By: Marcy Barthelette
When we moved into our current home a few years ago I was feeling a little bit of regret over leaving our lovely landscaping at the previous home. We had developed it from scratch and I was more than a little attached to my perennial friends. Our new lawn had a good selection of perennials as well, the previous owner having been an avid gardener herself, but I just missed my personal touch. There always seems to be a sense of loss when moving from one place to another, but we can’t let that dampen our enthusiasm for new adventures to come.

Though I had been able to recognize many old favorites still hanging on in the fall, the spring brought a bounty of surprises. Grape hyacinths were the first to arrive and I’d never had them before so that was a real treat. Daffodils soon nodded their pretty heads. The three giant hydrangea bushes produced a show all their own but there was one area of the yard that just had a neglected appearance. We have a corner lot and the east end of our home faces the busiest of the two streets. It was nothing more than a hodgepodge of plants that had been thrown in the ground with no planning. It was an eyesore for everyone who passed by and I was on a mission to change that.
Those lovely grape hyacinths were there and their cheery purple blooms would form the base around which the rest of my new plantings would live. This area doesn’t get a lot of rain because it is away from the prevailing winds and has a large overhanging eave so I needed to make choices that would not only look nice but require less water. The obvious selections included sedums and salvias along with some variegated iris that came with the property and added color when nothing was blooming.
Everything was growing nicely but the following spring I noticed some long strappy leaves near the house that I hadn’t planted, nor had they appeared the previous year. I left them to see what might materialize and they just simply died back so I removed the debris and forgot about them. In late July, I noticed a strange-looking head poking through the ground just where those leaves had been. It quickly grew and rewarded us with several lovely pink lily blossoms. Surprise! Each year it has multiplied and this year there were three very prolific stems of blooms. I had to enjoy them quickly because they don’t stick around very long.
Their scientific name is Lycoris Squamigera. They are part of the amaryllis family and are sometimes called Naked Ladies (because of their lack of foliage), Spider Lily, and Resurrection Lily, but most of us just know them as Surprise Lilies. They thrive in poor soil and pop up in the middle of yards all over the area. Our neighbor has a row of them across his back yard. He doesn’t even allow their spring foliage to grow. His lawn is always clipped short and nothing is spared by his mower. But the lilies not only survive, they flourish! Neglect is their mantra.
You all know by now that I love natural nature, but I also find many parallels with our human world. We often neglect our closest personal relationships but with the addition of some Living Water, we usually experience surprising results. But how do we learn to respond positively to the many surprises in our lives? We all have them; some are large and some are small…we know that things of value often arrive in small packages. They may be wonderful surprises or perhaps they’re devastating. The key is to recognize them as a part of our life plan and pray through them, good or bad.
Imagine a small boy who has prayed for a puppy over and over again but the time has never been right. One day, he comes dragging home from a hard day at school and a barking little fuzzball meets him at the door. Surprise! Maybe a couple has tried for years to have a child but all they have to show for it is a chain of miscarriages. Then one day, they are greeted by a red, wiggly, wrinkled, hairless little human who instantly steals their hearts. Surprise! Or someone has been out of work for weeks and doesn’t have two nickels to rub together. He has no idea how he can pay that stack of bills on the counter but God meets him at the mailbox with an unexpected refund check that just happens to cover the amount of his bills. Surprise! A mom has prayed fervently for her wayward daughter to rediscover the faith of her childhood and the phone rings. A breathless voice says, “Mom, I just met Jesus in the sunrise”. Surprise!
In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
We are surrounded by surprises. Sometimes they come in beautifully wrapped packages and sometimes they jump into our laps dragging our favorite shoe, a newly chosen chew toy. Your surprises may be large or they may be small, they may be good or they may seem not so good. Embrace them all, for you see, it’s the times of trouble that help us to experience the Light of His goodness! No surprise there!
….the language of the love of God comes in more colors and shapes and melodies
than we could ever count. Brian Doyle

4 Responses to “Surprise!”

  1. Patricia Ann Van Winkle says:

    Great message Marcy. Thank you!

  2. Jill Moran says:

    No surprise here. Another beautiful life lesson.

  3. Bill Shireman says:

    Thanks for a great lesson at the right time and right season as God’s timing is always.

  4. Arne Larsen says:

    Once again enjoyed the beautiful word picture you painted. Also greatly appreciated the life application. Surprise us again!

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