Lessons From the Random Garden Phlox

In our back yard, Gary and I have two flower beds that I haven’t done much with for the past two years.  Plenty of our perennials still grow there, but some have died that I haven’t replaced.  Gary is planning a patio remodel at some point, and knowing that those beds would be downsized or moved caused me to just let them grow as they will.  Our tall Tiger Lilies bloomed out there recently, but now those bright orange blooms are gone. 

This morning I looked outside as I worked at the kitchen sink.  There among the flowerless Tiger Lilies I saw the bright pink blooms of a random Garden Phlox.  The pink was very noticeable now that the lilies weren’t all in bloom.  What a pretty sight that Garden Phlox was as it stood among all the green leaves of the lilies!  The Phlox is shorter than the all those giant lilies surrounding it, but it stands out beautifully because of its bright, pretty flowers.

As I looked at that Garden Phlox, I thought of a nurse…..a nurse that I have never met and whose name I don’t even know.  Andrea, our daughter, told us about her last night.  Andrea has moved to a new area of the big city in which she lives, so yesterday she had her first appointment to get established with a family practice doctor there.  The doctor’s nurse who worked with Andrea was not only very nice, but Andrea said that she also gave a clear testimony of her relationship with the Lord.  She was definitely born again, a follower of Jesus, so she and Andrea shared that common bond as they talked together.  She then gave Andrea the name of two good churches in the area for her to visit.

This interchange may seem like no big deal, but it was very encouraging to Andrea…..and a huge answer to prayer for Gary and me.  As our two children that have moved far away get established in their new lives, Gary and I pray often that God will protect and lead them.  Part of our prayers for them is that God will bring others into their lives who are believers…..who will be there to encourage and befriend them.  It’s a rough world out there for all of us, but as parents we especially worry about our adult children as they navigate life far away from home and family. 

I just love seeing how God answers prayers in ways we don’t orchestrate at all.  Who would have thought that God would use this nurse to speak her testimony to Andrea, to lift her up in that way, and to give her the names of two churches?  But God knew just where Andrea needed to be yesterday morning.  The first doctor in that group couldn’t see Andrea, so she ended up with another doctor…..who has this nurse….and she was working yesterday when Andrea was there.  Thank you, God!

And thank you, dear nurse, for not being afraid to speak of your relationship with Jesus.  She truly let her light shine, just as Jesus told us to do, so that others will see the Lord in our lives.  This nurse was a huge blessing and an answer to prayers for us…and she may never know it this side of heaven.  But she was just walking in obedience, letting her light shine, and she sure did brighten Andrea’s day and ours as well.

Then I have to think about myself.  Often as I’ve prayed for those who will come alongside our children, I wonder if I might be on the other end of such a prayer.  Could I be the one that God wants to use to answer a mother’s prayer for their child?  Could I be that person who could encourage and bless a person for whom someone is praying?  Am I letting my light shine in the lives of others?  That thought has given me great pause over the years as I’ve prayed for our kids, and now even more so as I think of this nurse…..this random nurse…..who meant so much to our family yesterday in such a seemingly simple way.   

This nurse was like my Garden Phlox showing its beauty among the lilies.  She was a bright spot in Andrea’s day, and she was a bright blessing to Gary and me.  I need to be willing to do the same…..to grow where God has put me and to share the beauty of my relationship to Him because of what He has done for me.  I need to be careful to reach out to ones that God puts in my path, in whatever ways that I can.  Even the simplest acts can be just what a person needs at that moment, and just might be the answer to a parent’s or another’s prayer. 

So may I not let fear or selfishness or lack of caring grow around me so much that I don’t even try to help those who come into my life.  I pray that I will be open to God’s leading and obedient to his command to let my light shine so that others will see God, and thereby be uplifted.  May I shine like my bright pink Garden Phlox amongst all the tall, crowded lilies. 

I’m certainly thankful for that nurse who was a beautiful blessing in our lives yesterday.  May God bless her richly as she shares His beauty with others.

Lessons From the Lone Daisy


We have a flower bed off our front porch that has been a challenge to fill with flowers that will thrive.  It’s a mostly shady area because of our large Golden Rain Tree whose branches provide that shade in abundance.  However, through some pruning of the branches over the years, and some further pruning of a huge bush beside the flower bed, there is now a little more light that comes into that area.  I’ve tried a large variety of plants and flowers over the years in that spot, but even now with a little more sun, finding a plant that will keep growing has been difficult.


This year I decided to plant several flowers in that bed, flowers that are designed to bloom in shade or partial shade.  I’m still not tremendously pleased with how they have done this year.  I’m just not seeing the huge display of blooms all summer that I had hoped to see.  One of the flowers that I chose to plant are Gerbera Daisies.  They bloomed for awhile….at least enough blooms to give me hope…..but now they are just sitting there in the dirt, living but not blooming.


Except for one that put out a beautiful bloom last week.  It was a perfectly formed, bright pink bloom that caught my eye when I walked outside one morning.  Today the bloom is a little worse for wear, but still pretty in that sea of green.  That flower is a beautiful pink splash that still draws my attention when I look outside.  It doesn’t matter that it’s small……it doesn’t matter that it’s alone……it just matters that at least one of my little Gerbera Daisies decided to bloom and give me some pleasure.  I doubt if anyone driving by our house even notices it, but I do, and I’m thankful for it.


