15 Nov 2013

Five Minute Friday: Tree

On Friday’s we silence the inner critic. The loudest of all naysayers. And on Fridays we remind ourselves that The Word is for us and loves us and welcomes us.

Your words are safe here.


So come and write with us. Together. On one word for five minutes. And then link up your post or leave it in the comments. But remember, the one must rule here is that you visit the person who linked up before you and encourage them in their writing.

That’s it. The gift of encouragement – pass it on.

All the back story and details for how to play along are over here.

Today the word is the one that I heard in the echo of my dad’s voice all the way from South Africa this afternoon.

Today the word is TREE.


There’s a tree that rains purple every October at the top of my father’s driveway. It’s a royal carpet of welcome on the years we finally wing our long lost way home. Homesickness is a hard thing to pass down through the DNA to your children. We count years since we were last there, those petals crunching under foot and beneath the swing that the kids take turns to fly high.

You are never so vulnerable as when you are loving someone else.

My heart is buried under that jacaranda tree. It blooms over there and spills over while I’m walking aisles at Kmart, doing the tae kwon do pick ups, finding pledges for my kids at this year’s boosterthon.

I leave my heart there so that over here it can beat in time to the rhythm of South African sunrise and sunset. So that it can hear the hadida bird in the early spring mornings and send me whiffs of pancakes and cinnamon sugar, veld fires and that red dust that coats the evenings there.

I live here and my roots are deep but I leave a tree growing in my memory because I need to know there’s a purple road to lead me home when I come.

I have tickets in hand.

I’m only 31 days away.

And then one night I’ll sit down next to my dad on the bench beneath that tree and inhale summer and remember what it feels like to think in Afrikaans and hug the people you love in person and not just over the phone.

I love that tree. How it tells more of my story than I could ever write down in words.

A shower of purple grace and homecoming.




{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Oh Lisa, that picture steals my heart. Beautiful! A shower of purple grace — such a heart-warming visual.

  2. 2

    Oh, can’t wait till you can be back with your dad again…can feel your homesickness through the screen…blessings to you :)

  3. 3

    Being South African living abroad I can totally relate. There is no place like home :) The scents, the smells, the visuals and the touch of our loved ones… so hard being so far away from family… hugs xxx

  4. 4

    Lisa Jo that made me cry for you! I live here, yet my words can’t paint the evocative picture yours can. I hope that those 31 days race by, and that the time spent in your heart-home crawls by as slowly as a songololo making his way to the soil ;)
    Lots of love!

  5. 5

    What a beautiful post! This is the first week I’ve linked up, and you all are inspiring me to dig deeper next week.

  6. 6

    YAY!! You’re going home soon…what a blessing. Your longing is evident in your lovely word picture of that purple tree :-) I totally get that longing. I’ve always said that my favorite place in the whole world is under the maple tree in my Daddy’s front yard (for exactly the same reasons you love that jacaranda tree.) Now that Daddy is with Jesus, that tree in the front yard holds sweet memories in the majestic shape of its branches – memories of laughter and love that were gifts from my Heavenly Father through my earthly one. Thanks for taking me there today, girl!

  7. 7

    This post is so beautiful!

  8. 8

    I’ve been by so many times but would you believe this is the first time I’ve actually played along with Five-minute Friday? Me either. But it was fun. Thanks for the invitation, Lisa.

  9. 9

    Beautiful! I can see the tree in my mind & feel homesick for you!

  10. 10

    Lisa, my heart went right to my family tree when I saw this prompt. They are life and memories, and each branch has a story that grows with us as we age. It’s carved into time. It’s own “book of life” for future generations to enjoy, if they will only slow down to take a look. Have a safe trip home and soak in every moment. I know you will. Blessings to you.

  11. 11
    Mary Ann E says:

    Lisa Jo – Beautiful word picture!


