Saturday, March 15, 2008

Expecting Blooms

While rummaging through old photographs recently, I came across these images Mary Ashley and I took of our hydrangeas last spring. I fell in love with hydrangeas when Joe and I were dating and he took me home to Georgia to visit his parents. His mother's hydrangeas bloom in profusion at their lakeside home. Well established and cared for, Betty's hydrangeas are so breathtakingly beautiful that they took first and second place in the state flower show. Blossoms in the loveliest shades of pink, purple and blue hang heavy on the bushes lining their walkway to the dock. The living was easy as Joe and I sipped sweet tea on the porch during our courtship, cooled by gentle breezes wafting in from the lake. Watching the hydrangeas sway in the wind, I couldn't imagine a more perfect spring day.

So when Joe and I moved to Alabama several years ago, I knew that hydrangeas were a must for a gracious Southern home. With my mother-in-law's guidance we planted hydrangeas, and Joe has faithfully watered and fertilized our tender plants. We were so excited when we discovered our first blooms, we debated the merits of cutting them to arrange inside or leaving them to enjoy outside.

Each year we find a few more blossoms on our hydrangeas, and I had already been looking forward to their blooming this spring. That is, until Joe went outside one day this week and discovered 6-year-old Christian attacking our hydrangeas with a golf club. I asked Christian why he beat my beloved hydrangeas, and he looked confused. He apologized, but then muttered, "But they were just sticks, anyway."

He was right. Those hydrangeas were nothing to look at in winter. They looked like a lifeless, gangly pile of sticks. And for a little boy looking for something to swing a stick at, they looked like a perfect target.

This week I have been mourning the blossoms I was expecting this spring, but my beaten-down hydrangeas have me thinking about the more important garden I'm tending in this season of motherhood. It is my job to nurture and fertilize the tender plants God has placed in my garden. Even as their mother, I cannot fully anticipate the growth the Master Gardener has in store for my four. Especially when their actions frustrate or disappoint me, anger tempts me to lash out. Harsh words and cutting looks could beat them down like sticks, but the Gardener encourages me to look toward the blooms and lovingly prune instead. Tending this garden is not always easy, but I know that He will reward my efforts.

One spring day my little Christian will come home a strong young man, with a girl he hopes to marry. When he does I hope to gather all four children together to sip sweet tea in the garden. As we admire the hydrangeas that have grown so big since their youth, we'll talk about their lives and where the Lord is leading them. As a gentle breeze sways blossoms in the loveliest shades of pink, purple and blue, my gaze will turn back to Joe. Our eyes will meet, and we will know that this is really the perfect spring day. And my heart will smile as I survey my life's garden, knowing the greatest blessing of all is seeing my children bloom.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it."

(Proverbs 22:6 NASB)

48 comments:

Nancy Hood said...

food for the soul, dear friend I have yet to meet~

Kristi said...

What a wonderful post - and I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE hydranges (did I spell that right?). They (and red geraniums) are my favorite flowers. Maybe you can give me some pointers so that Scott and I can sip some sweet tea while admiring them (assuming the children are asleep, that is!)

Leah said...

Lovely post! I am in tears thinking of the years to come! I too love those beautiful blooms!

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

I love hydrangeas, but have not been brave enough to attempt to grow any. I hope yours recover in time to give you blooms this year!

Great thoughts on motherhood - thanks for your encouragement!

Dawn said...

Melissa,

This is Dawn from Warner Robins, GA. Our Ladies' Day is April 12. The theme is "Do What You Can" and the "Seasons of our Lives." Beverly Watkins is the speaker. This will be at Warner Robins Church of Christ.

Thank you!

My blog address is http://lmsintraining-dawnpace.spaces.live.com

Dawn Pace

margie said...

When you get to be 60 you will know even better how true your thoughts in this post really are. We have our children for such a short time. It is so rewarding to see them grow up remaining faithful to God and, in turn, nurturing their own children to bloom in their love for God. Thanks for the beautiful thoughts.

Heather said...

Lovely flowers and an even lovelier sentiment. Congrats on your SITS day - I'll be back to read around more of your blog once I get my kiddo up and off to kindergarten!

Cheers!

Jodi said...

Love the flowers!! Have a wonderful day!

Rhea said...

Lovely flowers and message. I hope to be a master, award-winning garden of my young blooms someday. (I have two boys). Wonderful post.

Mandy said...

Those are my favorite flowers. I hope to have them planted in my front yard when we are done with our renovations. Beautiful story, too!

Melissa said...

Wow, three posts and already I love your blog!! I love hydrangeas also. You probably know this but ~ you can cut them to display in your home, and they will grow roots ~ and you can then plant them to make MORE hydrangeas!
Melissa

Elizabeth said...

