Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"We Are One in the Spirit, We Are One in the Lord . . ."

1 Corinthians 12:4
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.

If you have followed Meditations of My Heart for a while, you know that our home is nestled in a forest with a great variety of trees.  In the summer, when the leaves are out in full, it is easy to identify the different species.  But, have you ever tried to discern a type of tree by looking only at its bark?

My father taught biology and botany for over 30 years at a prestigious southeastern university.  One of his favorite lessons was teaching students how to identify trees by observing the bark alone.  Using some trees in our own backyard, I've put together this mini, photographic tutorial:


Black Oak


Bitter Nut Hickory


Basswood


Long Leaf Pine


Tulip Poplar


River Birch


Dogwood


Shagbark Hickory


Sugar Maple

Not exhaustive, by any means, but it's a start!

Studying the different textures and compositions of these barks reminds me of the different gifts each and every one of us have been given, but which all come from the same Spirit.  The barks may appear unique on the outside, but on the inside, every tree has the same basic components:  roots; wood; leaves or needles; flowers/fruits, and seeds.

And, we humans also appear different from one another on the outside.  Skin color.  Eye color.  Hair color (only my hairdresser knows for sure!).  Height.  Weight.  Shoe size.  You name it!

Yet, we are all one in the Spirit . . .

And, we all have gifts, unique to us, which we can share with others.

Need to share!

To make this world a better place.

To bring God's Kingdom just that much closer to earth.
~
What are your unique gifts?  Are you sharing them with others?

Will you pray with me?
Today, Father, let us celebrate our differences in looks and talents, knowing that all good gifts come to us through Your Holy Spirit.  May we be united through the Spirit in love as the Body of Christ and spread the Good News of Your Kingdom throughout the world.  Amen.

44 comments:

  1. Great post! I love the diversity of bark that one can find in the forest...You are so blessed to live in the middle of such diversity yourself!I loved the photos..what a great starter guide for being able to identify the different types of trees by their bark alone..I'm going to have to show this to my kids!

    Loved the message of the post too...so true. :)
    ~ blessings

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jessica!
      Oh, I'm so glad to know you'll be sharing with your children. Makes me glad I took the photos. :)
      Yes, we are very blessed to live where we do. I thank God every day for our home in the forest.
      Blessings to you!

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  2. Yes we are all the same on the inside and each has something uniquely their own to offer the world. My gift is encouragement my medium is writing. Spirit has a way of weaving things in life so that our gifts are used serendipitously. I love that!

    I'm pretty impressed with your ability to identify a tree by its bark. Can you do that with dogs too? LOL!!! I'm a wise guy. Your dad sounds like an interesting soul.

    Sending love Martha my dear! I've been a bit out of it with so much going on with my book. It's always so nice to visit you.

    Love!
    Leah

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Leah!
      I think you and I both share those gifts for encouragement and writing, don't you agree? :) We are infinitely blessed by both!
      Ironically, I so loved dogs (still do) as a kid, I spent hours pouring over dog identification books. I'm much better knowing those breeds and their "barks" than those of trees. Lol! That's my dad's area of expertise.
      It's great that you're busy with the book, my friend - sell, sell, sell! I will be in your shoes all too soon . . . :)
      Love and blessings to you!

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  3. So true, Martha! Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. So glad you stopped by today, Rimly, and that you enjoyed the post. Thanks! :)
      Blessings always!

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  4. Lovely post Martha as always :)

    I simply love the way you make the ordinary seem so special. I love my writing and that is my way of sharing my special gift with others. The gift of seeing the small things that life brings to us daily..

    Glad to be a part of such wonderful prayers each moment!

    Thanks for sharing them.

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    1. So happy to see you here, Me, and thanks for visiting.
      Oh, yes, you certainly do have a gift for writing and you enrich all of our lives by sharing your thoughts and inspirations on your blog. And, yes, we need to take joy in the simple things.
      Thanks for sharing in prayer today.
      Blessings always!

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  5. I love this post!! the difference in bark is really amazing...in such a wonderful way. when I learned the different types of spirituality in our church, the Dominicans and the Franscians for example, that is when it struck me how we are all one in the spirit...yet different.

