January 19, 2020

Flower Power by Katie Gerke

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7

I became a Christian in 2003 while in the throes of having to move out of my condominium into a group home. My care needs outstripped the help I could get at home and safety was becoming an issue. In 2004, I moved into yet another group home and 18 months later, I was kicked out because I was advocating for better living conditions. I then got a bed in a seniors living facility assuming this was only going to be temporary until transition services could find alternate living arrangements in the community.
I was misinformed and then confounded with the lack of input I had in the few decisions that were presented to me. 

I accepted the manifestations that caused my extremities to stop working, but I was unable to accept being forced into yet another uncompromising environment that was supposed to complement my physical challenges, not make my challenges more challenging!There were enough words in the English American Thesaurus that could describe the devastation, bewilderment, and anger that I felt when I had no choice but to move into a long-term care facility for young, active adults. I was 42 years old. This shock and awe was the catalyst for me to come closer to God, keep a journal, and grieve.

I was first to read the above verse from Philippians in the spring of 2006, while I fretted about how small my half of the room was, the closeness of the beds to each other, and the thin curtain that separated our “homes”. I initially read this passage in the New International Version (NIV) and immediately had questions and observations about what “I” read into the text. Was I only to lift my anxieties and nothing else? I didn’t know what supplication meant. What was the difference between prayer and petition? Transcending peace? Guard my heart and mind against what? Why Christ Jesus instead of Jesus Christ?

In the months to come, I blubbered and shouted these words, still not knowing what they all meant: 

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. Psalm 37:8

God meshed together a stronghold on which I could grab onto and pull myself up off my knees, heave myself out of the miry pits of despair; stand upon to ascend above dark clouds, and to secure a wide place for my steps, so I did not slip. (Psalm 18:36) 
I discovered The Message and this version made a way clear for me, using relatable words to help me find comfort in the crisis I was in: Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

Here is the story:The sun was just coming through the slats in the curtains when there was a clatter of clutter being moved beside my bed. Without warning from management, my roommate of one-year was replaced by a new client from the second floor. I now had an intruder in my house that had every right to be there. She watched TV incessantly from early morning to late at night, at which time she listened to her radio. How could I possibly experience peace when praising the Lord, if I couldn’t hear myself pray?

The door was always closed, my curtain was drawn, my heart hardened, and my mind darkened because I couldn’t paint, write, sleep. Truthfully, I was enjoying my angry at the situation and I was angry at her. I grappled for my strongholds and asked:Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

In Matthew 22:39, God commands me to love my neighbour as myself. I soon realized that this woman was me, twelve months ago! I’m sure she was doing the best to cope with the living conditions around us and the multiple sclerosis living within us.With a combination of cleverness, the fruits of the spirit, and the Spirit itself as my co-conspirator, we hatched the perfect plan.I vowed to buy her flowers, every month, and anonymously place them on her bedside table. I would do this until she moved out. 

As I reflect on this narrow-minded prayer request, it was a case of “be careful what you pray for” near miss! It was fun listening as she tried desperately to find out, from friends and family, who sent her the flowers. When the day came to celebrate her with the second bouquet, she had moved out of my room when I returned with the gift! I snuck those into her new room, as a housewarming gift.

God is good and love really can move mountains - or a door or a curtain - and can guard my heart and mind. In Christ Jesus. I was only anxious about getting found out!


  1. 😂

    This was fantastic! How wonderfully different God is from all the expected ways of the world around us. Bless and it will be the seed of a mighty tree!

  2. Thank you for this inspiring post, Katie. may God continue to use you where ever you bloom!

  3. I like how God answers our prayers in ways we never see coming! Keep praying, praising, and writing!

  4. Thanks for your meaningful reflection on how God gave you answers to your many prayers, including "flower power" for your roommate! God is good. God is able!!

  5. I love how this brings to the forefront to listen to the ideas that come and to bless others! God is certainly finding ways to lighten your world, especially with His wonderful sense of humour!


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