed organic matter it enriched the soil with minerals that help new plants sprout up quickly.
In other words, the fire that I would have thought did massive damage to the garden was a blessing in disguise because it provided exactly what it needed for the garden to flourish.
Is it possible that the fires have you been fighting is exactly what you need to flourish?
I don't in any way want to diminish the pain you might be feeling or hurt you're walking through, but I do want to encourage you that God can make beautiful things bloom out of the ashes of loss and pain.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. (Isaiah 61:3)
The phrase beauty for ashes is a Hebrew wordplay - (Epher, Ashes אפר) and (Pa'ar, Beauty פאֶרֶ) have the exact same letters only switched.
This show how God can in an instant switch around our situation from sorrow to joy as celebrated during the biblical holiday Purim as we go from fasting to celebration within a day. We read the scroll of Esther and remember the victory of our people.
Not only that but in Hebrew the verse literally reads "beauty UNDER the ashes."
(Pa'ar, Beauty פאֶרֶ) (Tachat, Under תחת) (Epher, Ashes אפר)
How amazing is that message of hope embedded into the word of God in it's original Hebrew language. That God can work ALL things for good and it is from under the ashes of loss and pain that new life & beauty can spring up & flourish.
If you are interested in learning more Hebrew and unlocking hidden meanings of God's word like this one sign up to get on the waiting list for my soon to be released Online Hebrew Course :)
Photo above: blooming poppy flower in the middle of thicket of dead branches.
In fact Israel itself is a living example of that very thing.
As it was International Holocoust Remembrance day last Sunday we remember the deep darkness that ruled during that time in history.
But today we can also celebrate that the Jewish people have found a home in the Land of Israel. A nation born out of the ashes of the Holocaust that God took at turned into a thriving & fruitful Promised Land once again.
What amazing miracles God can do when we give Him the scarred, starved & sorrowful pieces of our lives and let Him work the garden of our hearts to bring beauty from the ashes.
How amazing it was to plant a tree on Tu'vishvat as a way to bring healing to the past and hope to our futures.
My prayer for us is that we is that you find that same hope moving forward... no matter what dead places of your life has held it's grip on you up until now. That you would find freedom and space to flourish in the midst of ashes, that God would cause something beautiful to bloom in your hearts.
I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul." (Jeremiah 32:41)