Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Beauty of Pulling the Weeds in Your Life

Hi Friends,

It's that time of year again ... weeding pulling time! As I've been working on weeds, I was thinking about this story from a few years ago. Sometimes the holes left by pulled weeds are a blessing . . .


Pulling Weeds

 

            Spring came quickly this year to our ranch. It came with the budding of wildflowers, scattered puddles like muddy mirrors reflecting the sky, and weeds. Lots and lots and lots of weeds. Tall weeds, short weeds, thick weeds, prickly weeds, weeds that pretended to be flowers but weren’t. Weeds.

            One sunny Saturday, I gathered my children and pointed to the once-well-landscaped strip of earth in front of my husband’s office. “Today is the day! We’re going to make that area nice again.”

            The kids at me. I looked at them. They frowned. I scowled. They grumbled. I jabbed my finger more emphatically toward the weeds. “We are going to do this. No complaints!”

            I ignored the deep sighs and half-hidden eye-rolls, and marched toward the office. A moment later, Jayna grabbed the yard waste bin, Joelle found some gloves, and the rest of them trudged up the hill to the weed-infested area. 

            Bria glanced up at me. “Are all those thorny things weeds?”

            I took a deep breath. “Yep.”

            “And those too?” She waved her hand at some dandelions.

            “Yep.”

            “And that stuff? That’s a lot of work.” She motioned toward some grass-weeds that towered high above the others.

            I nodded. “All weeds. And it’s all gotta go.”

            Little Jordyn pulled at the corner of my shirt. “But those ones are taller than me.”

            “You take the shorter ones.”

            She looked doubtful, but she strode forward anyway, grabbed a thin stalk of dandelion, and yanked. It came up, roots and all, leaving a hole in the ground where it had been.

            I smiled. “That’s the spirit! Come on group!” 

            We spent the next hour pulling weeds and tossing them into the yard waste bin. Leaves flew. Dirt splattered. And soon the area was half-cleared. 

            Jayna paused and put her hands on her hips. “I thought you said we were going to make it nice? Look at all these holes! It’s ugly.”

            I threw a fat thistle-weed into the bin and straightened, evaluating the work we’d done. Jayna was right. Pulling the weeds had created holes all across the strip of land that I had promised would be “nice.” It wasn’t nice. It was upturned earth, unattractive divots, bumps, lumps, and nothing pretty. Maybe I’d been wrong. Maybe weeds were better than this.

            Before I could answer, Bryan stepped out of his office. 

            I wiped my forehead. “I’m not sure if it looks better...Sorry.”

            He smiled “Of course it’s better! It looks great.”

            “But look at the holes.”

            Bryan came down the stairs and surveyed the cleared dirt. “Looks perfect to me. Now I can plant beautiful flowers there like there’s supposed to be. I’m going to put catmint over here.” He pointed to the left.

            “Catmint?”

            “That’s the one with purple flowers. And salvia. And then I can plant a yellow bush daisy over there, and some goldfinger cinquefoil in front and maybe a few Johnny Jump-ups.”

            “Johnny Jump-ups?” Bria laughed. “That sounds like fun!”

            “They are fun. And pretty. But I can only plant them because you’re clearing out all the weeds.”

            Jayna grinned. “I guess ugly holes aren’t so bad after all.”

            The kids went back to work with renewed vigor. Out came the weeds, leaving the ugliest of holes, but they didn’t care anymore. They knew their daddy was going to put something beautiful there. Holes didn’t matter, only the promise of beauty to come.

            As I watched them I realized that maybe the holes made from pulling up weeds in my life weren’t so bad either. Perhaps I needed to be as eager to pull up the weedy-things that had grown up in me, knowing that my heavenly Father also waited to plant something beautiful in the holes left behind.

            2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

            Purify ourselves. In other words, pull out those weeds! The tall ones that dominate our landscapes, the prickly ones that hurt when we touch them, the deep-rooted ones that will make large, ugly holes. All must go. 

            It’s spring. It’s time to put on some gloves, and with a new sense of determination, rid our lives of the weeds so God can plant his amazing beauty in the most ugly and over-grown places of our lives.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Why I Take Pictures of Flowers

Hi Friends,

In case you're wondering why I'm always taking those flower pictures wherever I go, well, here's the answer:


Flowers, Flowers Everywhere!


