Trust Me, I Won’t Miss the Flowers This Time.

This is my third June in Birmingham and the first time I’ve noticed the flowers. To be honest, my first June was extremely lonely and overwhelming. Even writing  that sentence feels sad and heavy… and two years have gone by. June of 2015 stretched into July and then August. It was beautiful but it was brutal and although I was living, I wasn’t alive.

(Well, technically, I was alive. But I trust that you know what I mean.)

I’m not sure how much money you’d have to pay me to re-live that summer, quite honestly. But even today as I flip through blog posts written during those months, I’m amazed at all God was doing. Under the surface and behind-the-scenes, He taught me important lessons, constantly invited me to turn to Him as both friend and provider, and showed Himself faithful at every turn.

Two years later and I’m sitting here reading posts like When Life Doesn’t Look Like You Imagined and How to Handle Change and New Beginnings and This Is My Brave. And I can’t help but shake my head because even in the loneliness and overwhelming moments, He was there.

bright red flowers blooming

My second June in Birmingham was full of unknowns and question marks. Everything felt up in the air and completely uncertain. I was more at home yet still restless, drawn toward a small and ordinary life but feeling prompted toward action and movement.

That summer held deep grief, abundant joy, and approximately zero answers.

I felt much like a toddler just trying to get her bearings, learning how to put one foot in front of the other and get back up after falling. Posts like Practicing Happiness in the Midst of Grief, on gleaning (and why you’re ordinary life is so good), and #beautifulordinarynow came out of that season… and you know what? One full year later I could still write the words to each of them all over again. I’m still living the message and the heartbeat of each one. (I wrote an entire book about it, actually.)

And yet.

And yet a year has passed and even as the story continues, the page turns.

This past weekend, I walked a path I’ve walked since we moved in and I couldn’t help but notice the trees blooming red, pink, purple and bright white… and then I thought, “has this always happened?”

purple flowers against a white sky

I hate to say it, but it’s entirely possible that I missed the beauty of June — twice. I was present but too often more focused on surviving than on my surroundings, too weighed down to look up.

There are still lonely days and I could easily list out ten different question mark situations, but this year feels different — in a good way.

My word for 2017 is ‘planted.’

I didn’t realize that might mean exchanging near-sighted lenses for a far-sighted outlook that acknowledges today’s worries but focuses on tomorrow’s promises.

God's aim looks like missing the mark because we are too short-sighted to see what He is aiming at. - Oswald Chambers

Most likely, these trees bloom every June. All that money you’d have to pay me to re-live the summer of 2015? I’d bet it all that these flowers were here, blooming bright and beautiful in 2015.

I missed them then.

But I see them now.

The summers of 2015 and 2016 led to the summer of 2017. That’s how our story-lines go, of course. I’m re-learning what I learned before and it’s safe to assume He’ll teach me all over again in 2018.

But even as I continue to carry happiness and grief, as I welcome the ordinary and call it beautiful, and as I walk a road I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen… I can’t help but see one continuous thread of His faithfulness that has been with me every step of the way, on every page of the story.

And so I echo the prayer of Thomas Merton and I re-read the words I published and I rest in the promises as I stop to notice the flowers.

Thomas Merton prayer

“Even when we don’t have all the answers we so long for, we don’t actually need to know the future. We just need to trust the One who authors it into being.” – Even If Not: Living, Loving and Learning in the in Between

pink flowers blooming

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