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A Rose, by Any Other NameÖ
By Linda Germain

As soon as the last "Happy New Year" is wished, I strain to catch a glimpse of any microscopic sign of spring. Finding seed catalogues in the mailbox sets my heart aflutter with anticipation.

Not that I would plant the beautiful offerings, but pictures of the dazzling yellow, red and lilac borders are a comfort in the midst of winter weariness. The delightful Petunias, Pansies and other floral house-dressings renew the hope of warm breezes. If Daffodils peek up through their little dirt beds, can Easter be far behind?

I may never expend the time and energy to mimic those lavish gardens, but having had a grandmother who seemed personally acquainted with every form of plant life on Godís green earth, I am well acquainted with some behind-the-scenes activity necessary to producing healthy blossoms and fruit of the vine.

One of the secrets to cultivating mature, sweet-smelling flowers begins with something not so aromatic: fertilizer.

The perfect rose has served its time in dirt and pungent compost of the chemical or natural variety. Without this step in the seed sowing drama, puny and anemic blooms can result; if there are blooms at all.

Some of the most beautiful people I know have grown right up through horrid sewage and waste, blossoming into fine, Godly humans in spite of, or maybe because of, the trials and pain of desperately sad lives.

Two of them are right in my own family. One is twenty-something; the other is in her forties. Both are gorgeous, blue-eyed blondes. Weaker vessels would have been crushed into immediate crop failure by the burden of too much dirt and too little nurturing

The younger woman, very intelligent and motivated, was the cutest little girl Ė
the kind with spunk and personality. Tragically, when she was only nine, her mother was killed. There is an uglier word for what happened to the parent she adored. It was widely known, but never proven, so I will leave that synonym to your imagination.

Rampant dysfunction in her remaining family structure catapulted her into a flawed human services system. She bounced around the foster home circuit like a rubber ball. Still, she made top grades and strived for excellence, probably hoping if she were good enough, she would be loved.

There was no short supply of verbal and physical abuse, yet she kept growing straight up through that metaphorical, undeserved manure, as if reaching for the warmth of the sun. She took no side trips through the destruction of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity or self-pity.

Her precious mother had told her about Jesus, and this adorable little child believed He would not let her down. Her sweet and ever-trusting spirit made her a prime target for unscrupulous friends who took advantage. They stole money and possessions, even lied about her.

And though her eyes were on the Lord, she began to think He did not hear her cries, until one blessed day she landed in this family.

Her striving to take the high road, to do her best, to make a difference, is a testament to a little seed watered by a loving mother. Her roots went deep, and miraculously, she was able to hold on until she blossomed into adulthood.

The other sturdy survivor we are blessed to love spent her little-girl years suffering mistreatment by her motherís husband. He assaulted her innocence with his indecent liberties. This vile offense continued until she was brave enough to break away and live with an aunt who protected her.

As often happens in these outrageous violations to young, powerless children, insult was added to injury when she tried to share her pain and bewilderment and was not believed.

Of course, there was a time of confusion, especially in the fragile teenage years, but she did what I encourage all women of faith to do: stand up and be strong enough to make a Choice. This means CHOOSING to seek guidance and wisdom from Holy Scripture. She chose to forgive. This was a free pass to press forward without the baggage of betrayal directing her to a life of constant pain and chaos.

The relationship she has with her mother now, decades later, is a true example of the healing that can begin when the past is put to rest through forgiveness.

She is a rock solid Proverbs 31 woman of God who loves her children and husband, who has integrity and beauty far beyond what the eye can see, and whose serenity and confidence speak volumes about her choices.

These gentle women have every reason to cry foul. They could have succumbed to self-medication to dull the pain. Like many others, they could have opted to drown in the cesspool of the evil forced on them, but they resisted, and turned beautiful faces toward Heaven. Faith and forgiveness produced a sweet cleansing rain that washed away the rough places. They seem to glow with evidence of hearts restored by our Lord.

When I see these precious ones praising God whom they love and obey, I thank Him for transplanting them to bloom in a family that is blessed by their witness and love. Appreciating the sacrifices in the long hard winters of their youth, we treasure and honor these women. They are extra-special gifts.

If we truly are known by our fruit, my beautiful sisters in the Lord are living proof that hope springs eternal in seeds yielded to the Maker. Our Lord can grow the sweetest flower from lifeís smelliest dump, and in the end, a rose is still a rose by whatever name it is called.

Linda Germain resides in beautiful East Tennessee. She spent several years as a Registered Nurse. Having a passion for reading and writing, she returned to the campus to major in English and minor in Political Science. Now, still trying to bloom where she is planted and be used by the Lord, she has begun a wonderful adventure at a Bible College/Seminary, in the Masterís degree direction, with a possible emphasis in Christian counseling. She is the proud mother of a terrific 20-year-old son, and she is owned by various dogs and cats with funny names.
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