The Orchid Blooms

I’ve always loved orchid blooms. We have several beautiful orchid plants in our kitchen window. They seem to thrive there, blooming and growing in abundance. Their colors are bright and vibrant and they bring us joy as we look and see how well they are doing. The orchid blooms fill the space in the window and prove they are healthy by their spectacular looks.

However, for the second time in two years now, we have suddenly noticed that the orchid blooms are looking sad. They are slowing falling away from their strong, green stems and to our horror, some of those stems are beginning to turn brown! When this happened two years ago, we waited patiently – and a little doubtfully – for something to else happen. Would the orchid blooms return? Had we killed the plants? Too much water or not enough food or sun? Neither of us knew the answer so we decided to bide our time and wait.

At times, life seems to be like those orchid blooms. Things are beautiful and moving along at a smooth pace. You couldn’t ask for a better time in life. Your needs are being met as well as your desires. In fact, it doesn’t seem that you can do anything wrong. The word “Camelot” comes to mind, equating your present journey with that fictitious, perfect land. Then it happens. A small bump in the road causes you to veer just a bit. Instead of gliding along, oblivious of sadness and hardship, you now begin to wonder about the future. That small bump turns into a major uphill climb in your life. You pray and seek wisdom yet see no real end to the detour that has been thrust upon you. Like the orchid blooms, parts of your life seem to be falling aside and you see no reason nor have control over those circumstances in your way.

Take courage my friends. Every path will encounter rough spots. No matter how smoothly you are moving along through life, there will be moments – even long spaces – of hardship to endure occasionally. Why? I believe one reason is because you and I get too comfortable in our “Camelot” worlds to learn and grow as we should. Complacency takes the place of moving forward and becoming better, more informed people. We enjoy it when life is easy and it requires less energy from us. However, what do we really gain in those times?

It’s not a bad thing to have to it easy once in a while. In fact, finding rest and relaxing is necessary to re-energize for the days ahead. If we go full-tilt all the time, burnout will surely occur. However, be prepared for the periodic bumps in the road. When you least expect them, they can appear out of nowhere and throw you headfirst into a deep, dark cavern of loneliness and hopelessness unless you are already well-grounded (or in the case of the orchids, well-rooted) in your faith.

Next time you experience unpleasantness or are forced to face a rather sudden and harsh bend in your path, look up for guidance and remember the orchid blooms. I told you earlier that we decided to wait and see what would happen with those poor bare stems last year. It took several months of continuing to water the roots and dirt, hoping for new blooms, desiring affirmation that all was well with the plants. Finally, an assurance came that all indeed was well. One morning we saw a tiny bloom on the end of one new green shoot. As we watched day by day, continuing to feed and water the seemingly useless potting soil, we saw that life was indeed coming forth. Before our very eyes, we experienced the gift of new blooms appearing daily. Before long, the plants once again held beautiful, full blooms and they were plants we could be proud of.

Thinking back on that waiting period, I now realize that we could be proud of those plants even in their dormant stage. Just like you and me, my friend. We are still a wonder to behold. We are still made beautifully and have a purpose in life. That reason for being may not be as clear-cut at the moment, but you can be sure, just below the surface – if you keep watering and feeding and growing – you will come forth with beautiful reasons to be doing life and knowing what direction you are to go. Be proud of who you are, for you are created special and wonderful.

Don’t let the dormant times knock you down. Hold your head up, point your eyes upward and seek out what you are to learn as you rest and grow and get ready to bloom once again.

“Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV

Until next time –

Karen

Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Finding Good Grief Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Good-Grief-289425764887980/

Just Let Go

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Last week I made the decision to climb twenty-seven feet into the air with a friend, trying out The Cliff Hanger bounce house. My church had rented it for a Christmas tree lighting activity for our community. As I hung there three stories above the ground, I looked down the enormous slide wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. I have never been a fan of heights. In fact, I am terrified of them. Yet, I found myself in quite the dilemma. There was only way down and that was to just let go. So, I closed my eyes, released my death-grip on the rings holding me in place, and found myself speeding down the slide. I opened my eyes as I descended and realized that I actually enjoyed the slide and it was not nearly as bad as I had feared.

Reflecting upon that experience, I realize that the ride of the grief journey requires the same thing. You have to just let go as you discover your new life. While you may desire for things to return to normal, that is not possible. Death changes things. So how do you find the courage to just let go?

