• Joni Elizabeth

poppies for remembrance

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

I didn’t really understand why poppies had captured my attention these last few weeks. I found myself doodling the four petaled blooms in the margins of my Bible study papers. I looked for a background picture for my phone. Something about the simple flowers felt more than beautiful, but meaningful. Like they were meant to tell me something.

I already knew they were used in memorial for wars, that they were symbols of remembrance.

I knew that I did need to remember some things.

My trip to Kona was less than four months away and before that I had a trip to visit family in California the first week of June. Both trips had me terrified, mostly about the flying to get there. Forget that I’d already ridden in a plane 16 other times- that was six months ago.

Anxiety bringing up old symptoms of illness, I fought to remember. I read my old diary, reminding myself of what God had brought me through. I prayed and scrambled to gather brave trust that He would help me again...

When we drove by a house whose garden corner was crowded with long stems, bright scarlet petals delicately unfolding to let purple-black middles peek over, I wanted to ask if we could pull over. I wanted to trod into the stranger’s yard, bend down to behold the flowers up-close. As I leaned towards the truck window, something in my chest actually ached. Blinking away the sudden emotion blurring my vision, I felt silly. But the flowers were so perfect looking and…

Poppies are for remembrance.

The night before my parents and I left for California, a fear all too familiar come all too close. I was shaky, teary, and teetering on the edge of a panic attack. I recognized this to be the same fear that had stopped me from doing so many things in the past, had caused me to miss out. I didn’t want to get it any hold one me. Because I wanted to visit family in California. And because I knew that if I let fear stop me on that night, it would be so much harder to fight come time to leave for Kona…

My mom prayed for me and gave me a word: reminder. She said that God wanted this trip to be a reminder for me.

I went to California. On the first flight, just before we began to taxi to take-off, I had serious real-deal crazy-woman thoughts about getting off that plane. But I stayed, shaking, blaring my music, holding my mom’s hand like a child, quite certain I was about get sick... And we took flight.

We landed in Arizona. Took flight again. Landed in California. Each roller coaster rise and fall was awful. Every sound and rattle of turbulence made me tense.

But it was fine. Doable. And it got me to where I needed to go.

Spending a week with my older brother, my sister in-law, and their two kids was worth the travel, for certain. We mostly spent time together around their home, playing, watching “The White One” (aka, How To Train Your Dragon 3) for the sixth time, painting Elastigirl and Edna color pages on the back patio… We went on a couple outings and on one day we made the trip to the coast. Most of the time I’m horrible at taking photos of moments, too busy living it to think about pulling out my phone. However, when we parked near Sunset Beach I was delighted at the way the sunlight illuminated the yellow-orange flowers growing wild on the sandy slope. I couldn’t resist a couple snap shots. We got our feet wet, ate sandwiches, spotted some seals and dolphins dashing through the waves...

The week spent with family passed quickly and before we knew it it was time to journey back to Kansas. I still hated the plane rides, but found my 19th and 20th flight easier than the previous two. The who practice of air-travel had become more familiar again.

A couple nights after we’d returned home, I had an idea for an illustration I wanted to do. I got out my phone to begin searching for reference images of poppies. Scrolling through the google results, imagine my surprise when I came across not the red blooms I’d been expecting, but a vibrant cluster of yellow-orange.

The flowers I’d taken a photo of days before, the only flowers that had prompted me to capture them in frame were, in fact, poppies. I honestly had no clue. I had given it no thought. I’d only thought they were pretty.

But God knew. Without me even realizing, He was there. Not because I was looking for Him. Not because I digging for a word of comfort from Holy Spirit, but because God is ALWAYS there. He’s always with me, making a way. Bringing me joy in ways only He could. Giving me flowers…

Poppies to remind me.

How thankful and overwhelmed and glad and nonsensically-weepy I am for Him. How good and loving our God is.

Even when I couldn’t see, He was reminding me of His presence.

His faithfulness.

His constant, caring love.

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