If at first you don’t succeed…

Our warehouse (and my office) is about six miles from our store in Kidron. A former lawn mower factory, it is surrounded by acres of grassland that had been used to test new prototypes. Having come from generations of farming stock, my Dad and I thought that mowing 10 acres of lawn was horribly wasteful. I’m too busy running the store to make hay, so we decided to use the land to feed our addiction to tree growing.

Someday our warehouse, the hulking steel former lawn mower factory, will be surrounded and hidden by a forest of cherry, maple, oak and walnut.

As a result, every day when I walk in from the parking lot, I get to check on my little seedlings. I look for unhealthy crooks in the branches and signs of disease or other distress. But mostly I just love to watch them grow.

Winters are tough on my little babies. Last winter, they were alternately covered by snow and attacked by legions of bark chewing field mice. At one point, our next door neighbor (who didn’t know we had planted tiny tree seedlings in that field) drove his snowmobile over them. In the spring, many showed no signs of sprouting. But, because hope springs eternal, we decided to give them some time before we mowed them off.

One especially dead-looking seedling stands right by the path I take every day on my way into the office. To my surprise, one day it showed tiny green buds pushing out near the base of the trunk. Today, it’s doing just fine. Broad, healthy leaves are bunched around the base, sprouting from right below the line where the frost kill stopped.

Fresh growth from the base of this tree seedling will soon overtake the dead twigs left over from this winters cruel frost.

Maybe I’m too much in love with my little seedlings. Every time I look at them, I imagine our hulking, industrial-looking former lawn mower factory surrounded and hidden by green trees. We’ll be bathed in cool, oxygen-rich air every summer. We’ll be dazzled by brilliant leaves every fall. Partly because I’m in love with them and partly because I can envision a future world that is better with them, I resent the harsh winters.

I care about my little trees. And, this got me thinking about folks all over America today, who I care about even more, and who are also facing a harsh winter. This economy destroyed some rich and powerful folks who, because of how they got that way, deserved destruction. But, it’s also been a killing frost for millions who were merely trying to grow past the tiny seedling stage. For these, I mourn.

Then, I heard about an Amish business man who was facing some tough times of his own. For a long time, he said, he lived in fear. Fear of losing his business. Fear of destroying his reputation. Fear of letting his family down. But in the midst of desperation, he realized the foolishness of wallowing in fear. He had what people of faith call a “God-moment”. He realized that God was giving him a choice between living in faith or in fear. He says he chose faith, because he believed that God had a plan for him. He didn’t know if that plan included business success or not (eventually, he did succeed), but he was willing to accept whatever came.

I thought of my little seedling, and how I waited to mow it off, putting my faith in its ability to overcome the fact that nearly its whole length had been cruelly frozen. And overcome it did!

No matter what you’re facing today, I encourage you to live in faith rather than fear. Faith kindles while fear crushes. Faith encourages but fear disappoints. Faith lights the way, while fear blinds you.

May you have faith for the future. May you place your faith on the right things. And may all your seedlings grow into mighty oaks!

Galen Lehman
Galen Lehman, President, Lehman’s

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Cheryl Designs
Cheryl Designs
13 years ago

Thank you so much for this post. I NEEDED to read it at this time of my business life :) We are all suffering from the poor economy. We must ALL have faith and hope or we have NOTHING….Fear-hurts….It hurts our spirits and our health… THANK YOU. I am certain your babies will grow and prosper. Sometimes we just need patience, hope and faith in the future :)

13 years ago

Thank you for this post and wonderful message. I consider myself a Christian, a faith based Christian because I have faith the good Lord does not wish any bad apon us, we do a fine job of that ourselfs. My story is similar but with a twist. I planted a couple of Buckeye trees last year and the rabbits got to one of them. I was convinced it was done so I mowed right over it. Well to my suprise this spring what do I see but this little Buckeye tree fighting its way up above the grass and today is about 2′ tall. Faith is a powerful thing and I pray the next time I loose it I’ll remember your message and mow around that little tree……
Thanks Again!

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