Monday, November 29, 2010

Pink Flowers of Hope

"A friend loveth at all times..."
 Proverbs 17:17a

 As soon as we step through the doorway of our home on Thanksgiving evening,
my daughter invariably asks,
"Can we decorate for Christmas now?"

Pretty generally, I look at her in amazement,
realize again that she is a child,
and kindly tell her that perhaps we can discuss it in the morning.

And of course, as soon as her eyelids fly open in the morning, I am greeted by the same.

So I head to the attic and start bringing down a little of the "stuff" at a time,
until I can clean up and prepare the house for it's Christmas transformation.
We set up a few different snow villages,
depending on where we want to install them for this season.
I've gotten to the point where I can actually give her a set and let her 
"go to town" with it.

She does a pretty good job.
Her cheer over the whole situation is enough to warm the entire house.
 Situated on the windowsill with the Snow Village she set up is my 
"Flowers of Hope."

My heart smiles when I see this plant.

It has special meaning to me because I gave up on this plant at one time,
and it proved me wrong.

It's funny because sometimes I have friendships that remind me of this plant:
friendships that hit hard places and I don't know what to do.
I set them aside, confused,
unsure of what to make of the whole situation
and once in a while,
the next time I look at them,
there are beautiful pink flowers that only God could grow.


Early this afternoon, as we were getting ready to prepare some left-overs for lunch, the phone rang.  I recognized the caller ID and picked the phone up expecting to hear my friend's voice from far away.  Instead I heard, "Hey, are you home today?"

"Of course,"  I responded.  "I can talk."  

"Well, actually, I was wondering if you were okay with a visit from me."

"What!?  Are you around here?  Where are you?"

As I peered into the mirror I saw disheveled hair and a face with only traces of yesterday's make-up.  I'd spent the morning home from church with everyone fighting colds.  I glanced even more erratically at the state of the house. I heard her say that she'd been to visit a friend in the general area and thought she'd drop in on me while she was up.  She could be over whenever I said the word, "Okay."

I panicked.
I'm not exactly Martha Stewart,
and my abode had been thoroughly used for abiding.

I'd just finished the last of my crafts for the craft sale, and remnants of crafting items were in strange places everywhere.  The floors had been neglected and the carpet of floating dust mocked me.

But then I thought of my guest.  I laughed and told her to be here in a half hour and we'd be happy to see her.  This wasn't the first time she'd done this to me.  She knows me as I am and loves me anyhow.

I met my friend when my Farmer and I had just celebrated our second wedding anniversary.  We'd begun attending a different church; she and her husband had started attending around the same time.  We were all young and childless, although planning on starting families.  Her husband worked a lot of crazy hours, and, at the time, so did mine.  We both lived several hours from our families.  We hit it off instantly.

She and I spent lots of fun times together:
going to auctions,
going shopping, to the library, for walks, and drives.

Very often, because I was painting furniture to sell at the time,
she'd just come over and hang out with me while I painted or canned garden vegetables.

I can't remember her without a paint brush helping, or a knife paring a vegetable with me when she was over.  She was just that way.  She was my "neat" where I was my "messy".  Organizing and wiping and rearranging while I spilled, unthinking and forgetful of where I'd just set something down; she always knew what I'd done with it.  She was the brain that I lacked.  And we discussed and laughed those long-ago days away.

Not long after we met, I miscarried.  She was one of the first to know,
and I found a bouquet of flowers outside my door when I came home from the doctor.
She always knew the right thing to do.

We struggled with wanting children and neither of us seemed to have any success for a while.
We prayed together,
fasted together,
cried together,
and then went out and had fun and conquered the day together.

 We went through that tragic September 11, 2001 together; we were at an auction.
And we both worried that our military husbands would be sent to war.
Shortly thereafter, hers left on a boat, but he came back unharmed.

And then I got pregnant and had Violet.

Things were a little harder then, as I had to tend to baby and do the nap thing.

She did things with other friends, and sometimes we all did stuff together, and she still visited some,
but she'd gotten a job
and life had been altered for us a little bit.

And then the worst happened.

While we were looking at buying a farm,

her marriage fell apart,
seemingly overnight.

I cried,

and cried,

and cried.

