Bloomin’ Thought for the Day: Benefits of Patience

Isaiah 40:31 (New King James) – “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles; They shall run and not be weary; They shall walk and not faint.”

Yesterday, as I was walking down my sidewalk, my eye caught a smidgen of white color. There, on my previously-bare gardenia bush, were two flowers. I had all but given up on this plant, but I kept after it with plant food, water, and a few coffee grounds, and there they were, the stunning white flowers of the gardenia. I didn’t catch their intoxicating fragrance because the bush is still fairly low to the ground, and it’s a bit of a chore for me to bend down and stay there long enough to drink in the blossoms’ heavenly scent, but I thought to myself, “This was worth the wait!” Patience has not always been one of my strong points, but my delicate gardenia flowers reminded me of the value of patience, and of a song I used to sing with the contemporary music band in church, “Everlasting God.” I love that song, and its words came to mind as I gazed at the fruits of my patience: “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord.”

Many times in my life I have prayed to God for strength, for patience, and for the wisdom to accept whatever His will is for my life, even if it is different than my will. The funny thing about prayer is that it isn’t always answered in our own time frames or within the limits of our meager human understanding. We live in a microwave world, expecting instant results when we put our requests into God’s hands, but it doesn’t work that way. I was like that at one time, impatient for my prayers to be answered and sometimes indignant when they weren’t, but looking back on all my prayers, I can see that they have been answered. Those answers didn’t come from a burning bush, they weren’t always what I asked for, and they certainly were not always in my time frame, but they were answered. Some of God’s decisions I have yet to understand, but I have enough years on me by now to believe that those He made for me or for the recipients of my intercessory prayer were for the best, regardless of what I thought would have been better.

Prayers are answered if you wait on the Lord; you just might have to dig a little deeper into the puzzle of His will to figure it all out, or to accept His answers if they weren’t satisfactory to you. Keep your eyes, ears hearts, and minds open to God’s voice. Your strength will rise as you wait upon Him, and you will be raised up on the wings of eagles. Great will be your reward if you place your trust in Him.

Bloomin’ Thought for the Day: Love One Another

John 12: 34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

When I was planning my new rose garden, I chose 5 roses, each with a different color. I’m not a vanilla kind of gal; I need a variety of flavors in my life. I think that’s why I worked in Emergency Rooms for the majority of my nursing career. We never knew what was coming in, so we had to be on high alert through the whole shift. I enjoyed the challenges each new day presented, and the knowledge I acquired from them. There was always something new to learn.

I’m feeling a bit frustrated right now, though, because the challenges that are smacking me in the head are those that we are all facing, not just nurses and doctors. We are all trying to discern ways to deal with COVID 19. This is something that none of us have ever experienced, and one that seemingly has no end.

There is a larger problem, however, that also seems unlikely to end any time soon. The racial tensions in America are at the highest levels I think anyone has ever seen, and I can’t help but think we are making matters worse instead of better. Hate is spilling over the top from both sides, racial and political, and the chasm between them seems to be growing deeper.  As a child, I never felt any fear or animosity against anyone unless they hurt me, and even then, by the next day the transgression was forgotten. I still give people who hurt me multiple chances at reconciliation.

Now, though, I struggle to understand, or make sense out of, the violence that is poisoning our lives. I’m angry seeing innocent people being harmed or killed or businesses destroyed. So many people have tried to explain that this is in response to many years of persecution that African Americans have endured. As much as I do understand that, no one can convince me that violence is the answer, especially since I believe that the residual riots have little to nothing to do with the initial trigger. Changes need to be made for sure, but it will take time, and we have to be patient. I must believe that peace will come. I don’t know when or how, and the resolution may be painful, but I can’t imagine we can sustain ourselves as a nation with all this hate and anger.

As I was enjoying my rose garden today, I was struck by the fact that, of the seven rose bushes I planted, all are either already beautiful, or showing healthy growth, but one: my Peace Rose. Granted, I planted it later than the rest, but it’s not even showing even tiny signs of growth yet.  I placed it right in the middle of the multicolored roses. As I contemplated the question of whether my Peace Rose will grow or not it, I became sad. Isn’t it a bit like the turmoil of today? Different colors on both sides of the virtual battlefields, and peace hasn’t yet begun to grow.

Just as African Americans are trying to achieve recognition and reparations in the world, God is also at work trying to do the same thing. I believe He is pleading with us to turn our attention to Him and to His sovereign words, the most important of which is love. If we would all do that, “red and yellow, black and white”, and remember that we are all “precious in His sight”, this world might stand a chance at survival. “Jesus loves the little children of the world”, and adults, too, and He charges us to do the same.

