When a Tree Falls in the Woods {and someone hears}

{by Amy Breitmann , Ice photo by Kelli Woodford}

(In a town called “The Garden City” our landscape of Augusta, GA was changed last week. Clean up is still underway as our city was halted for days on end. But as we know, change is more than downed power lines and trees in neighbors’ roofs. It’s during these times, we too are changed.)

The ice comes down and everything glimmers beautiful. A crepe myrtle I planted many springs ago has becomes a living chandelier and it dangles outside my kitchen window.

amy's snow crape

The ice storm has just begun and this afternoon the backyard is the loveliest I’ve ever seen it, with all of its best parts outlined in glass.

But the freezing rain kept falling.

The myrtle bows low under the icy weight, its flexible branches compensating and holding on to dusk. The evergreens and hollies drip in frozen tears. But my attention is drawn to the dozens of tall pines lined up behind the fence. They are not as limber and rumor has it they will begin snapping soon as inches of ice accumulate.

I notice the one in the corner. I had never paid much attention to that tree just outside the fence, not before the sleet began to fall from the sky. That Georgia pine with the bushy top blended in with the dozens of others, offering a filter to evening sunlight. The way they stand together has always reminded me of crosses all lined up. I’m still not sure why I focused on this one, but it meant something to me in the storm.

I wanted it to hold on.

My eyes watched it closely those early hours of the storm and waited for the snap, but night took completely over and it was still standing.

The last glimpse I caught of it was its green top leaning over heavy, like it had given up.

The ice is relentless and I barely sleep, relegated to the center of the house next to the fire, away from windows. The thuds sound like gunshots and a car alarms blare. Hours of freezing rain are changing the landscape of our town one tree and power line at a time.

amy's damage trees in road

amy's damaged trees and taped off road

amy's damged trees and gate

amy's damaged trees over road

Dawn takes forever but when it finally breaks I wander through the dark, chilly house back to the kitchen window. My eyes find it there, its piney-needled top down through the broken shadowbox fence, stretched out in the yard.
It had all been too much.

amys damaged tree fallen inyard

That tree’s falling starts the sadness in me. The kitchen is dark and I boil water for coffee on the gas stove, wishing we had power so I could watch the news and get a glimpse of somewhere further than my own back yard to process the damage. I knew that my tree was only one of thousands of casualties. Glancing up, the home behind mine looks like a toaster: 2 slots, parallel pine trees piercing the roof. I mouth prayers of safety and text friends. We whisper brave to each other and gasp at pictures shared from our corner of town. The roads are too icy to move yet. Power trucks from several surrounding states are already staged and waiting to restore power and hope.

We are the Body, so we mobilize.

We charge our phones in our cars and gulp down hot coffee made on gas grills, checking on neighbors and friends through Facebook and phones that work sporadically. Some light fires in large metal barrels and warm themselves before the chainsaws and clean-up commence.

amys damaged trees clean up

amy's damaged tree cutting one

amy's damaged trees and cut loads

The destruction is great. The weather experts had been correct.
But In our cold dark places we are not alone.

Ice begins to melt slowly and on the second day the sun breaks through. We pull out work gloves and put on old clothes. Chainsaws scream and we rake the debris, breathing the smell of sawdust and cedar. We cut the large trunks with power tools and gathered the smaller sticks in our hands. Children push wheelbarrows back and forth to the brush pile. We worked until blisters form and until all the scattered limbs are gathered from one little patch of in the neighborhood. But there are so many others that need the same.

Our heat and power and faith in community is restored on day 3. Others still wait in the dark. We applaud power trucks and restaurants and shelter workers and strangers who have shown up in our terrible storm.

And when I’m back home, warm, I wonder.

I wonder if we can have ears to hear the Spirit storm. The cracking in the night. The one we never noticed until it all started to accumulate. I pray that maybe just like in a storm brought on by Mother Nature we can be The Body who shows up. In these tattered rags, disheveled, unshowered. Bringing our messy selves to clean things up together.

Because we’ve all felt like a tree leaning with no one watching.

