Long before landscaping help and a watering system transformed my yard to lovely, it was a jungle of weeds and grass. Weeding on the installment plan simply had not worked. The yard was way past weed eaters and pruning shears. Now I needed a crew with machetes to break the trail, followed by a bulldozer.

My first spring in the house, I looked outside at a bed full of silk flowers among the weeds. Who would have put them there? Having been raised in desert where wayward eggs fried on the summer sidewalks, I knew nothing of tulips but wire-enforced leaves and fraying cloth blossoms.

But as I touched them, I realized these felt just like flowers! In fact, they looked  real! Mother Nature’s bright tulips turned the brittle brown landscape to red, yellow, white, purple, fuchsia, and rainbow! Only the beauty of the flowers had been camouflaged by the grass that cupped around them like a wall.

Once I had the materials to transform the yard and finish a walkway next to the bed of flowers, I weeded the spring bulbs so you could see their lithe stems and thick leaves. But without the grass around, they collapsed! They lay splayed on the ground like roadkill. I felt terrible!

The next morning I considered what to do. Bamboo skewers and twine would keep the flowers upright. I gathered them up and covered my eyes as I peeked around the corner at the tulips. But after a night of rest, the colorful blossoms were reaching to God! They didn’t need the grass to hold them up any longer, only the chance to stand on their own. They became stronger, more beautiful and larger than ever before.

The flowers that now stood on their own reminded me that sometimes we need to pull away from relationships that keep us from God. I thought with sadness of some of my family members and friends’ grown children who were influenced into addictions by those around them. Some broke ties with the friends who led them into bad habits; some did not, causing continued pain to themselves and all around them.

It is painful to break ties, but God gives us strength to stand, grow and flourish. He guides us to new relationships and a new direction so that we become stronger and more beautiful than ever.

For spiritual strength, you need to persevere through tough times, too. Read Hebrews 12:11 in the New Testament: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

How can unhealthy relationships in your life be pruned for better results?


About Jo Russell

Jo’s humor, inspirational stories, articles and devotionals have spanned more than 40 years, with several national writing contest awards for humor. She's a contributing author in Chicken Soup for the Soul—Shaping the New You and Heavenly Humor for the Dieter’s Soul.

Contact Jo

Find Jo on Twitter and Facebook. To schedule Jo as a speaker or to discuss your writing project and receive a free quote, call her at 928-536-2479. Or contact her using the website Contact Form.

Feeling Blue?

That can't last. Listen in on four talks of Jo's to banish those blues:

How Do I Count My Blessings When the Toilet is Overflowing?

The Choice We Have Between a Dead Egg and a Live Savior

Never Give Up!

Can Kermit and Miss Piggy Marry and Live Happily Ever After?