Dear Little Ones,
I have a story I want to share with you. It’s actually my story.
There is this little four-year old girl with hair the color of sunshine and she has a big heart–so big, she has decided it's time to give it away. Piece by piece. Her Mama told her about you–how things aren’t so good for the children in your country right now. How many of you are in children's homes, orphanages without your Daddies and Mamas or family members–a place where you can’t go outside and play, in fear of getting hurt. Where the sunshine is blocked almost all day–every day. Because of war.
The little girl who wants to give away her heart to others decided she had to help you in some small way. But how could she, living across the ocean, so many miles away from you? Her Mama always told her that planting seeds of kindness was always the best way--God’s way.
And this is where I come into the story. You see, I’m a sunflower–the national flower for Ukraine and I just happened to be in one of the seed packets that the little girl and her Mama bought at the garden store. Wow, was I excited when the packet opened and I fell into her small cupped hands. I heard the plans they had for me–plans God had orchestrated. A fundraiser to help an orphanage in Ukraine. Me, being this tiny sunflower seed, could I possibly help a child in need? I couldn’t even imagine what was to come.
The little girl and her Mama filled each of the pots carefully with soil and then with her tiny finger she pushed me deep into the dirt and she gave me water to drink and then placed an Ukrainian flag in each pot–stripes of blue and yellow--flags she painted herself. I heard her Mama say, “Now we have to wait until the seed opens and takes root. Soon this baby sunflower seed will spring forth out of the dirt. But in order for it to grow, it will need lots of sunshine and water. Once they sprout, we will ask people to buy them.”
It wasn’t long and there I was a little green sprout in my own pot and when I saw my homeland’s flag close by–my own flag–I said, “I’m one blessed sunflower!” And soon I went to my new owner’s house. I really thought things were moving along smoothly until I was moved from my cozy little pot to the big garden.
My new owner planted me in her large flower garden in a special place. Next to the front porch. But as I began to grow, struggles and challenges came over me. The other flowers that had been in the garden much longer than I had were determined to weed me out. And so they multiplied and grew to the point they overshadowed me.
A little sprout like me was no match for a family of overgrown canna lilies. I needed to get my share of the sunlight, but how? I remember the field of sunflowers where I was born and what my brother said. A good sunflower’s stem grows straight. And here I was lying on the cold ground and my petals wilting–my stem losing the battle. “God, please help me see the light,” I cried. And the next morning my stem looked like a curvy eel swimming high, standing tall on the ocean floor.
I was feeling quite happy and proud–ready to bloom in my own space and then I noticed--beetles and caterpillars–nibbling at my leaves! What??
"God, it’s me again. Please help me see the light.” The next morning, my gardener, she came out and sprayed this sweet smelling spray on my leaves–medicine of some kind, and no more beetles or caterpillars–they flew off to another garden!
And this morning it finally happened, right on the Lord’s Day–the Sabbath! I’m blooming! My petals are open, although I’m still a little shy–hiding my face–but look at me, here I stand basking in God’s Light--crooked stem and all.
Am I like all of the other sunflowers? No, not quite–I have a curvy stem. My leaves aren’t perfect either. But God made me special. And little ones–never forget, you are loved and you are special too. So when obstacles and struggles come–when darkness seems to be all around–don’t give up hope--talk to God--reach for the Light.
Remember the little girl with the big heart? The one who planted me and painted the flags of blue and sun yellow–for Ukraine--the one who sold seedlings to raise money to help your orphanage? She and her Mama sends love and prayers for you. And many others do too--