What a great story, something you can tell your son's children about! I just put hydrangeas in this year and I'm excited to see them grow!

Creative Junkie said...

they are one of my favorite flowers ... we have several of them in our back yard and I love it when they bloom.

CanCan said...

I'm from Alabama, too, and my mom has these plants. She saw a bunch of them in someone's yard the day before my wedding, and stopped to ask that person for some! The stranger agreed!
Maybe you can bless others with your hydrangeas one day, not only your family! :)

Vicki said...

Sniff, sniff...that was so sweet! And I did feel the poke of conviction. I need to be more concerned about nurturing and fertilizing, and less about the silly little things.

I live in Alabama now and absolutely love it. I'm excited to be able to explore the area more! Unfortunately I can't plant a garden. We're renting, and we're only going to be here for a year. Otherwise, hydrangeas would be on my list.

Shanda said...

Our beautiful hydrangea bush blooms the same very same color. The flowers are beautiful, but the analogy is even more captivating and convicting.

Tracy P. said...

I did a series last year on Lessons from my Garden, and this post would fit perfectly. Especially fun to read since my firstborn was baptized yesterday! God is so faithful to reach out to our children himself, personally--and it's such a blessing that He uses us in the process.

Ronnica said...

Those are pretty flowers! And you're right about which job is more important.

I really like your blog...I'm subscribing!

Jenni said...

I love your analogy. I have to remind myself the same thing on ocassion. And I LOVE hydrangeas. I would have had to hold myself with similar restraint if my child had taken anything to my hydrangeas!

Becky :) said...

What beautiful pictures and a great reminder as to how we should be as parents.

thotlady said...

Beautiful words and flowers. I love the color.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

This reminds me of my dismay this spring when I discovered the children plucking all the buds off my treasured rhododendron!

elizabeth said...

Your hydrangeas are gorgeous. Blues are my favorite. I've had a lovely time visiting your blog today!

Live.Love.Eat said...

Gosh, I didn't give the tears a chance to retreat from your last post. You are such a wonderful mother, it is so evident!!!!!!!!!

-Bridget said...

You do a wonderful job of weaving your story together. It's as beautiful as the pictures.

Jenni @ nest to keep said...

What a beautiful story! I love your honesty and your writing is wonderful. :)

Melodie said...

That was really thoughtful and beautiful.

Be-Frazzled Mom said...

I love your thoughts on motherhood. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day craziness of being mommy, but it is so important to step back and appreciate what little time we actually have while our kids are small.

Kimmie0270 said...

so sweet and loving.. and beautiful pictures too! I LOVE how you capture the love she feels for you in the picture of her with the flowers

dddiva said...

Another lovely story and great pics, I am so happy to have *met* you through SITS- I will be back, for sure.

EmmaP said...

Chicken Soup for the Blogger's Soul. Again - I LOVE it. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on being today's FB.

Cheryl Ann said...

Congrats on your SITS day. Beautiful post. Hydrangeas are my favorite, too :)

Party of 5 said...

Congrats again on being featured today. This was beautiful as well.

Z's Mom said...

Wow! You are the master of saying "things that make you go hmmmmmm". Lovely post.

Congrats on your big SITS day. Hope you are having a great day!!!

wendy said...

What beautiful flowers (and a cutie pie to boost)!

Happy SITS day!

Monogramchick said...

I L-O-V-E hydrangeas too! What a precious little girl in a beautiful little smocked dress too!

Inspired Kara said...

My very favorite flower...

ever.

verygoodyear said...

Hydrangeas really are wonderful, fragrant flowers :]

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

What a lovely perspective. I love hydrangeas -- but they won't grow where I live, sniff sniff.

leezee52 said...

Just beautiful!

Lee :)

Mindy said...

These are beautiful flowers and I love the way that you related it to your children blossoming.

Felicia Eis said...

Thank you so much for that as it was great encouragement for me. I am a first time mom and my little girl is only two months old and we have had some trials and still are and so it has been hard sometimes to think about the future.

Angie's Spot said...

Congrats on your SITS day! Beautiful photos and beautiful blog!

Kaza said...

Gorgeous! Congrats on your SITS day!

Andie said...

Wonderful sentiments!!! Beautiful thoughts!!!! Happy SITs day!!

mrsbear said...

That was so beautifully said. Congrats on your SITS day.

Karen said...

Great post. I had hydrangeas in my garden back in NZ. I loved watching them bloom and they make the greatest flower arrangements.

Love the big bow in your daughter's hair!

Rela Pantaleon-Manigsaca said...

We call these beauties "milflores" back in the Philippines. And I love them so much that we had them as giveaways for our wedding!

May the Gardener continue to grow your heart that you may in turn be filled with wisdom and love as you raise the four!

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