Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

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Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hope for the Hard Times

     She wiped her tears with the back of her hand as she carefully buckled little 4-year old Heather into her car seat. There was at least enough gas in the tank to get to the park and back. After that...who knew?
    As she backed out of the driveway, she paused to look at their modest little home.  Nothing fancy; an FHA house in a development where all of the houses looked much the same. 3 bedroom, 1 bath, a kitchen and a living room. And a laundry room! How thrilled she'd been to finally have her own home...and with laundry room; it was such a luxury not to have to haul their dirty clothes out to the laundry mat. But now, only seven years after they'd moved in...the letter came saying that her little home was going up on the auction block for repossession. The young couple had never been great at managing their money, and then to make things worse, her husband lost his job. He took some low-paying part-time jobs to keep food on the table, but they were inundated with a flood of overdue bills and collection agency notices.
     It would be hard on the boys; having to leave all of their friends and school.  This was really the only home they'd known. She looked at the basketball hoop over the garage. Every day after school the boys and their neighborhood friends played basketball until she called them in for supper.
   And what of her beautiful flowers? How hard she'd skimped and saved to buy each and every little plant in her much-loved flowerbeds! Most of her plants were purchased after the season, when the blooms were faded and scraggly. But after a few years of loving care, they were finally blooming profusely. If they moved to an apartment...there'd be no flowers...no hoop for the boys to play basketball and no grassy yard for Heather to toddle about in.
      Perhaps, she thought, a walk in Hovander Park would provide some distraction from the heaviness she felt inside, and give little Heather some happy things to recall; especially if they were kicked out of their home. "Pretty soon parks may be the only place she'll have to play," she thought. Thinking about it brought a gully-washer of tears. "Lord, please, please help us," she cried. "I know we could've worked harder and saved up more money. I haven't been perfect but I have tried. Please don't let this happen to my family."
     "Mommy sad?" Heather was looking at her with great concern in the rearview mirror.
     "Yes honey, but we'll go to the park and play, then mommy will feel better."
     "Cows, mama...and chickens?"
     "Yes; cows and chickens and goats... a big red barn and a pretty house. Hovander Park is like a big farm! "
     "OOOOKAAAY!" the child shouted enthusiastically.
     "Lord," she continued silently in prayer, "Please, please help us. Please show me you are here. Give me some little sign that You care."
     They entered the long poplar-lined drive that led to the park and strolled across the lawn toward the elegant white Victorian style home and gardens.  Jewel-toned dahlias filled the gardens. It was all a-dazzle with vibrant reds, yellows, shocking pinks and salmon colors.
     "Horsey, I wanna see the horsey," whined Heather as they strolled along the garden's edge.
     "In a minute, honey, let's look at the flowers for just a minute."
     The place was so quiet- so peaceful, she just wanted to soak in the beauty and lose herself in the solitude for awhile before having to go back home and face the music. 
     Then, out from behind a bushy plant, stepped an old man with a hoe in his hand. He was white-moustached and wearing overalls, and his friendly eyes were crinkled at the corners, as though from smiling often.
      "Hello ladies!" he cheerfully greeted them.
      Little Heather hid shyly behind her mother's leg.  Gripping the child's hand in one of hers, the woman shook the man's hands with her free hand.
     "Do you like dahlias?"
     "Yes, they are beautiful."
     "Want some?"
     "I, I  really can't afford...."
     "No, they're free. I have some here that I've just cut. Too many for me and the wife."
     "Why sure...oh, yes, I'd love some!"
     For the first time since the repossession letter, she felt a smile reach across her face.
The old gent won a shy smile from the little girl too, as he handed her a bunch of zebra-striped pink flowers. He offered to bring some more out to the car. "I'll just go get a few more bouquets and meet you at your car."  To her great surprise, the man arrived in the parking lot with a wheel-barrow  chocked full of dahlias in brightly colored coffee tins. He filled the entire trunk, the back seat, and the front seat with flowers.
     "Oh my," she exclaimed, "I didn't think you meant this many flowers! There must be a hundred dahlias in here!"
     "I know ya didn't, maam. But you looked like you could use some cheering up."
     "Well thank you so much!"
   The old gent's eyes crinkled at the corner as he smiled. He gave a quick wave, then strode back into the gardens and picked up his hoe.
    She stood quietly next to her car; overwhelmed by the lavishness of his gift. In all her life, no one had ever given to her so extravagantly. Then she remembered her prayer, asking God for a sign that he cared. Deep inside she heard the answer, "This is how much I care for you." The tears flowed again; but these were tears of gratitude.
   Then she grabbed her child's hand and with a laugh said, "Now let's go see those horseys!"

   The woman didn't lose her home. A family member generously offered to help the family out.  Several years later, this same woman was divorced and once again found herself wrestling with debt- plus all of the added challenges that single motherhood brings. After a time, she met a nice fellow. He seemed very kind and he had a happy laugh that made his eyes crinkle at the corner. On their first date, they talked about flowers.
   The man asked, "Do you like dahlias?"
   "They're my favorite!" she replied, thinking of the day at Hovander Park, and of God's kindness. She was quite surprised that the young man knew anything about dalhias.
   "My grand-dad is the President of the local dahlia society. He plants dahlias everywhere...all over the county. From the time I was little, he made me help him grow dahlias. I've got hundreds of tubers in my basement right now. He's keeping them there for next spring's planting."
   Her eyes grew wide and her mouth dropped open in disbelief. Could it be? Was that elderly gentleman the grandfather that her date was speaking of? She look very closely at his face. Yes, those eyes were similar...
   "Does your grandfather have a white moustache."
   "Yes, he does."
   "Does he wear overalls in the garden?"

My dear friends...this story is true...it happened to me. I ended up marrying that fellow, the grandson of the President of the Dahlia Society! We've been together for 25 years and are on our way to happily ever after! God does care for you...and He's aware of your troubles. And though I don't know exactly why, sometimes when you are facing your greatest crisis, He will do something unexpected for you...something lavish. When I was in the park that day, my greatest prayer was for money. Instead He filled my house with dahlias! I think looking at those dahlias every day helped me have faith that He would meet my greater need. And He did. In ways I never could have dreamed.
I can't reach out and hand you a bouquet of dahlias, but I can give you my story of hope during the hard times...and these, well they are for you!


ellen b. said...

Reading with tears...beautiful.

jojo said...

I am weeping at the joy and sadness of your story. I love heppy endings and it seems you found yours...how very sweet the sound.

Linda O'Connell said...

This is perfect for Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and they'll pay you $200 if accepted.

Beautiful proof, isn't it?


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