Hope is Everywhere
Last spring, my husband and I decided to invest in our front flower beds. I measured them, drew diagrams of the shapes, went to the local garden center, and picked plants based on height and color. I drew the plants in on the diagram and decided how many I thought we would need of each. We took the entire day one Saturday and cleared everything out (besides the four bushes in the back that came with the house), filled the bed with fresh topsoil, arranged the plants according to my perfectly thought-out plan, and planted all of them. It was award-winning, really (although the neighbor down the street still won "Yard of the Month" for the 3rd year in a row ;)).
I was so proud of my beautiful yard. This was the first time since being married that I could say we actually invested in our yard and made it look intentional and, in my humble opinion, simply amazing. I watered it, fertilized it, and took great care of it all spring and summer.
As it turned colder, the annuals died away as expected and the perennials thinned out.
THE GREAT FREEZE OF 2018
As anyone from Houston knows, big freezes are rare here. Maybe once or twice a year we have to cover plants or bring them inside. This year we had a biggie. The weathermen were excited to be the center of news attention as they announced that it would stay below freezing for several days. We even had snow and ice! I mentioned to my husband that we needed to cover the plants for the winter apocalypse, and he graciously volunteered, taking extra bed sheets outside to cover my precious plants while I stayed inside by the fire.
The next morning, my husband mentioned that he did not think the sheets covered the plants very well because they were not big enough. I thought that was a little odd since they were all pretty low to the ground, so I went to look. Instead of covering all the new plants we had just purchased that spring, my husband had attempted to cover the bushes that came with the house! All the sheets were literally hanging off of the bushes and on the ground. Not a single one of my prized plants was covered and protected from the freeze. All of them died. Everything was ruined. All that money down the drain.
I was beside myself with disappointment. Every day for months, I couldn't help staring at the flower beds as we pulled up to the house or drove away. My kids got very tired of my whining and complaining about the loss of my silly plants. "Mom, it is going to be okay!" they would say. I knew I was overreacting, but I also knew how much effort and investment we had made, knowing that the plants we picked would be around for years to come. I know it sounds so trivial, and it was! I was definitely throwing myself a massive pity party.
As winter began to fade away, one of my closest friends called me on the phone. Her voice faltered as she tried to make out words through her tears. My heart sank immediately as I panicked to know what was wrong. Through her tears, she was finally able to explain to me that the doctors had just discovered that her niece had a brain tumor and that they would need to operate within the week. I struggled to know how to support her during this phone call, knowing that there are no words that can take away the pain and fear she was experiencing. All I could say is that I was praying for hope. For each of them to sense the Lord's presence and for Him to fill them with hope.
My friend's sadness and fear stuck with me constantly over the next few days, and I continually prayed for hope to fill their hearts as I prayed for healing for her sweet niece.
HOPE IS EVERYWHERE
Praying continually for this hope gave me a new perspective to my dumb plant ordeal. During that week, I went outside and cut back all the dead parts of the plants, down to the soil, and I discovered something amazing! There were little green shoots under all of that dead stuff! Immediately, the Lord reminded me of my prayer that week. He was the source of hope; He was the giver of life. I yelled to my youngest son, "Come look at this! There is hope!" as I pointed to a little green shoot. He came up and looked at it and then his eyes grew wide in amazement. He glanced around the flower bed, noticing other green shoots all over where dead things had once been and yelled at his big brother, "Come look! There is hope everywhere!!!!"
What a tender lesson for God to teach me that day. Friend, there IS hope everywhere. God wants to intersect your life and show you that He is constantly at work. Sometimes it requires us to cut back the dead parts in our lives to see it. Sometimes it takes us looking through childlike eyes to recognize it. Sometimes we have to come to the end of ourselves to discover God's grace and mercy and patience.
Look for hope today! It is everywhere!
"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19