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William Andrew Dillard

The Lord spoke of His people Israel in the following terms: “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.” Deut. 32:11-12

Nature teaches much to the discerning mind. Additionally, God often used the nature of plants, animals, and fowl to teach spiritual lessons to His people. Certainly, this is a classic case that merits meditation and appreciation.
The eagle builds its nest high, away from would be predators. It is made of strong material initially, then padded with softer material, and lastly, lined with soft down from the adult eagle’s body. It is warm, cozy, comfortable, an ideal place for eggs to hatch into little eaglets. Moreover, as the tiny birds grow, food is brought to them, even dropped into their mouth. Life is good! It is a perfect welfare state requiring no initiative from the little eaglets, but to receive what is brought to them.
But it is not the purpose of the eaglets to remain nest bound, and the subject of constant attention and basic care. Soon, it is time for little eaglet to become an eagle. Lesson one is the stirring of the nest. Surely, that will entice the eaglet out of it. But not so! Eaglet is not leaving this nest even if it has become uncomfortable. Next, comes the stripping of the down. Now that creates an unbearable setting. The woven briars are not nearly as desirable as the soft down. Finally, the eaglet is enticed to come aboard the spread wings of mother eagle. The next step is perhaps most frightening. Eaglet is taken high above the earth and dumped. As it falls, it begins to flap its little wings. If at first it does not fly, mother eagle will swoop down beneath it to catch it on its mighty wings, and take it up for another try. Thus does the first step toward fulfilling purpose in life find fulfillment. Others will follow, especially that of hunting and captivating food. Finally, little eaglet is little eaglet no more, but a mature bird enabled to sustain itself and continue the cycle of life for which it is intended.
When God stirs up your comfort zone, it is usually not exciting, and may even be objectionable, at least initially. But God knows the great potential that lies in each of His dear children. Often we are moved through hardship, heartache, tragedy, and challenge to achieve the high level of spiritual maturity that allows us to fulfill the reason and purpose of being on the planet. So, the next time adversity visits, rather than drown in lamentation and self pity, let the excitement of the higher unknown prevail. God is stirring up your comfort zone for purpose, even a lofty purpose for which you shall later praise His name in gladness.

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Oh God, if I could but impart

The thankfulness that swells my heart

For each and every little thing . . .


Like color bursts announcing spring,

The shaded spots the trees have brought,

The sunshine brightening every thought . . .

The squirrels playing on my lawn,

The eventide . . . the still, new dawn . . .

The fragrant smell of brown leaves burned,

The fresh black dirt where earth is turned –

So many small things such as these

Have done so much my life to please

My whole life long would be of praise

To God, the Keeper of my days


Beverly Enderby Kimzey



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I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along a floor
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.

I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain’s blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose fresh-cut and placed within a vase,
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.

Grace Noll Crowell

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“Thankful For The Thorns”

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her crocks when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a “minor” automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss. Troubles had multiplied. Her husband’s company “threatened” to transfer his job to a new location.

Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend suggested that Sandra’s grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder. “Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?” she wondered. “For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life, but took her child’s?”

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk.

“I… I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra.

“For Thanksgiving? Do you want the beautiful, but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’? I’m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.” Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer, “Hi, Barbara… let me get your order.” She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed, thorny roses – except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped. There were no flowers.

“Do you want these in a box?” asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. “Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again.”, she said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, “Uh, that lady just left with, uh… she left with no flowers!”

“That’s right,” said the clerk. “I cut off the flowers. That’s the ‘Special’. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.”

“Oh, come on! You can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that!” exclaimed Sandra.

“Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do, today,” explained the clerk. “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery.”

“That same year, I had lost my husband,” continued the clerk. “For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel.”

“So what did you do?” asked Sandra. “I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for the good things in my life and I NEVER questioned Him why those GOOD things happened to me. But when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, “WHY? WHY Me?” It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of my life, but it took the 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 others.”

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about the thought that her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”

Just then someone else walked in the shop. “Hey, Phil!” the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man.
“My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement… twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!” laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra incredulously. “Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?”

“No… I’m glad you asked,” Phil replied. “Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem. The Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny, here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from “thorny” times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific “problem” and give thanks for what that problem taught us.” As Phil paid the clerk, he 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 the clerk. “It’s all too… fresh.”

“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. “I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.

“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?”

“Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first.”

It read:
My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

Author Unknown
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