28 Nov Christmas and… Chainsaws?!

This fall a ginormous alder crashed through my family’s new fence, thudding to a rest mere feet from where my little ones lay their heads at night.

I imagined that an angel had nudged it away.

Reluctant to pay a large deductible, I mulled the job over for a month and decided to “go it alone.”

Little did I know that some modern-day wise men (and a brilliant woman) would help.

In the waning days of November, I grabbed my wood-handled saw and axe and went to work, making sure to avoid the lethal end of the trunk:

Suspended 10 feet off of the ground—and liable to dangerously fly up once tension was relieved—the timber was what loggers aptly call, “a widow-maker.”

As I begin grinding through upper branches, my neighbor appeared.

Sporting a chainsaw, Jerry buzzed through bows for 45 minutes—allowing me to haul brush, throw logs, and pull away shattered boards.

For the next couple of hours, I chopped parts of the tree into six-foot sections. Though gloves kept my axe in hand, they failed to protect my fingers and palms from absorbing countless impacts.

I completely avoided the trunk’s elevated fool-killer.

As I prepared to turn the calendar toward December, my cramped hand muscles finally released and I made ready to continue what promised to be a multiple day, manual job. Alas, my dulled blades were still not back from the sharpener.

Impatient, I asked my friends, the Marshalls, if I could use their long-handled hatchet. Smiling, Sharon assented.

No more than 10 minutes after I began working, soft-spoken Graham Marshall materialized through the rough undergrowth… toting his chainsaw!

Graham utilized his scientific intellect to determine the safest way to dissect the precipitous butt-end of the alder. Thanks to him, the widow-maker never sprang up to cause injury or death.

Soon all that remained of the lumber was a gaggle of one-man rounds. Using my father’s ancient splitting maul, I busted through them in two hours. My gimpy shoulder only slightly slipped from its socket (twice).

As I raked up the debris, it dawned on me: Jerry, Graham, Sharon and others have blessed my brood for years.

In ‘04, when Jill and I briefly relocated our clan near Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Jerry and then-next-door buddy, Curt Scott mowed our lawn and trimmed back branches to keep my place looking nice.

Upon our return to the Harbor, Jill and I were unable to adequately staff nursing shifts for our child. Saintly Sharon watched over our baby—the boy with all the beeping hospital machines in his room—so that my bride and I could go on weekly outings.

It might not sound like much, but those dates helped Jill and I to avoid what we understood to be a 90% divorce rate among the parents of children with brain tumors.

A few days back, while I threw the last pieces of split alder onto a pile, I realized that I could never pay back my neighbors for all the times that they have come alongside me and mine.

Thankfully, as Christmas approaches, a still, small voice seems to be nudging me to “pay it forward.”

As I give thought to who I might come alongside, perhaps you will do the same:

Perchance a mom on bedrest.

Maybe a dad with cancer.

Possibly a lonely widow.

I “betcha” that all of us can be the “hands and feet of Christ” to others.

Merry Christmas, dear friends!  May we spread His joy in practical ways.

Warmest blessings,

“Mr. J.”

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.”

1 COR 12:27 (NLT)

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 

John 3:18