Monday, September 12, 2016

Fresh vs. Faded: A Different Perspective

I was on my way for parts in Hutchinson. Again. But as the sun broke through persistent morning clouds to the east, the light caught my eye. As I came to an intersection, the light was filtering through the leaves on century-old trees along a dirt road. And it seemed like the sunflowers were absorbing the radiance, making them glow from the inside out.

So ... I backed up the pickup. Yep, I did it. (I didn't tell Randy at the time, but when he reads this, I suppose my secret is out.) I took a couple of minutes to capture the moment before I jumped in the red pickup for my first trip for parts of the day. (There were three different repair runs that day, but who's counting?)

Until I looked at the photo on the computer, I didn't notice something that seemed really obvious at second perusal. I was so focused on the perfect sunflower in front and how the light seemed to be illuminating it from within that I didn't even notice the old bedraggled flower in the background.

On my second trip to Hutchinson for repairs, I thought about the simple scene. At first, I was annoyed at myself that I'd "ruined" the photo with a straggly, wilted flower in the background. But maybe there was more to it.

When I was in the moment, I was busy focusing on the perfect petals and the dance of light.  I crossed catty-cornered to the southwest corner of the scene and found an old wooden fence post playing hide-and-seek among the yellow blooms.
I looked toward the west and it was almost like sunflowers were lining the aisle at a church during a wedding - the blooms bright and beautiful and full of promise.
At the time,  I was focused on the positive. It was only later that the imperfections started to take center stage.

During my second parts run of the day,  I neared Hutchinson on 4th Street, and I saw the crop of sunflowers that a farmer had grown near the Memorial Park Cemetery on Rayl's Hill.
In July, I had stopped and taken photos in that field, the yellow giant sunflowers contrasting with the blue summer sky. I used one of those photos for my blog header for much of August.

But as I passed that same field on the way to Hutch on that September day, there wasn't a lot of "pretty" left - at least at first glance.
The yellow petals had faded to crumbly brown, and the lush leaves are riddled with bug holes and discoloration. There may be some beauty in the stark monochromatic flower against a similar cloud-dotted blue sky. But for the photographer wanting to capture Kansas' trademark Sunflower State, it was not a very viable endorsement.

For the farmer, however, the crop is nearing harvest time. It is nearing its useful season. The farmer probably enjoyed looking at those beautiful blooms of July, too, but he/she also sees the beauty of potential in the grain-filled heads.

I thought of a Bible verse and looked it up when I got home. John 12: 24 says:
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
The verse may talk about wheat, but it's true for sunflowers, too. More importantly, it's true for me. Unless I die to "self," I can't live the most useful Christian life.  The gateway to the abundant blessing of God is always through death – not necessarily physical death, but a dying to self and to the world that then paves the way for the awesome activity of God.

But that journey is often not easy. Another illustration arrived via my windshield on the way back home. I've been watching two other sunflower fields closer to home, also along 4th Street - our usual route to Hutchinson. They were planted after wheat harvest, so they were behind the Rayl's Hill field. The timing never was right to stop at those fields when they were at their most beautiful. But, this time, I stopped. (A note: Randy wasn't waiting for parts at the time.)
Like distraught humans, the heavy-headed sunflowers hung their heads and seemed to no longer have the energy to lift them to the sun.
They seemed bent over with the weight of the world on their shoulders. It seemed like a good metaphor for life on a three-breakdown-kind of day. Life can bend us over and have us looking a little worse for the wear.

But finding the Son will make all the difference. Seeing the positive and living the mission God intended is the goal. And, as I thought about my early-morning sunflower seeming to glow inwardly, I thought about the Hillsong tune,  "From the Inside Out," that I hear on K-LOVE radio once in awhile.Yes, sometimes even on those parts runs.

It says, in part:

A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
I'm caught in Your grace
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise ...
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out ...

Give it a listen, if you'd like. And look for the good today and as we begin a new week.  I hope to, too!

I'm linked to Tell His Story at Jennifer Dukes Lee's blog. Click on the link to check out Jennifer's story and those from other bloggers who write about faith!


  1. Cool all respects! Love the flowers...perfect or not...and the lesson too! Hope your Monday is starting out as a NO breakdown kind of day!

    1. Thank you, Alica. It started out as a no breakdown day. I delivered noon meals to the field, then I had to go to Hutchinson to get a rim, etc., for a disc tire and then to Stafford to have the tire transferred to the new rim. But Randy got the corn all cut, so that was good, especially since there is rain in the forecast. Now we'd like to have about an inch of rain. Wonder if we can order it up? (I wish.)

  2. Kim,
    I always enjoy your insight and faithful perspective into life. The way you relate it to farm wife life draws me in even more.

    J and I went to North Dakota boarder town this afternoon and I see some of the sunflowers are heavy headed and turned down. Some of the fields still look pretty green. Corn in our area is also starting to turn.

    On our travels we saw so much awesome looking corn; bean too! J's brother said Illinois had the wettest August in history. We left their place on Wednesday and J's brother sent a text Friday morning telling us they got 4.5" of rain since we left. We got .06" on Saturday night.

    Hope you get back up and running with harvest. :)

    1. We actually got done with corn harvest yesterday. After I delivered noon meals to the field, I made a trip to Hutch to pick up parts for the disc and then to Stafford to get the tire put on the new rim. We could use about an inch of rain about now. Parts of Kansas have gotten way too much.

  3. You are blessed with a strong faith. I love the sunflower story.

  4. My sunflowers haven't bloomed yet. I can't wait! But I love that they don't all bloom at exactly the same time. You did good at capturing the old and the new. The cycle of life and death is all around us. May we learn from it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Here in Kansas, we have loads of wild sunflowers along the ditches right now. The sunflowers planted for crops are now fading, like my photos show. There are many lessons from God's creation, if we just open our eyes to them. Thanks for visiting, Lisa!