A Rose Isn’t Always A Rose–Sometimes it’s a Promise

Our daughter Katie’s dealing with infertility. Some days, faith comes easier for her. Some days, she struggles.

April was a hard month–hormones, injections, ultrasounds, and no pregnancy.

One afternoon on my way to cheer her up, I glanced at my rose bushes beside the garage.

They’ve been a big, fat disappointment. Their leaves are dry and crispy. Their spindly limbs look like skinny arms covered in thorns. And there are only two blooms.

I was ready to give up on our roses. Year after year, I’ve watered them, trimmed them, babied them, and fed them Miracle Grow.

Here they are at the end of July.

This is as good as they get–more blooms than they had in April, but still, look at them.

Friends offered advice:

They’re diseased. Get rid of them.

You shouldn’t have planted them so close to the house.

Plant banana peels round them.

They’re climbers. They need a fence.

I was tired of fooling with them. I’d done all I could do. Still no miracle. 

A gentle thought came.

Take Katie the roses. 

Two roses from my ugly bushes? That’s not even a real gift. If I had a dozen, maybe.

I inspected the two blooms. One had opened, but the other was closed like a tight, angry fist. Sort of how I felt.

Why, God? A baby. She just wants a baby. 

Bring her the roses. 

But look at my bushes. 

They’re growing so tall, they’re going to clog the gutters. 

I got into my car saying NO. Absolutely not.

I was NOT taking her two buds because I didn’t have a promise to go with them.

I couldn’t promise she’d have a baby. 

But the Still Small Voice inside wouldn’t give up.

I got out of the car.


Cut the only two blooms I had from my wild, stubborn rose bushes.

Rummaged through the pantry for a vase.

But something happened on the way to Katie’s house. I saw their beauty, their soft petals unfurling in the sun.

Finally, I got honest with God.

Lord, will You take this piece of my broken heart and bless it? It’s all I have to give her. 

Katie opened the door and I stumbled through my explanation. “I brought you two roses from our yard.”

I wanted to say, “One’s for a mama and one’s for a baby.”

But I couldn’t promise that.

She took the vase from my hands, and I said the one thing I knew for sure–the only promise I could make.

“I don’t understand, but I know God loves you. He hasn’t forgotten you.” Click to tweet. 

Her eyes filled with tears.

She nodded and hugged me for a long time, His Grace filling all the empty space between us.

Sometimes the prettiest blooms come from the straggly limbs–from broken places when all you have to offer is His love.

Have you ever brought the gift of God’s love to someone? It’s powerful, isn’t it?

Are you in a season of disappointment? God loves you. He hasn’t forgotten you.




  1. Anna Haney says:

    Oh, wow. We have rosebushes like those and they look like zombie bushes–scraggly, dry leaves, –just like yours. But they still amaze me with roses. I don’t do anything but stand amazed in the presence.
    That’s all any of us can do.Prayers for your daughter.
    Love you

    • Anna, your words are so beautiful just like your heart. You stand amazed in the presence.

      One day….one fine day, you and I will meet!

      Your friendship means so much to me. Did you realize you’re glowing in your new FB profile pic?

  2. A hug for Katie right now. I wish I could hand her everything I learned through my own process, but I know we all have to walk our own walk. All I do know is that God’s plan is so perfect, whether you end up having biological children or adopting. Whatever His plan ends up being … you’ll fall in love with it and know that you wouldn’t have wanted any other plan. It’s perfect. xoxoxo … all my love, hugs, and sugars from Texas. It hurts. It really hurts.

    • Thank you so much Shelli.

      I’ve gotten to the place where I just listen and love. I didn’t experience infertility. We lost a full-term baby, but I don’t know the pain of infertility.

      Sending you a hug from Georgia this morning, my friend. I’m going to the Christian Communicators Conference next week in North Carolina. Wish you were going! One day we’ll meet face to face. I just know it!

  3. Julie Gilleand says:

    Julie I love your sweet little roses, few though they may be. I tend to have a heart for the underdog so I felt for your roses. Maybe they had hoped as much as you had, to produce dozens of pretty roses and to please you and all who might admire them, but had only been able to offer up two. Maybe they felt they’d been a failure. But it turns out that is exactly what they were created to do — this time — and just for Katie. I’m so glad that you listened to that still, small voice and that it was a blessing and comfort to Katie. And just think, those two sweet roses got to fulfill their purpose, for which they were created, and in such a sweet way, too.

    God bless!


    • Leafy,

      What you said is so beautiful. So, so beautiful. Thank you. I root for the underdog too (root–ha!) But I let my rosebushes get the best of me. :/

      Thank you, my friend. You have a heart of gold.

  4. Georgia says:

    Julie: I am praying for you both.
    Love, Georgia in New Bern, NC

  5. The roses must have been so excited to have been picked for sweet hoping Katie. You God and Katie and now others praying. Much love and always prayers.

    • Thank you, Mother! I’m sooooooo proud of you! You’re making comments now!!! You’ve come so far…. Reminds me of that old hymn…”We’ve come this far by faith.”

