Lessons from the Lawn

front-porchI had company this weekend.  My mother decided that instead of me coming to visit her for Mother’s Day, she wanted to come visit me.  Friday evening found her and my Dad and Ruby—the sweet, little lady that my mother has adopted as her best friend and surrogate mother—visiting my house. 

When some folks have company, they make elaborate plans to visit parks, museums, shops, or other tourist attractions.  Because my family’s weird, we spent our weekend in the yard.  (That’s just how we roll.)  As Ruby sat on the front porch rocking in the rocking chair and crocheting, my parents and I mowed my 1.1 acres and planted ten baby trees.

Now, usually when I’m on the lawn mower, I’m singing hymns at the top of my voice.  I suppose it’s a ministry to my neighbors—my way of spreading the joy and love of Jesus.  (Or maybe I just enjoy it.)  But since I had company, I decided not to embarrass them.  Instead, I spent my lawn mower time humming and thinking instead. 

As I hummed, “We’re Marching to Zion,” I found myself thinking about how much I’ve changed over the years.  Specifically, the fact that for the first thirty springs and summers of my life, I ran around barefoot, in bathing suits and tank tops and shorts, trying to get a tan.  But because I’m blonde-haired and blue-eyed with skin the color of milk, I really only succeeded in viciously cooking my skin to a painful red color.  Many, many nights, I have sat awake, slathered in aloe, too blistered to sleep.  Oh, the foolishness and vanity of youth! 

Now, I mow the grass painted in SPF 50, wearing shades, a ball cap, and a mask to keep out the dust.  (I’m sure my neighbors appreciate this spectacle….  But I guess it’s better than the scene I create when I walk my dog while wearing pajamas and flip flops—which is a pretty regular occurrence actually.)

 This morning after breakfast, I sat on the front porch with Mama and Ruby.  As Ruby rocked and crocheted, she made a simple observation.

“Have you ever noticed how sometimes you can hear the wind in the trees, but not feel it?  And then other times, you can hear it and feel it?”

I was struck by her statement.  I sat up straighter and glanced up at the three adolescent pines in my front yard.

“Hey Ruby, that’s really profound!”

Ruby laughed, surprised at my reaction.  “I didn’t know I could say anything profound!”

I caught my Mom’s eye and explained.  “Well, think about it.  The Bible says that the wind blows wherever it pleases and you can hear its sound, but you can’t always tell where it comes from or where it’s going.”  I nodded.  “Yeah, Ruby, that’ll preach.”

My Mom laughed and said, “Ama, you’re going to end up in Sarah’s blog!”

Yea, verily, Ruby ended up in my blog.  Even though she didn’t realize what she was saying, her words were really timely and meaningful.

I don’t think I would have survived five minutes as a Christian without the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit in my life.  God sought me for so many years that when I finally turned to Him and invited Him to be my Lord, He was ready.  The Bible says that if I draw near to Him, then He’ll draw near to me.  I found that to be true right away.  If I asked God for an answer, He gave it to me pretty quickly and pretty clearly.  It was amazing and refreshing and encouraging.  It was just the Love and Grace of God poured over me like water in a desert.

Part of my natural, human personality is that I like for everything in life to be easy and painless.  I find that the best way to keep everything easy and painless is to keep everything under control.  And the best way to keep everything under control is to keep everything in order.  I work really well when I have a formula and a structure.  And if my formula or structure get “bumped” in any way, it has the potential to send me into a tailspin.    

When I was first getting to know Christ, I would watch the way He worked in my life and others’ lives, and I would take notes, trying to figure out “the formula to painless Christianity.”  I would think, “Okay, to forgive, these are the steps…”  And “to heal from a broken heart, these are the steps…”  I guess I thought that Christianity had a “cruise control” button.  That I could just plug in a formula for each problem and then coast along to Heaven.  It took me quite a while to figure out that God doesn’t work with a formula and that each person and each situation is unique and special to Him.

So, why was the wind comment so significant to me today?

After I’d grown up in Christ a little bit, the intense feelings started to wear off.  I was so busy trying to figure out the formulas that I overlooked the critical issue that I was supposed to be having a relationship with God.  When I started to get back on track, I kept trying to use my feelings as my “God barometer.”  But guess what?  It doesn’t work like that.