We’ve all had seasons when our spirits have fallen hard and there are damages. Heavy under one more diagnosis, one more drink, or one more disappointment. The cracks start when skeletons don’t fit back in the closet and the habits don’t work. The hole inside doesn’t get filled with one more martini, one more hit, one more accomplishment, one more promotion… And it all tumbles down. It happens in the darkest of nights.

Maybe, if we are The Body we can be scared together and then not be scared to show up.

And just maybe after being The Body we can stand back with perspective just like my friend, at the top of her now-cleared patch called home and declare: “I think it looks even better than before the storm.”

We’ll blush, shake hands and snap a picture or two. And then we’ll load the rakes back in and head home together.

Because in storms we are equipped to move.


Amy 1Amy Breitmann’s name means “Beloved” and she’s on a quest to believe it. Her boots carry Midwest soil but now she kicks it up in the south where she weaves marriage, ministry and motherhood together. Though she’s been a Christian as far as she can remember, her boots are covered with mud from her wanderings. As a cancer survivor, she was the Co-Founder of The Lydia Project, a ministry which holds hands with other women facing cancer.  She also is a lost-sock finder, a keeper of secrets for the best cheesecake recipe, and gets grace in the ordinary. The words that tumble out on her blog Beloved in Blue Jeans are balm that the Spirit speaks to quiet her soul. She loves others to eavesdrop there and walk a bit of this cobbled path with her. She’s a Co-Visionary with Tammy, Facebook Team Editor, Big-Dreamer, and Writer. Find her on her blog by clicking here, or on Facebook  or Twitter.

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This week’s book give away goes to Lynn Severance! We’ll be sending you “Streams in the Desert”. If you want to visit Lynn, she blogs over here. (The number was randomly picked with http://www.random.org/.)

Now we’re off to the next book. Yay!

“Christine Caine shares her compelling personal journey and offers insight into how anyone can overcome challenges and pain putting their trust in God. Using her dramatic story, well-known author and speaker Christine Caine illustrates how God rescued her from a life of abuse — where she was unnamed, unwanted, and unqualified — into a God-filled and faith-fueled life.” ~~Amazon

To Enter:

  1. Leave a Comment. If you already have this book, leave a comment anyway and if your name is drawn, we’ll send the book to whomever you choose.
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  3. We’ll draw a name and announce it next week. We’ll contact you privately for mailing information.
  4. Thanks! We look forward to hearing your stories.


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31 Comments on “When a Tree Falls in the Woods {and someone hears}”

  1. This is just a beautiful picture of the Body…yes…we need to be willing to step right into the storm…and most importantly stay…stay until we see together a new and more beautiful landscape. I think many people are willing to rush into a storm but few are willing to stay through the darkest and most painful times…not willing to stand until the light can be seen again.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win the book…on my list to read.

    • You are so right, Ro. We can’t stop just after the storm. Sometimes weeks, months, years later there is still hurt and we are called to stay close and listen. Thanks for being here today. The book? In my top 10~~ if you don’t win, promise to read anyway? Compelling.

  2. Amy, this is Body, yes. (You painted that so clearly and beautifully.) But it’s also redemption. I hear it in this one line in particular: “I think it looks even better than before the storm.”

    Sorta reminds me of another line … someone else who held redemption in his hand:
    “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 50:20)

    I love how there’s no curve ball God can’t hit out of the park. Thanks for sharing your oh-so-personal tale.

    • Kelli you always connect dots for me…YES~ redemption. The Body does help us see and experience ALL that God has intended for us.

  3. Amy, so beautiful. I can feel your heart here ~> “Maybe, if we are The Body we can be scared together and then not be scared to show up.” I’m sitting here nodding yes, yes. Let’s be scared together and show up. Thank you for sharing with us. You have been in my prayers. Much love.

  4. Beautiful and terrible at the same time…..and yet Spring will come, as it always does. So sorry for your tree, I was rooting for it too. Thank you and my prayers go with you and your town…..we are breaking “warm” records here.

    • Beautiful and brutal….both Lori. The crazy thing? Today it was 72 degrees!! What a difference a week makes. Sometimes seasons teach us so much about submission and quiet. Thanks for being here today.

