Sometime before Christmas, we finally moved the planter at the front of the house to the wash house. The plants that had so cheerfully decorated our entrance during the summer were long dead. After weeks of freezing weather, they were shriveled and brown.
They certainly weren't fit to welcome guests to our house during the holidays. Much better to dust off the Christmas lights and let them provide a little color for the season.
And then, something unexpected happened.
Those plants that had looked dead suddenly came to life.
They surely hadn't received any care. They weren't watered. They weren't fertilized. A little light streamed through the dirty wash house window. But, at most, they got a glance from Randy when he went into the building to dish out the cat food each day.
But then, one day, he noticed the blossoming flowers and couldn't wait to tell me about the surprising revival going on in the wash house.
As we approach the season of Lent, the blooming flower served as reminder.
Ash Wednesday is March 9. It signals a time of prayer and preparation as we make the 40-day Lenten journey toward Easter. It should signal a time of cultivating our relationship with Christ through prayer and study so that we can bloom where we are planted.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.Isaiah 55: 10-13
We are approaching that time of year when the world will burst into song and the trees of the field will clap their hands with the arrival of spring.
I think we are surrounded by miracles every day:
It's the miracle found in the beauty of a spring bulb piercing the cold surface of the earth and bursting into bloom (or blooming against all odds in a cold wash house during the winter!).
But He didn't stop there. Jesus rose from the dead and gives us the promise of new life.
And He sends us illustrations of new life everyday ... if we'll only open our eyes and look. It may be in a budding tree. It could be in a plant left for dead in a cold wash house.
Lord, open our eyes so that we can see and be made new in You. Amen.
The recipe I chose this month also has its share of surprises. Chocolate Trifle was served at the first Lovely Branches Ministries' Friendship Friday. LBM is serving free luncheons for ladies six times this year, thanks to a grant from the South Central Community Foundation and help from local businesses.
A delicious dessert is always part of the meal. The Trifle recipe reminds me of a more elegant version of "Dirt" Cups, little individual servings of pudding and whipped cream and crushed chocolate sandwich cookies with a gummy worm hidden inside, one of my kids' favorite treats when they were little.
There were no gummy worms hidden in this dessert. The surprise ingredient? Coffee.
What woman doesn't love coffee and chocolate? (And, what husband wouldn't be delighted to eat the leftovers? Mine was!)
1 large pkg. (6 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup strong coffee
1 carton (12 oz.) frozen whipped topping, thawed
6 Heath bars (1.4 oz. each) crushed
Bake cake according to package directions. Cool. Prepare pudding according to package directions. Set aside. Crumble cake; reserve 1/2 cup of cake crumbs.
Place half of the remaining cake crumbs in the bottom of a 4.5- or 5-quart trifle dish or decorative glass bowl. Layer with half the coffee, half the pudding, half the whipped topping and half of the crushed candy bars.
Repeat the layers of cake, coffee, pudding and whipped topping. Combine remaining crushed candy bars with reserved cake crumbs. Sprinkle over top.
Refrigerate for 4-5 hours before serving.
- The recipe said it would serve 8 to 10 people. It served double that number.
- I used one, 8-ounce package of chocolate covered Heath English Toffee Bits (found by the chocolate chips at your grocery store) instead of crushing candy bars.