There is a common beauty found all over the world. A splash of color, a hint of sweet scent. Familiar, and foreign. Like home and a half a world away.

I discovered this beauty on a narrow street in a small country town in the hills of France. My older daughters and I had travelled to France with their school group, and now we walked cobbled streets surrounded by stone buildings older than anything we could find in the United States.

Halfway down a street, across from a cathedral, I saw it. Simple, really. A short pot filled with bright red tulips. 

I stopped, grabbed my phone, and took a picture.

My eldest daughter paused in front of me and frowned. “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking a picture of these flowers to send to Jayden.”

She huffed. “That’s dumb. Take a picture of the cathedral instead.”

I shrugged. It may have been dumb, but I did it anyway. My son, Jayden, seven at the time, loved flowers. When he was little he called them “fowlers” and would always gather me a bunch when the wildflowers bloomed on our property in the spring. When we went to parks, he stopped to appreciate all the pretty petals. When we went to the store, he would want to pick the flowers in the pots outside. Of course I didn’t let him, but he could smell them and touch them and fill his soul with their beauty, 

So it only made sense now to text him pictures of France’s flowers so he would know I was thinking about him. 

I took another picture of the tulips. Then I snapped pictures of the bright yellow daffodils at the park a little ways down the street. I took pictures of tiny purple wildflowers across from the statue of Denis Diderot in Langres, climbing lavender wisteria at the Ch√Ęteau de Chenonceau, cherry blossoms in Paris, and tiny little white flowers that looked like daisies on the walk to Napoleon’s tomb. 

I took pictures of flowers everywhere. Yellows, oranges, purples, pinks, and blues. As lovely as the paintings in the Louvre. After all, they were flowers in France!

Then I came home. But I kept seeing flowers, splashes of beauty in the most mundane places. In a pot outside the supermarket. Poking up in a crack in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Alongside the sidewalk, growing wild, on the way to my favorite restaurant. At home, among the weeds, yellow flowers. 

            So I’ve continued to take pictures. My daughters laugh at me still. They think it’s silly. Maybe it is. 

But the flowers remind me of God’s grace. They remind me of his wonder. They pop up in the places I least expect. They give beauty in the places that seem too mundane to notice.

I want to notice. I want to be intentional, intentional enough to take a picture, to remember, not just the flowers but the ways in which God reveals his beauty, his glory, his wonder in all the unexpected and ordinary places in my life. I want to see him as I rush into the grocery store, as I walk to my favorite restaurant, as I hurry through the apartment complex parking lot to set up a party for the low-income kids there. I even want to see him, glory in him, at home when life seems full of the weeds of weariness, discouragement, and everyday hurry. I want to see him there most of all.

Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV) says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ALL your heart. All my heart and with everything I am. Not just when I’m having an amazing vacation halfway across the world, but when I’m home and tired and just don’t want to bother. To seek him then. To see him.

I love the flowers of France. And lately, I’ve come to love the flowers in my local Prunetree shopping center too. There is common beauty found all over the world, waiting to be discovered in the most overlooked places of life. There is a beauty that points to the breath-taking wonder of a God who will be found by us if only we pause to seek him, to see, and to breath deeply of his grace in the most unimpressive places of our lives.

So I think I will keep taking pictures of flowers in everyday places … no matter how often my daughters sigh and shake their heads. Because in doing so, I might just see God.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

When All You See is Muck

 Hi Friends,

I've been pondering this story lately. For anyone who is stuck in muck and nothing seems right ... here's hope!



What's in the Muck?


It looked like mud. It smelled like mud.  It sloshed like mud.  But my 12-year-old daughter, Bethany, insisted it was just a vial of pond water she was supposed to study for her science class.

She set the vial on the kitchen counter.  “This is going to be awesome.”  

I scowled.  “Awesome? You’re studying mud.”

“Teacher says we’ll  be surprised at what we see.”

“I see mud.”

She laughed, then jogged upstairs for the cheap microscope we’d bought her for Christmas.  Her voice floated back down to me.  “Just wait, Mom.  You’ll love pond scum.”

I shook my head.  “We’ll see about that.  Now hurry up.”

