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Make some good, old lemonade

Girl picking lemons to make lemonade

Somedays life can seem like one huge grove of sour lemons. Then a friend provides a hug, and God bestows a blessing. That’s a recipe for the most delicious lemonade of life.


JUANITA JOINER

Laywoman, Muskegon Central United Methodist Church

Recently my daily devotions have started out with these three words: Come To Me! But one day what came after those three words jumped out at me, big time! Come to me when you are weak and weary. Rest snugly in My everlasting arms. Rather than struggling, allow Me to bless you richly through it. Now I had some key words to think about during my daily walks around the neighborhood. Words like weak, weary, rest and bless 

Like many of you I am on Facebook and, as a retired teacher, I have former students as my Facebook friends. Some students will always remain former students while others will take up permanent residence in my daily thoughts and prayers. This is the case with Renee, that girl I always wanted to claim as my own daughter. As a young girl Renee could lift my spirits like none other. That first day when she bopped into my classroom she was already singing, smiling and, if my memory serves me correctly, handing out hugs…freely! 

Renee had no idea what I had experienced during those past two years. A life that still wasn’t healed. A life that had given me a grove full of sour lemons. But she was there to share her spirit, her love, and her voice that, to this day, has never stopped singing. With a heart that has never stopped loving and giving. With a Christian belief that has never stopped believing and sharing. But like me, she, too, has now experienced that grove full of lemons—her share of setbacks, disappointments, and probably even a test of faith.

I first met Renee when she was a fifth grader; I had her in choir till she graduated in 1988. That was a total of eight years! My life became richer when she walked through the door of my classroom in 1980, and I must say, stays rich because she continues to be a part of my life. Last week she posted this gem on Facebook and, with her permission, I’m sharing it with each of you. You see…like me, Renee never stopped believing even though the grove of lemons kept getting bigger. The disappointments kept happening while inward faith remained solid and secure even after being filled with lemons. 

When life gives you lemons, what do you do with them? The expression says to make lemonade. I have been puckered up and in the process of making my own lemonade today, till the Lord opened my eyes to some things …Have you ever googled the small, sour, cheery yellow fruit? Have you ANY idea how many uses, cures and benefits this little dynamo has the bragging rights to? I encourage you to check it out. 

God has shown me the blessing of lemons. They are cleansing, healing, refreshing and nourishing. They are small, with a tough skin and juicy, soft insides. You would never know what they are capable of. Their sunny yellow color disguises the tart, sticky fruit. That juicy fruit is the basis of some delectable beverages and desserts when the right ingredients are added. So many analogies for life there. 

I have a whole new appreciation for lemons; literally and figuratively. I’m thankful for God’s steadfast love and grace and for the insight to understand their appeal; to embrace them with “zest.” Confident that God has sweet things ahead for me…for you! 

Like you and me, Renee has experienced her share of hurts, discouragements and setbacks in her life and yet, it was during these “down” times she learned that her faith was still strong. There were times I’m sure she could have walked away, but the God she loves and depends on has always blended the right ingredients into those sour lemons to make lemonade. The same ingredients that sweetened my life’s lemons, Renee’s lemons, and perhaps the lemons the church is experiencing will be just what we need to embrace life’s challenges with new “zest.” Be confident that God has sweet things ahead!

~ This reflection first appeared in The Outlook, the newsletter of Central United Methodist Church in Muskegon.

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