Humans were created for relationship—with God and then with each other.  In any relationship, we love to feel the tingles, shivers, and fuzzies that make us feel good inside.  But it’s when a relationship gets past those feelings that it really begins to grow.  Some days, we just have to get up, put on our boots and march, even when we don’t feel like it.  In other words, some days, we’ll hear the wind in the trees but not feel it.  On those days, we keep going in spite of our feelings, knowing that one day soon, we’ll feel the wind and it will be worth it.        

About Sarah Salter


  1. Barbara says:

    Yes as Ms. Ruby said.. “that’ll definitely preach”. The whole thing for sure…I have many day that I just get up and march..whether I want to or not.. Glad you had a good weekend.


  2. I can really relate to the looking for the formula. I tried that for
    years. But after I got passed that, I saw the beauty of how God
    deals with each of his children in a unique and special way. I think
    that is one of the things I love most about God.

  3. And just why have you not published a book yet?

    As far as the formula goes, once I relalized that there wasnt one, It gave me a crisis of faith…you know, you go to church to be taught how to live and get by (at least that was why I went….besides the fellowship)….when I realized that formulas didnt work, I lost all hope of ever being happy….but Thank GOD that HE never gave up on me! He deals with me and my issues differently than he does others….I have my unique issues for a reason. To teach me AND to help others through my triumph.

  4. Ahhhhh, how sweet and refreshing the thought of the wind blowing somewhere, and sometimes getting to feel that wind afresh on your face.

    How many times I’ve wished for a fix-it-all formula…And you KNOW I can relate to the old “put your big girl panties on and just get on with it” even when you don’t feel like it, or don’t think you can…

    Glad y’all had a nice weekend! Love ya.

  5. Eliza Garrison says:

    Hey Baby Girl, I love your formulas, wind, your weird family and marching boots, I truly can relate to all of it!! Over the last couple of days, I’ve had to just put on my marching boots of “persevering”, and simply walk OUT many things, that I didn’t want to do!!

    But the Wind of the Holy Spirit never failed me, He never left me Alone!

    Love Ya,

  6. Vanessa says:

    I’ve been through that formula thing too! Isn’t it frustrating? I know God has a plan and like you said, we got to put on those marching boots!

    I can totally relate to trying to get a tan, but I gave up years ago. Especially when I found out it causes wrinkles! So you and I can laugh when we are 50 and look like we are 40! I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one that slathers the SPF 50 on, a hat, shades and a mask too!

  7. I’m frequently amazed at how God will use such insignificant things to teach me and bring me in closer to understanding His character and His essence. It takes my breath away sometimes. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your story about Ruby and the wind.

  8. I swear we must be kin, Sarah. This time of year, my family ends up in the yard nearly every evening.

    Love your thoughts here. LOVE them.

  9. I am constantly amazed at how deep and profound your thinking is…. and here I was thinking that I was the only one in the family that thought like that…(just kiddin lil sister)… anyway…… I think that many times it is when we have to “Walk by faith and not by sight” (or when we can’t feel the wind) that we grow the most….. and when we have those that love us reminding us that just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there…. Well when we finally DO feel it again…. it makes it that much sweeter, and we appreciate it that much more!

  10. Neal Salter says:

    I guess this family has found a way to keep communication going. It’s the last paragraph that really says it all–its about relationships. God wants us to have that relationship first with HIM, so HE can show us how real relationships are formed. It starts with love–love for HIM and then we realize we want to form relationships with others so we can show them the love that HE has shown to us. Joell will appreciate this–I recently found some old notes from a message that her father shared many years ago and wanted to be sure they were saved for a future generation. John Hobbs shared, “The key to identification is communication. Jesus identifies with us and communicates His love for us. The Father loves me more than I love me. The whole issue of identity is to discover Our Father. We are our Father’s children. We tell our children to grow up because we want them to be independent. Maturity as a child of God is going from independence to being dependent on Our Father. This is opposite from the ways of the world. Because Our Father loves us, His children, we need to learn we don’t have to be performance driven creatures, but just a child of Our Father, who loves us. Jesus gave himself and His love and that’s all He expects from us–to give ourselves and our love–(which comes from Him).” The last four words are my understanding of what John said. Jesus said it best, “if you love me keep my commandments. Our relationships begin with HIM and extend to as many others as we will allow ourselves to share HIS love. Ain’t it Great! PTL!

  11. Thanks Neal! I do appreciate the reiteration of Daddy’s words…words that are so true and timeless and words that Daddy has always tried to instill in us kids…his own kids and all the many others he has ministered to over the years! What a blessing! Love ya!

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