    I have loved trees my whole life. Trees were always in view, walking out of my childhood home a whole forest of trees across the street, our vacations in the country – traipsing in the woods between tall tall trees on green quiet moss, branches to be avoided as i rode my pony at high speed through the trees! The colors bright green in spring and after the cleansing rains, shading me in the hot summer, glorifying the fall with brilliance in red, gold orange yellow rust purple and their beautiful selves, bare and dignified standing straight and tall in the winter, waiting waiting for new life, a small nub on the branch promising to bloom forth to leaf or flower but it always happens, without fail, the trees are there, living performing steadfast strong reaching up to the sky while affecting the ground so profoundly!

    Thank you humbly Lisa Jo for this Fridays word :)

  12. 12

    I’m so glad you’re going home soon! I love that line from a country song “there’s only one place they call you one of their own.” Nothing like being in that one place.

  13. 13

    Thank you for hosting the writing party! I don’t consistently do this because I don’t really see myself as a “writer” but I always check out the word of the week and if it hits me in the face then I will give a shot! Your story is beautiful and you describe it in such a way that I can see the tree you are talking about! Very lovely.

  14. 14

    First time here!! I promised myself I would do it even though I feel the same as “Easy Life” and I have to admit the word didn’t hit me in the face either! Maybe give it another try sister above me…we can encourage each other and I’m glad it’s safe here….
    This time of year if I’m thinking about trees, I’m drawn to thinking about Christmas trees. We are a family of staunch believers in having a REAL tree and anyone who suggests otherwise is reminded of the time my mother poked her eye with the limb from an artificial tree and had to wear a patch all through the season.
    My first Christmas as a single mom we picked out our tree with my brother, just me and my three boys starting out alone. That little tree somehow sprouted the purest, most tender shoots at the end of each branch sometime after the packages had been put away. I took dozens of pictures and called it my Christmas tree miracle. A reminder that God had not forgotten us and that healing and new life were coming.
    Years later, one short month after the death of my middle son at 20, dear friends showed up at my door with a Christmas tree for us. We were a devastated, immobilized family unable to find any cheer for the holiday. They brought us hope that day and the quiet love of true friendship.
    This year we marked 9 years without him here and our family is bursting with new life and grandchildren and joy mixed in the bittersweet memories and filling in the holes just a little bit. It’s like they are the tender shoots in our own tree to remind us of God’s faithfulness, that even in the midst of so much loss, His love and healing and new life are still constant.

  15. 15
    Sarah Royal says:

    First timer here. Just had to try…

    The word is tree and it is fall, so naturally my mind and my eyes see color. Amazing multicolored trees surround. Trees keep growing and reaching toward heaven with every new day. They are arrows to God. Trees carry scars of storms and pests and continue to reach for the sky. They feed off the long gone, the leftover and still they reach. They grow around and through in spite of every obstacle. Their purpose is clear. Green to gold, to fall down, to brown, to renew, drink and begin again.

    The forever green know less of struggle of process of giving to get. They hold on stubborn to their prickly shoots. I relate to the evergreen. Same is easy.

    Growth and death, rebirth. Autumn speaks of the letting, the letting go of all we hold fast to, to every shade, golden, greens, red and purple. All fall to brown and give back to the ground what was taken. To begin again.

  16. 16

    This is my first try at 5 minute Friday. Colline’s blog helped me to finally get here. There seems to be some problems loading my image. I hope that doesn’t make it difficult for anyone else to do the linky.
    I’m off to visit the person who posted ahead of me.

  17. 17

    This was great fun! I hope to be back next Friday. Thanks!

  18. 18

    I am beyond excited to have found this link up. What an amazing idea. I think too often we get wrapped up in the perfection that we feel we need to always personify.

    You are right, the word is a gift and it is ours to share with the world. Funny thing is that today on my site the picture I posted was about words and how beautiful they can be. you can check it out here. http://masterfullyme.com/?p=1058

    Have a fabulous friday

  19. 19

    You did it again Ms Lisa Jo…tears at reading and remembering…
    So, so happy for you that you will be home soon :-)

  20. 20

    Please… please tell me you will take a photo of that tree… I can only imagine the glory but thanks to your lovely words, I can begin to picture what it may look like! So thrilled that you all get to go ‘home’ and sit under the African sky… and love on family and friends inrl!

