He's done it every year for as long as I can remember. Every year I see the buds on our old fashioned rose bush in the backyard early in June, but I pretend that I don't notice. He pretends the same thing, and he does it so well that each year I'm afraid that this is the year he will forget. But no....he waits until just the right time when the buds are just unfurling and the scent is sweet and brings me a bouquet of the first roses. It's our tradition---one of those small ingredients in the glue that holds our marriage strongly together.
In the other corner of our backyard are several little twigs poking up through the ground. They're easy to miss if one is not looking. He planted those for me just this year...my berry bushes that I have so long wanted. The promise of berries is far out in the future, but they are there....waiting for the right time to blossom.
This is the way we've begun to grow our children. Our little rosebud came to us, and he brought me the first rose (and, it would seem, the only rose) after the danger was past and she could be safely placed into my arms. Just a tiny bud....but our minds saw (and still see) the promise of a full-blown and beautiful rose, if she is cultivated in the right soil and environment.
We've since begun to grow our three little saplings. There is not much to them yet, but we see the green shoots growing out of the slender twigs....and faith sees the strong trunks of giant trees that can withstand life's storms and offer shelter to those beneath.
This is our vision. There is much to be done in the not-so-very-long gap of time between the little bud and the saplings and the fruitful, matured plants.
Already, we've had talks about those influences that would try to pry open the bud before it has time to blossom and those influences that would try to bend those tender saplings until they break. We're not the only ones who have a vision. Satan would love to destroy our little garden.
But we have hope. The One Who created the rain and soil and sun is the Master Gardener. He loves our little rosebud and our young saplings even more than we do---because they are His.
And if He pleases to bless us with the fruit of four lives given over to Him, we will offer it back to Him. Because they are His. Because He gave first.