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31 Lessons in 31 Days: Notice Flowers

I smiled when I read Christie Purifoy's blogpost entitled "Ministry of flowers".   
She talks about the extravagance of flowers and perhaps cake. That they seem somewhat a selfish chasing after in a world shocked through with so much pain.  Flowers and cake are like innocent impractical gifts and should we really celebrate them? Are they necessary? 
I like her musings here because I agree with the spirit of them.  That noticing natural beauty is important.  It's good for our soul. 
She so beautifully writes, "These days, the ministry of flowers is God’s ministry to me. The flowers that grow here at Maplehurst have become an emblem of God’s wild love and evidence of his generative presence on this earth. They are extravagant. Foolish in their ephemeral beauty. Profuse and profligate and anything but practical." 

Flowers as emblems of God's wild love.  I like that.  Jesus references the deep beauty of the flowers His words formed, "Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." (Luke 12:27). 
I've read two of Sally Clarkson's books in the past and one take away from these books that I grasp onto and can't forget is her desire to create warmth, comfort, pleasure, and yes even and importantly beauty within the walls of her home.  Her new book she coauthors with her daughter, The Life-Giving Home: Creating A place of Belonging and Becoming  is filled with her insights.  Something she discusses in her books is the importance of bringing the outdoors in and in natural ways like picking handfuls of wildflowers and filling vases or jars with them.  She speaks often of having homes that are filled with good smells and flickering candles.  Creating places that people desire to be, feel as if they belong, and want to return to.  
My mom always filled the yards we lived in with beds of flowers.  So many different kinds.  She definitely did not consider these an extravagance like Christie Purifoy alluded to.  She had grown up gardening vegetables, but flowers were her real garden delight.  After leaving her home and starting her own my mom never grew another food bearing plant, no just so many flowers. 
I remember going outside in the summer and seeing zinnias, phlox, plate sized dahlias, and sunflowers rising towards the sky following the sun's path with their heavy seed laden heads.  


These were some of my favorites as a child.  My mom called them 'Touch-Me-Nots"  I still go by the  light green pods burgeoning with seeds and lightly squeeze them.  At just the right time they will literally pop in your hand.  My girls enjoy this game too 

There were tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths in the spring.  The front yard always had azaleas and rhododendron.  All sorts of flowering trees were planted.  My favorite was a weeping cherry tree that dripped white blossoms.  Her long porch has impatiens spilling out of flower boxes and of pots arranged next to the different sitting areas and rocking chairs.  
My mom filled vases with her flowers and set them on the tables of our home.  She brought the natural beauty to us.  So often I would see her fill up her familiar vases with Irises or lilies and so many roses.  Many times she gave these flowers from home to her friends or sent them with a meal she made for someone sick.  The perfect companion to her from scratch food.  Her from scratch flowers. 
My sister in front of the azaleas 

Flowering trees and a girl lost in the pink tissue paper like blossoms.  The girls like to make wreathes for their hair with these bright pink petals




My absolute favorite flower memory of my mom is that when I was in elementary school my mom wound roses over the doors of the home. Both front and back doors. She nailed tiny nails above the door and wove the roses around.  I remember thinking it was a bit of a fairy tale.  Even though our house was tiny.  I'll always remember those deep pink roses framing the door and the birds nest we found hiding above the door nesting among the roses.  I'm thankful my mom took the time to give us beautiful things to look at, smell, and touch.  
Fast forward to me.  I am not very good at making green things grow.  
I don't really enjoy it and have resigned myself to enjoy other people's handiwork instead. 
I try to take my girls to see beautiful flowers. In April the girls and I always try to spot the first wisteria.  Someone always notices the wild purple blossoms fountaining along a roadside twisting up a tree or snaking around a fence post.  There are a few roads we travel on that the wisteria grows and I love hearing one of my girls shriek, "Mom! Look its growing!"  It's like a simple spring joy and then we have to make sure to drive that way again soon so we don't miss the blooms.  There is a walkway at a park not too far from our house that is filled with this lavender flowering vine.  The petals scatter along a short strip of concrete and the blossoms cover the walkway.  The girls and I love going there in the spring.  Just to see.  Just to appreciate something so intensely beautiful crafted by God Himself.  We don't want to miss His glory in these flowers. 
There is a man that lives about twenty minutes from us that has a garden of thousands of different kinds of day lilies. He has an extensive collection of shade plants and a koi pond.  It's his own personal garden paradise but every June he opens it to the public and I try to always take the girls once a summer.  They dart all over the grounds of the garden playing hide and seek, gazing at the koi, and look at so many different kinds of lilies. The names are always amusing. And who knew that so many lilies wore ruffles on their petals? 






