Precious Pilgrim,

“Receive the gift.” (2 Corinthians 8:4) My darlin’ is a rose grower and I’m so glad. He’s taught me so much about receiving an unexpected love gift. It started early on in our relationship. On our 2nd “non-date-walk,” I drove 1-1/2 hours from my home to his to hike in the Bankhead Forest. We did and had a glorious time. As I was leaving, he ran to his garden and picked his “1st place” rose of the season and presented it to me. I was thrilled and it touched my heart. I placed it in a paper cup and then in the car’s cup holder. I glanced and smiled all the way home.

Now 1,604 days into our marriage, the roses continue – almost 8 months out of the year. What is so much fun is that I never know when the rose gift will be given. What usually happens is that I come in from an errand and on the kitchen counter, lined up in a row, will be 5 or 6 glass vases filled with assorted roses. What is pitiful is that the counter is high and sometimes my gaze is low and sometimes I don’t even see! Pilgrim, do you occasionally suffer from that downcast perspective too and miss the gift? He’ll say, “Did you see the roses?” I’ll go back, look up, and see – I’m thrilled and it touched my heart! Early on, after the flowers died, I would wash the vases and put them back on the shelf in the pantry. Now, I just leave them out, hoping, when I least expect it – “the rose giver” will come again – bearing his beautiful love gift.

Usually, from early December to late April – no roses. Ah! But not this year! Right before Christmas an unknown lady rang our doorbell (I was on an errand) and asked my darlin’ if this was where “Lucy the letter writer” lived? He responded with a “yes” and she then said, “please give this gift to her.” It was a huge clear plastic bag full of pink silk rose petals. On arriving home, he gave them to me and I burst out laughing with glee. What a surprise!

What to do with such a gift? I wanted to be a good steward, so I didn’t open them for days. I color copied the whole bag. (That was a little tricky!) I used it as a pillow in my writing chair. (That was a little squishy!) Each day, during this busy pre-Christmas season, as I scurried around with all my little lists and projects, when I’d come across the bag of rose petals, I’d stop and smile, inside and out.

Finally, I decided what I needed to do. I needed to open the package. “Rip!” (I love ripping bags, boxes, envelopes. You never know how the contents will come out and what unusual designs can be made, along with messes! Sorry, neat husband of mine.) Much to my delight, as the plastic gave way to my pull, I was met with the most extraordinary smell. Unbeknownst to me, they were deliciously scented. I grabbed two fists full and buried my nose into them. That action instantly became prayers – first, of thanksgiving – second, of claiming. I remembered and claimed 2 Cor. 2:15, “we are to God the aroma of Christ.”

That was my first unexpected winter rose gift – and they kept coming. The second was received Christmas Eve. I had pridefully completed my long list and was silently congratulating myself, as I left the grocery store for the last and final time, when the blinking yellow light floated into my brain: “Warning! Warning! You don’t have a craft project for the grans to do on Boxing Day.” (Dec. 26) “Help!” It’s become our family tradition that we gather this day at the lake for soup and sandwich and glueing and pasting. “Durn!” I quickly took a right-hand turn into “Tuesday Morning” store. Hopefully, I could find something and sure enough, I did. Hidden among the piles of stuff were wonderful kits to paint huge flowers. Perfect! I gleefully gathered as fast as my little hot hands could grab and started rushing to the checkout counter – then – I stopped, dead in my tracks! There, hanging on the end of an aisle was this silk pink rose covered heart-shaped wall hanging. It totally caught me off guard like that strong whiff of scented petals. This time it was as if I was being serenaded with “I LOVE YOU” by the Lord. I wanted to drop to my knees right then and there, but my family will be glad to know, I waited to respond. Ah, but once I got into my car, I turned up the Christmas carols and serenaded Him, our Lord God, all the way home.

Praise is such a wonderful response to our Lord’s love. Don’t you think? Ah, and the benefits. It’s amazing! Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, even in a fiery furnace, praise seems to act like an asbestos suit. (Daniel 3) I can’t agitate over problems when I’m praising. Can you?

Precious Pilgrim, this year, I want, by God’s grace to try and “receive” (John 20:22b) to a deeper, fuller, more complete level, His LOVE. There is so much mystery. I do not understand. I cannot comprehend such love. I probably never will on this side of eternity – but I do yearn –   "God so loved, He gave..." John 3:16.

May we be the aroma of that fact until we join our Lord in His garden for all eternity. “He rose from the dead.” Acts 10:3.

My husband is a rose grower. My daddy was a rose grower too. I believe my ABBA FATHER is. Receive the gift, Precious Pilgrim! God bless.