Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Cashmere Pencil Tree {A Real Story}



I decided this was the year. Every year as I put up my tree {and take it down}, I tell myself that this is the last year I'm going to buy a real Christmas tree. 

I dread getting it home from the tree lot, wrestling it into the tree stand and then hauling it to the curb at the end of the holiday season. It's just too much work for this single girl. But the next year I somehow find myself doing it all over again. 

Growing up, my family always had a real tree. It seemed like it couldn't be Christmas without a real tree. 

But this year the thought of not putting up a tree at all sounded very appealing to me. Then I happened to see an artificial tree that had my name written all over it. 

Well, actually it was the name written all over the tree that got my attention.



The tag hanging from the tip-top of its seven-feet tall very skinny self said it was a cashmere pencil tree. 

Cashmere? As in the softest fashion fabric ever? Was a pencil tree kind of like a pencil skirt? 

It sounded like a fabulously fashionable Christmas tree and I knew this was the tree for me. Suddenly I couldn't wait to decorate this very elegant and stylish tree.

The box even had a spiffy handle as I carried it to my car, like some sort of vogue valise. As I drove the tree home safely boxed in my trunk {no top of the tree poking out at traffic behind me}, I knew I needed the help of an expert to correctly assemble it. Someone with an air of confidence. Who always forges forward even if she doesn't know what she's doing.

I knew exactly who to call. 



My seven-year-old niece. She was still in her pajamas but said she’d be right over. 

A self-proclaimed authority on just about everything, Devon claims assembling Christmas trees is one of her specialties. 

“Auntie, we don’t need the instructions,” she said as I spread them out before us. When I was skeptical, she added, “Well, I haven’t really done one myself before but I’ve watched these put together at school and I know what to do.”

I suggested we should probably keep the little cards with numbers hanging on the three sections of the tree so I’d know which pieces connected next year. 

Devon looked at me with a mixture of pity and doubt and then spoke from great experience. 


“Auntie, is this your first fake tree?”



Even though this is the first year of my life without a real Christmas tree, I've discovered that this year my life holds more of what's real than ever before.

I’m wondering if you’re looking for more of what’s real this holiday season too?

Real hope? Real truth? Real peace? Real confidence for the future?

There’s only one place to find these genuine but sometimes elusive essentials for our souls. It’s in the person of God. 

Who often doesn’t seem to be very real to us humans at all. 



I don’t know about you, but it takes all the faith I can possibly muster to put my trust in the one I can’t see, can’t feel and can’t hear speak to me in an audible voice.

I wonder how I can bring all that happens in real-time in my life to a God who is so mystifying, so unfathomable, so inexplicable. But I see him doing the impossible. And he sees me.

He sees me struggling to have real confidence that God does care about what happens in my life.

He sees me holding onto real hope to believe that God does promise good things for me, while I’m still here in the land of the living, not just in eternity yet to come.



He sees me reaching for real peace to rest and know that God is overseeing the entire span of my life as I trust my heart to the one who knows me best.

And he sees me coming to him again and again, as I hold out my heart with unsteady hands, and in exchange he holds nothing back to show me that he is dependable, trustworthy, loving and gracious, despite my failures and shortcomings.

I find it hard to comprehend that this God who is so holy and magnificent and awe-inspiring, who presides over the heavens and over all of this earth is the same God who is so personal and intimate and familiar. Who we celebrate this time of year in coming to earth as a baby to redeem us. Who is in pursuit of me to make himself real to me.

But I know it's true because I've encountered this real and hallowed God.



Maybe it’s hard to peer beyond your cloudy circumstances. 

Maybe it’s not easy to look forward to a new year because you’re still mired in the doubts and despair of what’s happened in the past year. 

Maybe you aren’t sure that God does have good things for you when all you can see are the real difficulties surrounding you. 

But the one who sees your heart wants to give you true peace, genuine joy and honest-to-goodness hope. 

May he open your eyes to see more of this real and powerful and unfathomable mystery, and may you glimpse the true intent of his heart toward you.


As Devon and I decorated my tree with the skating ornaments I’ve collected through the years, I realized that finally here was a tree I wouldn’t have to water or clean up pine needles from underneath its drooping branches. 

