Monday, October 17, 2011

Patience to Flourish

She lives... AND she blooms! 

My peace plant FINALLY BLOOMED!! Eeeeeeeee!

Ok. I should probably back up. At this point, I imagine you are either 1) confused at my excitement or 2) think I have lost my mind. But the answer is neither. 

I usually don't get this excited about blooming flowers either-- but I have been waiting about 22 months for Chloe (that's the peace plant's name) to bloom. Here's the thing-- I don't have the greenest thumb in the world. 

I can typically keep plants alive, as in I remember to water them on occasion before they start to look droopy and I attempt to pay attention to their size in case they need to be repotted. I even add fertilizer every now and then. But I am not a "plant lady." I do name my plants and on a very rare occasion might actually talk to them... but I'm more of an animal/people person myself. 

Chloe is special to me because she is a peace lily plant from my Grandad's funeral back in late December 2009. He passed away on Christmas that year... and if you were able to catch my "recovery testimony" No Bologna Testimony (Part 2) you would understand why I was so desperate for peace. Unfortunately, Chloe didn't start off very strong with me as her new owner-- it was one of those blisteringly painful cold days in Kansas when I packed her up to head back to Missouri after the funeral... Mom said I should cover her up, even if it was literally an 8 foot walk from the porch to the truck. I didn't. And that Kansas wind burned her something awful. Thus, it has taken her nearly 2 years to recover become healthy and bloom. 

My husband and I have debated so many times if we should keep "nursing" Chloe... She looked pathetic. I always fought to keep her because I held out hope that someday all her leaves would green up once again. It took a trip from Oklahoma to Kansas, Kansas to Missouri, Missouri to Kansas, and Kansas to Georgia before she finally could recoup. Interestingly enough, Chloe isn't the only "symbolic" plant in my life that has struggled. 

I received my first ever house plant from Kelsey as a Christmas present in December 2008. Kelsey and I were "co-coaches" for one of our dear friends Andrea on her quest to be a National FFA Officer. That little plant, who I named Enrique, became even more special to me when Andrea's wonderful father suddenly passed away that next March (Note: This was the starting point of my recovery testimony.) 

Enrique and I have been through so much together... and he has struggled too. I graduated K-State and took him with me to Missouri... each time I saw my little spider plant, I thought of Kelsey, Andrea and Andrea's dad. But like Enrique, I was struggling. Job sucked, Brandon was deployed, zippo friends in Missouri, working ridiculous hybrid night shift, Grandma died, Dad was sick, Grandad died, you get my drift. Enrique was healthy when I got him... but over time, instead of growing, his little leaves were dying off until there was literally only one tiny sprig left in my pot. 

I felt like Enrique. I felt like there was nothing left of me. I tried everything I could think of to bring Enrique back around- nothing worked. I always expected to walk in the living room in Jefferson City, MO and see his tiny green leaf brown and withered. I almost expected my heart to do the same. I vividly remember telling God through my sobs that I had nothing left to give. 

But as usual, God had a plan. He was growing patience in me. He was pruning me. "Go down the rows of vineyards and rip out the vines, but not all of them. Leave a few. Prune back those vines! That growth didn't come from God!" (Jeremiah 5:10 MSG)  My Father had to cut away all the junk that had filled up my life over the 24 years to make room for HIM... Then, and only then... I began to flourish. And so did Enrique and Chloe.

God was nurturing me, pruning me, giving me what I needed. Sometimes we forget that we have to have the fertilizer (the poop) to make beautiful flowers. I struggled with the patience. I wanted to be a beautiful Christ-like flower NOW. But God knew that to get the job done and do it right, it was going to take some time. 

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry." --Psalm 40:1

Enrique isn't just a single spindle of a
plant anymore... He's even has babies!
Now, about two years later, both Enrique and Chloe are flourishing. As you heard, Chloe survived, is no longer brown and actually blossomed. Enrique has grown exponentially, and actually has "babies" on his spider plant spindles that need to be transferred to their own little pots. My heart is flourishing too. God has shown me a new light of Christ. He has taught me to be (semi)patient. He has allowed me to marry a wonderful man who loves me like Christ loves the church. He has called me to ministry. He is helping me get my masters. He is empowering me to make a difference in our new home in Georgia. 

So now I ask you-- are you in the "building patience pruning" season of life or the flourishing season? Maybe somewhere in between? Try to remember then words of Romans 12:12-- "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." It's not easy... but while fertilizer stinks, the blossom can smell oh-so-sweet.

I rejoice because God has done it-- He pruned me... grown me... fertilized me... but most of all LOVED ME. God has allowed me to have patience... and now-- I FLOURISH! 

Blooming for Him, 

"But things have changed. I'm taking the side of my core of surviving people: Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green."  Zechariah 8:11 (MSG)

Herman's babies Franklin
and Eleanor! No pruning
needed here! 
My aloe vera plant named
Herman, who has fared
better than other plants

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