Sunday, April 22, 2012

You Can't Get Rid of Roses that Easily

by Jennifer AlLee

About a year and a half ago, my family bought a house. It's not the first house we've owned, but the hope is that it will be our last. That makes me particularly invested in upkeep and beautification. So it was with uncharacteristic vigor that I decided to overhaul the front yard.

It's not a big yard, but it turned out to be a big job. Thank heaven for good friends who came over and helped me remove old plants and put in new ones. Among the removed items were two rosebushes in the front planter. Due to the fact that I'm scared spitless of bees, I'm not a big rose fan. So it wasn't difficult to decide that those bushes had to go.

They were dug up and tossed out. New plants went in where they had been. Wood chips covered everything. End of story, right? No more roses.


Last summer, I noticed that green shoots were coming up through the wood chips... shoots that looked suspiciously like rose stems. I almost pulled them, but then I thought better of it. I was curious to see just what was growing. Were they weeds? Some other rogue plant? Or had the roses somehow found a way to rise from the dead?

When I pointed them out to my green-thumb friends, they said it was entirely possible these new plants grew from the remnants of the old roses, but they probably wouldn't produce blooms. Even more curious, I left them alone and let them grow.

Winter came, and I essentially ignored that front flower bed. The only water it got was when the sprinkler went off once a week, or when God saw fit to send rain. Finally, Spring sprung. The weather warmed. And I decided it was time to start augmenting my plants' water supply.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the planter and saw that, not only were the remnant-rose stems taller, they were full of buds. Deep red roses cover those dark green branches. Even though they were dug up, removed from their secure home, and tossed in the trash, those rose bushes survived. Part of them lived and bloomed.

Seeing those roses made me think about the resilience of the human spirit. Some of us have been uprooted from our secure, comfortable lives. We've been tossed aside by the very people we thought would take care of us. But God hasn't forgotten us. He's nurtured us. Sent us the warmth of the sun, the nourishment of the rain. And under his watchful eye, we find a way to survive. Eventually, we find a way to flourish.
And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30, NLT)
How about you? Have you experienced a time when you felt pulled up by the roots? How did God meet your needs?

JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and the upcoming A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at


  1. I wish I had a green thumb. I love beautiful gardens but they make my itchy. We have a few resilient plants and flowering trees from the owners before us that keep coming up year after year despite our neglect, including some hot pink cabbage roses in the back yard.

    I remember on my first mission trip feeling uprooted (in England by the way). I had been away from the US for over a month. I had always thought of myself as being so strong. But I pictured it as if I had been in a green house all my life and suddenly I was out in the real world. God ministered to me at that time in the form of a wonderful motherly woman at one of the churches we visited who let me cry myself out on her shoulder. Looking back, I think I was just physically exhausted from the combination of our grueling schedule and my snoring roommate.

  2. That's one of my favorite scriptures.

    Great analogy, Jen. And I truly love the image of those roses coming back to bloom so beautifully.

    What Dina said reminded me of the time, a few years ago, when I went to the annual national cancer registry conference in New Orleans. It was a three-day conference, but there was a special two-day workshop at the beginning. Not only was I brand new to the job and knew nothing about it, I was BY MYSELF! I have never gone to a conference by myself, let alone one with so many people in such a big city ALONE. I'm incredibly shy, but was even more so at that time. So I was definitely feeling uprooted.

    But just like Dina, God ministered to me by sending me a "mother hen" and her outrageous friend. This was especially important because they were there for me when I received word that a dear friend had died of cancer. God is so awesome like that!

    By the way, Dina, you mentioned two things that stood out to me that we have in common: I love gardens but they make me itchy, too. I'm highly allergic and hubby doesn't do anything with plants. Two: I have a "permanent roommate" who snores constantly. It's exhausting, isn't it? ;-)

  3. Great post, Jen. God always retains a remnant doesn't he? And that's all he needs. Even when Satan is perfectly sure he's finally won.

    He's so good, and I've seen this principle in my own life.

    Thanks for sharing and ministering today!

  4. Suzie, my husband snores too. I can usually sleep through it if I'm asleep first. The heavier he is, the worse he snores, but he's actually on the slim side for him right now, so it hasn't been bad lately. When it does keep me up, though, I'm just miserable.

  5. I had this happen with roses too. I had two rose bushes on the side of my house, and they were ugly, blighted and unkempt, half eating with bugs. We decided to remove them.

    It wasn't long before they were back, without disease or bugs. They were beautiful. Spiritual lesson on the power of pruning.

  6. Jen, i was here at 4 am sneaking around (yes my dog snores... but i think I was having a bad dream) I didn't comment then but I've been thinking about this. You know as a horticulturalist, I just can't put this aside without considering all the implications.

    It serves to remind me that roots can be deep and not seen and we mustn't judge. Too often we give up on people who have fallen away, when in truth the root is there and renewal can come. it's hard to get away from the loving hand of God in our lives.

    By the way, I have lots of wild rose around but I bought a hybrid tea rose because of the color and I never have any luck with it. So, it's not just the knowledge or the GREEN THUMB, it's a combination of things that ar beyond our control. THANKFULLY- we aren't really in charge, are we?

  7. I'm uprooted right now! But my leaving business journalism to be a freelance editor was a much-neededbtransplant that was a long time in coming. I'm still waiting to bloom...But in the meantime, I am getting great encouragement from my local business contacts and the folks at The Christian PEN.

    One client spent five minutes on the phone praying with me, reminding me that the Lord will provide.

  8. That's a wonderful start to your new career Kristen. Thanks for commenting. Are you part of a group or on your own?

  9. Great post. I needed the Scripture, Jen.

    I love tending roses, maybe b/c it's just about the only plant I take care of with any measure of success. :)

    As for bees, well--they love my lavender. And later in the summer when my peppermint flowers, it attracts the loveliest blue bees.

  10. Ladies, hello! I spent all yesterday with my mom, which is why I didn't get over here. I love the stories you all shared. Preach it, Gals!


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