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A Story of Restoration: My African Violet

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By Susan Grant

Bethel Next Step Monitor

A Chattanooga native, Susan has a Master of Social Work degree and is licensed in TN and in GA. She recently retired after 25 years as a foster care worker and court liaison for Hamilton County with the TN Dept. of Children’s Services. She also has experience in education and behavioral health. She is a wife, mother and grandmother and a Bible study leader in her church.


A Stick in a Pot

The year was 1990 in which I found myself single again with my child.  I had no home, job or car.

There are two types of homelessness.  Some are sheltered homeless and others are unsheltered homeless.  I was blessed to be among the sheltered homeless living with family.  I had several house plants and had given all of them away except for one which was an African Violet.

The month was February and the plant did not do well in the move.  All the leaves and flowers had frozen in the transport and fallen off.  So, all that was left was a stick in the pot.  Still, I put it on the windowsill of the room my daughter and I were staying in.

My sister observed the plant in the window sill and informed me it was dead.  However, I could not bear to throw it out.  Honestly, it looked like I felt as I tried to pull my life back together.  I continued to water it with no real hope.  I just could not throw it away.

Life Reclaimed

Amazingly, some of the leaves began to grow back on the stick.  Just as amazing was the way my life was beginning to move forward as well.  As the years went by my violet bloomed again and my life, bit by bit, was restored.  I felt the violet and I had come a long way.  I had a job, home, and a car.  My violet, my child and I moved several times as the years went by.

Ten years later I married again to a wonderful Christian man.  My violet and I moved again.  I could not believe what my violet did.  It completely and utterly died.

In the book of Joel chapter 2 the Bible says God will restore what the locusts have eaten.  There could have been no truer words than those.  For 10 years the violet represented my restoration. When my restoration was complete, I no longer needed it to be my symbol of hope during what felt like a hopeless time of my life.

A Blessing Come Full Circle

The lesson for those who read this is that with God, nothing is truly hopeless, regardless of how we feel or the world’s evidence to the contrary.  We are loved by Him and He is in control.  He is with us in the hard places and gives us blessings along the way.

He also has a plan.  Here I am even further in my journey in life and working in a ministry.  Here at Bethel Bible Village I lead a program for called “Next Step,” which provides transitional housing for homeless families — often single parents. The families in this program are where I once was, and it is my goal as the monitor not only to work with them but to give them the hope of being overcomers with God’s help.

God does not waste what has happened to us but raises us up to be a testimony to others of his love and care for us in our hard places.  I often think of Joseph from the Old Testament.  How else does a slave become the leader of a country?  God used his God given gift of dreams, which began when he was a teenager.  I have been a social worker for years and it is a God-given gift as well.  I am pleased to be using that gift here at Bethel Bible Village to help others through their “violet” days.

 

Find out more about Bethel’s Next Step Program

 

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