A moment later, she trotted back down the steps, set up the microscope, and carefully placed a drop of dirty pond water between two slides.  She slid the sample in place and bent over the eye piece.  Her hand fiddled to adjust the focus.

I waited.  Surely there was nothing good to see in a bunch of mucky water.

“Oooo, I knew it.”  Bethany leaned closer to the eye piece.  Then, her head shot up.  A huge grin spread over her face.  “Ha!  Told you so.  Look at that!”  She stepped back and jabbed her finger toward the microscope.

“I still see mud.”

“You won’t when you look through the lens.”

I moved toward the microscope then peered into the eye piece.  I caught my breath.  Bethany was right.  I didn’t see mud anymore.  Instead, I saw life.  The water teemed with amoeba, paramecium, and tiny specks of who-knew-what.  The creatures waltzed through the water in a silent dance that was, indeed, awesome.  Tiny legs swooshed.  Tiny bodies floated with exquisite grace.  As the creatures continued to glide and spin, I glanced up at Bethany.  “I had no idea there was so much life in a little bit of muddy water.”

Her voice softened.  “You wouldn’t see that in clear water.”

“I guess not.”  But I’d wanted clear water - water that was sparkling, pretty ... and lifeless.  It was in the murk, in the mud, in the guck, that real life was found.  

Bethany again moved toward the microscope and bent to look through the lens.  As I watched her, I remembered all the years of infertility I’d endured before she was born.  Month upon month, turning to year upon year, of soaring hope followed by crushing disappointment.  Over a decade filled with painful procedures, failed tests, miscarriage, and a thousand questions about God’s love and faithfulness.  Back then, life was a lot like that drop of pond water.  Nothing was clear.  Nothing made sense.  I didn’t know how I’d see my way through.

But in that moment, as I looked more closely at those 11 years, I could see life.  I could see how God was at work, breaking me of the need to measure His love by my happiness, using every bit of muck and mud to form me into the person He wanted me to be.  Despite all the murkiness, those years teemed with life and growth, even when I couldn’t see it.  Even when all I could see was the mud.

Faith, then, is like a microscope.  Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Faith allows us to look into the muddy, murky, stinky, yucky places of life and see God at work.  Through faith, what may seem like pond scum can become a thing of beauty.

In the 13 years since Bethany’s birth, I’ve found that life has a lot of murky moments.  Things rarely go as expected.  Plans go awry.  God’s workings are often unclear, difficult to see, and hard to understand.  But when I look at life through the microscope of faith, through the lens of hope -- when I focus in on God and his truth, then I truly see.  God is moving.  There is life in the murkiness, and there is purpose even in the muck.

And while I still prefer my water clear, I’m learning, little by little, to appreciate the pond scum. I’m learning to focus in through the muck, see the waltz of God’s workings, and whisper, “Oooo, I had no idea there was so much life in a little bit of muddy water.”


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

When You Need a Wildflower Crown

Hi Friends,

I'm reminding myself of this story this week as I seek to rejoice in God's love...

WILDFLOWER CROWNS

 



            They came in giggling.  All six of them with dirt smudges on their noses, grass stains on their knees.  Laughing and dancing and flopping on the floor in a bundle of bubbling sibling delight.

            “Don’t make a mess!”  I gripped the dishtowel in one hand and peered out the kitchen.  “No dirty shoes on the rug!”

            “Don’t worry,” Joelle called.  “We won’t.”

            “Did you clean up the basement for community group?”  I went back to drying the dishes.

            No one answered.

            “We’ve got a lot to do.”  

            Only another burst of giggles answered me.

            I put my fists on my hips and stomped around the corner.  “Hey, you --”  The words caught.

            My three-year-old skipped toward me, one  hand on her head.  “Look, Mommy, look what I’ve got.  I’m wondrous beauty!”  She pulled a crown of wildflowers from her hair.  “See?”

            I did see.  I saw them all, with flowers adorning every head, with crowns woven of daisies and dandelions and little purple wildflowers. They were beautiful.  Wondrous.

            “Jayden made me a crown.  Purple, your favorite color.”

            I bent over and squeezed her tight.  “You are a beautiful princess.”  I stood up.  “All of you.”

            “Not me!”  Jayden took the crown from his head and tossed it in the air.  “Boys aren’t princesses.”

