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Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 6:32 PM
Thanksgiving Classic: Thankful For The Thorns
Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss.
Troubles had multiplied. Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come on her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.
"Had she lost a child? She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder. "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life, but took her child's?"
"Good afternoon, can I help you?" Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk.
"I.... I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.
"For Thanksgiving?" Sandra nodded. Do you want the beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the 'Thanksgiving Special'? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"
"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong." Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."
Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer, "Hi, Barbara... let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.
"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk.
Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. "Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again." She said, as she gently tapped her chest.
Sandra stammered, "That lady just left with, uh.... she left with no flowers!"
"That's right, said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."
"Oh, come on! You can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra.
"Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do, today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery."
"That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."
"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.
"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I NEVER questioned Him why those GOOD things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, "WHY? WHY Me?!" It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."
Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about the thought that her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is, I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."
Just then someone else walked in the shop. "Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man. "My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement... twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.
"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"
"No... I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem. The Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us." As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"
"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too... fresh."
"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."
Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.
"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."
"Thank you. What do I owe you?"
"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."
It read: "My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."
Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.
So no matter where you are today in this world,I hope you all have a Blessed day,& Thank whom ever you may believe in for the thorns in your life,because they have made you the beautiful person you are today.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving everyone,
Monday, May 11, 2009, 3:41 AM
The first Mothers Day after my son,David passed away,I was,of course,hysterical in my mind,so I set out for a walk to try & clear my mind of all the pain & sadness I was feeling.
After wondering around & around the neighborhood, for almost all nite,crying,my thoughts & the pain weren't any better than when I started. As I realized it was almost dawn & I'd better straighten up & try & put on my,"I'm ok" mask to come home,I realized I was only the street located in front of our own street.
So drained & still searching for answers.I knew my face was all puffy & swollen red from crying all night,I decided to sit down on a planter in front of this house.I ,again,started crying,literally beseeching God to let me know that my baby was ok,that he'd done what was God's will,even though he'd taken his own life.I was suddenly hit with what was also bothering me,would my child know me as his Mother?
Being Christian,but not having really stood rock solid in all that I was taught in the Baptist faith,I have my own beliefs in our spirituality & have grown to believe that no matter how one dies,or what sins they may have commited,as long as one believes in God & respects the powers of the universe,& asks for forgiveness & tries to correct things,if possible,that we all are reunited in Heaven.I also believe that we are sent back to learn in many different lifetimes the things one is supposed to learn.
So with that thought came a whole new surge of questions.Would my child know me as the woman who gave him life?I cried & began praying for the answer,asking God to give me any sign,I didn't care how insignificant it seemed,just any sign that my child was still always my baby.
Although we are all God's children,it takes time to remember,in one's grief, that our children were really only here as a gift from above.And when that child is called back home,no matter what circumstances,it's so unnatural for us,as parents,to remember that for awhile.
Well I tried to calm down,once again,as the sun broke over the buildings,I reached behind me to brush off the brick planter I was going to sit on for a few moments.
As I did so, my eyes focused on the planter & the flowers blooming in my favorite color in it,Lavender. Surprised,I then realized with a knowingness,that only one who the message is for,that I was staring at the most beautiful little bunches of 'forget-me-nots'.
I knew then that my questions were answered by God himself,& that my son would never really leave me,that I was always his mother,& yes,my son would be the first one there, waiting, at those pearly gates,when it's my turn to be called home.
Although it's been a long,painful journey this last 20 years since I lost my only child,David, & that on special days like today,it seems harder to go on.The emptiness I feel on the outside & in my surroundings,seeing happy children on outings in the park celebrating with their Mom's.Young couples beaming with pride as they hold open the restaruant's door for their Mother to go eat,yes,I still get that stab in my heart,but remembering that planter full of lavender forget-me- nots,fills my heart with patience & love.And the knowledge that my son is safe,with all of my other loved ones,who will all be there to welcome me home.
I pray for all of us Mothers,& hope that you all had a nice Mothers day,
Hugs,Love & Prayers, Cathy :)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 4:47 AM
I posted this last year on Mother's Day,but thought I'd share it a little earlier this year.
How can you say Happy Mothers Day to a woman who has lost a child without feeling a jerk at your heart strings? You can't….But there's a bigger jerk on her heart strings if the other person,or persons, in their lives try & act as if she was never a Mother,because she lost a child,or in some cases,children.
I know,because I lost my only child,my son, David,20 years ago.Pretending that he didn't exist because people are uncomfortable with how to talk about people who have passed,muchless a child's passing.
How does a person handle a friend's grief when they've lost a child? Whether it's their only child, or not, please remember that saying, 'Well at least you have your other children is one of the lamest, & hurting, things to say. Each child is special in their own unique way,so a parent’s love for each child is unique.One doesn't replace another,nor does the next one move up in line when the child older passes.
I know that sounds so out of reasoning.But you would be suprised at the number of times I've had other grieving parents tell me that people say such things.
As a mother who lost her only child, in the most tragic of ways for any one to die,suicide,I had many many levels & stages in my grief over the years. But one of the biggest, & hardest blocks on the path, was to have people act as if he never existed.
The uncomfortable look,the shifty eyes that look everywhere but in yours,the nudges with the elbows to their friends whenever you start a story about your child who has passed.
We are already in a shock that barely ever lifts,but eventually with time,we want to hear their name from someone else. Share those funny times you remember,even the 'bad' things we,as parents who brought that child,or God forbid, children, into this world, & have lost,with us!
So when you hesitate to say," Have a nice Mothers Day," to those of us who have lost our child, or children, Don't. DON'T HESITATE one second,because we are, & always will be a Mother, & the same for those Fathers you may know..
We have just been chosen to walk the path alone for awhile.Just until it's our time to be called home, by Our Father, to be reunited with all our loved ones in Heaven So have a nice Mother's Day, my dear sisters.
Thursday, April 23, 2009, 10:05 AM
The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.
You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder on them. Just read straight through, and you'll get the point.
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.
How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here's another quiz.
See how you do on this one:
1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials..... the most money... or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most!
Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life, like I did.
"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia !"
"Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken!"
TAKE CARE EVERYONE!
HUGS,LOVE, & PRAYERS,