A Little Sprig

ACFW Authors and writing, Encouragement, Faith, Friends of ACFW, writing 28 Comments

By Terri Gillespie

“For who despises the day of small things . . .” Zechariah 4:10a, TLV

My husband and I knelt in the brittle, dry earth and dug a hole to plant a Cyprus tree. The event was part of an Israel tour I had coordinated. Since the 1900s, Jewish people and people who support Israel have purchased trees to plant in the Land. I wanted us to experience planting a tree—getting our hands dirty in the soil where the patriarchs had walked.

Okay, the tree was little more than a sprig and we kicked up a lot of dust from the bone-dry dirt. In fact, as I surveyed the others’ efforts, it looked like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree farm.

But guess what? Israel has been beautified by these scrawny Cyprus, Aleppo pines, sycamores, Syrians junipers, fruit and nut trees—so many varieties. What was once a wilderness and barren wasteland, now has some of the most stunning flora. And somehow all their produce tastes like “Someone” pumped up the volume of flavor.

When Mark Twain made an excursion into then Palestine in 1867, the Land did not impress him.

“The further we went the hotter the sun got, and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became…There was hardly a tree or a shrub any where [sic].[1]

One hundred years later, Twain would not recognize the Land of Israel. Today, he would eat those words, hopefully sweetened with a luscious persimmon.

Since 1900, roughly 250,000,000 trees have been planted across Israel.[2]

Little scrawny trees.

What does this have to do with writing?

Have you ever had a bad review? More? It can feel pretty discouraging, and sometimes even overshadows the good reviews. Planting our stories out in the big world seems intimidating. Especially these days.

It is easy to believe the world’s voices that call our plantings—our stories—primitive or boring, even repulsive. Don’t believe it. Our Heavenly Father’s pattern is to take the small things and use them for His glory. Yes, it is possible for those “insignificant” sprigs to join with other insignificant sprigs and grow into a mighty forest of beauty for all to see.

The soil of this world may be barren, and outwardly impossible for our sprigs of truth to grow. But our “trees” will grow because the Gardener knows how to take a spindly twig and make it thrive even in a wasteland. The Gardener knows how to nurture and water the soil, then prune and weed around us.

Our responsibility is to plant the best efforts as we can. When the time comes to prune or pull those things from our stories that shouldn’t be there, we submit and learn and rejoice in His care.

During our planting excursion, I noticed thin pipes with holes running parallel with the tilled rows. Now that we had planted, the gardeners would activate the drip irrigation causing little dribbles of water to gentle flow to ensure the roots would take hold. The gardener would not turn on the water until there was something to water.

As I surveyed past our group, I observed the graduation of growth up the forest’s hill. Two-feet, four-feet, six-feet, and then towers of lush beauty. One day, our sprigs would do the same.

When we continue to plant the seeds and sprigs of God’s truth, one day the world will see that what was once considered barren of worth, is now rich with truth and beauty.

Watch those sprigs grow. @TerriGMavens #ACFWBlogs #writetip #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet Plant those spindly sprigs and watch them grow. @TerriGMavens #ACFWBlogs #writetip #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet

Terri Gillespie is VP of the NWGA ACFW chapter and has planted many sprigs. Her first traditionally published book was Making Eye Contact with God—A Weekly Women’s Devotional. She has won various fiction awards and has a new release, Sweet Rivalry due in late 2021. Member: ACFW, CAN, AWSA





[1] https://blog.nli.org.il/en/mark-twain-in-palestine/, Mark Twain in Palestine – “A Hopeless, Dreary, Heart-Broken Land”, Chen Malul, 5/11/2018.

[2] https://aardvarkisrael.com/the-reforestation-of-israel/#:~:text=From%20the%20turn%20of%20the,than%20it%20had%20in%201900

Comments 28

  1. “The soil of this world may be barren, and outwardly impossible for our sprigs of truth to grow. But our “trees” will grow because the Gardener knows how to take a spindly twig and make it thrive even in a wasteland.” What a beautiful reminder!! Thanks so much for this encouragement today!

  2. I saw the movie, The Holy Land,” years ago, and I was amazed by the green, beautiful land. I expected dry, desert, but was thrilled to see what Adonai has done in Israel. It reminds me that no matter how unimportant we may feel, how dry and useless our lives may seem, the Spirit will bring life into our souls and make us grow in Yeshua.

  3. I loved this post. It’s important to remember this when doing anything for the Lord but especially writing which can feel like a lonely occupation.

    1. You are so right, Julie. Our writing can feel like a lonely occupation. Some day, I’m hoping we’ll arrive in heaven and there will be folks who tell us those stories pointed them to God. God bless you and your writing!

  4. Congratulations!! Wow!! This is incredibly beautiful!! I remember when my husband and I planted our trees in Israel. In November of 2000 we planted our trees (sprigs) in a Kibbutz overlooking Bethlehem. What an exciting time in our lives to be apart of. And what an honor to plant sprigs of Hope in the hearts of family and friends, and to all the people who pass through our lives that hopefully, will produce and multiply as the nation of Israel. Thank you for sharing your experience of Hope. Sweet blessings, Terri!!❤️🌾

  5. Very inspirational, Terri! I really appreciate what you have to say here.
    Years ago (in the 50’s), my mom cleaned house for a Jewish family. I remember her telling me they sent money to Israel every month for trees to be planted there. Of course, I didn’t understand the implication then, but did after I traveled to Israel in 1988 and 2014.
    As a writer, I thoroughly appreciate your application regarding the twig and any of my writing efforts – always trying to remember God takes His message where He chooses.
    Thanks and God bless you.

  6. Planting the physical trees, planting the spiritual seeds–both meant to grow and stretch and blossom no matter the soil to begin with! Thank you for this reminder of what we do and why. God’s blessings on this sacred journey, Terri, and all here!

  7. I loved this encouragement, Terri! Your story of planting the tiny sprigs that grow into lush trees to grace Israel compared to our walk with the Lord is so beautiful. Thank you!

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