  6. Patricia Martin says:

    Oh Julie, I said a prayer for Katie!(: How is she? I saw Rilynn’s bday pics on your Instagram. You both looked like you were having fun. How is Rick? How are his chickens? Hope your novel is coming along well. School so far has been lots of work and so confusing. I loved the pics of your beautiful flowers as flowers always remind me that God is smiling at us.xoxoo

    • Hey Sweet Patricia! Am I following you on IG? If not, I want to!!!! Ohh, we had such a good b/day party at Katie’s house. They got her an inflatable water slide–the cutest thing.

      Hubby and chickens are doing just fine. So are the parakeets and koi, and Clyde, Ellie, and Thelma. I’ve been watching for a baby parakeet, but so far, I haven’t seen one.

      Working on Annie. It’s. So. Hard. Patricia. I feel for you with school. :/

      So much love~~~

  7. A mothers love, as sweet as our Father’s love for us, as sweet as two red roses.

  8. Such precious words from a mother’s heart. Praying for your Katie.

  9. My rose bushes don’t bloom well either! Same straggly limbs, same lovely roses only once in a while. Isn’t it cool, though, when they do bloom? They are so pretty. So fragile. So intricate. Like us. When I toil at life, I don’t bloom. When I relax and let God teach me, prepare me, lead me, I flower. P.S. Just like you. ;o)

    • Yes, Yes, Yes, yes. Love how you said it, B.J. Roses are fragile and intricate, like us! Had never thought of it that way.

      Yes, yes, yes, You’re absolutely right about how we flower. Just beautiful.

  10. Beautiful, Julie. Just like those two roses. xxoo

    “A Mother’s heart is a beautiful expression of God’s everlasting love.”

    • Thank you, Eileen. And thanks so much for being willing to share your gorgeous pictures.

      So much to you~~~

  11. Wow, Julie, what a beautiful reminder that He can take anything, even if it’s scraggly and dry, misshaped and scentless, and make it the lovely, sweet aroma of His love. Praying right now for your little girl. I can’t imagine the heartache month after month. But praise God, He does have a plan. I pray they’ll have insight into what He’s doing soon!

    Love you!

    • Yes, yes, yes. I love how you added Scentless. HE CAN TAKE ALL our ugly and make it beautiful. Even a pleasing aroma to bring Him glory.

      Love you too.

      Can’t wait!!

  12. Kathy says:

    Thank you! I needed to hear this….

    • Oh, Kathy….

      Thank you for your message. Saying a prayer right now. God knows. He understands. He goes before us. And oh, how He loves us.

  13. marci says:

    Finally able to see your site. Such a touching share. My heart goes out to your daughter. As you know we have one daughter, now 37, but— how a ached for a child. We were married for 11 yrs before she came along. I would see 18 yr old full with child. A sis in law, married a month after we married, had 4 children, ..and yet I had none. I will put her in my prayers in a way that someone who has shared that feeling knows. And hope that like me, one day she will hold her baby in her arms. And know how faithful God is .. and even now He has not forgotten her.
    We do ache when our children are hurting don’t we? … Isn’t it amazing how God can give us those firm nudges, unmistable nudges, even when we may not know the why of it.

    God Bless you, and Bless your Katie, May she know she is not alone.
    Love, Marci’a

    • Marci’a, my friend, you ARE a prayer warrior. I have my green prayer shawl right here with me to prove it. And I know you are praying for Katie. You’re so kind. Your heart is pure. This means so much.

      Thank you.

      • marci says:

        Thank you dearest Julie, Yours words are always so kind and gentle and uplifting, what a balm for the wounded, but then again we have all been wounded haven’t we? And it is because of it that we can reach out to each other. Just a thought. I smiled as I read, “You ARE a prayer warrior.” I guess I am. God bless.

  14. Two of my daughters went through infertility. One suffered three miscarriages, one didn’t get pregnant at all in thirteen years of marriage. Our oldest, after the miscarriages and 10 long years, had a miracle baby girl, and three years later another. Our second born adopted two amazing kiddos, then had a surprise baby when the youngest one was ten! The infertility and loss was so hard for me to watch my girls go through, but the miracles, wow!!!!

  15. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Hello, Julie! How lovely it was to turn on my computer, check my emails, and see a new post from you! We’ve been having major Internet and computer troubles for almost a month, including our whole telephone line falling to the ground with no provocation, so my online presence has been quite iffy. Even at my daughter’s over the past three days, her Internet kept kicking me off, and it wasn’t just my computer, I found out when our other daughter came to visit and couldn’t bring hers up to do her college homework online. I think God wanted me to take a break, and I believe it may continue, because the troubles at home still aren’t fixed properly.

    Anyway, your story prompted a memory of something very similar. When dreaming of my marriage and family-to-be, I always wanted lots of children. Five years after we married, when I could finally be a stay-at-home mom, we got pregnant quite readily. However, at 32 weeks, I went into premature labor and was put on bed rest and meds for two weeks, until my water finally broke at home. I delivered our first daughter at 34 weeks, with multiple troubles including immature lungs. But God was watching over us, and long-story-short, He kept her safe and we brought her home only 10 days later, healthy and ready to take on her world.

