January 11, 2020

Bloom in 2020 by Carol Harrison



A number of years ago we began attending a small church in the city. At the New Year's Eve service, the pastor challenged each of us to write a letter to ourselves and include where we saw God directing us for the upcoming year. We could take time to reflect on the year coming to a close but focus on what lay ahead. He suggested we look at where we wanted to grow and change in all aspects of our lives, with God's help, or what we were asking God for in the upcoming year.  We sealed our completed letter in the envelope provided and handed it to the pastor on our way out of the sanctuary. He would store them for safekeeping until the next New Year's Eve when we could read it and reflect on how God had worked in our lives over the course of a year.

Even though project has not happened for years, it gave me a new perspective of reflection at the end of one year and prayerfully considering what to ask God for in the upcoming one. I no longer write a letter to myself, but I do journal my thoughts, reflections, requests, and hopes as each new year arrives. Last year, for the first time,  God gave me a specific word for the year, 'faithful', and a verse Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear. I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Later the word courage became part of my focus with God too.

This year my reflections on 2019 included many challenging moments with health concerns for myself and my husband. Life contained more unknowns than usual, yet God had been faithful throughout. When fear gripped me, I clung to his promises for help and strength. I longed to start fresh as we began this new year. Yet 2020 began in the same way the old year ended - with continued serious health issues for my husband which limited what he could do or that we could do together. I found myself questioning what I should set as goals with these ongoing challenges. Should I even plan to complete any projects, take on speaking engagements or just stick close to home? What word could God possibly have for me this year?  I thought courage might be appropriate but I longed to hear God's still small voice speaking His word for this year.

I thought about it. I prayed about it. I contemplated ignoring the possibility of a particular word and just go on trying to limp through the days, weeks, and months ahead, hoping to remain a faithful steward of the gifts God gave me.

One day, when silence seemed the answer to my prayers, I looked at a social media post from Dayspring. I read through some of the reflection questions and plugged in my answers. At the end of the questions I hit enter and a word for the year appeared. I chuckled a bit to myself when I read 'bloom' and then dismissed it as an interesting way to pass a bit of time but not really valid.

Yet God kept bringing this word back to mind along with a picture I had taken on a road trip in  September 2019. All day my oldest daughter and I had traveled in rain, mist, and fog. Now brooding skies held a promise of more rain or storms. We opted for a stretch break and stood on the ditch side of the car. We snapped photos of the beauty of the cloud layers and fields shrouded in gloom. Then I looked down. At the edge of the shoulder, growing from the gravel, stood a stunted sunflower plant. It's bright yellow head waved in the wind granting a ray of colour in a drab day. It caused me to ask questions that no one could answer. How did one sunflower grow here? How did it produce such a large head in such tough
growing conditions?

I pondered the significance of this word bloom and questioned whether God had used an interesting method to help me hear what he had been trying to tell me. I thought more about the brave sunflower growing in harsh conditions and how we stopped in just the right spot, our attention captured by the clouds but surprised with what was right at our feet.

I searched for some quotes or thoughts on the word bloom, other than the obvious flower in bloom usage. Several anonymous quotes caught my attention. One, written like a definition, said, "Bloom:a beautiful process of becoming."

Synonyms for bloom include open, burgeon and mature. In Philippians 3:12-14 I read, "12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13.. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I am not perfect. I have not attained all that God has in store for me and yet he wants me to bloom, to mature, and to grow in Him.

Then I found another quote with no author given. "A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms." Oh this one pricked deep, for too often I compare myself to others and find myself wanting. I have done this so often throughout my life and God has been working at weeding those negative thoughts out and asking me to depend on him.

One last quote I read, again with no author listed, said this, "Flowers do not bloom without a little rain. Everything has its purpose, even pain."

God uses everything to help me grow, mature and bloom but how often do I fight against the pain, the tough stuff, and the uncertainty? The verse I had for last year still resonates deeply this year and talks about not fearing or being dismayed even in the pain and difficulties. This year the verse God gave me to go with the word bloom is Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, : plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I don't know what his plans are. The days are filled with uncertainty and change but I believe with all my heart I can trust God.

So as I head into 2020 I will continue to trust God to help me bloom no matter what the circumstances just like that little sunflower grew, bloomed and flourished in less than ideal growing conditions. I will cling to the promises in God's word that he has a plan, that he will hold me in his righteous right hand and asks me simply to be faithful. I also plan to remember Philippians 1: 6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. "

I want to Bloom in 2020 whatever that may look like. 







 Carol Harrison is a storyteller who lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian and youngest daughter, Amee. She has two published books as well as stories in a number of anthologies and articles in several magazines.

4 comments:

  1. God is so good! I just love the story of the sunflower (probably someone spit it out the window!!) and the verses you found are so wonderful and encouraging. May you bloom like never before this year, Carol, despite health issues and others concerns.

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  2. I just published a post titled "Bloom" this morning. As I was reading, I thought what a coincidence that was and maybe it would bless you. As I kept reading, I noticed you mentioned every verse the Lord has been giving me lately! Hey...now that's very nice. 😊 Bless you, Carol.

    "...but surprised with what was right at our feet."

    Amen to that. Wow.

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  3. What an encouragement God gave you to bloom this year, Carol! It's an encouragement to me, too, to bloom in whatever plans God has for me.

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  4. "It just blooms." And with a heartfelt sigh, I am reminded that I too can just simply bloom! Thank you for the way you wove this word into a message so clearly needed for anyone! Just bloom! Now I am trying to picture what my flower will become! Oh thank you Carol!

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