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Annmarie!
      I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for sharing, too, the different spiritual paths of certain orders in the Catholic Church - not being Catholic, I was not aware before this and would love to learn more.
      One in the Spirit - yes, we are!
      Blessings always!

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  6. I agree with Annmarie, I think the use of the bark to illustrate our respective uniqueness is inspired. We all contribute in different ways. I'm not sure what makes me stand out from the crowd, possibly the size of feet? Size 11 on a woman is eye catching. As always, Martha, your posts give me a reason to pause and consider the bigger universe.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Brenda!
      Yes, I definitely felt inspired from above when this idea came into my head. I loved taking the photos and reflecting on our uniqueness and the way each of us is called to contribute their gifts to the world while bound in love by the same Spirit.
      And, size 11? I'd say that could be eye-catching unless you are quite tall. :) But, hey, it's you! Uniquely, you! Just how you were meant to be.
      Blessings always!

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  7. Sadly, I am not freakisly tall, rather I hover between 5'6 and 5;6.2... A draft with Herman Munster feet. I wear them proudly.

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  8. Outstanding perspective, and fascinating information on multiple levels, my friend! Growing up in the deep south, I used to be fascinated at the ways we could knock or scrape the bark off pecan or pine trees, and they'd just continue to grow and flourish because of the life that flowed through them. And like us, the bark would change as the tree aged or seasons would change.

    Thank God - both we and the trees may be RECOGNIZED by the uniqueness of our "bark," but we don't have to be DEFINED by it. (CHEESE ALERT!!!...) And if people don't like our bark, we can just say... (wait for it...) it's worse than our bite. I crack myself up. Or something.

    Great post!

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Andy!
      I'm a southern gal myself. I love your description here about knocking off the bark, but not killing the tree - oh, the power of the Spirit!
      And, you crack me up, every time! Just love the "bark and the bite". :)
      Blessings to you!

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  9. As I meet and deal more with people of different beliefs, races and color, this becomes more true and real to me. I find it funny sometimes when there's so much fuss about our differences when really, all of us have the same human needs, emotions and purpose. If only more would realize that, how truly beautiful life would be.

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    1. Thanks for visiting today, Anne!
      Oh, yes, if we could only see past the outward and visible in others to focus on the inward and spiritual grace within, I believe we would invite God's Kingdom right here on earth. What a wonderful world that would be, indeed!
      Blessings to you!

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  10. Wonderful comparison here...I really can't the trees apart from their bark but, from leaves yes.
    Nice.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Janu!
      To tell the truth, I really can't, either. :) It was a tutorial as much for me as it was to share.
      Glad you enjoyed the post.
      Blessings always!

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  11. Gifts, huh?
    You must have read my mind again, Martha! As my blog post today is about that VERY topic.
    http://cjpwisdomandlife.com/2012/08/22/artistic-gifts/

    As I've commented here countless times. it's funny how often we're on the same page without knowing it.
    --
    Chris

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Chris!
      Yes! I read your blog and posted my comment before checking over here to find yours. I believe we are definitely connected more than not, for sure!
      Blessings always!

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  12. If you scratch below each of our 'barks' we'll find the same longings for love and peace which is so much a part of our humanness. I would love to walk in 'your' forest some day!

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by, Corinne!
      You are so right. The outward differences too often deceive us from understanding that, on the inside, we are all humans, created in God's image.
      I wish you lived closer so you could walk the forest with me, my friend!
      Blessings always!

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  13. Nice! I've always remembered studying trees in grade school and the different leaf shapes and seeds. I love the photo reference for the different types of tree bark and the way you relate it to people! Well done ;-*

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Linda!
      Glad you enjoyed the way that bark is related to people - how we all appear differently on the outside, but, on the inside, we are made of the same stuff.
      And, we are one in the Spirit . . .
      Blessings always!

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  14. I’d love to visit your forest someday Martha! If I study these photos here, I should be able to distinguish all these different trees? Yah! It’ll be the first time ;-)
    Different gifts, yes, so true. What is your motivational gift girlfriend? Could you guess mine from what you know of me?

