Posted by: Kara Luker | September 28, 2021

Standing tall

Audio version available here.

A year or two ago, as I was walking through the nursery at Home Depot, the thin, elegant branches and shapely leaves of a camellia tree caught my attention. The white blooms it would produce would surely enhance its beauty, but even without them, it was love at first sight. I awkwardly maneuvered the young, stately tree into a cart and pushed it proudly through the store to purchase it, then wrangled it into my car as gently as possible. The trip home was slightly traumatic after a Prius stopped abruptly in front of me, causing a violent shift in the tree’s placement and breaking a tender branch, but I mended it as best as I could and happily planted the tree in front of my house where it would hopefully thrive and happily greet me upon every return home.

It has done just that. With or without the blooms it produces in season, it always catches my eye and blesses me with its presence. Even so, I had noticed that it was leaning, imperceptibly at first but more so as time went on. Being so young, the trunk was still narrow and it couldn’t help but bend toward the morning light that beckoned so sweetly. I would have done the same, so I simply let it be. But during the summer, I realized that it deserved better than that and asked John to stake it. So he and my brother-in-law graciously attached it to a deeply planted round stake that was so thick and sturdy it could have been used for jousting. The next time I returned from my walk and approached my home, I could not believe the difference. Standing tall and true, my tree was so stunning, it nearly took my breath away. It continues to steal my heart as its branches grow and stretch into the space around them, supported firmly at their very center.


My son, Chase, who just turned 9, is such a great kid my heart skips a beat when I remember that he’s mine. His humor delights me. His creativity astounds me. His heart blesses me. But he has been struggling lately, trying to find how he fits, especially with other kids. On the whole, they have different interests and talents than he does; ones he has trouble engaging in. When he tries to enter in, he feels rebuffed or rejected. Though I – and so many others – love and appreciate him just as he is, it is so tempting right now for his young branches to bend into the labels the enemy is trying to place on him: reject, misfit, different. While not nourishing like the sun, these identities feel warm and alluring to his understanding because they seem so darn true.

At the same time, I am tempted to bend. Into pity for him. Into judgment toward those who hurt him. Into a desire to rescue him from productive struggle, shortcutting the process of growth. And into my own fears of rejection and the way they could be so easily projected onto Chase. I’m guessing my trunk has already been leaning in this direction for a while, even before these recent experiences made me take notice. 

The good news is that God delights in us. When He created us, it was love at first sight. Our very presence in this world blesses Him, no matter what trauma we’ve been through, how broken our tender branches are or how far we lean to one side or another. That simply cannot be changed. But He also wants something better for us – to draw us up into the fullness of our identity so that we stand tall and true, being nourished by His love and life, spreading out our limbs and leaves with beauty and purpose, and bearing fruit in season. 

The only way I know to do this is to be staked to God’s Word, which is stronger and sturdier than any of the beliefs we could ever be tempted to lean into. It is there I come to find that whether or not he feels it or anyone else on this earth affirms it, Chase is loved and he has an immovable place of acceptance and belonging. Shame has no place in him. He was not given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. God’s power is made perfect in Chase’s weakness and He is working all things together for Chase’s good, even the things that seem hard and hurtful, so he is no victim but more than a conquerer. Knowing these things will help me lead him with compassionate hope, not coddling pity or fear, and will help him become firmly established in who he truly is, revealing ever more of the purpose he was created for and giving more delight to the people who have the privilege of knowing him.

The same is true for all of us and is certainly a good reminder for me. What are you tempted to lean into? What verses in the Bible can realign you with the truth of who you were created to be?

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:5-8


  1. Brilliant, powerful, beautiful! Excellent example, well done!

    • Thank you, dad!

  2. So well done, Kara. I surely wish I could be an in person uncle to Chase. He is such a sweet kid.

    🧡🧡🧡 Joe


    • Thank you Uncle Joe! We sure wish we lived closer too!

  3. You wrote my heart song dear one! Thank you so much for sharing and so beautifully shared! Blessings on you… You look so much like your sweet mama that I adore! Love to you, Pam

    • Thank you for you kind words, sweet Pam! And it is the highest compliment to be compared to my mama 💗

  4. I marvel at how God speaks to you through the rhythm of life. Wonderful teachings! Keep it up.

    • Thank you for your faithful encouragement!

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