My firstborn granddaughter will be eighteen years old tomorrow. She’s somewhere in France, working on a variety of organic farms, taking a gap year before the grind of university.

I miss her terribly, but have wonderful memories of that extraordinary girl and can hardly wait to see her again. Until then, let me share the miracle of the Hibiscus…

Bethany lived with me for odd chunks of her growing-up years. One day when I picked her up from school, she informed me that she needed a dress for ballet photos which were to be taken the next morning at eight a.m.!

“And, Grandma, it needs to be the dress for my ballet solo!”

It was a great honor to have a solo, but I didn’t realize that I was supposed to supply the dress!

With no ballet costume stores in our little town, there was no alternative but to go to the fabric store, find a pattern and some fabric and hope to create something that would work! While I used to love designing my own things as a young mom, my sewing machine had been gathering dust for a long time.

The first challenge was finding fabric that would move and feel comfortable — and a pattern to turn it into something worthy for my beautiful solo ballerina. Finally, bags in tow, we made it home, ready for me to begin at 8:30 p.m.

While the others got dinner on the table, I carefully laid out the pattern pieces on the fabric — and realized that the salesgirl had not given me enough fabric! Stuffing everything back into the bags, I rushed back to town, hoping to beat the 9 p.m. closing! But there was no more fabric! She had given me all they had! I had to make the critical choice all over again!

Finally, by 10:30 p.m., I was back at home, laying pattern pieces on two shades of soft green fabric.

Setting my sewing machine up on the dining-room table, I glanced at the Hibiscus plant sitting on a nearby table. Its dark green leaves were shiny and healthy, but the beautiful pink flowers of summer were just a memory. I had hoped that it would continue to blossom after bringing it in in the fall — but it seemed totally disinterested in sharing any of its beauty inside. It had been several months since the last blossom had curled up and died.

Soon, everyone was in bed and I had begun to sew. About midnight, I noticed that a bud had formed on the Hibiscus. All through the watches of the night, it grew, began to show its pink, and gradually began to unfurl.

I sewed, and sewed, finally getting the bodice together and attached properly to the rest of the body-suit. Before attaching the skirt, about three a.m., I took it upstairs and woke Bethany for a groggy fitting. It was perfect!

By the time she got back into bed and I returned to the sewing machine, I was astounded to see that the bud had half unfolded and was becoming a beautiful flower. As I continued to sew, attaching the skirt, inserting the zipper, crisscrossing the ribbons, the flower continued to reveal its magnificence.

When the morning light began to dispel the darkness of night, I put the final touches on the shoulders and went upstairs to awaken Bethany. “Sweetheart, I have something very special to show you!”

“Is the dress finished?” she asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“Yes—but something even more special than that! Come and see!”
Running down to the sewing machine, she saw the dress. “Ohhh—Grandma, it’s beautiful!”

“But Bethany,” I said, pointing to the flower, “here’s the really special thing. God has given us a special sign that He will be with you as you dance for Him. This plant has not bloomed for months, but a bud began to form as soon as I began to sew. It has been unfolding all night and I believe that it tells the story of your life. As you allow God to unfold His plan for you, just like the flower, your life will become a thing of exquisite beauty. All it takes is staying in harmony with Him. He loves you very much—and so do I.”

Well, the photos were taken and Bethany danced beautifully and now she is so far away.

That Hibiscus never bloomed again. It had already communicated it’s greatest message — the message of how precious Bethany is to God’s heart.

Somewhere, a Hibiscus blooms for you — by design.