As we get closer to our departure from the US to Germany, we have been taking stock of the nature of the relationships we currently have, and what we pray those relationships will be like when we return in four or five years. We’ve also spent a lot of time over the last three years considering how we’re preparing our children for a nomadic lifestyle—particularly regarding helping them to understand the connection they have to their “passport” country.
In what is possibly the best book out there on the topic of “third culture kids” (Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, Revised, by Pollock and Van Reken), we read some advice from a father to his daughter to “plant her trees” wherever she was. That single piece of advice stuck with me, resonating strongly. We want our kids to have roots, to understand that wherever it is that God takes us, we will always have a place to call home in Texas, with our friends and family.
In the Bible, when important events happened—when God delivered His people, or revealed something about Himself, or when two parties formed major agreements or alliances—God’s people would frequently employ physical markers as representatives of the more ephemeral, spiritual events. In Genesis 21, after reaching an agreement with Abimelek, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and then he called upon the name of the Lord in that place.
We wanted to plant our own trees, as symbols of the relationships God has given us with this place and the people who love us and are staying here. Trees are an amazing representation of these relationships: they have roots that grow deeper over time; as the roots get stronger, the tree itself grows larger; trees change with the seasons, but don’t wither away; and, when cared for properly, trees bear fruit according to their nature. Our tree of choice was, naturally, the Texas state tree—the pecan.
The first trees we are planting are at Dale’s dad’s home in Palacios, Texas. Everyone in the family pitched in and helped with the planting in their own way. Some dug holes, others carried tools, still others moved dirt and the trees themselves. Everyone helped to fill holes once the trees were placed. Once both trees were planted and watered sufficiently, we posed for a shot with one of our relationship trees.
We also talked with the kids about why we were planting these trees, and the different ways in which they represented our relationships. We also talked about the fact that if they’re properly cared for, these trees will produce much fruit while we’re gone, much like our own relationships should.
We have some ideas for planting more relationship trees, and if any of you are interested in doing something like this with us, please let us know.