Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shattered Dreams

My little girls watched in admiration and wild dreaming as the bride made her way through the sandy beach to the little aisle way between the white chairs filled with expectant guests. The glow on the little girl faces that were more than privileged to spectate such a dreamy event almost rivaled the glow on the wedding party themselves. I looked around the beach surrounding that little party and noticed the onlooking gaze of "little girls" of ALL ages. Following the ceremony, I heard of dreams. Of desires to be like the bride. To wear their hair that way, or to don a dress so pretty as that one. This is not the beginning of such dreaming. The little girls that fill my every day with life and imagination, have been soaking in all that surrounds them as they begin to dream up their life long desires and wishes for marriage, and children, and homes, and being hostess.....
They desire to tell mommy how to do it differently, and they get in return, "when you are the mommy, you can do it your way." 

My girls are a reflection of myself as a little girl. I dreamed as I played. I dreamed as a teen awaiting for the next big thing. I dreamed as I awaited a shiny new ring, as I donned that wedding gown I had been dreaming of, as I sat on the floor of the nursery folding and refolding those tiny little outfits awaiting the arrival of a little someone....I did this four times. Four babies. I held those babies and dreamed of little feet running bare in the grass, of flowers picked too short clenched in tiny fists, of their "firsts" to come.....I dreamed of them doing all the wonderful things of childhood that I so fondly remembered. Dreams of the freedoms that come with growing older..being old enough to stay up late, to have a sleep over, to walk the mall alone with a friend, to watch grown up movies, to turn 16! To drive a car, to go on a first date, to kiss a boy, to ...... 

This morning as I sit here and write about dreams, I realize they don't always turn out the way we "dream" them to be. Tears run down my sleepy face as I picture an empty driver's seat today. I will not be planning a sweet 16 party for my 11 year old little girl today. There will be no first kiss. I will never know who she would date, or even marry. I will never hold her baby in my arms. No. Reality stings like whip to the soul. My dreams for her were shattered that day, eight days after her birthday, five years ago. I did not dream of this. 

The things we dream of are most often the gifts of joy in life that God has given to us to fill this life and to teach us about himself through living it. I am often reminding my little girls to enjoy today. Don't worry about planning out your life for the future. I tell that only God knows those things,, but it is okay to dream. It's okay to desire the good things life has to offer, they too are gifts from Him.  I will not tell them that their dreams may be shattered, that disappointment lurks behind the shadows of our deepest desires. I remind them to live today. To enjoy the place where God has put them now. I remind them that God tells us not to worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. But live for today. God takes care of the rest. 

God has given us so much more than life itself. He has given us things to dream of beyond the joys in this earthly life. His riches in Heaven that will never ever disappoint. The dreams of heaven, of walking with Jesus, of running through pastures, and standing among the flowers. He will give us a new and perfect earth. No relationship will ever be broken. We will enjoy all He has to offer. We will be with Him and Like him. Nothing will be shattered. We must dream of such things beyond, and cling to the promises of Heaven. 

If only I could be a little girl again. And dream in such innocence. This is the way God wants me to dream of heaven. One day, my girls will stand among their broken dreams. They will see that Mom did too. I pray that as they stand among the things that break, they too will will look up and see what lies beyond this earth will never be shattered, and they too will dream of such things. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

About a Cabbage Plant

Last week one of my daughters, Emma,  brought home a small cabbage plant. It is a contest for kids to see who can grow the biggest cabbage from these tiny plants. Now if anyone could grow a plant, She could. She has every resource there is considering that her daddy grows plants for a living! Determined to win, she suggested that we plant the cabbage in our greenhouse where the conditions for growth are perfect. That would grow a nice, big plant....but I advised her that planting it outside would be best.

After many years in the greenhouse industry, I have learned by watching that our strongest and most hardy plants are often grown outside. I told Emma that if she plants it outside, the elements around it will help to make it a very strong plant. It needs the rain and wind and sun and cold above the soil to cause it's roots to grow deep, and it's stem to become strong. The elements, plus nourishment from water, sun, and fertilizer...cause the plant to grow strong. My words came out as information to my daughter about growing her cabbage plant, but they sank into my heart as I realized that the elements of my life and my children's lives are producing in them deep roots and strong stems. The deeper they seek, the stronger they become, the better they can withstand the storms and challenges of this life.

Later that day, my words returned in a visual image of my friend. She opened the door for me slowly and spoke in labored tired words. She was happy to see me, yet couldn't show it the way she used to. We rested on the sofa, a place that had become too familiar to her. She is laden with the return of cancer and treatments that consume the strength within her. She uses everything she has to accomplish the minimum requirements for each day. I saw the way the elements had beaten her, but I saw more. I saw a cabbage plant pushing it's roots deep into the soil in search of nourishment from the richest soil. I saw a core, that was growing thicker, preparing to support a bountiful fruit.

As a small child, I love the song "I shall not be, I shall not be moved.....just like a tree planted by the water, I shall not be moved." I often admire the large, tall, thick, and gnarly old trees in the area. They are the ones that seem to make it through the worst of storms! That doesn't mean that they haven't been broken by storms in the past...their scars reflect the days gone by. Those trees are impressive! They have tremendous shade in the summer heat, and are a refuge for many creatures.

Back to the cabbage plant. Back to person God wants me to become. Back to the streams of water that run deep below the surface. Back to the storms that batter what lies above the ground. Back to the stem which responds to the elements around it by reaching deeper and growing thicker and stronger. The cabbage grows it's foliage first, it strengthens it's core, and pushes the expanse of roots deep for the end result of fruit. The stronger the plant, the greater the result of it's labor!

I have an image of my friend. I see her roots growing deep, her core growing stronger....the foliage is week and beaten down, yet it will be restored, and fruit is growing and will will be bountiful! Others will reap the bounty of her strength. They will seek comfort in the shade! She will be a source of strength and encouragement for others as they begin to grow and to recover from their storms. I feel myself. I have been beaten, yet the roots are growing deeper, my stem is growing taller and thicker, and there is new growth around the broken pieces. It is gnarled and doesn't look the same as before. My scars draw attention to others, and they take refuge in the bits of shade that I am beginning to provide. My roots grow deep. Deep into streams of healing water. Streams of Christ's unfailing love. He is the nourishment from deep within. And, I sing again....I will not be...I will NOT be moved. Just like a tree standing by the water, I will not be moved!