I grew up as a Florida native. One of the things I loved as a child and still love as an adult it a palm tree. I particularly love Coconut Palms. I used to run up them as a child and try to get the fruit that they teased me with. Did you know that there are over 300 species of Palm trees growing from 3 to 100 feet tall. I love dates. My mom used to cook with them when I was a child…..but I did not know that the date palm produces over 300 pounds of dates annually. What about the African oil palm which is very widely cultivated in the tropics? It gives a higher oil yield per hectare than any other oil plant. It produces two quite different types of oil, and that from palm kernels, used for making margarine and soap, sun tan oils (which I used my share of as a teenager ), and that from the fleshy part of the fruit, used more widely for industrial processes. This is one of the most rapidly expanding plantation crops today. Historically the palm tree has been called the representative tree of Palestine. It has stood through the years as a symbol of the land of our Lord. When Jesus made His entry into the city of Jerusalem before His death, the people broke off palm branches and waved them in front of Him. I was doing some research on palm trees the other day….you can tell I was bored to tears. What I discovered amazed me and it made me realize that the palm tree has several characteristics about it that should picture the life of the Christian. Did you know that the Palm tree breaks the bands? Other trees do not break the bands put around them. As the tree grows, the bands dig into the wood. Many of us have seen an old clothesline wire sunk deep into the trunk of a tree, well the palm tree breaks the bands as it grows. I, as a child of God can claim and have the victory through Christ thus breaking the bands sin holds on me. Is that not cool or what? What a great object lesson. One thing I learned from the palm trees that I grew up around is they bend, reshape even, but they do not break. I have seen the effects of hurricane force winds on them….it is amazing. They may reshape themselves to conquer the force of the winds…but they do not break….uproot maybe….but do not break….they BEND. When hurricanes used to hit the coast when I was growing up in West Palm Beach…one thing I could count on….my palm trees would always be there…..the avocado, the orange, the pines, the melalucca (sorry about the spelling)….they would break….but those palm trees in Mr. Gunnell’s yard….they were a constant…and would be there when the bad weather was over. I have weathered many storms in my life – death of a brother, divorce, mother with dementia, father with cancer and dying, living away from my parents….but they were not disasters….because I serve a God who does not break….he simply enables me to bend. The other thing I love about Palm trees is that they don’t die in poor soil or heat….they flourish. Ok…so when the heat is on, and the soil where I am is poor….am I going to wither and die…or am I going to flourish! I have discovered about myself throughout my life…is that my roots run deep and I AM A SURVIVOR and will flourish wherever I am planted. I never want to be a shallow person. I want to be a Christian of substance. Think about it….one palm tree does not give off a whole lot of shade. But, what is an oasis? A bunch of palm trees providing much needed shade for someone who is weary. One other thing I learned about palm trees as a child….the older the tree the better the fruit. Mr. Gunnell had one that was so scarred and mangled…and it had the best coconuts. Well…isn’t that like us as Christians….or even humans….the battles we face in life…either leave us sweet…or bitter. If we allow the scars to harden out hearts like the outside of the coconut fruit…then we are just hard…if we allow the scars to conform us to the image of Christ….how sweet it is! As a girl scout I learned that you cannot burn palm tree wood like ordinary wood. It is not good for a bonfire. As a child of God I will never…not even for one millisecond, suffer the fires of hell because I will never burn…I AM A PALM TREE! As a palm tree I am an evergreen…which is .a symbol of immortality. I am promised in John 3:16, 18 and 36…that as a child of God I will have everlasting life. I don’t know about you….but I really love Palm trees now….and want to be the best one I can be. The Tanya Tucker song, "Strong Enough to Bend" is not about a palm tree....but it could be....anything is possible with God....eh?
I am a woman who wears many hats and loves them all. I am a singer - I sing with the group Still Magnolias. I was part of the original First United Methodist Church Arbor Praise Team until we moved. After 24+ years of teaching English 11 and Spanish I - II at Benjamin Russell High School I decided to take a job closer to home. I now teach Spanish I & 2 at Randolph Co. High School and Wadley. I thought I was getting close to retirement and looking forward to it, but decided to move my cheese and try something different. I am a preacher's wife and a preacher myself. My husband Frank is the pastor at Rock Mills United Methodist Church and I am the pastor at Midway (Wedowee). It has made our conversations interesting, to say the least.