My father loved roses. He planted them in the backyard of the home we just left. He cultivated them, fertilized them, fenced them and watched them bloom. He had purple roses with yellow centers, red roses with white centers, white roses, pink roses and yellow roses with a beautiful orange center. He was always so excited about the first rose of the season. And when it came and was ready, he would cut the bloom, bring it into the house, put it in a rose bowl and place it on the kitchen table. The fragrance would fill the house. He would repeat this with every rose bloom of the season. When we had rose bowls all over the house, he would take them to the neighbors to share the beautiful blooms. I can remember times when there were still roses in their bowls around Christmas. After the blooming season, he would prune them and await the next season. As his health began to fail, he could no longer do the work in his garden. The rose bushes were no longer cared for with the loving tenderness he showed them. And since his death, 5 years ago, some of the rose bushes have withered and died. But, not all of them. Even without his tender care, some of the roses prospered and bloomed. When we left our home in May, the backyard was in shambles. It was overgrown, had fallen trees and the only signs that there had ever been a flower garden were 3 neglected, skinny, rose bushes and only one of them had a bloom. After we had moved into our new home, much to my surprise, I saw my husband digging a hole in the middle of our new front yard. Without telling us, he had gone back to the old home and dug up one of Daddy's rose bushes, the only one with a bloom. It was a solid red rose. He was planting it in the front yard. He placed it in the very center of the yard and put a little fence around it just as my Dad had done. It was there where my Mother could see it when she looked out her bedroom window. My husband explained that the Holy

Spirit told him to pull up the half-dead rose bush and bring it to the new home. My husband had wanted to plant the rose bush in good fertile soil near the street because the soil in the middle of the yard contained rocks. But the Holy Spirit kept telling him to put it right there in front of my mother's window. My husband was being obedient to God so he placed the rose bush in the rocky soil and sat down to rest. The Holy Spirit said to him, "This is symbolic to you, your family, your marriage, The Covenant. Where there is dry land and rocks, I can also plant you. I can water you and nurture you because I am God." I honestly had my doubts that this rose bush would survive the transplant. But I was wrong. At first, it looked like it was dying. It became withered and lost it's leaves. The bloom that had been on it fell to the ground one petal at a time. The stems leaned to the side. It looked horrible. But showers came and my husband kept watering it. Now one of the stems is standing straight and the other one is trying to be strong. Leaves are coming back. I now have faith that this rose bush will survive to produce the beautiful blooms my Dad loved to see. And when that first bloom appears, I will cut it, bring it in the house, put it in a rose bowl and place it on the dining room table.

Ezekiel speaks the words of God in 34:16. “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick.” And in 34:26-27, “I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; and there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.”

Like the rose, we have been uprooted and taken to a new land. We have been delivered from a choking confinement. We have been broken, but now strengthened. And like the rose, we will also flourish, yield increase and bear our fruit, “So All Will See How Great is Our God!

Maryanne Winder Lester 6/22/2010

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