For several years, I was part of a theater group that often performed the inspiring allegorical tale “The Man Who Planted Trees.” It’s the story of Elzéard Bouffier, an old shepherd who reforested a large region of Southern France by planting one tree at a time as he tended his sheep. This story was made into an Academy Award-winning animation,1 a BBC production, an acclaimed puppet show, and has inspired countless individuals to start tree-planting projects since it was first published by Jean Giono in 1953.
Have you ever thought of taking up a new sport, learning to play a musical instrument or just stepping out of your comfort zone to do something new and different? Perhaps the desire was always there but there was always something that was stopping you from actually doing it? Well, let me tell you a short, true story.
“Can you teach English to my wife?” I heard a voice behind me say while I was picking out veggies at the open-air market in our neighborhood in Chile. I turned around to an enthusiastic stranger who said, “My wife needs to learn English, and I think you’re the one to teach her.” I was baffled and told him that I’m not an English teacher, but he didn’t relent, so I reluctantly scribbled my phone number on a scrap of paper and handed it to him.
When I graduated from college, I had my heart set on becoming a professional full-time translator. For four years, I’d devoted every bit of spare time to studying my language pair and taking translation courses. I loved the challenge of transposing meaning from one language to another, and I had already been a volunteer translator for a few years.
One fact of life that can be difficult to accept is that in order for us to fully embrace the future, we must leave behind not only the distant past, but even the recent past. This can be especially hard in times of major transition, such as moving on from a relationship, or changing from one job or house to another.
My husband and I recently found ourselves on our own again. After raising ten children over 40 years, I didn’t see this coming!
We’ve always been a close-knit family, but of course, as the children have grown up, one by one they’ve been moving on. I cried each time, as it felt like a piece of my heart was being torn away.
A key factor in becoming like Jesus is developing godly character. This article will focus on character traits that Scripture identifies as those that Christians should emulate and that lead us to Christlikeness. These Christian character traits can be differentiated from other character traits that, while good, don’t necessarily make one more Christlike. For example, creativity, flexibility, alertness, and decisiveness are good attributes to have, but they aren’t directly addressed in Scripture; whereas faith, gentleness, patience, love, gratitude, and others are.
One of my favorite movies is the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The movie was released at a very sensitive period in American history when race relations were highly volatile. It went on to become a major hit and acted as a great agent for social change.
The Land of Beginning Again
I wish there were some wonderful place
Called “The Land of Beginning Again,”
Where all our mistakes
And all our heartaches
And all our poor selfish greed,
Could be dropped
Like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.
It was snowing when we packed the last items into the container that was waiting at an appointed lot in an industrial area, almost ready to be shipped. This was the last trip to the container before it left on its journey across the ocean with a load of personal effects and donated items that would help us build our new lives. We’d sold everything we couldn’t take along, moved out of our home, said goodbye to relatives and friends, and were now ready to take off. We were moving to Kenya!