I think this artificial tree might be the real deal.

Now if only I had a real cashmere sweater to wear with my pencil skirt as I sit beside my cashmere pencil tree. {I think that sounds a little like a riddle.}

I know the real sweaters are expensive but maybe I can shop for faux-cashmere. I bet it's probably just as good as a real one.




I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart and Sarah Ann's Faith Along the Way. Click the images for more encouraging posts!







18 comments:

  1. Valerie, I missed reading you last week. I hunted for it. :) I love this. All of it. I'm with you. I like Christmas trees in other peoples houses, just not mine. I like the idea of a fake tree that I cannot kill or the needles that don't all come off. Want to know a funny story? My husband's aunt went through a car wash with her real tree attached. Haha. we still laugh about it. I love your idea of a cashmere tree :)
    I loved all your points. The point that this Christmas there is more of the real you :) Loved this line, "Even though this is the first year of my life without a real Christmas tree, I've discovered that this year my life holds more of what's real than ever before."
    Your niece sounds like my almost 7 year old. The authority on everything. So wonderful that you get to include her in your traditions and life. You know she will always treasure these moments with her auntie.
    This is one of my favorite of your posts:) enjoy your tree

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    1. Summer,
      Oh, how nice of you to miss my post last week and I am in awe that this week's is one of your favorites -- so grateful for your words of encouragement! How hilarious that your aunt washed her tree before decorating it! :)

      Yes, I think these times with my niece are true treasures -- I cherish them! Don't all seven-year-olds know everything? :) Glad you have one too!

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  2. I love my faux tree! I can put it up and take it down when I wish! I am glad you have found happiness with an artificial tree! Such a cute one too!!

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    1. Brittany,
      I am convinced faux is the way to go! :) (Not quite a pun but do I get credit for a rhyme?!)

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  3. Beautiful!!!! Here visiting from Holly's place and I wish you many Christmas blessings!

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    1. Lorretta,
      Thanks so much for visiting my online home and reading -- grateful for your visit! :)

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  4. I think you have three "real deal's" going on: Devon, the pencil tree, and a real, on-site God!!! Love the post. I have a pencil tree (not cashmere though) that I keep up all year long - it is filled with HOPE ornaments collected over the years. My grandchildren think it's rather cool that "Mimi keeps her Christmas tree up all year long!!!" xo

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    1. Susan,
      What fun for your grandchildren that you have Christmas at your house all year long! Yes, I feel incredibly blessed to have Devon nearby and experience God in new ways on this journey. Thanks for reading and for your words of encouragement!

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  5. Beautiful thoughts and a beautiful tree! (I've never had a real tree...so I don't know what I'm missing!!) And you my dear are the 'real deal'! I too missed seeing a post from your beautiful site last week. Happy Christmas Valerie!

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    1. Heather,
      Your sweet words mean more than you know! I'm so glad you like my darling tree! :)

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    2. Awww thank you! :) And thanks for your sweet comment on my blog ♥

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  6. I love that you branched out (sorry, accidental pun) this year and went with a faux tree! It looks beautiful, just as your home always does, especially this time of year. You have captured everything wonderful about Christmas in one post. I love it!
    Christy

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    1. Christy,
      Did I surprise you that I have a faux tree? And I love the pun!! ♥♥

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  7. Haha yes absolutely!! It looks so luxurious, too!

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  8. I have never heard of a cashmere pencil tree, but it is pretty! Your niece cracks me up. May she never lose that confidence! ;)
    You wrote beautiful words, and I too pray that our God of mystery becomes real to all in this next year!

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    1. Sarah,
      I wasn't sure why cashmere was in the name but I think it's because the tips of the branches are flecked with cream! And yes, may my niece ever be confident -- I'm quite sure she will! :)

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  9. Valerie, the cashmere Christmas tree was made for you--in name, style and grace--so beautiful in your lovely home.Your pictures are exquisite and filled with "holly jolly Christmas." Love reading about Devon's confidence in assembling the tree--a joyful memory-making moment to cherish! Beth

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