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Miracles of a Weeping Cherry and Number Sequencing

Miracles of a Weeping Cherry and Number Sequencing

Our weeping cherry tree is blooming.

My daughter made progress with understanding number sequencing.

And, yes, those two things are connected.

The Weeping Cherry

I’ll start with the weeping cherry tree.

It was a gift from some friends at church, after Dominic died. Kind of a miracle tree, in some ways. You see, we had this perfect spot in our front bed for a tree, and I’ve wanted, for a couple of years now, to put a weeping cherry tree there. We just hadn’t gotten around to putting one in because, you know, life sort of happens.

Well, one day, shortly after Dominic’s death, we decided that we were going to do some yard work. We had bought some roses to put in that front bed, and were planning on planting them. Before we got to work, we got a call from a friend, who said she wanted to bring by a tree for us, because of Dominic. Something that we could see bloom for him each year. She said she had the tree ready, and wanted to know if she could bring it by. The tree was…

A weeping cherry.

Even the name made it perfect.

And no, no one had ever tipped her, or anyone of the other friends who had been a part of it, off to the fact that we’d wanted a weeping cherry. Or that we had planned on doing planting, in the bed where we’d intended to put a weeping cherry, that very day.

Like I said, kind of a miracle tree.

Except for one thing.

We were so intent about taking care of this tree, which represented the child we no longer had, that we might have overwatered it a little. Or a lot. And it actually lost all of its leaves, started drooping and looked…dead. Yeah, we were afraid that we had killed the tree that represented our dead child.

Not the best symbolism, that.

So when I looked out the window and saw that it was blooming… it felt like hope.

A little reminder that God’s miracles are embedded in the everyday.

Now back to number sequencing.

Number Sequencing

DD1 is my abstract, creative, right-brain oriented thinker who gets geometry like a champ, can write a three-point expository paragraph without assistance, and can design and sew her own doll clothes. One thing she cannot do, however, is get the concept that numbers come in logical sequences. Finding page number 247 has always taken a bit of effort, and subtracting backwards is very challenging. We’ve used a variety of Math programs, invested in manipulatives, and banged our heads against the wall for years, but she still pretty much just has to add up rather than subtract down. That wouldn’t matter so much if it didn’t make moving on to higher math so difficult – you kind of need to be able to mentally count down and understand number sequencing to be able to do higher arithmetic functions efficiently.

So I called in my mom. Former public school teacher and homeschool extraordinaire, mom is almost always good for giving me some perspective and assistance when my homeschooling machine gets stuck. True to form, within one session of her working with DD1, we were predominantly over the hurdle. A little bit of teaching strategy, a little bit of Gram-encouragement, and a little bit of “Gram isn’t Mom” all contributed to DD1 really “getting” it for the first time.

But it’s also more than that. We’ve worked on this for years, and used similar strategies to what my mom used.

It was a little miracle.

Meeting My Needs

Oh, some might say that she’s just older now, or that it’s all because someone else taught her that she suddenly “got” it. And some might say that our weeping cherry tree was never really dead, but just in shock from being planted for the first time.

And they might be right.

But the miracle was not just in the blooming of a tree we thought was dead, or the sudden enlightenment of a mind previously confused.

It was in the perfect, intimate meeting of my need.

God used perfectly ordinary, relatively mundane things of life to fulfill two of my needs. Needs I didn’t even realize were so important, until they were fulfilled.

I needed that tree to survive. I don’t know why – the fact that it came to us in such a miraculous way, the fact that it represents the son I can never watch grow up, the fact that it symbolizes promise and life – for whatever reason, it’s been a pretty important thing to me that the tree lived. And I’ve also needed my daughter to get the concept of number sequencing. The fact that she hasn’t been able to grasp it has made me feel like a horrible teacher, has led her to feel like a poor student, and has kept us from moving forward educationally. No, these needs weren’t on the order of “I need my child to live”. But they were needs, nonetheless. Needs that, to be honest, I don’t think I ever prayed about or even really acknowledged, on any official level, were particularly significant.

But they were. And the Lord knew. And He answered.

And I think that’s just how He works.

Miracles in the Bible

I often hear people bemoan the fact that “God doesn’t do miracles now like He did in the Bible”. Although I don’t agree with that sentiment, exactly, I do get their point – it’s not often that we see Red Sea-parting miracles. Manna from heaven miracles and miracles of multiple plagues certainly aren’t the norm in our world. Even those “obvious” miracles that some do experience, such as miracles of healing or near-death experiences of heaven, are pretty daggone rare.

Aside from the fact that if miracles were the norm they would no longer be miracles, their rarity is beginning to make sense to me. When I think about it, the Israelites fell to apostasy even with those miracles. Seeing divine power unleashed in the most fantastic of ways still didn’t keep the Israelites focused on God; they fell away to worship other gods and go their own way time and time again. Miracle after miracle, prophet foretelling the future after prophet foretelling the future – it still didn’t keep them from rejecting the Lord who worked desperately to show them how much He loved them. It makes me think…

Maybe God doesn’t do obvious miracles often because He knows that another kind of miracle is even more effective.

