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As the story goes, five years before I came into this world, my Mom gave birth to a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed, baby girl, Susan La’Chelle Lide (soon to be Big Sis to, yours truly). And, after having a girl, my Mom just knew in her heart that I was going to be a boy, and not just any boy. No, I was going to be a red headed, freckle faced boy. But, what would my name be? One grandfather was named “Rufus” and the other grandfather was named “Henry,” but everyone called him “Son.” So, my Mom’s creative juices were flowing with a name for this child (also known as, ME), and, drumroll, all that she could come up with was “Son-Ruf.” So, if you’re not a Believer, this story should push you in that direction. It’s a miracle from God above that I was not a little boy. I mean, how difficult would life have been for a red headed, freckle faced, boy with the name “Sun-Ruf?” Our answer is the same, I can assure you. It would have been difficult- very, very, very difficult.

In the last day of my 30’s, there are so many thoughts that swim through my head. My thirties gave birth to my marriage, two precious little fur babies, my dream work realized and so much more. But, in that time, I also lost key friends and family members, hit many learning curves and had my fair share of humbling moments. But, isn’t that life?

Today, on an early morning walk, I passed one of my favorite trees in the neighborhood. Disclaimer here, I’ve always had an awareness and love for trees. Some might say I’m a “tree hugger,” but I’m really more of a “tree lover.” As I passed this massive oak tree, I slowed down. It’s branches sprawl out across the lawn completely, leaving only glimpses of the house to be seen. It’s trunk is stout. And, it’s roots have totally taken over the lawn. It is truly a masterpiece. I mean, every single time I pass by that house, I have tree envy. It’s one of God’s many masterpieces, right here in the city where the financial gain of knocking down a tree to build a stately new home is the norm. But, not this tree. No, it’s owners apparently recognize is strength and beauty.

As I passed it today, I thought, “A mature tree is not only more beautiful with age, but it’s strength comes from roots that run deep into the earth.” If we’re given the privilege of growing older, we, too, become more beautiful and our strength increases with every joy and trial we face. Our roots grow deeper and we’re unshaken by the winds of life. Why, because we know who sets the winds into motion. And, every joy we’ve experienced and trial we’ve overcome only makes us stronger and more beautiful.

One night, as a kiddo, The Rankin’s, our beloved family friends, invited my Sister and I to join them for pizza in Terrell, Texas. As we sat at the table, Rusty, who had and continues to have a heart and personality bigger than the state of Texas, started to sing to the table, “I’m just an old chunk of coal. But, I’m gonna’ be a diamond someday.” That face, that voice, that song, that moment in time stands out in my memory. Rusty was cuttin’ up and making us all laugh, but he was also telling us an important truth about life. Every single day that we live, we’re getting better, shining brighter. It doesn’t matter where your path in life has taken you. What matters is that you’ve been present on it, learning the lessons handed to you and doing the very best with what God’s given you.  And, be reminded of this, God doesn’t waste a thing.

Both, the story of the tree and Rusty singing, makes me think, “I want to be strong and stout with roots deep into the earth connecting me to my Maker. And, I want to sing like Rusty, one of my favorite people in the world, from my heart every single day that yes, I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’m gonna’ be a diamond some day.” Beauty, strength, grit and grace- All of those characteristics should make us proud to be right here, right now, doing the life work that God has sent us here to do.

Will you promise me this, and, in fact, you may have to remind me of this. My memory might be changing as I approach 40 years of age. No matter where you are in life. No matter what your circumstances may be. You, yourself are a beautiful tree of life. You are strong. You are beautiful. You were meant to shine bright like a diamond for all the world to see. And, don’t let anyone dim that light by holding you to who you might have been in the past. No, you are unshakeable, with roots so deep, not even the winds of life phase you.

Stay Divine,

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