I love sunflowers. I once decorated a basement classroom in a sunflower theme. Twenty years later, the cheery blooms became the symbol of the craziest and best surprise God ever pulled on me: my husband, Rick. I love them for their big, bright blooms of yellow, orange, and red. Glass-half-empty by nature, I soak in their resilient radiance.
Sunflowers are the late-bloomers of summer. They beam atop sturdy stalks that needed the rain, wind, and heat of June and July to reach their full height. As the days shorten and the nights cool, they stand tall and vibrant. They are the happiest flower, smiling into fall as summer wanes.
I am solidly in the fall season of life after a stormy summer. My thirties and forties were buffeted by sheets of rain, tornadic wind, and oppressive heat. Summer did not go at all like I expected. Its difficulties and disappointments stunned and shook me.
But God was not surprised by any of it. He wasn’t disappointed either. Instead, he was carefully tending his garden, creating the conditions needed for its petals to unfurl, right on time.
About those thirties and forties—I spent twelve years collecting “alphabet soup” to put after my name: a seminary degree, a second master’s degree, and a doctorate. All these letters (MDiv, MA, PhD) were supposed to spell out a career as an Old Testament professor. What happened instead is that a bleak academic job market and a seven-year series of closed doors left me with little to show for my efforts, except a library full of books and diplomas that need dusting.
But my heart has always been to teach the Bible in accessible ways, and thankfully, that doesn’t require a professorship.
Welcome to my classroom!