Bloomin Thought for the Day: Share your Beauty

Matthew 5:14-16 – (14) “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Wow. I was on a roll there for a while with my “Bloomin’ Thought for the Day” posts, but then the wheel got stuck along the wayside, and I stopped writing them. Today I was inspired by my gardens to start again.

I have two Midnight Marvel Hibiscus plants that I bought about 2 years ago. At the time, we had recently moved into a new home with dry, red-clay soil that is tough to dig in. Because it was a new house, there were no gardens other than the few bushes the builders stick in the ground for new homes, and I wanted flower gardens. I saw some old whiskey half-barrels in a store and decided to use those to start my gardens. Not only did they serve to make an above ground home for flowers, they look fantastic and were a creative way to have plants in a unique garden setting.

I had my two hibiscus in a part sun/part shade area in the barrels in front of a crepe myrtle, and they were beautiful but were kind of hidden away and not getting enough sun. I liked the way they looked in the barrels, though, and was afraid to try to get them out to transplant them into the ground. Instead, I chose two spots in full sun and loosened up the ground. My husband lugged the heavy plants over to their new homes, gently laid them on their sides, removed the bottoms, and set them on top of the loosened soil so the roots could spread out.

When a plant gets potbound and is not allowed to stretch out its roots as it needs to, it will either die or require constant watering because there is no more soil; it’s all root. It becomes cramped in there and gets no more of the nutrients it received from the soil. After they were moved, I watched them carefully because the bottom leaves started getting yellow and dropping, and the upper leaves were so weepy and sad-looking. But once they got over the shock of moving them to a sunnier spot, they started to thrive and are magificent specimens to showcase in my garden. Huge, deep red flowers atop beautiful deep green leaves make these plants showstoppers that should never be hidden away in the shade.

People are like that, too. All through life, young to old, we should not hide our beauty or talents away. We all have something to offer the world, so don’t keep yourself potbound in the shade. Break out of your confining space and let the world see the good in you. Spread your branches to the sun and grow. Share your knowledge, your talents, and your faith anywhere and everywhere you can. Don’t hide your light, let it shine! You may never know how many lives you will touch and change just by sharing you.

Life Review

I think I’ll beat Facebook to the punch. It always reminds me that “your followers haven’t heard from you for awhile”, so I need to write something. That’s about all it will be: something. I don’t know why, but I’m blanking on content right now. My book is essentially done, COVID 19 masks have been made and delivered, existing gardens are weeded and looking good, and the house is “kind of “clean. Well, that might be pushing it a tad, but I’m working on it! I feel like my brain has nothing left to compose. Maybe it’s the old depression popping up because of all this nonsense going on in the world or maybe it’s COVID 19-inspired cabin fever that’s blocking out my creative thought processes. There was also a fire in my neighborhood last night that left me with a deep sadness for the owners. I can’t imagine having to start all over again like that. They lost everything. At least everyone was safe.

My husband and I just watched something on TV that my son, David, had told us about called “The Afterlife” by John Burke, who is an agnostic-turned-Christian minister after having a near death experience. He interviews four other people who have had these, one of them being an avowed atheist professor who turned to Jesus after he died, went to Heaven, and came back. It’s a fascinating watch, and I am a staunch believer, as many of you know, but one part disturbed me. They all reported that they were faced with their life story at Heaven’s gate, the whole thing. Can’t we just go in without having to relive the pain of our mistakes? I mean, He knows our hearts, and it’s all recorded on that Heavenly scroll of His, so why do we have to be reminded? I’d prefer not to do that. But, I guess it’s a small price to pay for what Jesus had to endure for us.

These current events of ours have stimulated speculation about the end times once again. Throughout history, apocolyptic believers have surfaced when things like this have happened. I won’t reiterate, but if anyone is interested, listen to David’s sermon on it. I’ve embedded it below on the Facebook link. I know he is my son, but he really pulled everything into a collective perspective about it and I was so proud of him. He’s not an ordained minister but was subbing one Sunday when his pastor was gone.

The whole thing in a nutshell is that, whether these are the beginning of the end times or not, Matthew 24:36 says it all. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven nor the Son, but the Father only”. We have to be ready every day of our lives for Jesus’s return and live according to His word, but not just for the end times. No one knows what we will confront minute by minute in life that might cause us to come face to face with an action video of our lives.

Will the good things I’ve done in my life outweigh the pain I’ve caused others? I guess my life review will tell me, whether I want to hear it or not. I only hope I am deemed worthy to enter the holy gates when it’s my time. We must always be ready.