I honestly can't remember ever crying so much for anybody.
I cried til it hurt and the pain in my heart felt swollen and so heavy.
And then I prayed and had to give it to God.

Everything in my life seemed trivial.
  She didn't want to live in the past and kindly told me that to move on, she had to act like life was new and that old phase no longer existed.
It can be hard to find the words to talk to somebody and not hear joy in their voice anymore.
I'm interested in my kids' lives and my husband's life and my own interests of eating healthy, raising healthy food, crafting things, gardening, etc.  But all of this seemed as if it was gone to her.

I remember her once saying to me on the phone:
"I'm sorry I don't have much to talk about.  I just don't have too much interesting going on in my life.
But I like to hear about yours."

I'd get off the phone and cry some more.  It hurt so badly to see someone you love go through this,
and you can't do anything at all about it,
except cry
and pray.

It was as if she'd died and was looking for a way to come back to life.

When I looked at my cyclamen plant one day, it was beautiful and I'd wanted to divide it and make more of them.  I read about them on the Internet.  These plants are very tender and shouldn't be transplanted, if possible.  I decided to ignore the advice, dug up the creature, tore it apart, and stuck little forlorn pieces of it into pots.

They all withered, turned brown, and disappeared into their potting soil beds in a matter of days.
Even the original root had about 3 leaves that struggled, then withered.  I cringed when I walked by a few days later and saw nothing in the pot but 3 dead leaves.  

I growled at myself, snatched the pot, and put it on the back porch to use for something else.

Then I forgot about it for a few days.

The next time I came around to the back porch, I could see a tiny little leaf head struggling through the surface.  Could it still be alive?

I left it right where it was, afraid that my unskilled hands would terminate it by the slightest movement.

By the end of the summer, a myriad of beautiful leaves had developed and filled the pot again.  I gingerly carried it into the house and set it on the windowsill where it had flourished before.


 Last fall I had my third child.  I got busy with a new baby, birthdays, schooling Violet, Christmas, and then preparing for my plant sale in the spring.

I hadn't heard from my friend in a while, and just chalked it up to her new job and my busyness.

In the spring, when she called, and I realized it had really been THAT long, I probed into what was going on.
She sounded different.

She'd been sick, she told me, and had just had surgery.
"Surgery?  Whatever did you need surgery for?"

A slight pause was followed by,
"I had cancer."

I almost dropped the phone as I gasped for breath and demanded more details.
Why hadn't she told me?
  I was so sorry.

But there was nothing I could have done, she explained, and it all happened so fast.

Again, all the little details of my life seemed so trivial.  I felt guilty and wondered why she'd want to keep me for a friend when I seemed to do such a bad job of it.

And yet, in her voice, I heard hope.
For the first time since her life had altered forever when she'd lost the trust in her husband,
I could hear her voice again.

She explained that death had seemed an opportunity to her after her marriage crashed.
She was at her lowest.
But when death came knocking in the form of cancer, she was surprised to see that she wanted to beat it.
She wanted to live.
God had reached down His hand,
and she'd reached up and held tightly to it for the strength that was needed to get through yet another battle she had to face.

We made some wonderful memories today.

Violet was thrilled that we had such fun company to help us decorate our trees.

 Lillie was beside herself with all these boxes and glittering new items.

 I've had to explain some things to Violet about cancer and what it is.
I'm sure we'll have more talks about it,
but she's looked into the face of a strong, sweet woman who trusts in God through terribly hard circumstances in life.

 I was happy to see them together,
my two dear friends:
one so young and full of life,
the other seeming to be finding it again.

And this newest life who had hugs, kisses, and smiles for all of us involved.


  1. Powerful Post! Reminds me of some friends who have been the ones to keep it going. I'm so thankful for them. You have been a blessing to me today.

  2. Beautiful!! Friends are a truly wonderful gift from God. :)

  3. Thank you! I agree. Friends make life soo much sweeter!!

  4. What a beautiful post. I am glad that you had a wonderful day with a dear friend. I always feel like I do a bad job in the friend department too and have to ask God to help me to do better.

    :) Michelle

  5. Thanks so much for linking up today. I loved this post. And everywhere it went. I'm following now!

  6. What a lovely post. Thanks.


  7. Thank you for visiting my blog. This was a very special post to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it and thank you for visiting!

  8. love this sweet and thoughtful!


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