  21. 21

    Amazing what a place, a smell, some sounds can do to us. Hope you see him again very soon.

  22. 22

    Oh friend. This is makes me want to follow that purple road to that bench beneath that tree. Makes me ache to experience it it real time.

  23. 23

    Love that you are getting to head home. I know just what it feels like to “have tickets in hand.” Its been four years since I was home and we’re heading there for the holidays. Its 30 days and counting for me and mine and a coconut tree we’ll be sitting under. But I can’t wait to see my father (this may be the last time) and everyone else. Praying traveling mercies as you make your way home.

  24. 24

    That’s very sweet. I love trees. Unfortunately, at present… where I live are no beautiful trees. It’s dry and hot and dirty here. I struggle to live in this environment. We moved here almost 6 months ago. Enjoy your visit to S. Africa, Lisa-Jo.

  25. 25

    Liewe Lisa-Jo
    Miskien kan ek jou help met die verlange met ñ Afrikaanse kommentaar! As julle ooit in Port Elizabeth se rigting kom, sal ek jou baie graag wil ontmoet. Sterkte vriendin, een van die dae kan jy vir ure lank in Afrikaans klets saam met jou familie!
    Baie liefde XX

  26. 26

    I LOVE this! Resonates very deeply with me. Thanks so much for sharing!

  27. 27

    Love the image of purple rain… I’ve always loved the photos I’ve seen of jacarandas in bloom. The color is so unique.

  28. 28

    That was beautiful! I identify with a tree too. It’s part of my story.

  29. 29

    I was late in writing the post today, but write I did. I even forgot to check when it was 5 minutes.

    The last time I posted here, no one commented on my blog, so please do comment this time, whoever posts after me.

    Lisa – you wrote about the purple tree and I wrote about the peepal tree. Purple tree sounds fairy-like though. :) Lovely pic.

  30. 30

    A hauntingly beautiful post, Lisa-Jo. Revealing our soul-deep need for trees of memory that root us wherever we roam…

    Love these words particularly: “You are never so vulnerable as when you are loving someone else.” So glad that God anchors us in the midst of our vulnerability, for He, too — Love Itself — was vulnerable for us.

    God bless you,

    P.S. You might enjoy this book by Dr. Caroline Leaf, who reveals the literal tree-like nature of our thoughts and memories (fascinating neuroscience with a grounding in God’s Word!): “Who Switched Off My Brain?” I wrote about her book briefly in a post for last month’s “31 Days”: http://inthehandsofthehealer.blogspot.com/2013/10/day-8-graymatter.html

  31. 31

    Dear Lisa, This is my first time stopping by. I discovered your site through Terri. I love the concept of Five Minute Friday and would love to participate. I also know my daughter would enjoy this too. This was such a beautifully written post. Blessings, Catherine

  32. 32

    What a delightful challenge! I loved reading what you and others wrote — here’s mine!
    There was an old maple that stood tall at the top of my family’s garden. Every year it got a little bigger, grew a little taller and a little more stately. The rich earth at it’s feet was sowed with precious seed as it turned softly green and generously dripped sweet sap from metal tap. We bent perspiring over the bean rows on summer days welcoming the shade of it‘s leaves as clouds floated high overhead in the blazing sky. Pumpkins were piled high in wheelbarrows beneath it’s flaming orange, and we brushed away it’s fallen leaves to wrest potatoes from the ground. The winter snows came heavy, and the cold and ice beat hard against it‘s sturdy trunk as aurora danced high above it‘s bare branches. And then the warm winds would blow again, and the snow would run into muddy rivulets to fill the woodland hollows and the seasons would begin again beneath the old tree.
    It was always there. Every year we knew we could depend on it to faithfully produce the most and the sweetest sap of all the trees. Every fall it posed to have it’s portrait painted, splendidly golden and copper against the September blue skies, and we‘d snap a picture because surely this year was the prettiest it had ever been. In later years, when it’s massive root system infiltrated the good garden soil, leaching nutrients and water from the rows of vegetables planted closest to it and people wondered why we didn‘t cut it down, it remained. We expanded the garden in other directions, but the old maple was as much a part of family as the sledding hill and lilac bush by the front porch.
    Then, last spring, when the forest around it began to bud, the old maple gave only a half-hearted attempt at coming to life again. It’s top branches remained bare against the summer skies and it feebly flung out only a few bright leaves on it’s lowest branches as the fall frosts bit cruel. By winter, it was sure. The woodpeckers began boring holes in it’s trunk and the stately branches turned brittle and gray. The old maple had breathed it’s last.
    But at it’s feet grow a hundred tiny trees. One day stately offspring will arise to take it’s place — and so the old maple lives on, as every maple before it has since the Creation of the world.

