My page-and-photo-a-day adventure continues with page 275 being a rather laid-back Saturday. Much of the morning was spent relaxing and allowing tomorrow’s sermon to simmer in my mind as God continues to refine it to what He would have me share. It is a Saturday so I eventually fired up the pellet grill and made bacon cheeseburgers for lunch. After lunch it was time for some Wii game action, sermon work, and eventually a trip to Sam’s Club. The evening included pizza and cinnamon bread sticks for supper followed by some writing, television viewing, and more writing.
The photo on today’s page is of bittersweet that was growing along the pier access at the Holland lighthouse. When dried, the golden shells of these berries pop open to reveal a bright orange inside. They are typically in high demand for fall decorating. Every time I see it growing, I can’t help but think of the years early in our relationship that Mary Jane and I would drive the country roads looking for bittersweet growing wild that we cut down and take back to dry. While the picture doesn’t show leaves, most of the time the vines would be fully leafed out when harvested and all the leaves would have to be picked off before we could sell the bittersweet vines. One particular batch had what we called “two-headed caterpillars” because the fuzzy little creatures crawling all through the vines appeared to have a head on each end — and they would bite or sting! For me, bittersweet is a reminder of those early years of life together when resources were so scarce yet we learned to work together to be able to provide a little income.
I suppose it is fitting that the bittersweet vines take me back in time to our dating years and early years of marriage. In the midst of some very difficult days — even bitter days — of life, the sweet part of life co-existed and even found a way to flourish. Life is hard. I’m pretty sure it is that way for most people and everyone has a somewhat unique version of what has made it particularly hard for them. In our story, there have been many factors which have added to the difficulty of life and many of those same factors have found a way to add to the sweetness of life as well. It seems that bitter and sweet are often two sides of the same coin in life. Yes, the “two-headed” bugs were a nuisance and caused pain, but they also caused much laughter and many memories as we worked together to push through the difficulties in order to provide some income. The sweet times we experience are more fully appreciated because of the bitter times we have been through. Yes, the bitter times may feel fully bitter while we go through them, but it is in the process of going through them that we find the opening for the sweet times of life.
I pray that you and I would recognize the value God has placed in our life through the people around us. I pray that we would hold fast to the sweet times of life to give us courage to carry on through the days that are hard. I pray that God would give us insight into some of the ways He has used our difficult times for our good and the good of others. I pray that we would not become discouraged when the bitter days take their bite, rather we would live with the knowledge that in Christ we can have victory over everything that attempts to destroy us.