In 1996, when we moved to Brandon from Pensacola, it meant taking our children away from the only home they’d ever known. It was especially difficult for Naomi, who had recently turned 12. The fact that Brandon had just built a brand-new state-of-the-art mall helped, but it was small consolation for leaving behind all her friends.
Our church, First Presbyterian of Brandon, certainly made us feel welcome, but the process of getting settled in a new home and in a new community seemed overwhelming.
Our new house was still reeling from 10 years of neglect. Both the garden and the interior screamed “recent rental”; every surface needed to be stripped and redone; the shag carpeting was filthy; the cabinets and shelving were all “sticky-to-the-touch.”
Smart Parents: However, as (occasionally) smart parents, Rebekah and I decided to begin the renovations in Naomi’s room. She was sitting on her bed, piles of unopened boxes surrounding her, crying. We asked her what she wanted.
“I’d like some flowers outside my window,” she said. Sob.
“I want the door and the other woodwork a bright white.” Sniff. Sob.
“And I want the walls yellow.” Sob, sob.
“Because…” and here she held up the photograph of some oversized, yellow, flowers she was using for her inspiration, “… because I’m,” sob, “a sunflower kind of a girl!” Sob, sniff, cry.
By that time we were all in tears. But there it was, the photograph in Naomi’s hand and the belief vested in her heart; she was “A sunflower kind of a girl.”
This morning: So early this morning, walking Scout, I ran across a stand of tall sunflowers in my neighbor’s yard. I just had to capture the photograph (above) and send it to Naomi.
You see, 1996 was not really a sunflowery kind of a year for our sunshiney girl. But she held onto that image and that heart-level self-definition because she knew deep down inside that the sunflower told the truth about who she is. There were other times that were difficult too; but she has always known that the sunflower idea is real, and that the affirmation, “I’m a sunflower kind of a girl”, is a truth grounded in the theology of grace.
What we believe – and how we define ourselves – has a profound effect on our lives. Sunflowers are bright, beautiful and strong, and they know intuitively that they draw their strength from the light.
David Henry: Last week, in a moment of anticipation, Rebekah went to the store and purchased an entire wardrobe of baby outfits for David Henry, our “well-on-the-way” grandson. There’s a whole lot of love piling up in advance for his expected debut in mid-October.
Personally, I’m looking forward to discovering exactly who this new little ray of sunshine turns out to be; I’m anxious to get to know him. He’s going to have some of his dad’s characteristics, some of his mama’s, and a whole lot that he brings to the table as a unique being, made in the image of God…
But I also know that Naomi, who understands the role of grace in this world so very profoundly, is going to be, “A sunflower kind of a mama!” I can’t think of a better life for my grandson than that.
And I pray that David Henry owns, at the core of who he is, the same “sunflower theology” of love and grace that his mother grew up with. It’s the truth, and the more our grandson understands it, the more he will shine.