Ever-reaching toward the sun with all of their heaven blessed beauty, sunflowers remind me of the “me” I long to be. Those big, bright and cheery blossoms grow with a life giving determination at a phenomenal rate. I have always loved them and I even grew some in a pot once on my terraza in Mexico. That in itself was a miracle because I have never been able to grow a thing except for children, and even they don’t grow very tall.

Where ever we are on the mission-field, I try to grow some green stuff somewhere, somehow. The children have always enjoyed getting dirty and we just have such fun digging and putting the wee seeds into the ground. The Parable of the Sower, and the Fruit of the Spirit are common conversations when we play in the dirt. On most occasions, nothing seems to happen but we certainly have fun trying.

A few weeks ago Noah and I were playing in the dirt near the front of the house. The idea we had was to plant some sunflower seeds to grow big and beautiful right in front of the kitchen window. We wanted to make the front of the house look beautiful. We were ready with a purpose and a plan to make it all happen. With our seeds and wee shovels, we went out to begin.

I love spending time with my only son. He is such a sweet natured boy. I can let out a whimper in another room and he comes running to comfort and hug me. He is always asking questions about what we are doing with that innocent yearning for knowledge. My youngest, is a completely different treat from the 5 beautiful daughters that came before him.

We were having a blast that day, digging holes and getting all dirty. We each had a small bowl full of seeds to put into the ground. It was very windy and some of the seeds flew out of our bowls and got a bit scattered. We put them back into the bowls as we dug, and then pinched them up into our fingers and pushed the wee things into the ground.

Noah was commenting on how they looked just like the salted variety that we ate as he fell into the freshly dug up soil. We giggled and laughed and he threw a couple of seeds at me and I flicked some dirt on him in return. We prayed as we filled the watering can with special vitamins and began to water the mounds of freshly seeded dirt. We asked the Lord to let the beautiful flowers grow tall and my sweet boy hugged me and told me he would pick them for me, “when they are beautiful like you mommy.”

Then we waited. It was not long before specks of green began to push through the ground. We were so thrilled. The tiny leaves grew rapidly, ensuring sunflower success. It was glorious, for about a week.

The leaves did grow, huge as a matter of fact but they weren’t growing any taller. Big, wide leaves grew very close to the ground. They were gorgeous but not what I expected. It was well into week two that my dear neighbor, who has a real gift for growing things, asked me why I was growing squash in front of the window instead of the sunflowers. I could not believe my ears. I was growing squash. I mean I love squash but it was not what I expected. It wasn’t just a small amount either, there were dozens of the big bushy things growing in front of my house where the beautiful sunflowers were supposed to be.

God desires to make something beautiful out of the misplaced seeds in our lives.

Whenever I walked through my front door I found myself shaking my head. What did I do wrong? How in the world did I mistake squash for sunflowers? Perhaps I did not have my reading glasses on when I grabbed the seeds, or maybe it was because we were just having so much fun I was not carrying out the plan with the purpose and intent that I had before we began. The result was definitely not what I wanted.

None of this took away from what fun it was Noah and myself, but it did put me into mind how my carelessness can give me results I never intended. For instance, I will never forget the time I went into the local Office Depot and after not finding what I needed, began to walk out. Ella, my special needs daughter began to exclaim rather loudly, “Why did I come here? They never have what I need at this store and I always walk out empty handed. Remind me never to come here again!” I had to laugh as I began to half carry her out of the store in complete embarrassment.   I asked her why in the world would she say such a thing and her reply was simple, “Mommy you said that the last time we were here.” She was right, I did say that, word for word and even in the same tone of voice. My little huggable, photographic memory, tape-recorder.

How many times have I been utterly careless in word and deed?

Who was watching and what was the final effect of my thoughtless actions?

How many times do sunflowers of good intentions grow up into unwanted squash?

Often times my little ones or the little ones I have been blessed to care for through the years have heard me say, “Will you get apples if you plant lemon seeds?  Will you have nice if you plant mean?  Will you have love if you plant hate?” How many times do I try to live life with determination and purpose and then turn right around and live carelessly?  Quite a lesson for me and one I ponder every time I look at those big ol’ silly plants growing where my sunflowers were meant to be.

I want to live intentionally. I want to live with purpose, and give from the overflow of a heart that has been bathed in the presence of the Lord on a daily basis. It is what I desperately desire in life. But I have to be honest enough to say that sometimes I am distracted and careless. I am human and I fail. I fail often. But that is okay, because God is good and He can handle it when I fail. He is never shocked and overwhelmed by my mistakes and careless nature.

I know that The Lord can make something beautiful out of the misplaced seeds of my life as long as I continue to lean into Him and His Extravagant Grace.

 For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Philippians 2:13



Stasia is mother to six beautiful children and wife to a dedicated, loving husband.
They have served as a family together on the mission field on four continents for nearly 29 years. 
Stasia’s passion is to share in true colors the grace of God in her life. 
You can read more about her and the ministry of the Women’s Bible Cafe here.
Meet Missionary Mom and Ministry Leader Stasia Nielsen
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