Where Are The Blossoms?

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Daylilies refuse to not bloom!

Ever since I was introduced to daylilies by a neighbor in 2004, I have been smitten with this perennial. Daylilies are a no-fuss and easily maintained plant which produces an artist’s palette of colorful blooms. I look forward to my daylilies every summer.

With the warmer winter of 2017, my daylilies were off to a fast and green start. Buds formed with the promise of many blooms. I dutifully cleaned the landscape beds, fluffed up the mulch, applied plant fertilizer and waited for the glorious arrival of my daylilies.

In mid-June, I noticed that some of the leaves were turning from green to yellow and eventually to brown. I wasn’t too worried as this is the natural progression of the leaves during the heat of summer. However, other troubling signs began to appear jointly. The buds were damaged and white flecks appeared all over the plants.

An online search revealed that I had a bad case of aphids, also known as plant lice. The plants would be okay, but the blooms were in doubt. Most likely, I would have to wait another year to experience their beauty. I was crushed. In thirteen years, I have never witnessed aphids and their damage on my daylilies. As a hands-on gardener, I should have caught this threat earlier. Yet, I was blindsided by this unexpected enemy.

I treated the root cause of the problem and decided to be thankful for any blooms this year. Despite the insect attack, there were still blooms. Although the flowers were fewer and smaller, these plants bloomed with an innate strength I wasn’t aware of. Each flower was a reminder of beauty that outlasted difficult circumstances intended to destroy it.

Gardening is a fitting analogy for many of life’s experiences. There are good “years” and bad “years.” There are victories and failures. Some things we can control while other things seem to control us. We will be blindsided despite our best efforts. We will be rewarded for our hard work. The common theme is an enduring hope that beckons us to keep on keeping on.

A friend shared a quote by Lilias Trotter that captures the pain and beauty in the reality of life’s sufferings.

“Take the very hardest thing in your life – the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom.” Parables of the Cross, p.17 (Lilias Trotter)

We are to look for the blossoms in our lives. Reassurance of God’s beauty accompanies those blooms. We are filled with anticipation for God’s glory to be revealed in the least likely of places.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who willing subjected Himself to the cross, knew difficult circumstances and suffering.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

The victory became ours when Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead to define enduring hope. It is possible for our souls to unite with God’s beauty despite that which seeks to destroy us. Don’t give up! God is forming and protecting more blossoms that will prove His triumph anew. Refuse to not bloom right where you are at in life!

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Endurance Can Speak Volumes About Faith

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My stomach didn’t feel right. It wasn’t long afterwards that something I caught or ate fully manifested itself. The worst of it gradually subsided over the next four days. However, new symptoms appeared. I was very hungry. I was tired of being lethargic. I longed for the motivation to accomplish something on my to-do list. I was bored of daytime television. Plain and simple, I was grumpy!

I knew this detour of sickness would be short-lived and minor in the big picture of my life. Why is it so hard to endure when I am in the midst of troubling circumstances? Why do I struggle to gracefully handle a couple of bad days?

I want to be one that rises to the occasion and follows the examples shared in the Bible of how to endure suffering. Jesus knew the depths of suffering, punctuated by separation from His Father, yet never sinned. Once Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus, his life became very messy with opportunities seized to glorify God. Endurance can speak volumes about one’s faith.

Maybe you are like me and still learning how to endure joyfully. God uses our circumstances to remind us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. May the experiences we would rather avoid draw us closer to God’s heart.

The following principles have helped me to strive for endurance with patience and joy.

1) Embrace Suffering:

Or perhaps more aptly described: give into it. There are times when we are to put everything else on hold and focus on the suffering in order to rest and heal.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

2) Make the Most of Suffering

Suffering is oftentimes the best platform to share our faith. People are paying attention to your life and want to know the reason for your hope.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and  respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

3) Pace Yourself

Rely on God’s grace for your good and remove your expectations. We are to desire more of God’s agenda and less of ours.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

4) Reach Out to Others

Ask for prayers. We can’t endure in our own strength as life is too hard. Victory comes through our prayers and the prayers of others.

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. (Exodus 17:11-12)

5) Keep Praising God

Worship fixes our eyes on Him, softens our hearts to receive, and causes joy to well up from deep inside.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

6) Trust God

We don’t have to figure it all out to endure. Rather, we trust that God has it all figured out and is using our circumstances for His good.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20)

 

 

 

Blowing in the Wind

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From the window, my husband caught a glimpse of paper flying by. Our recyclables sailed over our lawn and on down the street. The wind had knocked over our recycling can and was in the process of emptying it. We ran outside and surveyed the situation. Our recyclables were lying on the street, tucked into neighbors’ landscape, clinging to fences and littering lawns. Not the type of introduction we wanted as the newest neighbors. We ran after the recyclables and traipsed through our neighbors’ yards. It was not fun, but it was the right thing to do. That morning, my Bible study was on 1 Peter 3. Verse 14 came to mind, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” I’m not saying that we “suffered” for chasing after our recyclables during a wind advisory. Nonetheless, the principle of that verse applied to our situation. We did the right thing. We could have ignored the recyclables that were now trash in our neighbors’ yards. How would they know it was us? It wasn’t our fault, the wind was crazy that morning. The paper would degrade over time. Lots of excuses to not do the right thing. What were the blessings? I met a new neighbor for the first time when I asked permission to enter her fenced-in backyard. It was a good reminder to be careful what I put in the recyclables. You never know where your “name” may end up. It prompted us to figure out a way to keep the can closed and secure. It was a legitimate mini-workout with wind resistance. Doing right more often than not, requires more of us: more time, more energy, more money and so forth. The bottom line is that doing right will cost us something. However, the cost and the suffering is not to be our focus. The resulting blessings of doing right serve as our hope and our motivation to persevere. It is Jesus’s way. It is our way as followers of Jesus.

 

1 Peter 3:14

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

Hebrews 10:36

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.