  33. 33

    The moment I read about the tree that rains purple, my mind took me back to Sunday school lessons on a carpet of purple flowers, in the shade of a jacaranda tree.
    I was raised in Lesotho and Kenya, but moved to Canada to start university a few months ago. It feels like you took my heart and put it on to paper. Already longing for the day when that purple road will lead me back to the place of my childhood, to where that piece of my heart is buried.

  34. 34

    New here, but so in love! Thanks for such an uplifting, creative site. I needed Five Minute Friday like nobody’s business yesterday. Thanks, Lisa!

  35. 35

    That was gorgeous. It made me homesick. Interesting thoughs bout homescickness. Thanks for sharing.

  36. 36

    Lisa, I am from Cape Town and know just what you mean about that Jacaranda tree… Here are some images that made me think of you today: http://blog.africageographic.com/africa-geographic-blog/wildlife/wildlife-and-nature/jacarandas-for-africa/

  37. 37

    I saw this and loved the one word idea. I hope I am welcome to participate? I am going to give it a try here. Thank you.


    What a great word for me. I was born and raised in the redwoods of northern California. I have had the privlege to have driven through one. Visited a gift shop made inside the trunk of one. In our local park there were many to admire and a few fallen ones to climb too. I now live in Oklahoma and sometimes miss my redwoods but as I sit gazing out my window at the fall colors a hige pecan tree sways in the wind. I realized I love pecan trees too. Trees calm my soul.

    Annette Harris

  38. 38
    Valorie MacDonald says:

    Wow my timing has been SO off the last couple weeks; so once again I’m showing up when it’s already going to be time for the NEXT party! :o
    I don’t believe I have ever questioned a tree; challenged it on its purpose.
    I have never criticized its choice of location or suggested, “Let’s sit and have a little chat about the direction your life is taking you these days.”
    To be fair, I’m not a landscaper; nor do I have any sort of talent in that area.
    I am the one who says, “Cool tree.”
    Or, more often probably, the one who doesn’t notice the tree in all my runnings.back.and.forth of life.
    Today I am indeed thinking about trees. I am a tree. Don’t judge; you’re a tree too;)
    If, however, we’re to be trees of righteousness; the planting of the Lord…
    Might it behoove us to examine our… tree.ish.ly ways?
    Are my branches stretched wide to welcome those who come to seek shelter?
    Or clutching and clinging, threatening to strangle the life out of anyone who gets too close?
    Are my roots growing down deep into the rich earth, providing security and longevity to my life and relationships?
    Am I bearing fruit? Or have I been content to do just enough work to pop out a few pretty flowers where there should be a much greater maturity?
    Have I settled for the intoxicating voices of praise, “Ooooo what pretty flowers!” …or will I
    allow the Gardener to wield his pruning shears in my heart so that I may offer actual sustenance: life.giving fruit to all those He brings to partake in the riches that He would offer them through me?
    Hm…once again, 7 minutes:/ NExT TiME I ShALL COnQUER in this 5.minute issue!!!

  39. 39

    Loving Five Minute Friday so much that if I miss a Friday I still partake when I can. I wrote yesterday… http://mylifeaslori.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/8042/

  40. 40

    THIS: “You are never so vulnerable as when you are loving someone else.”

    Yup, all of this.

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