I braved the adventure of The Cliff Hanger with a friend. Jin Jo actually had the idea to climb and she encouraged me to come with her. I am not sure I would have ventured the climb and fall if it had not been for her going with me. As you walk through grief, look for friends along the way. Who is it that is willing share their courage and cheer you forward?

There will be times when you should admit you need help. Those who have never experienced death and loss may not realize how hard your journey is. So we who have lived through such pain may need to open up and share with others how they can help. It is not a weakness to admit a need. It actually takes great courage to do so. Just let go and take that first step. The path will likely not be as impossible as you fear.

When we face the unknown it is common to be afraid and to hold on to what we have known. When I climbed up those three stories last week, I found myself clinging to the rings at the top, fearful of the unknown. While hanging there was scary, the fall downward was terrifying. It was new and unfamiliar. Tomorrow is also an unknown. It may seem to make sense to hang on to what you know, even if it keeps you stuck in grief and failing to move forward toward healing. However, continuing to grasp what you have known in the past will not allow you to grow and find the wonders of life that still await you.

As you find yourself facing new heights and the unknown summits of grief, remember that you need to just let go. Trust God and believe that the plummet into the unfamiliar can be full of joy and unexpected thrills.

Until next time –

Karen

With the holidays approaching, Grief Letters makes the perfect gift for those walking through loss and sadness. This devotion book is filled with lessons learned from my own journey as well as suggested activities written to help achieve forward progress through grief. Place your order today!

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Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Lie of Discouragement

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Discouragement is destructive and tears down the person experiencing it. In the midst of feeling discouraged, it can be difficult to lift ourselves up out of a pit that can seem very deep with walls too high to scale. My pastor recently preached on discouragement and the fact that we can expect it to come. He quoted from the book of Nehemiah 4 as he encouraged us to face this defeating emotion head-on.

As a person who is walking through her grief journey, I have personally faced a lot of discouragement off and on these past four years. Life is just harder when you are forced to go it alone many times. I am very grateful that God is walking it with me. Realizing that the holiday season can be harder for those grieving, I would like to put a twist on the word ‘discourage’ that may help you in the days to come.

D – Determine that you will spend time in God’s Word and focus on the positive things in your life. Dig deep if you must, but cling to those good things you find and the precious memories you hold.

I – Intentionality is your friend. You must make a conscious choice to let go of the discouragement that comes your way and move forward.

S – Substitute the feeling of discouragement with purpose. The reason you find yourself in the predicament of being discouraged is often because you fail to remember that you have worth as a person and serve great purpose in this life!

C – Courage will be required to move forward and climb out of your pit. You can do this! Remember Phil 4:13 assures you that you can do all things with the help of Jesus Christ when you are within His will. He does not desire for you to remain discouraged.

O – Opportunity is knocking at your door! When you feel yourself sinking into the depths of hopelessness and discouragement, it is an opportunity to experience the power of God! There is no time like the present to pray and seek God’s direction. Ask what it is that He desires you to do. Then do it.

U – Urgency is required. If you allow yourself to sit discouraged for long, you will continue to feel hopeless. It is a vicious spiral down. When you realize that discourage has entered your life, you need to immediately begin the work on moving past it.

R – Rally the troops. We are not meant to walk this life along. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Over the last four years, there have been some precious friends and family who have gathered around me. With their support, I have learned the necessary tools to move forward in life.

A – Argue with the lie. Discouragement is an attack of the enemy in hopes that you will give up and become ineffective in life. Refuse to allow him that victory.

G – Gear up for the battle. There is no doubt that discouragement will happen in life. Be ready and equip yourself for the assault. Reading and knowing the Bible is your best tool. Ephesians 6 teaches us how to put on the “Armor of God” in order to be armed and clad correctly.

E – Excitement should be your emotion. When you are attacked by discouragement, it is because the enemy is worried. You are making a difference in this life and causing harm to his plans. He is scared and does not like that. Continue to keep your head up and your heart soft to God’s moving in your life. Satan does not bother those who are no threat to him. Be encouraged that you are a worthy foe of the enemy.

The lie of discouragement will present itself in your life. The choice is yours whether you will live with it or battle against it.

Until next time –

Karen