Never give up hope

Paul+ Paul+

I pull into the driveway, and I’m undone yet again at seeing my stunning camellia bush. This simple shrub that has weathered many storms, has taught me to hope, even when all seems lost.

 Almost 16 years ago, I put in a little garden outside my window. Everything in it was dedicated to our infant son Paul who had died. The camellia bush, a butterfly bush, and countless flowers all graced the yard in honor of our precious son. When we moved, we got permission to take the camellia, which blooms around the time of Paul’s death. We planted it in the perfect place, directly in front of our new home.

Spring came and the bush looked leafy and green, but the full sun of summer scorched it. By September, the leaves had all fallen and the shrub was a tangled mass of dry grey twigs. But it was so connected with Paul that getting rid of it was unthinkable. And so it sat there for months, dry and brittle. Lifeless.

Our landscaper knew nothing of our plant’s history. To him it was just a dead bush. One day when I was gone, he cut it down to the stump and hauled the branches away. When I inquired about it, he responded, “I’m sorry I didn’t ask you first. But it was dead you know.”

I know, I know, I know. It was dead and there was no point in keeping it.

After that, I couldn’t bear to look at that empty spot in front of the house. It seemed irrational, but the ache was all too real. I didn’t know why, but I felt that I had let Paul down. Why was this so important? Why did I cry every time I thought about it?

One spring day, I glanced at the space by the front door. I was stunned. Glossy, green leaves were covering the stump. Though the branches were destroyed, the roots had remained. The roots needed the ruthless pruning and the dormancy of winter to begin the work of regeneration. All winter long, when I could only see my loss, God was working for my good. 

Within a few weeks, a small bush had formed again. What I thought was dead, was now alive. Ann Voskamp tells of a rosebush she saw spring to life and noted, “what is dead may be dormant and what is barren may be about to bear and wild things somehow find a way to bloom.”

In late spring, we moved it to another part of the garden that doesn’t get direct heat. In the fall, the bush was once again covered with a breath-taking profusion of delicate white flowers. I wept when I saw them. They represented hope to me. Nothing is beyond redemption- God makes pathways in the wilderness and creates rivers in the dry wasteland.

I learned so much from that simple camellia bush:

God is always working — especially when we can’t see it.  Deep roots help us weather storms and drought. Pruning is painful but necessary for a fruitful life.  When all seems lost, redemption may be closer than we think.

 Never give up hope, because miracles happen every day.


  • December 20, 2013 - 4:20 pm

    Ann - I love your writing, Vaneetha! Thanks for sharing what the Lord is teaching you and encouraging me as you do! I will always be looking forward to the next post!ReplyCancel

  • December 20, 2013 - 6:07 pm

    Jennifer Morgan - Beautiful post friend! I love how creation, particularly gardens, illustrate so many spiritual truths.ReplyCancel

    • December 20, 2013 - 7:38 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Jennifer! I thought of you as I wrote this post as you were the one who made sure my camellia bush thrived in our old garden. ReplyCancel

  • December 20, 2013 - 6:45 pm

    Melanie - I love your first post and am eager to read the rest. Love you, Van! Your life, faith, and trust in Jesus inspire me to follow Him more closely.ReplyCancel

    • December 20, 2013 - 7:43 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you so much, Melanie. You are such a blessing to me.ReplyCancel

  • December 20, 2013 - 6:54 pm

    Keith - This is definitely sermon material. Thank youReplyCancel

    • December 20, 2013 - 7:44 pm

      Vaneetha - You are more than welcome, Keith. Thank you for reading it.ReplyCancel

  • December 20, 2013 - 6:57 pm

    Brian - Great post, Vaneetha. Very moving. I’m looking forward to keeping up with your writing. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • December 20, 2013 - 7:45 pm

      Vaneetha - That means a lot coming from you, Brian. You are such a great writer!ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2013 - 10:00 am

    Maggie - Vaneetha – you have so many gifts!! I am so glad you are writing this blog!ReplyCancel

    • December 21, 2013 - 10:13 am

      Vaneetha - Thanks Maggie! And thank you for posting the link to my blog with your touching note attached. I miss you!ReplyCancel

  • December 22, 2013 - 10:32 am

    Jonathan Davidar - What an inspirational post. You represent purified gold. Your tenacious faith in the midst of unfathomable loss is the evidence of a living God in a living faith. Very encouraged by your outlook. Yes, miracles do happen every day – thank you for the reminder – because he is, we have hope. Look forward to your writing!ReplyCancel

    • December 27, 2013 - 9:01 pm

      Vaneetha - Wow, Jonathan. I feel undeserving of your comments- but so appreciate them. And you!.ReplyCancel

  • December 24, 2013 - 7:57 am

    Jean Seward - I found your blog!—-and wasn’t disappointed!!! Thank you for sharing your faith, your pain, your hope. It’s a great encouragement for us fellow and ofttimes weary pilgrims. Glad to connect with you in this small way 🙂ReplyCancel

    • December 27, 2013 - 9:03 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad it was encouraging Jean. I know you’ve walked many hard roads yourself and have encouraged me by your faith!ReplyCancel

  • June 13, 2014 - 3:09 am

    Olaronke Omotade - I love stories like this! You are such an amazing writer. God is using you mightily. I need to study under you as I’m an aspiring blogger now hehe. You should start a bloggers class. 😉 But yeah in relation to this story, I’m being reminded that through this chiseling process I’m in, God is still with me doing great things in the secret. Like Elisabeth Elliot said, “wonders are being performed under the surface of things”. We just have to open our eyes and have faith in the process. (Its hard though) But I truly sense the Holy Spirit equipping me and making me persevere. Thanks for the added hope!ReplyCancel

    • June 13, 2014 - 8:38 am

      Vaneetha - Love the Elisabeth Elliot quote! Its amazing how God is working when it looks like nothing is happening. The chiseling process is hard, but ultimately so worth it. Thanks for writing, Olaronke!ReplyCancel

  • April 22, 2015 - 4:27 am

    Ruby - I am so blessed by all your posts. Ur life has fragrance of God, and that’s what I love. Your posts makes me fall in love with Jesus.ReplyCancel

    • April 22, 2015 - 11:33 am

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Ruby. Saying my words make you fall more in love with Jesus is the highest compliment I could EVER get!ReplyCancel

  • February 2, 2017 - 12:59 am

    Shannon - I can’t express how much this means to me right now. Thank you.ReplyCancel

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