A favorite devotional for me is L. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert. Today’s entry referenced flowers growing in hard places, and I thought it was an apt phrase for my experiences this past year. The soil of life has been spare and minimal, squeezed in between rocky, hard places. But even so, looking back, I can see flowers, bright spots, in the midst of difficulty.
One example of this is how my relationships with my wife and children have developed and grown during the enforced stay-at-home work during this pandemic. I think we are in a better place than a year ago, although I know a lot of hard work remains. A symbol of this was when one of my children decided to install the Christmas tree earlier than ever before. About a year ago, that child was in hospital during Christmas and we could not celebrate it together on that day. This year, we have a beautifully decorated Christmas tree that was put up with Christmas music playing in the background. It meant a lot to all of us to realize anew how much we have to be thankful for.
Relationships with my own side of the family have likewise grown and changed for the better. I would go so far as to say that we are closer to one another, and have shared more of our lives, than at any previous point. Rough spots remain, but I take this situation as another flower growing in hard places. As previously mentioned, this relationship growth has occurred almost entirely through the use of weekly Zoom meetings, which is remarkable.
This year, we are staying at home for Thanksgiving. Rather than let that get us down, we are rethinking the whole thing in positive ways. For example, no turkey for the Thanksgiving meal. Instead, we will have roast leg of lamb (personally, my favorite, but everyone else is enthusiastic about it as well). We will have a lot more Christmas decorations up by the time that day arrives than we’ve ever had before, inside and outside. I’m sure we will have some Zoom calls during the day to check in with family and friends as well.
Some other flowers that have grown and bloomed in hard places:
- We bought paint in a nice blue color to paint the front door, the side door to the garage, and surrounding trim. This will be the first time we’ve ever painted them. We need to get the job done soon, though, because the weather will only get colder. When finished, it will be a huge improvement.
- For the first time ever, soon, all of the leaves in our yard will be raked up and burned. In addition, all of the gutters and the roof are fully cleaned for winter — another first.
- Our front deck has been thoroughly cleaned and repaired.
- We have tiles and other repair ideas ready to go for revamping our entryway.
- We were able to afford to have our youngest dog spayed, which will help her calm down quite a bit and hopefully cause less daily chaos.
- I’ve applied for a new job and feel at peace about whatever happens.
There are many hard places, still, and I suspect there always will be. But it is heartening to look back and see that God is moving and guiding me to learn and grow in new ways. I am thankful.