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: 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.

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.

Good Bones Will Last

“Daddy, I had a weird dream last night”, a son said to his father one morning.

“What did you dream about?”, asked his dad.

“I dreamed that I looked out the front door and all I could see was fog, nothing else at all. It just looked like a gray wall. I went to find you to show you and when we looked outside, it was clear. Then we look in the sky. The sky was dark but there was patch of really bright color in the sky that looked like a flat rainbow. As we watched, the rainbow made itself into the shape of a fish. There was even a black circle in it for an eye. It stayed there for a while and then started turning around. As it turned around it gradually turned itself into the skeleton of the fish but still had the black eye. What does that mean? It was really weird.”

“Well, son, dreams are hard to explain. They usually represent something and it’s tricky to figure out sometimes”, said the dad, “but this is what I think. The rainbow represents God’s promise to us never to destroy the earth by water again. The fish symbol was used by early Christians to identify themselves to each other. Some people in Jesus’s time were afraid of Him because they didn’t want to lose their power if he was truly the Son of God, the King of Israel, the expected Messiah. They didn’t want to be taken over. The people that truly believed in Him were in danger of harm from the ones that hated him, so in order for them to be able to continue spreading the Good News of Jesus without being killed, they used a fish as their identification. They would draw a fish in the sand to let other Christians know they were there. The fish became a universal symbol of Christianity, something like the cross, only not quite as important”.

“Is that why I see those metal fish on cars and that symbol on religious things?”, said the boy.

“Yes”, said his dad. “When the people who were afraid of him crucified Jesus on the cross, he died, and his followers took his body and buried it in a cave. When they came back to see him three days later, he was gone”.

“Right, because he arose from the dead”, said the son.

“Exactly”, said his dad, “but his physical death did not not keep his disciples from passing on to other people all the things He taught them about, like God’s love, salvation, right and wrong, good and evil, sin, and how to have eternal life in Heaven with God. They wrote letters to different cities with all of Jesus teachings and asked the people to make sure they passed it on to others”.

“The Bible”, said the son.

“Yes, his father acknowledged. “I believe your fish bones represent the Bible. You can remove the flesh from a fish but if you don’t destroy the bones by picking them apart and cutting them up, they will stay good bones. The Bible is ‘good bones’ for Christians to study and live by. It is the Word of God for the people of God and we must live by what it teaches us. If we try to pick it apart and make it different than what it is just so it suits us, it’s no longer the bones of our faith, it’s whatever structure people want to make it. We can’t let that happen. The Bible is God’s law, son, and we must obey his law. The world will try to fog our view of God’s promise and His word, so when we think we can’t see His way for awhile, like through the fog in your dream, we have to take a step back and then look at it again. God will be there because He never leaves us, just like the eye never disappeared whether it was on the rainbow fish or the skeleton. He is always watching over us. We have to spread His Word and become fishers of people, just as He asked of us. Good dream, son”.

Yes, this was my real dream last night. I had to share it with you.