            His sisters laughed.  “You make the best crowns, though.”

            He made a face and brushed sand from his hair and onto the rug.

            Bethany, the eldest, stood.  “Come on, let’s go make some more.  Let’s make one for Dad!”

            They jumped to their feet and raced out the door.  

            I shook my head and dried my hands on the towel as the door slammed shut and they scurried out onto the lawn.  I paused by the window, watching.  Legs scampered across the grass, hair glistened in the sun, small bodies flung themselves toward the patch of flowers growing near the driveway.  Sunshine and color and beauty and hope, adorned with wildflowers.

            A moment later, they were sitting in a tight circle.  Fingers flashed as they wove stems into head-sized circlets. Joelle placed a crown on Jayna, Bethany put one on Bria, while the littlest one worked hard to weave one that I knew would be for big brother, who would wear it even though he was NOT a princess.

            With crowns complete, they stood and began singing at the top of their lungs.  They danced in circles.  They ran; they leapt; they rolled on the grass.  And I was reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV), “The Lord your God is with you... He will take great delight in you; in his love he will...rejoice over you with singing.”  

            This is what rejoicing looked like.  This wildness, and joy, and dancing, and running, and tumbling.  And singing that was more like a shout than a song.  This was the kind of joy God offered me in Zephaniah 3:17.  

            He offered me a crown of wildflowers.

            I looked down at the dishtowel, still in my hands.  There was work to be done, dusting and laundry and dishes and food preparation for our group.  I had a to-do list a mile long.  How would I get it all done?

            Then, came a whisper in my soul: “Do not worry about tomorrow... (Mt. 6:34) ... I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these ... (Mt. 6:29)”

            Not even Solomon was dressed like one of these children, with their dirt-smudged noses, their grass-mussed knees, their flower-crowned heads.  God had adorned them with beauty, not because of their work but because of his love. They were princesses (well, except for Jayden), with crowns to match.  They were daughters of the King.

            And so was I.

            I dropped the dishtowel and called out the window.  “Hey, who’s going to make a crown for Mom?”

            Then, I danced toward the door.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Do You Have Poison Oak in Your Life?

Hi Friends,

The poison oak is starting to flourish here on our property and sure enough I caught it the other day. Ugh! Nasty rash on my neck, face, shoulder, and hands. And while I was trying not to scratch, I was reminded of the story below and how it's perhaps time to get rid of the poison oak not on the property paths but also in life.

Maybe God is saying the same to you?


The Choked Oak

 

It was tall.  It was green.  It was bushy.  But something wasn’t right.  

I crossed my arms and looked up at the fat, green oak tree.  Beside me, my husband sighed.  I shook my head.  “I don’t want to do it.  Do you want to do it?”

“I don’t want to do it.”

I stepped back.  “Someone’s got to do it.”

“It’s an ugly job.”

“That thing will be right outside the window once we build the cabin.  We can’t have it looking like that.”

“I know.  But still . . . ”  Bryan crossed his arms over his chest.

I put my hand on my hips.

            For a moment, we both stared at the oak and didn’t say a word.  Shiny green and red leaves poked from all parts of the tree.  But they weren’t oak leaves.  Thick vines twisted around the trunk and branches.  Those didn’t belong to the oak either. 

            I shivered.

            The green wasn’t the green of a healthy oak.  Instead it was a sign of poison.  A huge batch of poison oak had grown up into the tree and twined around every branch.  The tree was thick with it.  Lush and green, but with nasty poison.

            Bryan tugged on his sleeves.  “Okay, I’ll do it then.  But get the bleach ready for the laundry.”

            Four hours later, the laundry was in, Bryan was taking a cool shower, and the tree was clear.  I tromped up the hill and looked at it.  It wasn’t lush anymore.  And it wasn’t green.  Scraggly branches with a few sad leaves spread from the trunk and reached toward the sky.  

            “Ugh, it looks awful,” I murmured.  

            As I looked at the now-bare soil beneath it, I noticed there were no acorns scattered on the ground, and no little baby oaks growing around it. 

            Then it struck me.  That big, strong oak was stifled by that little vine.  The oak was bigger, taller, thicker, and more established.  And yet, that small, thin, poisonous weed had nearly choked the life from it.  

