Dead dandelions have intrigued me for as long as I can remember. But a new layer of inspiration emerged from them for me a few years ago. What is it about a nuisance, worn-out weed that is so fascinating, you may wonder?
For some odd reason, there has always been something mesmerizing about the delicate way those seeds set up on a tender stem like a tiny cloud, vulnerable to the slightest breeze or bump from a bare toe. It doesn’t take much to contaminate an entire lawn, along with neighboring yards near and far, with abundant bursts of yellow dandelions.
Moms receive a yellow handful…then quietly sweep nostalgic tears away with the back of their wrists.
There’s a compulsive part of me that wants to capture those seeds in a garbage bag before they do their contagious, dirty work. Yet, my eyes rest on them for a moment while I consider the mysterious mind of a Creator who must have a sense of humor. This prolific weed triggers such paradoxical reactions from people.
The very young romanticize the pretty yellow flowers. In first grade, a boy named Harry handed me just such a bouquet and asked me to marry him! (The humor is not lost on me that I later married a man name Larry.) Moms receive a yellow handful, no matter how limp, with big smiles then quietly sweep nostalgic tears away with the back of their wrists. On the other hand, if you’re older and the one holding the credit card, those bright golden gems may just represent embarrassment with the neighbors and an expensive trip to the home improvement store for herbicide.
One day a couple of years ago, I was given a very personal perspective about the dandelion. I had spent part of a morning sharing my heart about disability ministry with the staff of a church. They listened. I explained some things. They asked a couple of questions. I answered. I sensed a degree of sympathy in the room but people were pretty quiet.
I walked out wondering whether my message brought any real clarity to the issues or had any empowering influence at all. Had I overwhelmed them? Had my opportunity to foster a vision among leaders been overshadowed again by my personal passions as a parent of a child with special needs?
Maybe you’ve been there. Something about your life experience put a passion in you. But when you talk about it, you wrestle with presenting it in a winsome and compelling way rather than putting people on the defensive or causing them to feel overwhelmed, intimidate, or even offended.
I walk that line all the time.
I wear the hat of an advocate, often speaking on behalf caregivers and families affected by special needs. But I am also one of those caregiving parents. Our youngest child has radically shaped my world views and life course. Such a significant life experience is bound to flavor many of my thoughts, passions, conversations and relationships.
So, what about that room full of church leaders? Had God used our time together for anything of value? I wondered.
“I’m sure that telling your story feels futile sometimes. But let me assure you, it is not lost on anyone.”
Shortly after I stepped out of the room, two pastors from the meeting met me in the hallway. Both had words of encouragement that have stuck with me. And I believe their encouragement was meant for you too. I’m going to share it here and ask that you let yourself receive it.
Please receive it deeply.
I’ll paraphrase. One of the pastors began, “Sometimes you may feel like your message is falling on deaf ears. You may sense apathy or resistance. I’m sure that telling your story feels futile sometimes. But let me assure you, it is not lost on anyone.”
He went on to explain how, during my presentation at the meeting, he had seen a dandelion in his mind’s eye. He sensed that God wanted to encourage me with a comparison. “You may feel like a lot of your dreams and your story are dead or done. But I sense that God is about to blow across all of that with fresh life. Like when a dead dandelion gets carried away in the wind, the seeds of your story are going to blow far and wide with a powerful gust of the Holy Spirit. God is going to use those seeds to bring life to new places. And it’s going to be beautiful!”
This word of encouragement is based in a promise from scripture about the nature of how God works:
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” John 12:24
Oh, friends — let’s pray and trust this to be true!
He said, “The seeds of your story are going to blow far and wide with a powerful gust of the Holy Spirit. God is going to use those seeds to bring life to new places.
And it’s going to be beautiful.”
When we seem to have experienced a total loss or hit a dead end, what seed might be there? What harvest may come? Only the Lord knows. But what an adventure it can be to hang in readiness for the winds of the Holy Spirit to blow across our lives!
Just as Jesus’ death initially seemed like a senseless loss, ultimate purposes were served. I want to affirm and encourage you who are living in patient perseverance. Your situation may often feel invisible, unimportant, or unappreciated by others but it does not go missed by God. He breathes new life out of every place of weakness, brokenness, disappointment, dead dream, and lost hope.
Walk Right In Ministries aims to be a community — though often far-flung in the virtual sense — where we get to know each other and grow together. We pray for multiplication here. Multiplication of love. Multiplication of faith. Multiplication in any way God wants to bring fruit from the seeds of each individual’s unique story.
There are stories to share and new adventures to be lived as God weaves the intersections of our lives for Divine purposes.
Thank you for pausing with me to watch the clouds part and the deep waters get stopped upstream (check out Joshua 3).
Though we may be stumbling through life sometimes, let’s step out in faith — together.
This article first appeared at LisaJamieson.org in February 2018.
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community alongside families living with disability.
This is good, and encouraging – thank you , Lisa.
I don’t have a platform, so I just sound like I’m complaining. It is desperation for someone to hear and care and come alongside and speak truth to me when all I can see is grey. Every day. My brain is mush most of the time and so in spite of my intellect and other gifts from God I feel ineffective.
I believe you DO have platforms, my friend! But, as you have said, it is just so hard to discern WHEN/WHERE/WITH WHO we are to share and then HOW to do that in a way that is respectful, appropriately focused, winsome. It helps me to remember to pray for “soft soil” (where my seeds will fall and be well received) but also to pray that God would guard my heart from feeling rejected. After all, even Jesus recognized that there are times to “shake the dust off our sandals” and move on without bitterness. It’s not really OUR story anyway. It’s God’s story. I am remembering more often than ever lately, that the story I’m to be sharing is not really about ME. Ultimately, where words fail, actions sometimes speak. Someone has wisely said, “preach the Gospel. And when necessary, use words.” Blessings to you and your family.
Lisa, the two pastors who stepped out into the hallway were right about the seeds being your message carried on the wind. However, there are many benefits to dandelions that are seen by many as a pesty week to eliminate. The dandelion taproot will keep producing year after year, unless removed. The seeds are parachutes that go very long distances and reproduce. Your caregiving and caregivers advocacy may seem like a burden but like the dandelion there are many benefits that is working to give you Christ’s character of love, compassion, mercy and so much more.
Dandelions also have many benefits. It is a healing diuretic from bloating and helping your liver and kidneys get rid of toxins. It lowers blood pressure, gives much antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, promotes weight loss for those fighting the battle of the bulge, high in nutrition and helps eyes see better. It is anti-inflammatory, improves the immune system, lowers your risk of cancer, improves skin health and promotes the health of your digestive system. Pretty amazing what this plant can do! There is a great parallel to you and your work, it seems lowly and insignificant but the outcome of your life and those you touch will be untold multiple lives.
This is awesome and such encouraging detail! I’m actually aware of those health benefits and have pondered whether to ever do a follow-up blog about some of that. But I wasn’t even thinking about the depth of the root and the wonderful analogy in that methaphor too! I do certainly feel like I’m a “pesky” nuisance to some people but I am thankful to know that God sometimes uses unwanted voices to bring truth and/or open eyes of the blind. I’m grateful for the reassurance that the dandelion word is truly FULL of meaning for me and others in similar circumstances. Thank you so very much for commenting today. I will be prayerfully considering how to get this precious encouragement to others as well.
As I read this blog, it stirred something instead me — to never give up, to have hope, to listen, to put on new glasses and see things another way. Thanks for sharing your heart and life and “Your Story” and reminding us that “Our Stories Matter”.