  5. Congratulations to my friend, Lynn, for winning the book giveaway! She is such an inspiration to me.

    “Maybe, if we are The Body we can be scared together and then not be scared to show up.” – oh yes!! Thank you for putting it so succinctly and so beautifully!

    Heart Hugs, Shelly ❤

    • Yay Lynn!~ I love that these books are heading out all over the place and pray that they minister. Shelly thanks for being here~ for not being scared to show up! Blessings to you…

  6. My neighbor asked me today when I thought things would be back to normal. I told him no one would probably notice anything had happened in a week or two. I hope our heart and communities have been changed forever through this experience though.

    • So true. Sometimes messes get cleaned up on the “outside” but our hearts are always different. Hope your cleanup is quick, friend. Have to say your first photo is the one that GOT my attention that morning. Love you.

  7. Amy, this is one of my favorite posts of yours. I still feel a bit shell-shocked from last week and your words provided comfort and perspective. Thanks, girlfriend.

  8. Amy, your imagery in words had me traveling with you through the initial beauty of the sleet/ice and into the dark of the night, the wonder of what was transpiring, and then the morning’s revelations beyond the visual.

    I immediately was reminded of the Scripture that speaks to bringing beauty out of ashes. That led me to Isaiah 61. It speaks to your message and, hopefully, you will not mind, my posting 3 of its verses below.

    Truly, we are called to walk in our own muddied shapes with others fallen and weak, to support and build up and become the Body who views itself with the value our Creator infused into each one. Glorified because of his righteousness.

    Lovely posting. Thank you!

    “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,  (and the day of vengeance of our God;to comfort all who mourn;to grant to those who mourn in Zion—  to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified” ( Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV)

  9. I have read it twice and shared it many times. Thankful that you allow God to use you to inspire, encourage and motivate others through your gifts. Thanks Amy! ❤

  10. The paragraph that started with, “We’ve all had seasons when our spirits have fallen hard and there are damages,” struck me so strongly. Bringing our messy selves to be there for one another, is such a Jesus way of being the Body.

    • (Blue Jean Girl)….yes, this is my story. It’s all of our story and I’m grateful we notice each other when wavering.

  11. This is a beautiful, powerful story Amy. This: “I pray that maybe just like in a storm brought on by Mother Nature we can be The Body who shows up. In these tattered rags, disheveled, unshowered. Bringing our messy selves to clean things up together.” just leaped up to me…that is what we need to know and to do…show up even though we ourselves are tattered and messy. We need each other.

    It’s my first time linking up with Jennifer at #TellHisStory, and have been blessed by yours. Oh, and my soul…it hurts a bit for your brave, lost myrtle. Just a bit. 🙂

    • Margo~ thanks for visiting us here. I love the #TellHisStory community and Jennifer Lee. I know, the loss is hard but grateful that through HIM and community we remember the redemption of all things lost.

  12. I loved this post. I am beginning to wonder if it is not in the midst of the storm that we come to realize He does His most beautiful work. Thank you for sharing this post!

    • Thanks for being here. I wonder, too…in storms we are most aware of HIS presence and that is such a gift of perspective.

  13. Oh goodness, Amy. I LOVE this. Especially this: “I wonder if we can have ears to hear the Spirit storm. The cracking in the night. The one we never noticed until it all started to accumulate. I pray that maybe just like in a storm brought on by Mother Nature we can be The Body who shows up. In these tattered rags, disheveled, unshowered. Bringing our messy selves to clean things up together.” Oh my. {sigh….} beauty. *you* restore my faith in the body. Thank you for being a sister. ❤

  14. Bruised and battered the army mounts up and rides…may we ride within the whirlwind, find strength in the storm and follow the wind of the Spirit and breathe life into the wounded that have been left on the battlefield…loved this!!!

  15. Well said. We’ve had our share of winter weather where I live, as well, and it is easy to feel daunted (like what I did there?) by the seemingly endless cold temperatures and unforgiving ice and snow. But every winter, I try to marvel at the beauty of it and I recall what the Bible says about washing my sins “as white as snow.”

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

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