            As I stood and gazed at the tree, I was reminded of Jesus’ parable from Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.  In that story, seed fell on four different types of soil.  In the third, the seed sprouted among thorns and the life was choked out the plants, just as the poison oak had choked the oak tree.  Jesus likened the thorns to the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and desires for other things.

            If something as small as poison oak could choke the life from a big, strong oak, how much more vulnerable was I to worry and wrong desires?  After all, there are so many things in life to worry about – finances, schooling, job concerns, health, family crises.  It’s easy to allow those to twine around my mind and shove poisonous leaves through my branches until there are acorns of God’s word dropping into my daily life.  No little oaks springing up around me.  I had to ask if I was I producing any kind of crop in God’s Kingdom.  Was it growing stronger through me, or was I just barely getting by?  

            As I asked those questions, I realized that I had some poison oak in my life – worries that kept me from focusing on God, goals I was pursuing that were good but weren’t God’s plan, things that were distracting me from fully living the life God had for me.  And just like we did for the oak tree, I had to cut off the poison oak at its base and peel away all the vines from the branches of my life. 

Over the past few years, we’ve kept the poison oak away from that oak tree, and now the tree is full, healthy, and green with leaves all its own.  In time, it recovered from the stranglehold of the poison oak.  It became the beautiful tree God meant it to be.

And I know that if I, too, keep the thorns away, I can be full of the greenness of true life.  I can be all God intends me to be.  I can be a tall, strong oak in the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Packing a Load of Worry??

Hi Friends,

    Lots of things I was dreading this week  (including a diagnostic mammo when the last two mammos caused a lot of damage, and a tense meeting with a teacher, among other things. But both are behind me now and as it turns out, God was so gracious for all the things I was dreading. He helped me stay calm and thoughtful before and throughout, then graced me with positive results as well.

As I was pondering the week and the icky feeling I had leading up to the week, and to the various not-looking-forward-to-that appointments, I came across this article I wrote eons ago. The story spoke to me again, so I thought I'd share it with you. This past year has been, for almost everyone I know, a time when the pull towards worry has been and continues to be particularly strong.

Praying for freedom from the heavy load of worry and fear for you, and for me too!

 Packing a Load of Worry 

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 

1 Peter 5:7 NIV 

 

"Ow!  Ooooo!  Ugh!  Ack!," I cried as my thirty pound backpack settled with ponderous severity on my tired hips and back.  I tightened the strap around my waist, feeling the nylon dig into my sides and shoulders, pressing unmercifully into the deep purple bruises that had formed during yesterday's hike.  How much more wonderful it would be to be able to backpack without having to carry anything!  If only it could be so!  If only someone else would carry the burden and allow me to bound along through the forest unhindered.  I sighed and looked down at my dusty feet, wondering if I would be able to move them at all with that heavy load on my back. 

But, move them I did, trudging forth along the trail as playful wisps of dust rose up to tantalize my nostrils and settle quickly on my face and hair.  I sneezed and adjusted the pack as I made my way up the gentle, yet torturous, climb to my day's destination.  Thud, thud, thud, went my feet along the path, echoing with the weight of my body plus the backpack.   

After a few more hours, though, I no longer noticed the weight of the pack.  My feet still plodded heavily in the dust, but I had gotten used to the additional burden.  The thirty pounds weighing down my shoulders seemed almost natural.  I practically forgot about it all together.  I no longer remembered that it was the source of my weariness, even as my breath came in ragged gasps to my ears.  I had come to accept the burden, hardly being able to imagine hiking without it.  I ceased to wonder at the fact that simple walking had become such a chore, that even a flat path was a trial.  I forgot that there was ever such a thing as traveling without a burden on my back. 

Living our lives with worries and fears is a lot like hiking with a heavy backpack.  When worry first comes upon us, we groan and cry out and wonder how we will ever get through the day with such a heavy burden weighing down upon us.  But soon, as worry becomes natural, we accept it as normal.  We put our worries on every morning like a great, heavy pack, and carry them through the day as if that was the only way we had ever known to live.  Soon, we forget what it's like to walk through life without our fears strapped tightly to our backs.  Then we wonder why we are so weary, so tired of the endless trudging from one day to the next! 

