Friday, June 30, 2017

A Planting of the Lord; for the Display of His Splendor

May 8, 2017. Scrolling through my inbox this morning I found it.
 5:15 am and I can't see without my glasses. Raindrops falling on the sky lights. Waiting for coffee, dripping to fill the empty pot.
 I tap the word 'edit' in the top right corner and begin to delete, selecting 32 messages that i don't even bother to open. 
This one says, "For When You're Just Surviving-Remember This". 
I had forgotten all about it. But there it was, post marked at 5am on May the 8th, my birthday, with a message that read 'just for you, for today.' I almost missed it- but it really was for me-and I remember now. The story was for me. When I needed it most.

The original blog post was written by Rachel Anne Ridge. Here is her post that I first saw a few years ago:
(I'll continue MY STORY when you get to the end.)

for when you're just surviving

I planted it more than a decade ago.

A lavender plant in a four-inch pot that held a tiny dream.
I was so hopeful back then. We'd moved to the country from our suburban neighborhood, and I imagined that someday I'd have a beautiful lavender farm on this place.
I could just see it: row after row of fragrant purple mounds that would be part of our new life and business.
But first, I'd see how well lavender would grow in the hardscrabble ground. I knew it wouldn't be easy. People told me it didn't have a chance. I chopped a hole in the rocky soil and set it in anyway.
"Go, little baby," I urged it. 

And then life got tough.

The economy tanked.
We had to work hard to make ends meet, all while trying to finish raising our family in the whirlwind of high school and activities. The stress made my chest hurt at times. My husband and both lost sleep. We were exhausted, spent.
I abandoned the lavender farm dream, and went into survival mode.
The little plant was nearly forgotten in the years that followed, but somehow it hung on through blistering heat, record-setting drought, ice storms, and finally, torrential rains.
Every now and then I'd pass by it on the path, and see the small mound of silvery green foliage and marvel at its tenacity. Though alive, its growth was stunted by both the elements and my lack of care.

Not once did it flower.

It just survived.

It was like all of its strength was used up to simply stay alive, and there wasn't a single drop left over for something as frivolous as a bloom.

I understood, only too well.

Sometimes, just staying alive is the best you can do.

Surviving is victory.
 It is victory enough.

Then the other morning, Tom pulled me outside. "You'll never believe it!" his eyes danced with a secret. 
Our footsteps hurriedly crunched down the path on the hard ground. He brought me to a standstill in front of the lavender and pointed with a flourish. 
"Take a look at this."


My breath escaped in an awestruck sigh.
Fresh purple blooms floated above the green mound like a tiara. The warm breeze made them dance, tethered on their stems lest they frolic away.


I sank down in front of it and slowly rubbed the colorful florets between my fingers. The distinctive scent immediately permeated the air and lingered on my skin, and I had to smile.

For When You're Waiting

Baby, you survived.
You made it.
Just look at you.


The ground around you is nothing but rock that doesn't hold water.
And yet you found a way to put down roots.
The drought nearly killed you, but you clung to life anyway.
The harsh elements seemed to stunt your growth, but braving them made you resilient.
You didn't let neglect stop you. 
You just kept going.
Year after year.

And even when no one gave you any hope of surviving...
you did it anyway.


You are strong.
You are brave.
And you are spectacular.


Sometimes, just surviving whatever it is you're going through is victory enough.
You've got to just hang in there. Keep on going. 
Cling to life.
Hold tight.
Because there will come a day when your roots will hit water, and your leaves will open, and you'll send up new shoots that are made to hold flowers like banners.

The sun will come out...and you. will. blossom.
Your day will come.

Maybe it's already here.
It's the day when "just surviving" is over, and your flowered tiara will float above you in a fragrant testimony to all that you've weathered.
Victory, my friend.

Remember this:
You will survive.
And you will bloom.

The desert and parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.....
they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God.
Isa. 35:1-2

Oh, the strength I found in those words: You will survive, and you will bloom!

Steve and I were in Cape Cod, celebrating the first anniversary of our honeymoon and took a little bike ride to Cape Cod Lavender Farm. Such a cute little place nestled in the woods at the end of the dirt trail. Rows of beautiful lavender cascading across a sunny field. Dried and tied in clusters hanging inside the tiny old shack. Soaps, lotions, bath salts and tea for sale. I tell the friendly girl at the register about the story. The story about surviving.

We took our treasures with us. Wrapping them carefully in brown paper as we began our journey home. Down the winding path, pedaling across the small New England town back to the Inn. I had my own story to tell. My own story of surviving.

It has been six years since losing Fritz. Back then I didn't think I could survive his death, nor did I want to. I wanted to spread myself out over the place where they laid him and sink down into the ground with him. The six years that he was sick were long and painful-
but not nearly long enough. 
The disease had a way of changing our perspective on time. It was a progressive disease- which meant the only way to measure progress was to measure his decline. We couldn't look forward, only back. Yet we knew, with the passing of time, time was growing short. We held on to every drop of every day, hoping for more time together.  Six years.

Months and years passed. I lay there under the cold and dark. Seasons passed. There was pruning; hard painful pruning. Winter frost. 
Drenching rains that were sure to drown me. 
Somewhere down in the hard, rocky soil my toes began to find water for my thirsty soul. 
One day the sun began to shine, warming my tender, fragile heart.

It makes me think of those I love-
 living your own story- 
trying to survive. 
Lying on the cold, hard ground, wishing you could sink down into the dirt- 
to hold their hand and hear them speak- 
once again.
Those who feel the painful cutting of the pruning shears- 
taking you in a new direction 
you never planned to go. 
Those who wait for winter's wind and cold to pass, the bitter pain of frostbite, 
feelings of loneliness
 taking tender shoots right off.
Those I love who struggle to survive because at first,
you don't even want to survive.
And then you know, 
you want this pain to end, but you don't want it all to come to an end. 
Like the butterfly, growing wings,
it is only in the struggle to survive that we become strong enough to survive.

My sweet smelling lavender treasures came home with me.  I found another lavender farm out in Harrisonburg, and another in Leesburg. A beautiful drive in the country to discover more treasure. I bought two. And planted them in my front yard. 
And today, one little 4" seedling has a beautiful purple crown.
This one survived.
Six long years later-
my heart blooms, once again.