I like to think of it as an “undercover miracle”.

Obvious Miracles and Undercover Miracles

We don’t have to search for obvious miracles – when we see one, we know. And we are changed. But, we, just like the Israelites, are such fickle creatures, and we quickly forget even the most significant of lessons. Time, sin, distraction, and calamity slowly drain our memories and our experience of God that an obvious miracle gives. Even an obvious miracle, once enough time and trouble has passed, isn’t enough to keep us close to the Lord through the trials of this life. No matter how amazing a miracle may be, the Israelites are proof that it won’t be enough.

Undercover miracles, on the other hand, are those miracles that we have to be paying attention to see. To those who do not know the Lord, they appear to be merely coincidences or fortunate events. But to those who walk with Him, and those who make the effort to watch for them, they are God acting, interacting, and enacting grace in our moment-to-moment lives. Kind of like a special rewards card for God’s faithful customers…for those who choose to use it.

Undercover miracles, where He meets our needs perfectly, at just the right time, in just the right way, through the vehicle of everyday life, cause us to have to look. They make us have to stay in constant communion with Him in order to be able to connect what might otherwise seem to be inconsequential daily occurrences as answers from God to our deepest needs. Little miracles are like spiritual reminders that continually point us back to Him so we don’t forget – that He is here, that He is working, that He loves us, and that He is good.

Undercover miracles use the ordinary to do the extraordinary – they give us moment-to-moment, daily, continual experiences of God Himself.

Opening Our Eyes

I didn’t even realize how deep these two needs were, until they were met. The very act of having to look for the miracle – to connect the way God fulfilled needs I didn’t even realize I had with his fulfillment, in perfectly timed, personal, specific ways using ordinary aspects of my daily life – has brought me closer to Him. It has encouraged me that He is with me, not just in a one-time, shebang of a miracle kind of way, but in the annoying, mundane, piddly details of my life. That He will not only part the seas for the Israelites, but that He will make a tree bloom outside when I need it to. He won’t just cause the walls of Jericho to fall down for the Hebrew people, He will suddenly help my daughter get over the number sequencing hump, because it matters to me.

It’s not that God isn’t performing miracles. It’s that we aren’t looking closely enough to see them.

2 Kings 6 tells of the war between Israel and the king of Aram. The king of Aram sent his soldiers to surround the city where Elisha was staying, in order to kill Elisha for warning Israel’s king (through divine revelation) about the Arameans’ whereabouts. Elisha’s servant became understandably terrified, and asked Elisha what they were going to do. Elisha responded, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Then, Elisha prayed. He entreated, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” The servant looked and suddenly saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around them. Horses and chariots that had been there the whole time, but that the servant hadn’t been able to see. The enemy was struck, ironically, with blindness, and Elisha and his servant were saved.

Jesus said, “The one who seeks finds”. (Matthew 7:8).

I think that’s just how it is with undercover miracles. God does them all the time, every day – connecting our needs with His fulfillment in just the right way, at just the right time – we just don’t see them because our eyes aren’t open. We walk around blind, and we completely miss the intimate, personal blessings the Lord is pouring out all around us. We tell Him our needs, but never connect His response as being the answers to our prayers.

We see just a new teaching technique when the Lord is personally demonstrating to us His grace. We see the common cycle of Spring when the Creator is giving us the fulfillment of our desire.

Seeing through faith makes all of the difference.  Christ underscored the difference between physical sight and spiritual sight: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:13). And then He said, “But blessed are your eyes because they see” (Matthew 13:15).

It is the eyes of faith that transform coincidence into miracle.

I am thankful that Dominic’s tree has bloomed. And I am thankful that my daughter is making strides at subtracting backwards. But even more than that, I am thankful that those experiences have opened my eyes to God’s tender, intimate concern for my life. For the things that matter to me, even if they aren’t grand or altruistic or the makings of eternity. That He cares enough, loves me enough, and is personal enough to bring little miracles, for me, out of daily trivialities. That He is willing to go to such lengths to connect my desire with His fulfillment, so that I get to experience Him.

Some may see just a blooming weeping cherry. I see an instrument of God’s unbelievable love and grace…

An undercover miracle.

One Response to “Miracles of a Weeping Cherry and Number Sequencing”

  1. Leah says:

    Reading your journey, from Day 1, as well as reading Ann Voskamp, has helped me look for God to “show-up” in the every day struggles. Watching for those miracles, waiting for God to say, “yep, still here!” Yesterday, He gave me truffles, today friends set up meals for me 🙂 Small things, but BIG miracles when you really need them! Thanks for always sharing your heart and your journey. You wouldn’t believe how it has helped me walk my path.

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