    About two years later, again getting pregnant easily, I started premature contractions at 27 weeks! Bed rest and meds ensued for 10 weeks; this time delivering at 37 weeks, with no troubles, unless you count the midwife almost missing her birth, a scant 30 minutes after my water broke at the hospital, which happened only minutes after I got there. Again, a healthy baby girl!

    Fast-forward ten years…during which time, we didn’t try for another pregnancy at the doctor’s request and through a bit of fear. In 1995, a chance remark by someone about not giving God the decision about whether or not we’d have another child goaded us to give it another whirl. After all, I still didn’t have my “baseball team of girls” that my mom had teased my husband about! Once more, as though proving the point of “God’s decisions,” we got pregnant right off.

    Regardless, the premature troubles also began…right off. At only six weeks into the pregnancy, my body decided to start contracting, believe it or not. I also began bleeding, something I hadn’t done before. A trip to the doctor’s had me on the familiar bed rest and medication that made me shake like someone on a constant caffeine overdrive. This time, the fear was palpable, causing more internal shaking. And here is where your story took my memories.

    As I lay on a sofa bed at my parents’ house, wondering if I’d even get to see this little one, my mom came and sat on the edge of the covers. She handed my a tiny pewter frame and said, “Hold onto this frame when you pray. Someday, it will hold the photo of your baby.” (Oooo, Spirit-led goosebumps…) And so I did, for 32 weeks…until Faith, our aptly-named third-born daughter, was born at 38 weeks…healthy and beautiful! And yes, that tiny pewter frame still holds her photo!

    And I praise God every day for our step of faith in letting Him decide to give us this child who continues to bring me joy every day for the past twenty years!

    Hang in there, Julie. Tell Katie I have added her to my daily prayers. God’s the Ultimate Decision Maker, and He loves her so much. His plan, whatever that may be, will come if we submit and rest in that love.

    • Cathy, this is absolutely beautiful. Life-changing. And life-giving.

      Spirit-led goosebumps for me too.

      I was almost afraid to read all the way down to the bottom to find out what happened to your precious Faith.

      Thank You, Lord.

      P.S. I love how you said, “Submit and rest.” Good lesson for me too.

  16. Kim says:

    Julie, continued prayers for Katie and Chris, their current family and their future family.

    All I dreamed of, beginning at age 3, was of being a wife and mother. God provided my wonderful husband and we had our first baby. Then secondary infertility hit. We started down the medical road, but I just could not do it. It took a couple of years, but we were finally blessed with our second baby.

    There was a tremendous guilt that came with feeling disappointment month after month because we at least already had a healthy child. I knew so many others did not. It was like walking an emotional balance beam. You love, adore and so appreciate the blessing of one child, as I am sure the gift of Rilynn is for Katie’s heart, yet the sadness and void of a deep longing that remains unfulfilled continues, a guilt settles on you for feeling this way. It was so hard.

    My heart hurts for Katie and I pray her dreams do come true.

  17. Yes, yes, yes, Kim. I think you wrote what she’s feeling. Thank you.

    I know your words will mean so much to her. So much love, my friend.

  18. Patricia Martin says:

    HI Julie, glad to hear you had a great time at Katie’s! (: Alas, I have no social media accounts at this time, I am so worn out by college work that I would not be a good social media user. I am not a good multi-tasker like you, and maybe, someday, I will have an Instagram account. For now snail mail and phone calls are my specialty. But, where there is life there is hope.(; If I ever get an Instagram, you will be the first person that I tell! (); Annie is coming along, and keep strong as it took centuries for the greatest book of all time to be written. Do not worry as you will not take that long to finish your novel.(:

    • Good for you, Patricia! You know your priorities, and yes, social media can sometimes be a time drain. :/

      You’re smart for how you’re handling your life–and your time!


  19. Patricia Martin says:

    Julie, please say prayers and ask all your loved ones to pray for my mom as my sister’s dentist is pressuring her to get Maddy to have all her wisdom teeth out at the same time. Maddy does not need the surgery, but it is the doctor’s preference to do the surgery now. She is not turned 15 yet and still has a way to go before needing this surgery. hope Katie is well and I am keeping real positive thoughts about your novel. (;

  20. Julie says:

    Patricia–I’m so sorry that I’m just how seeing your note. I’ve been out of town for the past few days and am just catching up on my emails. Has anything changed since you asked me to pray?

    I’m praying right now for you and your precious family. Thank you for your prayers, my friend.


  21. Patricia Martin says:

    Hi again Julie,
    Nothing has changed as Maddy will not go to the dentist again for at least two weeks. But, my mom’s resolve against the surgery is good. How was your out of town trip? Thank you for your prayers.(:

    • Glad to see your message and no surgery–at least for now, Patrica.

      Trip was really good. God did a work on my heart. Who knows? It might turn into a blog post soon. 🙂

  22. Oh, my heart. What a beautiful woman/mother you are.
    God knows for sure His purpose and someday soon we will find out what it is.

  23. Holy Goosebumps at your sweet comment, Lux.


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