Sandra felt as low as the heels of
her Birkenstocks as
she pushed against a November gust
and the florist
shop door. Her life had been easy,
like a spring breeze.
Then in the fourth month of her
second pregnancy, a
minor automobile accident stole her
ease. During this
Thanksgiving week she would have
delivered a son. She
grieved over her loss. As if that
weren't enough her
husband's company threatened a
transfer. Then her
sister, whose holiday visit she
coveted, called saying
she could not come. What's worse,
infuriated her by suggesting her
grief was a God-given
path to maturity that would allow
her to empathize with
others who suffer. "Had she lost a
child? - No-- she has
no idea what I am feeling, " Sandra
Thanksgiving? "Thankful for what?"
she wondered. For
a careless driver whose truck was
hardly scratched when
hr rear-ended her? For an air bag
that saved her life
but took that of her child?
"Good afternoon, can I help you?"
The flower shop
clerks approach startled her.
"Sorry," said Jenny,
"I just didn't want you to think I
was ignoring you."
"I...I need an arrangement." "For
Sandra nodded. "Do you want
beautiful but ordinary,
or would you like to challenge the
day with a customer
favourite I call the Thanksgiving
Jenny saw Sandra's curiosity and
convinced that flowers tell
stories; that each arrangement
insinuates a particular feeling.
Are you looking for
something that conveys gratitude
"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted.
"Sorry, but in the last
five months, everything that could
go wrong has." Sandra
regretted her outburst but was
surprised when Jenny said,
"I have the perfect arrangement for
The door's small bell suddenly
rang. "Barbara, hi!" Jenny
said. She politely excused herself
from Sandra and walked
toward a small workroom. She
quickly reappeared carrying
a massive arrangement of greenery,
bows, and long-stemmed
thorny roses. Only, the ends of the
rose stems were neatly
snipped, no flowers. "Want this in
a box?" Jenny asked.
Sandra watched for Barbara's
response. Was this a joke?
Who would want rose stems and no
flowers! She waited for
laughter, for someone to notice the
absence of flowers
atop the thorny stems, but neither
"Yes, please. It's exquisite," said
Barbara. "You'd think
after three years of getting the
special, I'd not be so
moved by it's significance, but
it's happening again. My
family will love this one. Thanks."
"Why so normal a conversation about
so strange an
arrangement? she wondered.
"Ah, said Sandra, pointing. "That
lady that just left with
ah..." "Yes?" "Well, she has no
flowers!" "Right, I
cut off the flowers." "Off?" "Off.
Yep. That's the Special.
I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns
"But why do people pay for that?"
In spite of herself she
chuckled." "Do you really want to
know?" "I couldn't leave
the shop without knowing. I'd think
about nothing else!"
"That might be good," said Jenny.
"Well," she continued,
"Barbara came in the shop three
years ago feeling very
much like you feel today. She
thought she had very little
to be thankful for. She had lost
her father to cancer,
the family business was failing,
her son was into drugs,
and she faced major surgery."
"Ouch! said Sandra. That same year,
I lost my husband.
I assumed complete responsibility
for the shop and for
the first time, spent the holidays
alone. I had no children,
no husband, no family nearby, and
too great a debt to
allow any travel."
"What did you do?" "I learned to be
thankful for thorns."
Sandra's eyebrows lifted. "Thorns?"
"I'm a Christian, Sandra.
I've always thanked God for good
things in life and I never
thought to ask him why things
happened to me? But,
when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask!
It took time to learn
the dark times are important.
I always enjoyed the 'flowers' of
life but it took thorns
to show me the beauty of God's
comfort. You know, the Bible
says that God comforts us when
we're afflicted and from His
consolation we learn to comfort
Sandra gasped. "A friend read that
passage to me and I was
furious! I guess the truth is I
don't want comfort. I've
lost a baby and I'm angry with
God." She started too ask Jenny
to "go on" when the doors bell
diverted their attention.
"Hey, Phil!" shouted Jenny as a
balding, rotund man entered
the shop. She softly touched
Sandra's arm and moved to
welcome him. He tucked her under
his side for a warm hug.
"I'm here for twenty long-stemmed
laughed heartily. "I figured as
much," said Jenny. "I've
got them ready." She lifted the
tissue wrapped arrangement
from the refrigerated cabinet.
"Beautiful," said Phil.
"My wife will love them."
Sandra could not resist asking.
"These are for your wife?"
Phil saw that Sandra's curiosity
matched his when he first
heard of a Thorn Bouquet. "Do you
mind me asking, "Why
thorns?" In fact, I'm glad you
asked," he said. "Four
years ago my wife and I nearly
divorced. After forty
years, we were in a real mess, but
we slogged through,
problem by rotten problem.
We rescued our marriage- our love,
really. Last year
at Thanksgiving I stopped in here
for flowers. I must
have mentioned surviving a tough
process because Jenny
told me for a long time she kept a
vase of rose
stems-stems!- as a reminder of what
from "thorny" times.
That was good enough for me. I took
home stems. My wife
and I decided to label each one for
a specific thorny
situation and give thanks for what
the problem taught us.
I'm pretty sure this stem review is
becoming a tradition."
Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again
and as he left, said to
Sandra, "I highly recommend the
Special!" I don't know
if I can be thankful for the thorns
in my life." Sandra
said to Jenny. "Well, my experience
says that thorns make
roses more precious. We treasure
God's providential care
more during trouble than at any
Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a
crown of thorns so that we
might know His love. Do not resent
thorns." Tears rolled
down Sandra's cheeks. For the first
time since the accident
she loosened her grip on
resentment. "I'll take twelve
long stemmed thorns, please."
"I hoped you would," Jenny said.
"I'll have them ready in
a minute. Then every time you see
them, remember to
appreciate both good and hard
times. We grow through both."
"Thank you. What do I owe you?"
"Nothing. Nothing but a
pledge to work toward healing your
heart. The first year's
arrangement is always on me." Jenny
handed a card to Sandra.
"I'll attach a card like this to
your arrangement but maybe
you'd like to read it first. Go
ahead, read it."
"My God, I have never thanked Thee
for my thorn! I have
thanked Thee a thousand time for my
roses, but never once
for my thorn. Teach me the glory of
the cross I bear,
teach me the value of my thorns.
Show me that I have
climbed to Thee by the path of
pain. how mw that my
tears have made my rainbow. ~George
Jenny said, "Happy Thanksgiving
Sandra," handing her the
Special. "I look forward to our
knowing each other better."
Sandra smiled, She turned, opened
and walked toward hope.
"Always be joyful. Keep on
praying. No matter
what happens, always be
thankful, for this is
God's will for you who belong to
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18