Below is a link to the show we watched, The Afterlife.

What is This Lent Thing That’s Coming Up?

Already? It feels like I just finished putting Christmas things away. Well, that’s probably because I just kind of did. Lent is only a week away and once again time to think about what I will be “giving up”. Unlike the advent season, which, for Christians, is a joyous and preparatory time for the birth of the Christ Child, Lent is a somber time because these days lead up to a day of memoriam for the crucifixion of the adult Christ. It represents Jesus’ 40 days of fasting, praying, and contemplating his fate in the wilderness prior to his murder at the hands of those who feared him. Although He was the holy son of God, He was also the son of humans and shared the same fears of pain and suffering as we do. He knew what was about to happen and he was sad and frightened, but willing to fulfill God’s plan, which had long-before been prophesied.

Lent is a time for reflecting on our lives and our faith. We believe that God gave us the ultimate sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins, His son, Jesus Christ; and Jesus, in turn, suffered and died so that we may live; not that we may live on this earth, since we all have that opportunity as soon as we take our first breath, but that we may have the promise of everlasting life in Heaven with God upon our physical deaths. So, if we are all promised life after death because of God’s sacrifice, the forgiveness of all our sins through Jesus, then why do we even have to bother being good? Because God is our Father and He said so, and because we should honor His sacrifice every day of our lives by living according to the instructions that He gave us through his son, Jesus Christ, and His disciples, in scripture.

Why is giving something up for Lent so important? It’s not a ticket to Heaven if you do, or the fast train to Hell if you don’t, but Lent gives us an opportunity to contemplate Christ’s sacrifice and, in so doing, determine how we can speak to that sacrifice in our own lives. By giving up something important to us in honor and in memory of Him, we are acknowledging the significant place His gift holds in our hearts and our minds. We are feeling, in some unimaginably minuscule fashion, the discomfort Jesus felt hanging on that cross. Although it would be utterly impossible to even begin to fathom His pain and suffering, our own small “sacrifices” can at least make us aware of the unselfishness shown in our names and of His omnipotent presence in our lives. It can remind us that we, ourselves, need to be unselfish and give out of love, just as He did. If you think you can’t be that “good”, just remember that you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens you”. (Philippians 4:13).

What will you give up? Sweets? For most of us, this is the time-honored sacrifice of Lent. When I do this, though, I always feel like there is a part of me that has something to gain, or shall I say lose, which is a gain for me, from this choice. This year I’m going to give up something that deprives me of pleasure but whose withdrawal doesn’t benefit me in some way. I may do the sweets thing, too, though, because at least it makes me think about Jesus’ sacrifice.  

What will your sacrifice be? Whatever it is, put yourself in our Savior’s place and consider what your feelings might be, knowing that in 40 days you would be scorned, whipped, denied by a trusted and beloved friend, betrayed by another for 30 pieces of silver, and made to carry the heavy wooden cross that would be the vehicle of your death on your shoulders. You would carry this cross on a long road and up the hill that would be the place of your suffering and death. You would be secured to this cross by nails hammered harshly through your hands and feet. You would be hung between two criminals, a crown of thorns piercing your head, and given vinegar to drink instead of water. All this would be in the presence of hateful revelers, mocking you until you breathed your last. Choose your sacrifice but remember His.

You Are The Branches

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

With everything going on here these days, I have not done any ‘Bloomin Thought for the Day posts. Here’s my first of the Spring-Summer Season but far from the first flowers that bloomed this year.

We all know that people who do not have the Lord in their hearts actually can do many things; it doesn’t mean they are bad people. But do they have “the peace of the Lord that surpasses all understanding?” (Phillipians 4:7) in their lives here on earth, and are they prepared to earn a seat at His table when they meet Him, spirit to Spirit, in Heaven? See how my honeysuckle vines wind up and over the trellis on their way to meeting the branches coming up the other side? In my plant, I look at God as the trellis, supporting each new bit of growth climbing up toward the top. When the storms come, He supports them. As they grow, some wander away from the trellis and grow wild, with nothing to cling to. That is when I have to lead them back and feed them through the wrought iron decorative framework until they find a place to hang on and continue growing towards their goal.

Each honeysuckle plant was carefully placed in the ground, one on either side, and they grow towards each other. Regardless of where they were planted, the trellis will support them and guide them until they meet each other halfway. Isn’t that what God wants to do? He doesn’t want fighting and bickering among His children, but a meeting of the branches that have grown in Him. He is the Vine. We are the branches.We must spread ourselves out with open arms to meet the other side. “God’s will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (The Lord’s Prayer.)