He sent me flowers. And they are absolutely beautiful. They are pink orchids – one of my favorite colors on one of the most beautiful plants. They came with a vase already attached, rocks that my kids cannot reach in and eat, and water that will never spill. He sent me flowers that I cannot kill by overfeeding or underfeeding. He knew that life was about to send me lemons. Life was about to deal me some horrible blows of catastrophic proportions. He knew that life was about to hand deliver a no solution situation so weeks ago, I received an offer to review a beautiful flower arrangement of my choice. And He held up delivery because of some confusion in my choice that I made on my end, but He ensured I made my final decision so that the flowers would be sent, and I would receive them the morning after life handed me lemons…
My sister was supposed to sign over custody of her son who has lived with us for almost a year. Instead, she got angry and took him back to Texas with her. There was no time to prepare. No time for long good-by or hugs or kisses. No time to sort through his belongings, to prepare our hearts for our loss. In a time span of about 30 seconds, I lost my son to his mother because she changed her mind after not raising him for over two years. I had no time to get ready for the lemon life placed in front of me for dinner so God, in turn, sent me flowers…
As if to say, “I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry you didn’t see it coming, but I had to to do it. It had to happen. You’ve been praying for her, and you’ve been praying for him. And you’ve been praying for the family inside of your household. And I promised I would always answer your prayers.
“I know you feel like you can’t breathe – as though life has punched you in the chest. But rest assured, I am a Man of my word, and please know that I am sorry that you have to endure this, but I had no other options. If I had told you last October that this day was coming, you never would have taken him in, and I needed you to take him. I needed your obedience…”
“So here you go. Have some flowers. Remember I love you. Look at these flowers and know that I am a man of my word. Trust that behind every loss is an answered prayer, and for that I am sorry. But I promised you answers. And I do not break promises. So whenever you need a reminder, from now until forever, that I have got things under control, that I will make lemonade from your lemons…gaze upon these pink orchids…”
And I began to run down the list of answered prayers that once looked like lemons, that once destroyed my life, from which I thought I may never recover.
I remembered New Years Day at age 24, I walked away from who at the time I thought was the love of my life. I did not know that day that our relationship was damaged beyond repair, although I should have seen it coming. The day reality smacked both of us in the face, I thought I would not survive, and yet, I continued to wake up with a hole in my chest where my heart used to be, despite my pleas with God not to wake me. He woke me up anyway, sent in my mother to put together broken pieces and my father for a random visit so that I would still have a date on Valentine’s Day. As I quickly grew bored of dating for free dinners and dumping possible suitors before they could realize I was NEVER going to sleep with them, he sent my husband. Six months later. Enough time so that he was not the rebound guy…not enough time to be overly attached to any of the guys I was entertaining. In less than 6 months, he used the lemons of hurricane Katrina that my husband brought, and the lemons of a broken heart that I brought, and we have enjoyed lemonade ever since.
As I stare at the flowers, I can think of time after time of when God has transformed my losses into gains. I am outdone and overwhelmed.
But that does not bring Jimmie back. And some days I wake up okay. Others I wake up in tears.
“Brittany, just remember the flowers.”
We adjust to life after Jimmie. I watch as my daughter divides pieces of her bracelet between all of us, including the space Jimmie used to occupy, which now consists of “make-believe” Jimmie. I listen as my children cry out, “I want Jimmie,” and my husband laughs fondly remembering how Jimmie mispronounced words. We exchange warm memories and unspoken well wishes.
…But something else begins to happen. We begin to relax. We remember life before arguing boys, tables where all the chair fit, babysitters that do not require extra instructions. We settle into the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” We release quiet, bittersweet sighs of relief. And we embrace the life that is much simpler – almost reluctantly.
…And we thank God for flowers that symbolize answered prayers – for rescuing us from ordinary and ushering in extraordinary. We continue to pray for less bitter and more sweet knowing that God always uses our lemons to make lemonade.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Source)
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What are some ways that God reminds you of answered prayers? How has He used your lemons to make lemonade?
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