Oh, friends. It’s been a while, huh? I’ve missed you so much and I sure do love you.
For as long as I’ve been away, I swear I’ve also been hearing my dad’s tractor on the daily. I’ve never seen a retired couple work as hard as my parents. But that’s another story for another day.
This one is about why my dad’s been back and forth (and back and forth) on his tractor for a couple months(ish). We’ve known for some time that a tree out back was failing. Now, when there are over 50 acres of property, there are obviously many (many) trees. But this was not just any tree. No, this was ‘Pete’s Tree.’
I wish I could tell you every detail (I should have asked my dad to tell the story. that’d be way fun!) but what I do know is that my Grandpa (James John, JJ) Lowman affectionately named this tree because of the way it was built around a rock. The reference comes from a passage in Matthew after Jesus asked his disciples who they believed He was and Simon Peter basically nailed it.
I give you the name Peter, a stone. And this rock will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church—my legislative assembly, and the power of death will not be able to overpower it! Matthew 16:18 TPT
Over time, when family members would gather here, my dad became the tour guide leading others out to check out and, with no exaggeration, marvel at this tree. It truly made very little sense that this tree was completely wrapped around a rock and standing as proudly as it did. It was also just this perfect visual cue pointing back to how Grandpa made a decision one day to follow Jesus that changed the entire trajectory of our family. We were the tree. He was the rock.
This past Father’s Day, my mom shared a photo difficult to stomach. It’s been difficult enough not having JJ with us for the past (nearly) 14 years. But to see Pete’s tree falling apart was hard. It felt like we were losing this piece of Grandpa that meant so much to him. Something that was still here for us to touch and appreciate. And when I say it’s meant a lot to us, my cousin has it forever imprinted as a tattoo. We love this tree.
So back to my busy dad. A couple weeks ago, we were celebrating my sisters niftieth birthday (she doesn’t like when I type the real age). My dad had asked me the day prior when I could stop over to his pole barn. Now, listen. I was thrilled to finally clear out a storage unit of mine several months ago but there are just a few things taking up the front .125 of his barn that I still need to deal with. So I was like, ‘no way. not this weekend.’
While we were waiting for Nikki to arrive for the surprise, I noticed my immediate crew had gone over to my parents’ so naturally, I got nervous and followed. When I got up there, they steered me towards the barn and I probably sighed out loud. I was in a dress! But my dad told CJ to have me come through the big door instead as he walked through the other. So, I knew something was up.
I walk in and my dad just grins as he’s sharing words I can’t even hear because I had already started sobbing. Literally. I couldn’t believe what he was presenting.
Crap. I forgot an important part. I’ve been eyeing several styles of side tables for a while now. I told my parents I really like these live-edge style tables and they’d seen a similar one up for grabs at the recent hospice auction. I told them to jump on it if it was reasonable. I didn’t hear anything and I figured it was not, in fact, reasonable.
So, here we are in August and I’m seeing these very similarly built tables that tractor man had been constructing. From Pete’s Tree.
I’m not lying when I say that I said I deserve no such thing and that this is likely the best gift I’ve ever been given. And don’t you come at me about my child because that is a VERY different type of gift. Moms, can we agree? I also really like the Ninja 5-in-1 my parents got me for my birthday. That’s a keeper, too. I’m just saying that normally I don’t feel like I’m a good gift-getter because I feel terrible someone would spend their money on me. That’s all. I guess that also explains that CJ is, in fact, not a gift because I did have to pay for him. So there.
Anyway … I got the (almost) last piece of my gift tonight when my dad affixed a plaque that reads, ‘Pete’s Tree 2022, Matthew 16:18, Rev JJ Lowman’. I asked him if I could get a photo of him with the piece of Pete’s Tree and of Rev JJ that I get to have forever. Next to me. In my living room. Didn’t he do so great?!
Dad, you’ll just never know. I’m crying as I type. For this, and all the other things, thank you. I love you so stinkin’ much. ❤