Tulips and Dandelions

Spring arrived three weeks ago, along with the news that my dad had suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.  Suddenly, the beautiful season I had long anticipated was again marred by ugliness. It reminded me of spring 25 years ago when my mom died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack.

It’s hard seeing my dad paralyzed and unable to move his right side. He is not doing well,  he is not eating, and it is difficult to understand his speech. He was a farmer most of his life, and he is the strongest man I know.  His mental health declined somewhat in recent years, but he was always strong physically.

My normal routine has been put on hold for now. I’m spending as much time as I can at the nursing facility with dad. I haven’t had time to work in the flower beds and yard, and I’m writing  just enough articles to pay the bills.

I looked at my neglected yard and flower beds today and noticed the dandelions  mingling with the tall grass and weeds. I felt defeated by the amount of outside work that needs done, and I started to feel stressed out about how I would find the time to do it and still have time to work and spend time with dad.

I had a choice to make. I could either focus only on the dandelions and weeds and miss the beauty of the tulips, or I could enjoy the tulips and accept the dandelions as part of the season.

Dad’s stroke is like the dandelions. It is unwelcome,  and it tends to distract from the lovely new season of spring. However, there’s been blessings sprinkled among the bad stuff. God spared dad’s life, and dad accepted Christ as his savior that first night in the emergency room. I was the one who had the privilege of leading him to Christ. My youngest brother was also there to witness the moment. It’s something we will never forget.

The stroke has also brought our family together in the midst of our busy lives. We have been given precious time to spend with dad over the past three weeks. We have had many opportunities to tell dad we love him. Dad’s stroke has reminded us not to take life for granted.

And I’ve met some of the most inspiring elderly people at the nursing home. I enjoy hearing their stories, and I’m often encouraged by their words. An 85-year-old lady shared how three doctors told her she would never walk again, and she told them she would. She took her first steps in November and is now using a walker and requiring less assistance to move around. She can be found in the lounge area every day working on her crocheted afghans. She does lovely work. I also see her stopping in to check on other residents and offer them encouragement. She stops to visit my dad on a daily basis to tell him never to give up.

I was feeling particularly overwhelmed the first day dad was admitted to the nursing facility. That was the day I met this amazing lady. Her words changed my attitude and put a smile on my face.

“Each day I wake up, I thank God for giving me one more day. I never waste a single minute. I’m always busy crocheting these afghans to give to others, and I always make time to help others in here and encourage them. When I get to heaven, I don’t want to have to give account for wasted time. I want God to welcome me as a good and faithful servant. “

I will never forget her words of wisdom. Too often, I’ve wasted time grumbling or complaining about how much work I have to get done or how overwhelmed I feel by life’s circumstances instead of simply going about the process of getting the work done. I wake up feeling ungrateful instead of thanking God for giving me another day. I’m thankful God places faithful servants in my life to remind me of what’s truly important.

When life isn’t going the way we planned, we have a choice. We can miss the beauty of the tulips and only see the unwelcome dandelions, or we can focus on the Tulips and the dandelions won’t be as noticeable.

Which will you choose today?


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