"The snowiest of winters bring about an abundance of wildflowers come springtime." ~ Katie Ganshert
My Wildflowers from Winter Story
I was born into the most amazing family on Earth. My parents, siblings, in-laws and many extended relatives have surrounded me with unconditional love and have cheered me on every step of the way.
I grew up in a small, tight-knit town on the banks of the Mississippi River where my husband and I have chosen to raise our own family and where my mom is the mayor. We're blessed with friends and neighbors who understand the true meaning of community. For ten years, before I stayed home full time with my kiddos, I had a fantastic job as a historic site guide, spending the day with great coworkers and people on vacation.
I met the love of my life when I was sixteen. He's handsome, smart, kind and full of powerful wisdom and insight - and best of all, he's crazy about me, too. We have four adorable children, two girls and twin boys and we live in a home near the river I love. God has given me every desire of my heart. I am blessed, no doubt about it, I know I am.
I'm wildly and passionately in love with God. Every fiber of my being resonates with my Creator. Each decision I've made has been guided by my belief in Jesus. I know I'm valued, chosen and called by Him and I feel honored to be His child.
On a beautiful summer day in 2006 I had my second child, a healthy little girl. Up until the delivery everything was text book perfect, but right after she was born there were some serious complications. I was rushed into the operating room for an emergency D & C and I was put under anesthesia. Some time during the procedure I started to wake up when I wasn't supposed to - although I didn't come to my full senses. Not comprehending what was happening, I began to panic. Enough of me was conscious to know something wasn't right, but I couldn't pull myself from the abyss. In that semi-conscious state I thought I was dying, but where was Heaven? I didn't see any of the things I had always hoped to see. But, more importantly, I didn't see Jesus. All around me was white emptiness and the only thing left was my thoughts - for eternity. Just me and the panic, forever.
I was screaming for help and thank God my doctor was close enough to reassure me. I remember hearing her voice come through the fog of fear - it was like an anchor. I went back under anesthesia and my nightmare was over. I was never near death and I came through the surgery just fine, but at the time I thought I had been. I lost so much blood that I required a transfusion the next day and it took my body a good three months to fully recover - but it took my mind and my heart much, much longer.
In the weeks and months that followed, I began to have panic attacks. I kept reliving the vivid memory of that moment when I thought I had died. I cried all the time. I began to hate myself for letting the fear take over me. I was filled with guilt and remorse for missing out on the joy of my infant's first months and the look in my two year old's eyes when she saw me cry. I wondered if I would ever come out of the panic. I didn't think I could ever trust God again. I imagined my husband having to raise our children alone because I was going to be locked away somewhere.
I became insecure for the first time in my life. Who was this scared, pathetic woman? What happened to the confidence and joy I had experienced in life? I was not prepared for this at all. My foundation, the bedrock of my existence was shaken. Where had God been when I needed Him most? I questioned everything about my life and my faith. It consumed my every waking moment. To say I was overwhelmed with fear would be an understatement, it sucked the life out of me. Before my feet touched the floor each morning I was overwhelmed and exhausted with it. There was no rest for me.
I didn't tell people outside of my immediate circle, though I did speak about it a lot to those near me. Some of you may be reading this now and be shocked to hear it. Some of you saw me on a regular basis and had no idea. I didn't speak about it because it was a very personal experience and, to be honest, I was ashamed for not being able to control the fear, for having so many insecurities and for questioning my faith.
On and off for years, I dealt with the pain and fear from that experience. I asked God constantly why He allowed it to happen, but I wasn't given an answer.
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver." Malachi 3:3
I was put through the Refiners Fire and each little piece of my life was subject to the intense heat. I examined every area - and what I found left me disgusted. Yes, I had led a blameless life, I had made good decisions and I had no regrets, but I saw that I had been self-righteous. My world revolved around me and I took credit for my talents, my accomplishments and my faith. I was selfish, prideful and opinionated. I was judgemental and my expectations for myself and others was set too high. And this was just the beginning. God took me deep into my heart. He showed me that my heart was a garden, His garden, and I saw the beautiful flowers He had planted there. Flowers planted through His Words spoken to me and about me, but they were being choked out by weeds. Weeds that had been planted through believing lies since I was a little girl about who I am and who the world expects me to be. The garden in my heart was a mess.
But Jesus came.
I remember the day I felt him enter my garden to tend to my heart. He began to identify each weed and then He pulled them out, one by one. Every day He would show me another weed that needed to go and He told me the roots had to be removed or they would keep coming back. It was a very painful process and it left big, deep holes. But slowly, ever so slowly and gently, He cultivated and healed the soil of my heart. And then, one by one, He began planting new seeds of faith, hope and love into my heart through whispered promises from His Word. I can still close my eyes and see Him quietly working there as we fellowship.
It was the hardest experience of my life, but also the most beautiful. Together we're still pulling out weeds and working at getting to the root of them. Every once in a while a new weed will pop up and we'll deal with it, but my garden is now in full bloom again and it is a place of rest and beauty. As the seeds He planted continue to grow, they will produce a harvest of fruit in my life, which I can give to others through my words, my actions and my love.
It would take me a lifetime to convey all that God has done and shown me through this process. The way He's woven into my life people and circumstances to show me His glory. The deep understanding and insights He's given to me as He continues to reveal Himself in little and big ways. For the first time in my life, I have an incredible peace deep within my soul and I am left standing in complete and utter awe of the Master Gardner. The doubt and the fear have been uprooted. What I am left with is a beautiful garden of flowers from the deepest of winters and a hope beyond all comprehension.
I believe God has a mighty plan for my life - and yours. He wants to come into our hearts and clean out the mess and begin to restore the garden so that we can display His beauty.
After five years, God answered the question on my heart: why did all of this happen? He planted the answer deep into my heart soil and whispered a promise there, which I will hold for all of eternity and which will produce an abundance of fruit in His perfect timing, for His glory.
And, four years later, God gave us a double blessing for the pain, our twin boys.
"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come." 2 Corinthians 5:17
Do you have a Wildflowers from Winter story? Are you still experiencing the winter, longing for the wildflowers to bloom? I'd be honored if you shared.
Today Katie has generously offered to give away a copy of her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, to one of my commenters. Everyone who comments before Monday, May 7th at 12:00 a.m. will be entered into the drawing. Please leave your email address in the comment form to be notified. If you'd like to receive my reply to your comments, please click on the "Subscribe to Email" link at the bottom of the form.