My Black Thumb



Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. – Genesis 1:31 (NKJV)

Every year I get flowers for Mother’s Day. And every year by July Fourth they’re pathetic looking. Or gone to that great garden in the sky. The healthiest looking ones—if you even want to use the word “healthy”—are all leaves and no blossoms.

Why don’t they bloom? I wondered. I water them when the soil is dry, pouring until the water exits from the hole in the bottom of the pot. (Okay, sometimes the plants are wilted before I remember.) I feed them plant food every other week, using a special kind called “Bloom Booster.” I follow the directions on the package and measure carefully to make sure I don’t use too much or too little. I remove the dead blossoms faithfully.

Vinnie (Vinca Minor)
Vinnie (Vinca Minor) 

Do I water them too much and the roots rot out? Or too little? Maybe my body emits too much static electricity (which is why I can’t wear watches) and that affects them.

Even my kids teased me when the church gave flower plants for Mother’s Day: “Pick your next victim, Mom.”

Every year the flower season begins with so much hope. And every year that hope wilts and dies with the blossoms. I concluded that I simply have a black thumb.

This year I decided no flowers. I wasn’t going to put myself (or them) through the angst.

But my husband surprised me on Mother’s Day with a hanging basket of petunias and a flat of marigolds and petunias.

My Pot of Gold
My Pot of Gold

Now, marigolds have always thrived in spite of me. But the petunias . . .

Sure enough, once the blossoms died, I had a green jungle.

“Where did all the flowers go?” my husband asked me one day.

“Oh, you know me and flowers,” I said. “They take one look at me and say, ‘Oh, it’s her’ and give up the ghost.”

“Are you . . .” He went through the now familiar checklist. I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing . . . except . . .

“Wait!” I hurried to the kitchen and brought out the labels that came with the flowers, which gave detailed directions for the care of that particular plant.

The petunia’s label read “I love sun.” (And “I’m super easy to grow.” Right.)

“Maybe that’s why it isn’t blooming,” I said. “It’ supposed to get at least six hours of sun daily. It’s not getting enough sunlight.”

I’d hung the basket on the back deck, which gets plenty of light, but little to no direct sunlight. So I moved the plant to the sunny side of the deck. Sure enough, it began to perk up.

That was a couple of weeks ago. Today Viola (I named her, and, yes, I talk to her every day) is bursting with pink, purple, and white flowers.

One little detail—one important detail—made all the difference.

Just like the flowers, God created each person unique. Some thrive in the sun, others in the shade. It’s important to know the difference.


And it’s important not to compare.

The petunia, which loves the sun, doesn’t wish it were an impatiens, which thrives in the shade. Nor does the impatiens wish it were a petunia. They just bloom and give joy to all who gaze upon their beauty.

Shouldn’t we do the same?


Help me to be sensitive, Lord, to the way You made others. Give me the wisdom to perceive whether they thrive in the sun or in the shade, and to treat them accordingly. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Genesis 1



The Apple of His Eye

He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on the day of a festival.   – Zephaniah 3:17


            Keep me as the apple of your eye. – Psalm 17:8 (NIV)

My Dearest Child,

You are the apple of My eye. Sometimes, I know, you feel as though I’ve abandoned you. I have not. I’m here. I’ve always been here, and I’ll always be here for you. I’ll never abandon you, no matter what happens, no matter how you feel or behave. No strings attached. I love you simply because you are Mine.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “the apple of my eye” many times, but do you know what it means?  The “apple” of the eye is the pupil, the center of the eye and the part that allows light in. Without this delicate part, you wouldn’t be able to see. So the pupil—the apple—must be protected at all costs.

I am your protector, the shield around you, the strong tower into which you may run for refuge, your rock, your fortress, your deliverer, your stronghold in times of trouble. Yet there have been times you haven’t run to Me. You’ve sought help elsewhere. I never force you. I always give you the choice. Sometimes your choices break My heart. But I want you to love Me and choose to obey Me on your own. Like the pupil, I want you to open up your heart and allow My light and love in.

There are times when I must intervene for your own good. What parent would allow a child to step out into a busy street and not run and snatch that precious one from harm’s way?

When you’re weary and bearing a heavy load, I lead you to a place of rest where your soul can be refreshed. If I didn’t, you’d run yourself to death. What are you trying to prove, dear one? You don’t have to earn My love or prove your worth to Me. I created you. Just as you are. For a purpose. Everything I allow in your life has a purpose, child. Work with the circumstances, not against them. I am in control, whether you believe it or not.

Sometimes I allow hardships in your life to teach you, to strengthen you. Do you remember learning to ride a bike? How many scrapes and bruises did you endure before you were able to ride without Me running right behind you, ready to catch you if you fell?

Yet there came a time when I had to stand back and let you do it on your own. I watched you fall, brush yourself off, and hop back on again. I was so proud of you. I watched you cry when the pain was more than you could bear, when you were so frustrated because after all your efforts, it still wasn’t working out the way you’d planned. I hurt because you hurt. I counted your tears and bottled them as a reminder of your growth pains. But I was always there.

As you grew, the lessons became harder. Such is life, My child. Sometimes I allowed you to wander in a wilderness, to struggle in a storm. It pained me to hear your cries, “Where are You? Why don’t You help me?” I was helping you. I never abandoned you. Your faith had to grow stronger, and the wilderness and storms make perfect faith-growing greenhouses.

You, Apple of My Eye, are precious to Me, and I love you so much, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give for you. Indeed, I gave My Son.

You are the apple of My eye. Don’t ever forget it.