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Family & a Feild of Sunflowers

They say that an artist typically has a different way of looking at things, and that is true to some degree; but everyone has a filter through which they see things: some negative, some positive. For me, I choose to stick with the positive side of life. There is plenty of negative to go around, but you never know how your life and the positivity you bring to it can impact the lives of others. My husband says my favorite phrase is, "It's all about perspective." If you stop and think about it for a minute, that too is a true statement. The way you interact with the world, with people & the decisions you make on a daily basis could be the very thing someone else needs to ignite a spark of positivity in their life. That's my filter anyway, alongside of family; and a couple of weeks ago I got a large helping of both.

Saturday, June 4th my mom, sister, & niece & I jumped at the chance to spend an afternoon in a field picking some of the most beautiful, golden-rayed sunflowers. The owner, a friend of my sister's, apparently plants them every year and was getting ready to mow them down & replant. So we were presented with an opportunity to clip to our heart's content and gather as many sunflowers as we wanted. Yes, it was hot and of course, there were all kinds of bugs & spiders to contend with, but we didn't care, our love of time spent with family & sunflowers outshined all the obstacles we had to deal with in order to get what we were after. My mom, who is terrified of spiders, was even willing to ride 45 minutes back home with a 5-gallon bucket between her legs full of lord knows how many of those creepy crawlers that were still on those flowers just to spend time with her girls. LOL!

Photo: These photos only give you a tiny glimpse of the massive field of sunflowers we got to pick from.

(left: my mom; center: my niece & her little one; on the right: my daughter Chloe)

Now, with this many flowers at our disposal, you can't just pick sunflowers for yourself. No sir, you have to share! Armed with clippers, rainwater (to help preserve them) & three 5-gallon buckets we set out early on a Saturday morning and gathered enough, so we thought, to make flower arrangements for our own houses + a few extras for our neighbors. Well, shortly after we got them to mom's house our plans changed.

Every neighborhood generally has that one house that all the kids are drawn to. All you mom's out there know what I'm talking about. Well, that was our house growing up and even though we are all grown now with families of our own mom's house is still very much a kid magnet. Shortly after we arrived with all our sunflowers a few of her "usuals" ( showed up and watched as we attempted to make our rather large bundles of sunshine. As they asked what we had planned to do with all of those flowers, a thought came to mind. Since we had so many, why don't we make smaller arrangements and let the kids spread a little kindness & brighten up their neighbor's day as well. Despite the heat, we loaded up all but one little bundle of sunflowers that were too small to do anything with onto the golf cart & took the kids out into the neighborhood.

Again, it was HOT out there, but it was so much fun watching them go door to door passing out sunflowers and deciding which neighbors they can give them to. It was also a great opportunity to lead by example & show those kids what it feels like to bring a smile to someone else's face through a simple act of kindness. One of the boys got so caught up in the spirit of giving that he stopped by his house not only to give his mom some flowers but to get a kid's beginners bible to give to my daughter, Chloe. A few houses prior to his house we stopped at a lady's house that had one of those book libraries out beside her mailbox to put my book, Jesus Makes Me Fruit-Tabulous, in there. While we were there he noticed that Chloe was looking to see if there was a bible in there so he thought he would give her a copy he had. That was so sweet of him & she absolutely loves it - she literally reads a story from it every morning now. Anyway, the point is - giving inspires giving.

After delivering the last bundle of sunflowers we realized that we got so caught up in giving to the neighbors that we forgot to set some aside for our own house. But it was ok, in my opinion, all that time spent gathering flowers & allowing the kids to give them away to brighten someone else's day was time well spent.

(left: my sister & I; on the right: my mom & I)

The next day at church, after giving away all of those flowers, a 4-year-old little boy to whom Chloe gave a very warm welcome & helped him adjust to his class, the Sunday before, showed up with a huge smile on his face & a little flower just for her. His mom said, he insisted on bringing her a flower that morning. Some might call it just a coincidence, but I don't think so. I heard Jerry Savelle say this week, "big or small, God never forgets a seed sown. So yes, it was a small, single flower but it was also a harvest of kindness and a great example of giving & receiving along with a teachable moment for Chloe. We explained to her that a seed whether it be in the form of kindness, money, or something you give away, it's still a seed and you just reaped a harvest on both. (Luke 6:38, Galatians 6:7)

Back to my Sunflowers..hehe! I still wanted some sunflowers for mom & I, so later that Sunday evening, in the cool of the day I might add, my sister & I went back out to the field to collect some more sunflowers. This time we went out there a bit more prepared with vases & a better knowledge of which one's to pick. Clipping them to fit the vases they were intended for definitely speed up the process & made it much easier to transport them home. Gathering almost just as many as the day before, it was enough to make 5 more beautiful sunflower arrangements.

Afterward, I stopped by mom's to give one to her & of course, being the thoughtful person she is, she chose the smaller arrangement so my neighbors could have the prettier ones. After getting them home, I tweaked my neighbor's arrangements a bit more making them presentable once again. Sunflowers, being top-heavy, don't ride well in a moving car and one of them was quite a bit larger than the other so I ended up pruning it down making it even with the other ones. Well, this left me with a few extra flowers. So the next day, I was able to bring the extra flowers along with a purple vase that mom had admired the night before, one that matched a purple vase she already had, back to her house. Combined with the flowers we had brought over the night before, it was just enough to divide between the 2 matching vases giving mom not 1 but 2 beautiful sunflower arrangements for her front porch. I told her, isn't it something how she gave up the ones she wanted for someone else & to all her neighbors and she ended up with two even prettier arrangements & in matching vases to-boot.

We've all heard the term, "what you do comes back to you." Well, it's more than just a random phrase we hear now and again, it's a principle we find in Luke 6:38 & Galatians 6:7. It's one that my family & strive to live by every day. God's word always works and he is always working behind the scenes, - you just have to look for it & recognize it when you see it. Since that weekend, in addition to the flower & bible Chloe received, she was also blessed with $10 from a neighbor, 2 free toys from cashiers, and a bottle of juice from a random parent at the park. God is such a good God and if you know him as Father and act on his word, he will see to it that you are always blessed.

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