Standing near a one-ton pallet of Montana river stones at the local nursery, I heard one of the owners over my shoulder. “Ahh . . ., it’s the ‘rock’ lady.” I turned around to a familiar smiling face who said, “We’re dying of curiosity, what do you do with all the rocks you buy? We notice you stand out here going through all the rocks before you choose any. We just wonder what you use them for?”
I’ll bet I do look strange, in my gardening ‘grubbies’ with my mocha or diet coke, moving the 10–15-pound boulders from bin to bin as I attempt to find the ‘perfect’ rock. I love the shades of green, purple and red unique to the riverbeds of Montana. The rocks I chose perform an important job.
In our garden is an unruly patch of ground. It is the area we used to burn on, and is now so fertile no matter what we do we cannot keep up with the ferocious weeds that multiply. They choked out my favorite roses and laughed at my efforts to control them. In a moment of brilliance–or desperation–my husband decided to put down black plastic to slow the aggressors. He carefully cut holes for the roses and held the plastic down with some rocks.
Family photos have always served as anchors in my life. The storyteller in me embraces memory keeping. When the world seems to be falling down around my ears, my picture memoirs hanging on the walls of my home remind me I am blessed. The familiar faces in the pictures taken throughout the years help to count our blessings, and places life’s problems in prospective. Difficulties that seem to be insurmountable pale when I see the things we have already overcome. So, each time we ask for specific requests and our prayers are answered, we have a celebration. To serve as a reminder of each blessing, we find a special rock and place it in the flowerbed we call ‘rock-n-roses’.
This year has been particularly rough, as some years can be. We have had the responsibility and privilege of praying earnestly for ‘big’ prayers. Although all blessings are gifts, many of them have been more than abundantly given. We have seen illness thwarted, finances restored, relationships repaired, cancer contained, hearts healed, and life returned to a friend. We often find our rocks at the creek but for these special gifts we visit the local landscaping business and select the colored rocks that will help us remember which blessing it represents. The greater the blessing, the bigger or more unique the rock will be. Soon we started visiting the rock bins every week while the ‘altar’ and our hearts began to grow.
Each rock stands as an ambassador to the requests and answers from the one who loves us beyond what we can understand. On the days when I feel emotionally beat up or that life has served us more than our fair share of ‘difficulties’, I stand in my rock and roses flowerbed and am reminded that hardships bring opportunities for blessings.
Although the flowerbed is twelve feet long and four feet wide there are now so many rocks, it is difficult today to find the black plastic we laid over the weeds.
Our placement of rocks for each blessing has created a beautiful rock garden.
When friends and family come to visit, one of the things they like to do is check out how our rock-n-roses bed has grown. Count your blessings ~ I can hear my father say ~ or in our garden, count the rocks! Because of this simple principle, I have learned to find many things to be thankful for. I try everyday to make a list of the simple things that bring joy to my life, and I am amazed how much joy I have.
Some days my list looks like this:
I’m thankful for family get-togethers, rainy mornings snuggled under a quilt, warm chocolate chip cookies, puppy breath, the purr of a kitten, clean kitchen counters, old books in unlikely places, visiting gardens, senior citizens’ stories of the past, Diet Coke, soaking in the sun, junk stores, building projects, traveling historical trails, the Lincoln Memorial at night, music that moves my soul, the sunlight as it pours across my living room carpet, the sunset over the Grand Canyon, the sound of children laughing when no one’s looking, Fridays, lunch with friends, cherry/almond mochas, tea parties, eating with my fingers, the colors red and purple, neatly trimmed lawns, Easter bonnets, downhill skiing in new soft powder, a Montana thunder storm, the end of my workouts, the sound of my husband’s truck coming down the driveway, my dog, sailing, going to breakfast, romantic candlelight, driving my car with the stereo cranked up loud with the sunroof opened, the sound of the ocean, Christmas snow, unexpected days off, and a warm blanket while I read a good book!
Rolling up my sweatshirt sleeves, sipping from my drink, I turn back to the owner as I finish explaining my curious behavior regarding their precious stones. I smile and say, “. . . the rock lady, huh? I love that title.” And I hurry home to place my new found ‘blessings’ in our special flowerbed.