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Debra!
      It would be great to have you visit sometime, my friend!
      I think we both share the gifts of encouragement to others through our writing. What say you? :)
      Blessings always!

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  15. I have much more to share than is flowing out now. It is hard to be patient and wait for the time to open up for me to work on all of my projects. But, I wait... :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!
      Waiting has been a tough, but valuable, lesson for me, especially in the long interim it took between finishing my novel and having a publisher finally pick it up. God taught me so much in the interim, I am thankful for it!
      Blessings always!

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  16. Very interesting with the different bark samples. I often do this with BUTTERFLIES, they are all butterflies but everyone is created uniquely, with different colors and markings. BEAUTIFUL words! Thank you for this reminder! ;)

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Lisa Marie!
      Oh, butterflies make the perfect analogy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.
      Blessings always!

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  17. So beautiful, Martha! God created each one of us uniquely so He could fulfill His purpose through the gifts each of us uniquely possess. If only we would all learn to embrace our uniqueness fully then we would all be serving our purpose in this world so well.

    And thank you for the wonderful tutorial through those photos! I don't know if those trees grow here in the Philippines, though! At least when God gives me the chance to visit you someday I can already identify the trees at your place? *wink* Take care and God bless, Martha! <3 :-)

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    1. Thanks for visiting today, Irene!
      No, I don't think you would find any of these trees in your beautiful, tropical country. :) They are definitely indigenous to the southeastern U.S.
      And, yes - if we would only embrace our gifts and pursue our passions, how much better we could serve God and others.
      Blessings always!

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  18. Martha, this is an incredible post. I love the parallel between the tree bark and ourselves. I'm a fan of trees as well...mostly how big and sturdy they are...you know...being a tree huger and all I love the symbolism. Great post as always...xoxo, Mitzi

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    1. Thanks so much for coming by today, Mitzi!
      So glad you enjoyed the post and the comparison of the bark to our outward appearances. We, too, are great fans of trees as you can tell from where we live; hate the sound of chain saws . . . :(
      Blessings always!

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  19. I've looked at those bark skins several times already and it's truly amazing! I love how God created each one of us unique and give each of us a name and yet we are united to serve His purpose. God is very creative and faithful and so full of love!

    I pray with you...I am so glad to be blessed with gifted and generous friends. May we always be united in love.

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    1. Please forgive me, Melissa, for taking so long to get back to you. I never saw the notification! :(
      You are so right - on the outside, we may look different, but our hearts beat, our lungs breathe, and the Spirit flows through us all, uniting us with our God.
      Yes! May we always share His love with one another!
      Blessings always!

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  20. Every single created being is precious to him and he knows each and every one of them. I appreciate your new hobby. I also like indulging myself in closely examining different species of birds, trees and of course, people.

    Martha, you are a bundle of surprises and I pray that God continues to bless you and yours.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    P. S: And I like the song which is the title of your post. "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they'll know we are Christians by our love."

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    1. So glad to see you here, Susan! Thanks!
      I have to admit, this really isn't a new hobby for me, the trees that is, although photography is fast becoming one. I just got the inspiration about the different barks when exploring the yard with my granddaughter, and thought immediately of how people appear different on the outside, yet we are one in God's Spirit.
      Oh, and one of my long-time favorite songs, too!
      Blessings always!

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  21. What a unique perspective. I've never thought about identifying trees by their bark and while I could identify some (dogwood and pine come to mind) I doubt that I could identify the majority. Similarly, we don't think much about gifts in other unless they are really obvious do we? We notice the gift of musical ability (yeah for you and Danny!) but don't always notice the more subtle ones like the gift of motivation or the gift of hospitality. You are right though ... we all have gifts though some are more hidden than others!

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    1. Thanks for coming by, Lynne!
      You are so correct here - we often don't see the gifts in others when they are not immediately obvious. We need to remind ourselves that everyone has gifts and make a point of seeking them out and encouraging those whose gifts are subtle.
      Great comment!
      Blessings!

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