Roses from Heaven
In the days while we were waiting for the phone call that could change EVERYTHING for our family – again, I was preparing for an amazing speaking opportunity. My local newspaper hosts an annual event, Exceptional Women of Southwest Minnesota, and I was asked to be the speaker for the evening. After working with the organizers, I chose taking care of you as the theme of my address. I shared I was downright giddy at being asked because I was very familiar with last year’s speaker. I follow her work, and it felt like big shoes to follow. To say the least, it was a huge honor for me. I will confess I wasn’t quite ready for the marketing campaign for the event as every other day the paper had my picture and just about every business I went into had a poster with me staring back at myself.
Some days I just felt unworthy of all that attention because the beautiful polished photograph of me looked back at the no make-up, hair pulled into a ponytail, clad in workout clothes version of me. Many friends and neighbors gave me such positive encouragement, even despite my efforts to deflect all the attention. I was consistently asked one question before, during, and after the event, “Do you get nervous when speaking?”.
The honest and simple answer is I don’t, but for this event, I poured my heart into my thoughts and preparations because of the significance of the evening. Our small town paper, the Marshall Independent, not only hosts this event, but they also share with their subscribers and readers excerpts of the nomination letters as well as thoughts from the nominees themselves. I was truly humbled to read what these amazing, incredible, and well . . . EXCEPTIONAL women were doing in our community. Their stories made me smile, brought me to tears, and generally inspired me to learn of all the ways they were giving back. Every nominee’s story touched my heart profoundly. For these women, I prayed in the days leading up to the event. I prayed God would give me the right blend of wisdom and stories to encourage them to invest in themselves because without them there would be huge holes left in our communities.
As usual with every time I go off (or stay home) and speak, following the event there was a big line of those who want to hug me. I savor every word of their story, relish in every smidgeon of encouragement, and covet every prayer. Telling our family’s story in an honest, raw, and, at times, humorous way, is draining, but if sharing helps one person do anything better, I will do it every chance I get.
After all the hugging and story swapping, I went home to take a day or two to reflect on all that goodness and let’s be honest, worry that the phone call I was waiting on might not be the one I wanted to hear. When the call finally came in, I hit my knees in praise and adoration, before I cried for all those who wouldn’t receive good news. Then I got up to tackle some cleaning in preparation for our upcoming graduation party. Only the girls and I were home when the doorbell rang.
As soon as I opened the door, I had a huge smile on my face (which for the record was not made-up and my hair in a messy bun). On the front step was one of the nominees, holding a vase with some roses. I quickly invited her in and was completely blown away with the message she came to share.
This sweet new friend is a business owner and when she woke up to start her day at her family owned operation, she noticed something amiss in the parking lot. She rises really early to make sure that all her customers’ needs are met. When she ducked out in the darkness to check on the odd sight, he husband accompanied her for safety. They discovered a broken vase of roses that had been left on the pavement. Quickly cleaning up the glass and retrieving the roses, they returned to the busyness of their morning routine. Finding a replacement vase, she placed the flowers by her kitchen sink and got busy doing the dishes. As she finished that chore and went on to tackle others, her eyes kept being drawn to various words of inspiration. Two in particular kept drawing her in. Those words were “peace” and “family”. Eventually, she felt that God was bringing her close to those words. After a few hours of this repeated drawing near, she knew that God’s message was persistent. She announced to her husband, “those flowers aren’t for me, but I know who they are for”.
I can only imagine his perplexed look as she shared that she thought they were from a red-headed boy. Now here she stood on my doorstep, long-distance roses in hand. Tears quickly pooled in my eyes as she lovingly showed me how the one rose had to have fallen from quite a height in order to have the small indentation that it had on its side.
She couldn’t stay long, but her thoughtfulness and caring lingered for days. I did need that message more than she could have ever known. The sweet messenger was simply God’s instrument of love that day, and for that I love her. I don’t really know how the flowers ended up in the parking lot, but for me they will always be the roses from heaven.