“Hobbies?” asked our daughter.
“Yes, many older people get a hobby of some sort when they retire.”
(And we mull over a list of assorted hobbies and
examples our older friends have displayed.)
“Dad already has a hobby,” she exclaimed.
“Pick up sticks.”
We laughed ourselves silly!
Five … Six … Pick up sticks.
(Go ahead and sing!)
She was so cute and accurate.
We have many trees on our property.


Limbs are continually falling … big ones …
and small ones …

And it’s not uncommon to see my husband walking with a stick,

an armful of wood,
or driving the lawn mower with the trailer full of wood.
Sometimes my daughter drives the mower
and points out sticks for my husband to pick up.
And they have a glorious time doing that!
Picking up the big sticks – logs – can hurt.
They hurt the back.
They hurt the gut.
And there are ones called “widow-makers” …
if they fall on you,
they kill you.
And gloves are necessity because of snakes.
Yes, walking the property takes alertness and caution.


They take all the sticks – wood – to a burn pile.
Huge ones that lap over the pit …
and small ones.
And when that pile gets really big, we burn it.
That is a great time for S’mores!
And that is a great time to call friends over.


But it reminded me of all the sticks we pick up …
All the sticks we carry and never lay down …
Sticks of fear …
Sticks of regret …

Sticks of failure …

Sticks of ugliness …
Sticks of resentment …
Sticks of abandonment …
Sticks of discouragement …

“Come to me,<sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”>
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.<sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”> 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,<sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”>
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11: 28-29
Seven … Eight … Lay them straight.
What sticks have we unintentionally picked up?
What sticks are we carrying?
What sticks need to be laid down?
We must lay them straight.
Take those sticks to the burn pile.
Refuse to let them hurt your gut.
Don’t let them kill you.
Lay them straight down.
Burn them.
Take them to God.
Call Family-in-Christ and celebrate.

Nine … Ten … Begin Again.

Thank you, Father God, for new beginnings.

(Caution: Picking them up again will only cause burn. Resist.)


5 thoughts on “Sticks

  1. Wow, Shelli – this is great!

    It also segues into a movie I just saw – Oliver Stone's “World Trade Center”, about the effort to rescue to Port Authority policemen trapped under the rubble.

    The debris field was incredibly dangerous – like a giant and evil game of…you guessed it…Pick-Up Sticks.

    If you haven't seen WTC, you should. It has a very, very powerful message of faith, told without dilution or apology. Not something I would have expected from Oliver Stone, but there it is – he imbued the tragedy, and the triumph of spirit, with grace.

    God's grace.


  2. Shelli, what a beautiful post. And I love your photos. Just amazing. Yes, I've had sticks that needed picking up. I've picked them up, taken them to the burn pile, and a couple times, I made the mistake of taking them out again. Ouch! The burns of bad memories, condemnation from the enemy, and sense of failure always singe the spirit. What a great analogy, and what great memories your family is creating!


  3. I think I just deleted my comment. Bummer. I'm sure it was profound. 😉

    Anyway, Shelli, what a beautiful post! I love that your family is creating such wonderful memories together. I love the analogy of pick up sticks. My favorite game as a girl was this exact one. 🙂 I have picked up some of the sticks you mentioned and thrown them in the burn pile. And yes, I've made the mistake of taking them back out again. And YES, I've been burned when doing this. The condemnation, hard memories and sense of failure always singe the spirit. I'm learning to leave them on the pile and walk with the grace God offers.

    Loved this. And your pictures are beautiful!


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