Ask the red-headed lady: Lessons from the African violet

We celebrated Elizabeth’s birthday this week, and she had a few things on her list. Of course, nothing could trump the surprise visit from her mom and daughter and son-in-law — and, of course, the grandbaby — bringing together four generations.

Throughout the 4-5 days we celebrated her #60, some of the most minor and simple things seemed to stand out to me.

On her short wish list, she wanted a purple African violet plant. She had one several years ago, but she didn’t have it anymore. So, I set out to find a purple African violet in The Woodlands — that should be easy, right?

After scanning area nurseries and stores for days, finally, I found a local Lowe’s that listed them on their website. However, when I called, the gentleman in the lawn and garden center said, “No, we don’t have any.” But, on her birthday, we went to the store to investigate for ourselves.

The first person we talked to didn’t know, but she sent us in the direction of the red-headed lady who would know. Before we could find the red-headed lady, a gentleman tried to help us and then sent us in the direction of another lady. While she wasn’t red-headed, she thought she knew where the plants would be if they had them.

Finally, as this lady gave up and told us they didn’t have them, the red-headed lady walked up. Guess what? The red-headed lady knew more than the other four put together. As she gazed across the flowers in the area, she noticed one plant. Turns out they were three small African Violet plants hidden there. The last three. Each of them was a little banged up and would need some TLC, and each of the three was a different color.

Since they were the last three in the store, the red-headed lady told us: “I’m going to mark these down for you.” She proceeded to take out her Sharpie and scratch through the regular price, and write $2 on each one.

Elizabeth, her mom and I left with smiles on our faces carrying three small African violet plants.

Here’s what I learned from the story.

Keep asking, keep seeking. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. In the amplified version, Luke 9:11 reads like this: “So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” You will know when you have the right answer. It will feel right, and it won’t be like a square peg in a round hole. Keep asking, keep seeking.

Ask the right person. Overall, four different people either didn’t know or have the right answer. Nothing against them, but they all knew the lady who did know the answer. All the right questions won’t matter if you aren’t asking the right person. Moral of the story: Don’t give up until you find the red-headed lady.

The simple things. We all know about the kids who play with the box more than they do the gift. You have a story just as I do. The African violet was not the most expensive gift on the list. Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life. And this will bring Elizabeth joy and allow her to do what she does best: Nurture things back to life.

God hides stuff for you. The three African violet plants were the last ones in the store. They were snuggled away on the shelf, hiding in plain sight, waiting for us. I believe they were left for us for a unique birthday gift. What is God hiding just for you?

We now have three beautiful African Violet plants — pruned, cleaned up and ready to flourish. New pots and violet plant food are on order, and Elizabeth has already applied the TLC. After all, she still has a poinsettia from 2018, so these new babies are in good hands.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.

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