Saturday, March 25, 2017

Magnolia

When I was in the first grade, my class went outside one sunny day with shovels and seeds and we created a legacy. I think back then we were just happy to be outside instead of doing work in the classroom, but looking back I can see we were doing work in a different way. A work that lasts a lot longer than math problems and spelling words. That day at Verner Elementary I learned about investing as we each got to plant a flower of our own. Even now I can remember the excitement I had of being a part of something that was bigger than me. It felt so special to leave a piece of me in a place that was shaping me every day. I didn't understand its significance then, but it impacted me more than I could have imagined.
That day at school taught me the art of planting or the process of adding something fruitful to something else. Planting, in a sense, is making a difference. It is cultivating hope and then watching it blossom into something beautiful. There's one thing I've learned however about living in bloom; there are seasons to it. It doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't last forever but if properly cultivated, it will come around again. When I think about my purpose and my life – it always goes back to that principle of planting I learned so long ago. I want to leverage my days to count. I want to make every single one matter. I want to live in bloom. And I want the same for you.
I've always loved flowers and gardens in general, but I've recently become completely fascinated by the Magnolia. And it's mostly due to reading Chip and Joanna Gaines bestseller, The Magnolia Story. Joanna describes the magnolia as a "tight little pod that stays closed up for a long time...until one day it finally bursts open into this gigantic, gorgeous, fragrant flower that's ten times bigger than the bud itself." She goes on to say, "It's impossible to imagine that such a big beautiful thing could pop out of that tiny little bud. But it does" (Gaines, xvi).
I love that description because it gives me hope. No matter what the situation looks like now, tomorrow holds a chance for different circumstances. The magnolia shows us that despite its appearance, it is full of possibility and potential. There is more within it than meets the eye. Magnolias have such an incredible nature because while the seed doesn't bloom right away, when it does, it is big and beautiful and strong.  It takes a long time...in many cases years before they will flower but then out of nowhere they seem to transform into something extraordinary.
I think maybe we find ourselves in the magnolia season of life sometimes – hoping, dreaming and waiting only to continue to find empty hands and wasted dirt. I know what that feels like, but I also know that isn't the end of the story. The seed may not have blossomed yet, but it doesn't mean it never will. I look back at many of the moments of my life and I can see how God was at work. Always planting. Always digging. Always watering. The deeper I walk with Christ the more I see that His timing is always best, even if it is not what I want at the time. It's the trusting Him in all things that produces the strongest faith and the deepest roots. It's the believing that the Magnolia will flower.
After sharing much about their journey Joanna commented, "Looking back on it now, all these big, life-changing things were right around the corner for us at that moment. And if we've given up, if we walked away when we were at our lowest, we would never have made it around the corner to see all the blessings that we are about to come due" (Gaines, 141).
 Galatians 6:9 says it this way, "Do not grow weary of doing what is good, for at the proper time you'll reap a harvest if you do not give up."
There's no question that sometimes life is difficult. It's hard to keep going, keep believing and keep holding onto a dormant seed. When all you see day after day is a closed up bud, it's difficult to imagine anything could take its place. And it's hard to keep watering dry ground. But think of all you might miss if you give up now; if you walk away before your magnolia blooms. Living the magnolia way means "to live by faith and not by sight" and to live in expectation no matter how long it takes (2 Corinthians 5:7). Living like the magnolia means choosing to look at the seed as a "bloom in progress". A delayed flower can make you miserable or it can use you to make a difference.
The image of the sower and the seed, the one instilled in me back in elementary school and many others places along the journey, inspires me to keep planting and keep looking for the harvest. It encourages me to cultivate my talents and watch God move. It reminds me of my purpose and of God's presence in all things. And it teaches me that in flowers and in life, the kind of seeds planted directly yields the crop that is harvested.
My hope is that you will take this principle to heart. That you will do the work in planting the seed, that you will trust even when nothing flowers, that you will not quit in the hard times and that you will believe that "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). I hope that like that day in the first grade, you will not look just at the seeds in your hands, but at the legacy they will leave if you stay the course and let your life bloom. Believe that the magnolia is coming!
-Only Hope
Gaines, Chip and Joanna. The Magnolia Story. Nashville:Thomas Nelson, 2016. Print.
      A Note From the Author
I planted a seed three years ago when I logged onto a website and built a place for my words to go. I hope they have done some good and inspired some blooms. I know I personally have loved sharing the things God has laid on my heart and how to learn to look for Him in all things. As I write these words, I find my hands full of new seeds and new writing adventures.
It has been a difficult decision to make, but I feel called to write some other things God has showed me. I am not ready yet to say goodbye but I do feel I am in a change of seasons. As I take time to cultivate some other projects in my life, I hope you will be inspired to do the same. I want to thank those of you who have been faithful and journeyed this path with me. You will hear from me again, but until then I hope you will live life with more than words, with your hope fully in Jesus and in  anticipation of a big, beautiful magnolia bloom.
-Holly

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