A few weeks ago I saw some pictures of a local sunflower field.  Acres of happy sunflowers.  Even though my two older girls were in school I knew I had to take my third girl.  When I think of third girl I think of sassiness and sunshine and always the color yellow.  We didn't get to stay long, but just taking guesses at how many sunflowers could there be and marveling at all of the butterflies landing on sunflower heads was a delight.  I'm so glad we went.  






I'm thankful God gave us the gift of all natural beauty and specifically of flowers.  I think hydrangeas are my favorite. No wait, orchids. No, it's definitely hot pink roses!  No, lilacs. What about daisies? They are simplistically stunning.  I used to pluck one out of my mom's front yard daisy garden and tuck it behind my ear as I walked out the door to high school. I find myself tugging one off in the summer and tucking them behind my girls's ears now. We snap off the heads and play the "He loves me, He loves me not" game and laugh. Yet after seeing the field of sunflowers, they would be hard to top because really they look nothing but a slice of yellow happiness.  It's so hard to land upon which one is best.  They all are, as varied in scent, intricacy, shape, color, size, and design as possible.  
Simple and trite as it is my lesson for the day is notice flowers, marvel at them, pick off the petals, and if they are sweet please smell them, make sure to give them to friends, and set some on your own table. Kids notice simple things as such.  We need beauty. And we need it within the walls of our home.  Notice flowers because there is a wide expanse of beauty bursting within the rhythm and pattern of petals.  Enjoy God, by recognizing and enjoying these every day wonders right at our fingertips.  Teach your kids to enjoy organic natural beauty. 
Sure seeing beautiful flowers doesn't fix the world and it may seem trivial but it can cause our minds momentarily to fixate on something outside of all of this mess we live in day in and day out. 
Sally Clarkson summarizes this, " The remnants of Eden reach out to me in the very stuff of the every day, slivered shards of ideal beauty glittering through the daily muck.  I see it in sunlight slanted on my table, the scent of coffee, the flight of song, a moment of utter quiet, and yes, sometimes in a glorious bank of roses. In those moments I am aware that beauty speaks.  That loveliness tells me something beyond the brokenness.  Every experience of joy I find is the promise of a coming and complete redemption. To cultivate beauty is to act in keeping with my faith in God's goodness rather than my doubt. It means to fight tooth and nail, day by day, to keep alive my faith in a love that transforms the ordinary and, in that transformation, offers a glimpse of a one-day, ultimate redemption" (The Life Giving Home, pg. 83). 
I agree with this.  No matter how ugly the world seems.  The ugliness of life, loss, pain, loneliness and yes even my own ugliness needs hope.  The hope of someone Beautiful.  And that is always Jesus the exceedingly Beautiful One.  I remind myself that this bleak day, chapter, or season isn't all there is to our existence to my identity. Sometimes in the simple act of potting an amaryllis at Christmas or picking irises with the girls to drink in their fragrance, getting in a car on a mission just to look at a field of flowers or stop and direct all of my attention and theirs for a moment to wild cascading lavender streaming down weed covered trees telling me it's Spring.  Finally.  Sometimes it's in the seeing of beauty in the form of a living brazenly beautiful flower I breath in hope just as I breath in the smell of honeysuckle.  And I try to keep it alive within me after the moment is gone.  This hope for Heaven beyond all of this.  Just as the intense oranges and reds of sunset sky fire call us to a beautiful Heaven beyond or known horizons, so do the intricate lavish design of the flowers.  Yes, they are symbolic every day extravagances.  
How about you? How do flowers minister to you? What is your favorite? Are you an avid gardener that can resurrect any dead plant or you just a spectator flower appreciator? 
Is there a flower that reminds you of your mom or your grandmother or of falling in love or of being a child running home with a fistful of tightly clutched buttercups bringing them home to your mom? 
Wild wisteria 

Flowers from my mom 
Flowers picked by the little hands in my house




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