Happily for us, there is Someone who has offered to carry the load for us, Someone whose hand is extended even now to take the burden of worry and fear and carry it Himself.  Peter tells us to "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" ( 1 Peter 5:7 NIV ).  Jesus will carry the backpack for us, so that we can enjoy and relish the hike of life!  All we have to do is hand over the burden to Him, allow Him to unstrap the worry from our backs and free us. 

Just like backpacking, life is much more fun without thirty pounds of fear strapped on our backs.  We can tread lighter, easier, freer, and, most importantly, travel much further toward our destination of Faith and Holiness!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Ice Plant and Enduring through all Seasons

Hi Friends,

Today, I'm feeling weary. Covid stuff drags on and on. Problems I think I've solved don't get solved and need to be revisited again and again and again. Doctor appointments need to be made, people need to be called or emailed, forms need to be filled out, the kitchen needs to be cleaned AGAIN, taxes need to be done, kids need help with stuff, repairs are waiting to be done, and redone, animals need their daily care. So, I need to head out to the mailbox, and the barn (I will avoid the kitchen for now). On the way, I'll see green grass which will die out in a couple months. I'll see some wildflowers which will die out sooner. And I'll ice plant. Lots of ice plant. Ice plant doesn't die out. It NEVER dies out.

Today, I need the lesson of the ice plant . . .

 

The Beauty of Ice Plant



            I hate ice plant. At least, I used to. 

            It grows wild all over my 16-acre ranch. It grows in the pasture. It grows in the lawn, it grows in the dog area. It grows in the landscaping alongside my husband’s office. It even grows in the dirt circle in the middle of my driveway where even the weeds die. And then it grows over the pavement itself. 

            Last fall, I decided I had had enough. Armed with giant metal rakes, thick gloves, fat clippers, sharp hoes, and fierce determination, I tackled the most prevalent patches. I ripped, I tore, I pulled, until every bit was demolished from my driveway. 

            Or at least I thought so. 

            The driveway remained ice-plant-free over the winter. But then, as the spring came I began to see the start of new plants breaking through the soil. By the beginning of summer, the ice plant was back in all its glory. Its flowers bloomed purple and yellow all over my property again, not just in the areas where I had pulled it out, but also in new areas where new patches had sprung up.

            As summer draws on, there is no longer anywhere I can walk on my property where the flowers of the ice plant aren’t visible. 

            And I have to admit (quietly, mind you, and never out loud), that ice plant can be, well, rather beautiful. There’s just something about it that has started to stir my soul. Perhaps it’s because of all the flowers that bloom, ice plant may just be the one that God most wants me to emulate. 

            James 1:4, 11-12, (NIV) reads, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. … For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed… [But] Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

            To not wither in the heat of life … that is blessedness. To be not easily uprooted, not easily beaten, not easily discouraged … that is blessedness. To be determined to grow, to flourish, no matter what the circumstances … that is blessedness indeed.

            God, by his grace, can make me an ice plant. He can give me the endurance, the grit, to bloom where there is little water, where the dirt seems dry. And he can give me the grace to grow back strong and healthy when circumstances, or when others, do their best to pull me up and cause me to wilt. 

            So, what does it take to grasp that grace, to thrive and bloom, to grow back fuller, stronger, more vibrant after significant setbacks?

            Maybe we should look more closely at the ice plant. It stores water in its leaves so it doesn’t need much sustenance from around it. We store God’s truth in our hearts so we may draw on it during dry and difficult times. The ice plant is resistant to salty environments. We, too, can be resistant to the saltiness and spite of others. When there’s too much rain, ice plant disengages pieces that are beginning to rot so that they don’t damage the whole. We too should look to cut out the rotting places of our lives so that what is healthy can flourish. Ice plant can be easily propagated. We too can cast the love and goodness of Christ far and wide that it may grow and spread.

            I think of hot house roses that die without the proper care. I think of the beautiful lilies that my family got me for Mother’s Day, that quickly withered and turned brown. I think of the African violets that I love but can never keep alive. They’re beautiful, for a time. 

            But I don’t want to be a rose, a lily, a violet. I want to be an ice plant. I want to bloom even in the fiercest opposition. I want to fill the land with beauty even when I’m not liked, even when I’m not appreciated. 

            I want to bloom anyway. 

            Because God loves me. And he has made me to endure.