That small flower reminds me of something that happened recently.  Someone we know was going through a crisis with a family member.  It’s not who any of you are thinking of…..it was someone else.  J  Anyway, I felt compelled to run to the hospital and pay this dear family a quick visit.  Now I generally pull back from going to the hospital very often.  It’s not because I don’t care but it’s because I always worry about being in the way, showing up at the wrong time, or just not knowing what to say or do that would be helpful.  I do care for these sweet people and I felt like the Lord really wanted me to go, so I got in the van and I drove to the hospital.


The nurse on the floor helped me find the family.  They were in the family lounge, waiting while a procedure was being done on their loved one.  The Mom, my friend, was so happy to see me.  We hugged, long tender hugs, several times.  She asked me if I wanted to stay, to sit down in a nearby chair, but I said no.  I told them that I just wanted them to know that they are loved and prayed for, and that I wanted to give her a hug conveying that love.  I told them that they are not alone.  I was there less than five minutes…..maybe three minutes.  I felt like they needed time together in that otherwise empty family area…time to let down, to talk to each other, to pray….and so I gave one more hug and I left.


I walked back to the parking garage and drove home wondering if I should have stayed longer.  I wondered if it looked silly for me to make such a quick visit.  Did they think I didn’t care enough to sit down and talk awhile?  Did I come across as uncaring?  So I prayed and I asked the Lord to use that very brief visit to encourage them, the way that I intended, and I tried to quit fretting about it.


I got a text yesterday.  I hesitate to say much because I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting at all, but I want this to be uplifting to each of us.  This mother and friend told me that my visit was the most meaningful to them, and how grateful they were for it.  Now I was the one being encouraged!  And why do I share this?  Because that simple visit was like my Gerbera Daisy in my front flower bed.  That very brief and plain visit turned out to be a splash of loving color in their sad and worried hearts.  I felt like I didn’t accomplish much, but little did I know that God took my small effort and used it as a huge blessing in their lives.


I bet no solo I ever sang on that podium for all those years touched them like that one small visit.  And I want all of you to know that you don’t have to do big things to be a needed encouragement in someone’s life.  I’m not trying to build myself up…..I want to build each of you up to know that the littlest kindnesses are really huge, especially when God takes them as intended and uses them to touch a life.


My little lone Gerbera Daisy has given me a smile inwardly every time I have seen it for the past few days.  And your little lone touches in a person’s life can make them smile and give them hope to keep going in ways which you may not even be aware.  We don’t have to stand before hundreds, speak before crowds, write bestselling books, or any of the other multiple things that so often spell success to us.  We just need to give Jesus our simple loaves and fishes, and then watch Him multiply them over and over.  We have no idea of the effect of our prayers in our closet, of a card sent in the mail, of an email of encouragement, of a home cooked meal, of a simple hug, or of a phone call.


You may feel alone or ineffective, but you are never those things when you give to God your simple desires to bless others.  You can be a beautiful splash of color and hope in someone’s life when you do the simplest acts with a loving heart.  Remember the daisy.  It doesn’t matter that it’s alone…..it doesn’t matter that it’s small….it just matters that it decided to bloom and therefore to give me great delight every time I see it.


So bloom today where God has put you.  Look around and see how you can bring pleasure and delight to someone who needs that in their lives right now.  And remember that it’s usually in the smallest, simplest ways that we impart those blessings to others.

He Was But One


We live in a culture where bigger is better and where a person’s list of accomplishments is what garners respect in many circles.  Unfortunately, even as followers of Christ, we sometimes fall into that same mindset.  Whether it’s in our churches or in our personal lives, often our feeling of worth and value to God is based on our list of “service” responsibilities.  In our individual lives, too, we look around and so often begin to measure ourselves……usually based on comparisons with others.  It’s a discouraging trap, one sure to bring defeat.


So often life doesn’t go the way we think it will.  So many of us one day find ourselves looking around at our lives, maybe discontent and feeling of little use to anyone.  Our past or current list of involvements may be small compared to so many others.  We feel unimportant.  Who wants me to fill that position?  I don’t have the talent or ability to do that job.  Why does that person have it all?  What happened to me?  Why am I alone when others are surrounded by people?  The questions can be endless, as varied as life itself.


I was struck this week in my study of Isaiah by a verse in chapter 51.  God was encouraging the remnant of Israel.  Listen to this profound statement in verse 2:  “Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain.  When he was but one I called him; then I blessed him and multiplied him.”


Did you see it?  God said, “When he was BUT ONE I called him.”


There was Abraham, way out in Ur of the Chaldeas.  Where on earth is that?  And who on earth was Abraham?  He was but one…..but God called him.  And Abraham set out in faith, not knowing where he was going, but knowing that God told him to go.  One man……but one……taking just one step at a time.  Steps of obedience to God.  One by one.


I am but one person.  So are you.  But one.  So was little Mary in Nazareth, and so was unimportant Joseph.  Called by God to take one obedient step at a time.


None of our lives are unimportant in God’s eyes.  Are you feeling that way at this point in your life?  Do you feel unnecessary?  Unnoticed?  But you’re not!  None of us is unimportant to God!


Wherever you are, you are but one.  Lonely?  Set aside?  Disappointed at where you are and how things have turned out?


Don’t listen to Satan’s discouragements.  Look to God, who chose mighty Abraham when he was but one.  God delights in our weaknesses so that His strength can be known.  If you are in a place where all you can do is pray, then pray with all your heart.  Obey God!  And know that those prayers are meaning more to others than you will probably ever see on this earth.  You don’t have to be blazing trails and impressing hundreds to be of value to God and to others.


“He was but one…..”


I am but one.  You are but one.


But how important each one is to God.  And how important we can be to others!