Lesson from Tulips

I tripped into work early when I was just a young’un before babes and baking took up waking hours, for weddings won’t wait and a bride can’t do without flowers and these bouquets needed adjusting. I smile for there they are, pink tulips stretching bright faces above all the other blooms as if to say “I’m still here alive and well and you can’t stop me from springing taller”.  Never fearing they’ve been cut from their source of life…all the while they’re dying they still keep growing. And it’s enough to drive a florist to her knees all this constant tweaking, but me I’m grinning ear to ear and talking to each one as I pull ’em back down again. Maybe that’s why I love tulips more than any other bloom you’ll bring me.  They are this enigma of the flower world because nothing can stop them until the last petal falls.  They’ll keep on transforming, changing because no matter where you place them or how you’ve shaped them they find a way to surprise. These blossoms always outgrow the vessel in their stretching towards the light.

Years later they still make me smile and I find myself tripping to the grocery for a friend having an ‘I can’t do this anymore kind of day’ and I know just the thing for her….for me. And these red tulips all cheer and jollity dance in the light as I pull them together in bouquets and the note that’s penned is as much for this weary soul as for her, reminders that we, my friends, are unique, beautiful, chosen, FORGIVEN…and nothing on this sometimes seemingly God forsaken earth can separate us from His Love no matter the trial or the test weighing hard.

There’s not much left of them a week later but I’m still finding myself sprinting down stairs just to see for myself these twins in red forever reaching out. And I’m beaming over morning coffee as these two are standing taller than the day before with a mind all their own and I want to be them.  I don’t want to ever stop growing up, enlarging out, unfurling myself until the final moment I cross to glory. And there’s beauty in all this growing and it’s messy and uncomfortable too because it’s easier to choose the familiar path, but it’s the flourishing life I want; the life of resilience, of perseverance. I want to be the soul who bounces back and bravely believes. Who looks at life through the lens of a challenge not a crisis. Who at the very core of herself resounds with this:

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” ~James 1:2-4

So my friend, go out there…grab some tulips and like them BLOOM! Stretch for the light.  There’s beauty in all this growing, in all this reaching all the way till glory.

tulips

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Good Friends….medicine for the sojourn

They roll in, these dear ones in a white van my friend calls the marshrutka, arms laden with gifts and Christmas cheer. These “Ruth and Naomi” friends who have journeyed deep waters with us, know our story well with it’s failures and successes,  still love us anyways.  We share food and culture, gifts and games and history made with friends becomes sacred and holy a gift in and of itself.  And we laugh. Those deep belly roll on the floor guffaws that spell relief, hope.  We chuckle at stories, mistakes, things we said…or didn’t say;  giggle over breakfast brunch, late afternoon lunches during too late evenings and somehow in the candlelight and twinkling tree’s gleam I feel the grey from the year, the grief spilling, melt like ice thawing on a warm spring day. Strange how one can forget what it feels to delight in the everyday, burdens choking joy blooming underneath. The gift is given, one not expected, one not even dreamed of and it is just right, for it is medicine for the heart. And I pray that I will be the gift in return, the friend who brings cheer, who knows the time to cry and the time to laugh and embraces the journey to the finish. Who goes the distance, is willing to suffer alongside no matter how long, to wait for test results and for hearts to change and for the old to be made into the new.  Who expects less and prays for more, who longs to serve rather than be served and who understands that giving is better than receiving.

I flip the calendar to the new year.  Medical appointments looming, deadlines lurking and my heart skips a beat for joy has won in the end, and this weary woman feels strength returning to the soul.

~A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22~