On a recent short stay in America the beautiful, I learned of two astounding growth phenomena. Mistletoe and Resurrection Fern. Yes a strange combination, but linger with me a few minutes and I will unveil this incredible mystery.
We were driving along the swampy marshes of Alexandria, Louisiana, en route from Baton Rouge to Dry Prong. While we were cruising along the motorway I commented to my dear cousin about the unusual vibrant green circular plants growing on most of the trees that filled the watery bayous. I found what she told me truly fascinating. She explained that this is mistletoe…and it grows in abundance there, but what is so impressive is that it can thrive on even the deadest of trees. I stared at it for the hours, days and weeks that I spent in Louisiana.
All the while it spoke to me of a deeper lesson. Let me explain…
Mistletoe is one of the most luxurious green plants you will ever see. It is shiny, vibrant and altogether lush. Every bunch I have seen looks so impressive I almost thought it were fake. So, this incredible green leafy plant can grow on the most lifeless host you have ever seen. And God spoke to me. Are you in a season where you feel or sense that absolutely no fruit or good thing can come from your heart or life? You look at your dry branches and make the evaluation that this is just a lifeless season where you have nothing to give. My dear friend, even if you despise these days of struggle, unanswered questions, difficult dilemmas, or heartfelt loss, hang in there, fruit can grow in these times. You are able to bless others in this time of transition, so do not write yourself off and bow out gracefully from life. You are bearing fruit that may seem unseen or impossible to you, but you are. Sometimes, the toughest seasons we walk through actually yield the most precious harvest. In due time you will see it and be amazed at how God uses your selfless surrender as a means to encourage and motivate those around watching your life. As mistletoe grows in the lavish way it does, so you are growing as you wait on God and trust His perfect timing and providence.
A week later, I walked down St Charles, a beautiful street in New Orleans, with a dear friend and her son as our tour guide. As we walked they told me about the incredible stately oak trees that stood like tall soldiers down each side of the bustling trolly-train street. On these monstrous trees, with roots almost longer than the trees themselves, grew another phenomena: Resurrection Fern. Incredible.
Resurrection Fern is found growing on the trunks and branches of oak trees. It gets its name ‘resurrection’ from the way the fern acts during certain weather seasons. During a dry period, the fern will be brown and completely lifeless.
It will appear to be dead and you would be forgiven for never expecting it to yield any appearance of life ever again. But as soon as the season of rain comes, that same moss will explode with green life again. As I stood there gazing up at these magnificent oak trees and the fascinating resurrection life of this beautiful fern, I was struck by the cycle of life it goes through.
These two contrasting plants spoke volumes to me of the seasons we all walk though in this journey called life. There will be times when we appear to be lifeless and sense we shall never radiate with abundance or blessing again, but when the rain of heaven comes, life appears and our thirsty soul transforms into an oasis of growth and abundance.
Dear one, which ever season you find yourself to be in, know that the Master has a plan for this transition time and by remaining close to Him you will yield a beautiful harvest in abundance. You are producing a precious fragrance that will touch and inspire many. Lift up your weary head and thank Him for the new thing He is doing, soon it will spring forth, soon you will see life appear. Whether you feel like mistletoe or fern, to Him and those around you, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
Today I want to introduce a new writer on the block, and in the theme of love and romance it seems only right that he share a beautiful love story with you… Take it away Andy! It is a pleasure to have you write your first (of many) blogs on my watch. Denise
“Is This Love?”
by Andy Patton
“Is This Love?” If you are anything like me or grew up in the 80s, when you read those words your mind was instantly transported back to the year 1987, and you began to hum the tune to that classic ballad by Whitesnake.
When I first saw her it wasn’t love… or was it? When I first talked to her it wasn’t love… well maybe it was… no it definitely wasn’t. I know it wasn’t, because I couldn’t understand most of what she said! Not because she was soft spoken, shy or timid. In fact, just the opposite. Honestly, it was her thick Dublin accent that held me at bay and forced me to nod, smile and pathetically attempt to piece together the few words I did understand.
