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Roses in the Wilderness

"Roses won't thrive in Wyoming." Months before I ever left California for my new home in Cheyenne, I began hearing this sentiment. It was daunting and depressing. These beautiful blooms had become part of my identity. Planting a rose garden was one of the last things I did with my father before he died. I was famous for garden parties and afternoon teas among the flowers. I visited rambling city rose gardens for every birthday. The mission of my entire ministry was based on helping people find the roses among the thorns of life! Who would I be in a land that couldn't grow my favorite bloom?? I had become the rose lady and now I had to leave the roses behind.

I began researching new plants, determining what would grow in the wintry wonderland I was headed to. I decided a yard full of lavender and coneflowers and sage grass would be my fate. They wouldn't be as lovely as roses, but I would try to be content. I would nurture whoever wanted to bloom for my green thumb.

The Kingdom of God is a lot like a garden. The Father is the Master Gardener and He is very intentional in the layout, beauty and efficiency of His garden. His people are a kaleidoscope of color and talents. Some of us are roses, fragile yet blooming in adversity. Some are sunflowers, nurturing and feeding and sheltering others. Some of us are elegant wisteria or night-flowering jasmine ushering in peace and a sweet fragrance wherever we go. Still others are those hardy coneflowers that thrive in the windy tundra of Wyoming and come what may, snow six feet deep, they’re back every Spring-- sturdy, reliable and low maintenance. Some of us are peaches and some are prickly pears.

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

No matter our design, we’re all exactly as we should be. Unlike me, God doesn't prefer roses to dandelions. He sees beauty in the stinkweeds and lumpy gourds of humanity. Every bloom is essential to His plan. Every single one of us is endowed with talent, purpose and personality that is distinct from anyone else.

What are YOU doing with your one, gorgeous life?? Have you bloomed for His glory? Have you beautified the soil around you? Are you a sweet-smelling fragrance to all who know you?

The Father longs to establish you in His verdant kingdom, water you with His Word and release you to grow unhindered by insecurity and comparison. You are a delight to Him. He is proud of you. You are the apple of God’s eye. The metaphors abound... so much can be learned from the garden.

In all the pivotal places of the Bible, there was a garden. In Eden, mankind was planted. In the very image of God, his form took shape. Beside him, resplendent woman, then feathered bird and hulking beast, fragrant flowers and lush vegetation—seeds of hope and life and eternity—everything was sown by the tender hand of God. Industry, family and purpose were modeled in the garden.

At Gethsemane, the garden soil was watered by the tears and turmoil of our soon ascending Savior. Jesus wept and travailed alone in the dark night of His soul—in a garden. Grief, suffering and lament were demonstrated in the garden He ascended the Hill, paid our unconscionable debt and was laid in a tomb that was set, once again, in a garden.

Over and over, the Word of God reveals the powerful backdrop of the garden. It isn’t by accident that in the same place our Savior died, there was a place of life for Him to be buried. It is a clue that every gardener will notice. Everything that goes into the ground appears dead, but it is only dormant. It will live again.

The dry husk of a seed is actually quivering with potential. Lay it in the earth, seal it up with darkness undisturbed, and then watch in faith. Give it time, three days perhaps, and it will burst through the ground with triumphant new life. That one seed will spring up into a vibrant plant that will bear fruit, spread its beauty and create innumerable new plants.

All of us are seeds of the original garden, destined for the Garden in Paradise. We are bursting with potential. Like every rose and wildflower, every melon and marigold, every zinnia and zucchini, we were born to bloom. All we need is Living Water. If we meet Him in the garden, the True Vine will give us beauty for ashes, growth instead of decay, influence in place of timidity. Submit yourself to His plan and be deeply rooted. Take the next right step in your faith. Be faithful to attend your local church, join a small group, dive deeper into devotional content.

But step one is accepting that you are just exactly as He designed you to be. Don't look over at the sweet pea beside you and long for their height and scent and talent-- they are also fragile and easily overcome by the heat. Don't envy the exotic orchid ...... if you were designed to be practical and industrious and introverted, then own that and flourish. If you were given a scintillating personality then delight every room you walk into and be proud of your humor and leadership and impact. If you're planted in the windy tundra, then trust the Master Gardener. He's placed you just where He needs you. The Father's garden is variegated and perfect and you are an invaluable part. Stand tall and bloom. Flourish.

So if you can't be a rose, be a peony. They are the beautiful cousin to the rose with bigger flowers and the absence of thorns. Peonies also happen to thrive in harsh conditions. They can face a lot of adversity and bounce back year after year. I found some random plants in our yard last fall. I didn't recognize the leaves and I almost ripped them out, but the Lord had an amazing plan all along. He knew just what our garden needed. He gave us the most incredible gift-- roses in the wilderness.

And I feel inspired to emulate these gorgeous blooms, to lean into my strengths, to accept that I am just as He needs me to be, to trust that the Master Gardener has planted me in the right soil at the right time. Turns out I'm not just a rose lady-- I'm also a peony gal.

An array of pink and white peonies sprung up in our backyard--a divine surprise. In the front, I planted 6 heirloom stalks we inherited from my husband's grandparents' plants. Stay tuned to see what color they turn out to be!

"Take heart in deserts and in gardens"

He has good plans

He has good plans for me

So, I will take heart

In deserts and gardens

He has good plans

He has good plans for me

If I know my Father

I know my Father has

He has good plans

He has good plans for me

If I know my Father

I know my Father has

Good plans

Many blessings, friends!! Enjoy your summer, your family and growing deep roots in your faith. May the Lord surprise you with His goodness every day!

Love, Tara

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