I don't want to be all deep and heavy on a Friday. For one thing, I know Adam won't read this if I am and for another thing, it's the Fourth of July...but there is something on my mind that I just can't shake.
Last year, right about this time, our plants and flowers at our old house began to look mighty pretty. We'd only lived in that house for a little over two years and the landscaping hadn't had a chance to mature prior to last summer. Finally, we saw the beauty of the work we'd done, digging, planting, watering.
And by then, I knew we were moving and in my heart, I asked God a question... "How can we leave everything we've worked so hard to build?" Those roses were ours. We picked them out. We loved them. They were beautiful. And we were just going to leave? (The literal roses, but also a metaphor for everything good in our Illinois lives.)
And I heard God say, "I have something better for you."
Many times over the last 11 months, I've clung to those words. Sometimes I've even raised an angry fist toward heaven "Where's the something better, God?" "Is this mess the something better?"
(Yes, I am exceedingly grateful for his grace.)
It's been an incredibly stressful 11 months, and none more stressful than June. It's seemed like everything that could possibly gone wrong has gone wrong. One thing on top of another, piled up like tires in a junk yard.
On the surface, there's nothing better about it.
I've wallowed a bit over this fact, over everything that's gone wrong. The appliances that don't work. Having to spend extra money on a washer and dryer because it costs so much to convert this house to gas to fit the eleven year old one we have. The home warranty doesn't cover the new appliances. We've had to call and re-call Dish Network for three different issues. Our internet only worked when it felt like it. And that's all just for starters...
I know it's nit picky little stuff, but it adds up and equals stress.
This morning our vacuum stopped working.
And I just laughed.
But a few days ago, I was out in the backyard and I discovered something I didn't know were there. Peonies.
My earliest memory of peonies are the several that lined the garage in the house I grew up in. I remember their vivid pink and the fragrance that filled the entire yard. And the ants. They were always crawling with ants. The older I've gotten, the more I've grown to realize that these flowers are among my favorites. They are so beautiful and full and smell so good.
And right there as I marveled at the fact that I now had peonies, I heard God's voice as clear as day.
See, to the rest of the world, our rose bushes maybe seemed more precious. Roses are, after all, some of the most "revered" flowers. Peonies, on the other hand, seem somewhat understated to me. Unassuming. Suprising. And God knew that if he was to give me something better, it wouldn't be another rose bush.
No, he speaks my language.
He gently reminded me of the answered prayers. The new friends I've made...friends I prayed for on the drive out here. I didn't want to keep everyone at an arm's length, and he made good. As leery as I've been about new relationships, he's given me friends he knows I need. Friends that build me up and encourage me and understand me. Right here in my own backyard.
Our house is just what I've been praying for. Our kids are happy. My husband is happy. At our core, we are better.
I don't know why things have been piling up on us lately, but I know that I'm thankful he prepared us for everything ahead of time. It's not what I expected, but it didn't surprise Him. He's known all along.
The thing is. God knows exactly what we need. Just when we need it.
Sometimes we need roses.
But sometimes, though it may not make the most sense, we need peonies.