She was full of life and it manifested itself in the fast paced manner in which she bounded into conversation. It flowed from her lips with such ease and joy. She welcomed the opportunity to share her delight and vigor for life with any who would engage her. Desiring to express her glee with life, her conversation seemed to gain speed the more she talked!
That morning she had gathered with several ladies for their customarily tea and talk, and I stumbled into the kitchen looking for a bucket and sponge. Being a 20 – something young man of course she captured my eye, but I fought desperately not to ogle. I do believe I eeked out a disastrously awkward “good morning” greeting as I hurried to disappear. All the while, it was her carefree poise that silently screamed at my heart.
Was there any doubt I was an American in Dublin? Could she tell that I was from a far distant mysterious place called New England? Could she know without me saying a word that I was instantly drawn to her?
I hoped so….
As the next week unfolded, I found myself more and more in her company. Each time I felt a bit bolder to interact with her. Now mind you, I wasn’t intimidated, but excited to hear what new adventures or experiences life had brought her since we last chatted. Okay maybe I was smitten. Her brown eyes sparkled and her smile was intoxicating. But at least, I could now grasp most of the conversation. Either I had honed my listening skills or she had slowed down her talking speed, or maybe a combination of both. At any rate I was enjoying every second of it.
Is this Love? Well maybe the start of it, for me at least. What I had discovered was all that I had encountered, all that I had been privileged to experience during my times with her, it wasn’t special to her, it was normal. She was just being her! I realized the interaction I had with her was the connection that everyone had with her. Not because of them and their efforts, but hers. She loved people of all shapes, sizes and colors. She just simply loved being around and involved in the lives of the people she came in contact with, anywhere and any time. That is what I loved first about her. Love is a two way street and are these two people, moving in opposite directions, willing to step off the sidewalk? After all it had only been a week!
Are you serious? Come on! Could that have really happened? I must have been dreaming! Was I? For more than a week I had been chatting off and on with this wonderful young woman, and she had captivated me with her zest for life. She cherished each moment of each day and that trickled down to anyone she spoke to, myself included.
We had spent lunches in cafés with friends, bowling events with fellow team members and site-seeing tours around various attractions in the city. Our conversations were centered on our cultures, young adult life in our respective countries and our families. I was staying with a host family outside the city center, which required me to catch a bus each evening.
My routine was to hop on and make my way upstairs to the top deck so I could take in the sights from a better vantage point. From there I could witness the bustling streets filled with pedestrians, cyclists and peddlers, I was enamored with it all.
Most journeys my mind retraced my steps of the day, and many of them guided me back to my daily communiqué with the energetic, inspiring woman I was growing so fond of. I found myself wanting to extend our get-togethers in order to spend more time getting to know her. Talking with her was effortless and time seemed to stand still when I was around her.
One evening early on in my summer long adventure, I was actively engaging life with my host family. Our talks ranged from me trying to fit into their culture, to learning the slang vocabulary and decoding their accents. I figured the more I talked with them the easier it would be to understand the people I would meet during my travels in town each day… after all it was English they were speaking so I just needed to listen more than I talked.
On that memorable night my I learned more about their family than I could have imagined. First of all they had five kids… Up until that point I had only known the two youngest. The older three were moved out of the house. The two older sons were living in England and their oldest lived in the city with a couple of roommates. As I shared my family dynamic of having three older sisters and no brothers, they related that their family makeup was just the reverse. There was one girl and four brothers. I was the youngest and their daughter was the oldest. I remember thinking I haven’t even seen family photos around the house to tip me off to how many children they actually had.
They told me all about the their kids as they were growing up and we laughed at similar stories of childhood. Then they pulled out a few photos to introduce me to the three older kids I had not yet met, obviously the two older boys were out of country so they didn’t see them much. Their daughter had not come by to visit, at least when I was there. As they showed me pictures of her when she was little and progressively through her younger years.
She looked familiar, so familiar I felt as though I knew her. Then came one photo that had been taken a few months prior to me arriving. To my amazement…it was her! The girl that so captured my near every thought, the girl that sauntered into my life nearly two weeks ago. I was living in her old bedroom and eating evening meals and enjoying laughter filled chats with her dad and mom!
To be continued…
More of this wonderful story soon so stay tuned… Andy