I find it incredibly interesting that, without my trying lately, I've got two new subscribers to the Wannabe blog! :D WELCOME! My prayer is that you're blessed by what I post, WHEN I post. :D There's a LOT I want to share, but sometimes it takes a while to get things into a cohesive, comprehensive THOUGHT. :D
ANYWAY. I've been hanging onto this forward for a while. I don't do them very often, but this one REALLY touched my heart. I think it's even more poignant now that my friend lost her husband this year.
Please leave me a comment whenever you wish, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to share with me privately. I consider your trust a high honor, and it's a privilege to be able to take your requests to the Throne of God! :)
On to the story.....
"She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder. "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered.. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life, but took my child's?"
"Good afternoon, can I help you?"
Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. "I . . . I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.
"For Thanksgiving? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories, " she continued.. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"
"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."
Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."
Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer.
"Hi, Barbara, let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped; there were no flowers.
"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched; was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.
"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile.
"You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said, as she gently tapped her chest.
Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with . . .. uh . . .she left with no flowers!"
"That's right," said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today," explained the clerk. " She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had
just lost her father; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk... "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel..."
"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.
"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly.
"I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, 'Why? Why me?!' It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn
to comfort others."
Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."
Just then someone else walked in the shop.
"Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man.
"My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement, twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator...
"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously.
"Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"
"Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced," Phil replied. "After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."
As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"
"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life" Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too . . fresh."
"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love.... Don't resent the thorns."
Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.
"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."
"Thank you. What do I owe you?"
"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart... The first year's arrangement is always on me."
The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."
"My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns.. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
It was a bad reason to have to go home to Indiana/Ohio: one of my best friends lost her husband quite suddenly, and I went to be with her on the day of the funeral. But it was a good visit.
I stayed in Indiana at our friends' farm. They are WONDERFUL people; originally my sister's friends (her high school best friend's parents!), they've been SO much fun to get to know, and to spend time with. There were days when we could have gone to do something, but stayed on the farm! It's been fun seeing Kenn (AKA "City Boy") learn about farm life. :)
What I want to tell you about, however, is leaving the farm this last time. I was by myself; Kenn didn't get to go with me. But I know what we do before we leave, each time, so I planned the leaving part accordingly. :D They're building a new house from SCRATCH next to the rickety farmhouse; they've been working on it for years, and they're "close" to getting it ready to move into. Before we leave, we go see the progress on the house, and take a quick tour of SOME of the farm. (Mind you, this is a working farm, so to tour the whole thing would take a VERY long time!!! :) )
The garden on the farm has been producing like crazy, so our friends were SO pleased to be able to send "some" produce home with me. The photo above shows what I brought home. :D Even the pumpkin! He became a turkey, but that's another post. LOL!
We were out in the garden for 45 minutes, cleaning off the vegetables and loading them into the car. Then, it was time for goodbye hugs and waves while I pulled onto the country road, waving and smiling.
I was still smiling five minutes later. Can you IMAGINE?? I'd been there about 38 hours, but I was SOOOOOOOOO blessed by them. I was GONE much of that time, but we still had a couple of meals together, and laughed and sympathized with each other. There wasn't any "You're a guest, so act like one." I'm one of the family! I know where the towels are, I know where to put the bedding when I leave. And I get so blessed, every time I go to visit them. Not only did they bless ME, but I had the joy of seeing Kenn act like it was Christmas when he was carrying it all into the house; Mom couldn't get over how GENEROUS they'd been to us. And NOTHING tastes better than a sweet cherry tomato that someone you cherish has grown and blessed you with! :)
It's not the things they give me - or that I give them, because who goes somewhere like that without a present? :D It's the way I FEEL when I'm around them. I'm NEVER, EVER glad to be leaving them, but I always leave feeling loved and welcome to come back.
Do you *hear* what I'm trying to say? There's no doubt in my mind that I have a place there. I am always welcome. I will always be loved by them. I don't have to wonder if they're just nice to my face. I'm part of the family while I'm there.
Dear one, not only are we to feel that way in the Body of Christ, but we're to OFFER that to anyone who comes to our homes. I just can't imagine anything better than to have someone say to me, "I was still smiling five minutes after I left your house the other day!"
It's a little out of context, but not too much - Jesus said, "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." (Luke 16:9, NIV) We have started to become sooooooooo concerned with OURSELVES; we don't just "hang out" with each other, encouraging one another and sharing with each other! We HOARD what we have, as if it's going to be a security.
It's NOT. And that's not why God blesses us with worldy wealth, either - no matter how much or how little you have. It's to bless OTHERS.
Dear one, please pray for ME in this area. I want to be obedient in being a blessing, too! I want people to know I'm different, that they're LOVED, and WELCOME, and part of the family!!!! How about you?