There is a story I must finish telling, although, I laugh as I write that because the story is far from over. A couple months ago I shared with you all the vision God gave me of a blooming flower back in October of 2015. (Missed it? Click here to read it.) This wasn’t just any blooming flower though. This flower had a stem broken near off, holes beaten through the leaves. An obvious worn and tattered life had broken it down. One would expect this particular flower to wither and die, but the most miraculous thing was happening on the end of the dangling stem. The flower was blooming bright, full and yellow singing to the world of its glory… no, rather of God’s glory. And that glory-proclaiming was deeply rooted in the system of that flower under the ground, weaving it’s roots through others’ and holding it down in a place of nourishment, stability amidst chaos, hope in the shadow of death and redemption in the here and now and to come. There was beauty happening in the midst of the ugly and this bloom demanded others passing by to stop captivated by it’s impossible strength. This… this was the picture God gave me for the life we were journeying.
As I held on to this very clear vision, I found life in it. I knew we were blooming when it didn’t make sense and I felt a sense of joy through our days with Titus. We dove deep into learning to love big and live intentionally in each and every moment. We built and nurtured relationships because that was most important to us. Our community = our roots.
In November of 2016, just 2 short months after Titus went to adventure with Jesus and an entire year since God has inspired me with that vision, Ely came home with a pot of dirt from church. Of course, it spilled on the way home in the car and, of course, I had the worst attitude about it, huffing and scooping the dirt up, throwing it into the pot vowing to toss it when I got inside. Danny, our plant whisperer, told me to set it out on the patio and he was going to see if anything would grow. I set it out there, dusted my hands off and moved on.
Nothing happened those first couple weeks. It appeared Danny was watering dirt. Just dirt. Then one day this tiny little green bud popped out. Danny was so proud (he really can make just about anything grow). We watched this flower grow and grow until it opened up into this gorgeous flower. It’s color? Yellow. What a sweet treasure as we thought of our yellow-loving boy Titus every time we looked at it. It bloomed proud and perfect. Until one day Danny was out chopping wood for an upcoming camping trip. A splinter flung off to one side and chopped that bloom right off. We were so sad. We really grieved this poor flower’s sudden death. The beauty on our patio diminished on that day.
Fast forward to another passing Sunday, my sister and I inside having coffee and conversation, Danny and our brother-in-law Michael outside working on patio projects. We hear a knock on the back door and see Michael’s hand waving us over as he’s holding up a flower pot, face in the window. At first, confused I looked at him trying to figure out what he’s holding, but as I got closer, I felt God wrap me up in a giant bear hug as he whispered, “you are still beautiful because you are my child.” In Michael’s hand was that poor flower who met the death of splintered wood, but it looked different. It’s stem was broken so much it was dangling, and the leaves were a bit beaten up, but hanging at an angle just like the flower in my vision, was this incredible yellow bloom. It spoke through it’s beauty to my heart saying, “You can’t steal my joy.”
I was in awe at this gift. For God to have reached down in such a way to plant such deep symbolism in my mind in 2015 and then actually create such a scene in my back patio in 2016… Wow!
I thought of all we’d journeyed through in that time. A brand-new, heartbreaking diagnosis for both our boys. The steep learning curve of learning to advocate. The fight to give my child freedom as Batten disease stripped it away. The firm grasp we held to living in the moment and adventuring as a family no matter what the conditions were. And then the “lasts” with Titus. The last time we’d celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, his birthday with him. The last time we’d hear him laugh or see him smile. The last time we’d take him to school. The last time we’d watch him take a breath… a breath that was a last here on Earth, but was a launching pad to Jesus. Then planning a memorial service and celebrating Titus. And then our firsts. Our first chance at fighting against this disease and taking Ely to Ohio for surgery and infusions. All this, and so much more took place between these two events- my vision in 2015 and God’s creative outpouring of glory on my back patio in 2016.
And all this time, I’ve been so very aware of two things.
And really, aren’t we all broken? When you look at this flower, you know what your broken stem and beaten leaves are. We all have them. But at the end of that broken stem is a redemptive bloom. One that reflects the unchanging beauty of Christ that is in ALL of us. Perhaps, when we look at the bloom, our stems and leaves become (dare I say it?) inconsequential? Not because they don’t hurt anymore… oh they do! But because we can see beyond it and know that hope is always worth holding on to because redemption is coming – and in fact – is already happening here and now.
Oh friend, may you see your bloom. May you know deep in your soul just how much Jesus loves you. I mean, really, really loves you. And, my friend? Hold on. Hold on to those hope filled roots, God’s strength and victory always before you, beside you, under you, and all around you.
Thanks for listening,
PS. If you want to hear more of the story, I had the opportunity to speak at our home church in California. Click here to have a listen. I pray you feel Abba Father’s Great Love for you.