THANKFUL FOR THE THORNS

I found this story on the internet and read it for our Thanksgiving service at church.

THANKFUL FOR THE THORNS

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. Had she lost a child? No – she has no idea what I’m feeling. Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled her. “Sorry,” said Jenny, “I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.”

“I….I need an arrangement.”

“For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded

“Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted. “Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has.”

Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

The door’s small bell rang. “Barbara, hi!” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers!”

“Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did.

“Yes, please. It’s exquisite.” Said Barbara. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be moved by its significance, but it’s happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks.”

Sandra stared. “Why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement?” she wondered. “Uh,” said Sandra pointing. “That lady just left with, uh . . . .”

“Yes”

“Well, she had no flowers!”

“Yep. That’s the Special. I call it the ‘Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.”

“But, why do people pay for that?”

In spite of herself Jenny chuckled. “Do you really want to know?”

“I couldn’t leave this shop without knowing. I’d think about nothing else!”

“That might be good.” Said Jenny. “Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery.”

“Ouch!” said Sandra.

“That same year, I lost my husband, I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”

“What did you do?”

“I learned to be thankful for thorns.”

Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?”

“I’m a Christian, Sandra. I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit did I ever ask! It took time to learn that bad times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

Sandra gasped. “A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.” She started to ask Jenny to “go on” when the door’s bell diverted their attention.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted Jenny as a balding rotund man entered the shop. She softly touched Sandra’s arm and moved to welcome him.

He tucked her under his side for a warm hug. “I’m here for twelve thorny long-stemmed stems!” Phil laughed heartily.

“I figured as much,” said Jenny. “I’ve got them ready.” She lifted a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerated cabinet.

“Beautiful,” said Phil. “My wife will love them.”

Sandra could not resist asking, “These are for your wife?”

Phil saw that Sandra’s curiosity matched his when he first heard of a Thorn Bouquet.

“Do you mind my asking, Why thorns?”

“In fact, I’m glad you asked.” He said. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but we slogged through, problem by rotten problem. We rescued our marriage – our love, really. Last year, at Thanksgiving, I stopped in here for flowers. I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems—stems!—as a reminder of what she learned from ‘thorny times’. That was good enough for me. I took home stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us. I’m pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition.”

Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life,” Sandra said to Jenny.

“Well my experience says that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know His love. Do not resents thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take twelve long stemmed thorns, please.”

“I hoped you would,” Jenny said, “I’ll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both good and hard times. We grow through both.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?”

“Nothing. Nothing but a pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year’s arrangement is on me.”

Jenny handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach a card like this to your arrangement but maybe you’d like to read it first. Go ahead, read it.”

“My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorns! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.”

Author unknown

 

IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  It is our official day set aside for us to give thanks to an almighty God for all he has done for us.  Unfortunately, many in America did not set aside even a minute or two to thank their creator for all that God has blessed them with.  Here in this country even the poorest of us have more than many others in the world.  If we had something to eat yesterday (and many of us had too much of that something ), we were more blessed than many in the war torn countries of the mideast.

Personally, this has been a rough year for my husband, Larry and I.  It has also been a year of uncertainty and alot of waiting for both of our married children.  We all know that God is still on his throne and he is still working for our good.  It has just been one of those years where there has been many disappointments and frustrations.  For a person like me that likes to plan ahead 1 to 2 years not knowing what is going to happen has been the ultimate frustration.  I am positive that God has been working on my patience and waiting skills. No, I have NOT been studying the first chapter of James! 🙂 We have enough trials, thank you.

God commands us in I Thessalonians 5:16-18 that we are to Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  In obedience to that command I want to list the things that I am grateful for hoping that it might encourage some of my readers to also give thanks to our creator for all that he has done for us.

1.  I am thankful that I serve a God who has a plan for my life which he promises is for my good and He always keeps His promises.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

2.  I am thankful that my God has planned blessings along life’s path to remind me that He loves me.  I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight:  I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:  And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.  Isaiah 45:2-3

3.  I am thankful for a husband that loves people, is generous enough to allow people to have differing viewpoints without breaking fellowship with them.  Yet, he is a man that once he is convinced of what the Bible is telling us to do will not back down even if it means losing friends and breaking his heart.  He is a good husband and a great father with a wonderful sense of humor.  Our life has never been boring!

4.  I am thankful for 4 (2 by birth & 2 by marriage) wonderful children.  It is such a blessing to have children that love each other and their parents.  It thrills my heart to watch them grow in the Lord and make good decisions even when the circumstances seem to be against them.  I am blessed to watch Ryan & Rachel rear our grandsons Isaac & Ian.  They are doing a far better job with them then I feel we did with Ryan at that age.  Of course, Ryan has an advantage.  I have told him what a “trial” he was so he has a head start in knowing how they are thinking. 🙂 Now we are waiting for the birth of Rick & Tiffany’s first child.  It will be a joy to watch them work with him and learn along the way.

5.  I am blessed to have a wonderful father who is still living and to have a daughter & son-in-law who willingly take care of him.  If it were not for their wisdom in the medical and nutritional field I fear that Papa would have been dead or in a nursing home by now.  My dad’s generosity and sense of humor are an inspiration to our whole family so we are blessed that God has allowed him to live for over 93 years.

I pray that this list might encourage someone who reads this to make their own list of thanks.  If you know  Jesus as your Lord and Savior and are walking with him there is always a reason to be grateful.  Let me encourage you to spend some time each day in your prayers thanking the Lord for all He does and who He is.

THANKSGIVING

Today is Thanksgiving day. The holiday in the United States that was originally set aside for giving thanks to our creator for all that He had done for us.

Unfortunately, in many homes this day will be a day of over eating and watching football. It is sad to me that so many Americans have forgotten the purpose of this holiday and many do not understand that all that we have is due to God’s direct blessing on this land because we honored him for many years. I truly believe that many of our problems in this nation are a direct result of the nation as a whole turning against God and His principles. Our creator tells us very plainly in His Word that He blesses those who recognize and obey Him and curses those who ignore or disobey Him. That being said, I would like to share the many things that I am grateful for.

I am so thankful for God’s love and patience with me. I can’t imagine where I would be today if God had treated me like I truly deserve and let me get away with rebellion, laziness, & stubborness. I am also thankful that even when I don’t obey He will gently and patiently convict until I listen and obey. God’s patience is far above mine!!!

I am thankful for parents who loved me and made it a priority to bring me up in a church that taught the Word of God even to very small children. I was blessed to have parents that understood that children need to learn to work and take care of themselves.

I am blessed to have 4 children (2 by birth and 2 by marriage) that love the Lord and work hard. I am so thankful for their good attitudes during all their struggles with the poor economy and the rotten job market. As a mother, I wish I could fix everything for them; but, it has been a blessing to watch them grow as the Lord puts them through the fire of trials so that they might end up like shiny gold. 🙂

The Lord has blessed me with a husband that is absolutely wonderful. He is a man to be proud of. He will take a stand when necessary but he doesn’t cause unnecessary division over minor things. He is generous, loving and kind. As we have become empty nesters and I have returned to the work force he has become quite good at helping around the house. I truly could not ask for a better husband.

Last in this long list to be thankful for are the everyday blessings that most of us in America still have. We are blessed with a roof over our head, food on the table, bills that are paid and good health. Many people around the world cannot boast of these things.

Let us all remember to give thanks to the Lord today for everything He has done for us and will continue to do in the future. If you know the Lord as your personal Savior, he will NEVER fail you!