Flourish : Written By Simi John

Models: Courtney Ramsey, Kaleigh Bishop, Sasha LeBlanc, Taylor Marie, and Hosanna Morris

Models: Courtney Ramsey, Kaleigh Bishop, Sasha LeBlanc, Taylor Marie, and Hosanna Morris

Flourish means to thrive, grow, multiply or prosper. When I think of the word flourish, I envision a garden with lots of crops and colorful flowers showing off their beauty under a bright shining sun.  My husband’s latest obsession has been transforming our dull and boring backyard into a serene little oasis. I blame all the home makeover and real estate shows we watch on television. But it truly has been such a great project for the family, although it has taken more time, money and effort than we had imagined. My husband and 2 littles dig up the flower bed, I select the placement, the kiddos water. That was just some of the work from the first day. All that work we put into it will be worthless if we don’t continue to maintain and tend to the garden every day. Relationships are the same way, it takes consistent work. 

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 If you want something to flourish, you must remain faithful to it.

 

Recently I have been studying the “virtuous woman” from Proverbs 31.   Right there in the middle of the bible is a picture of the ideal woman, that we ought to emulate. She is an amazing wife and mom. She is generous, intelligent and influential. She is a creative hustler who is an entrepreneur with a good fashion sense. I mean this woman has got nothing on Kim Kardashian, Martha Stewart or even, dare I say, Joanna Gaines. If you haven’t read it, it is a good one to meditate on and study. The verse that stuck with me the most was verse 15:

“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.”

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I am not a morning person. This is an area that I lack self-discipline. At my house, I am usually the last one up and I head right for my Keurig. There is a silent rule: no one talks to mom, touches mom…absolutely nothing until she has had her coffee. When it comes to sleep, I am most selfish. We see how the virtuous woman here is the first one to rise, even when it is still dark and she isn’t sitting around drinking coffee or even having quiet time. She is up before the sun so she can work. She is preparing food not just for her family, but the servants. Wait! She has servants, yet she is in the kitchen working to make them food? This woman is a picture of a servant. She doesn’t think highly of herself in an arrogant way and demand from others, but in humility she serves even the ones that are meant to serve her.  

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 In the virtuous woman’s economy of relationships, she didn’t place value and worth on people based on what they did for her, but who they were. They were people under her roof, placed in her life so she made sure to provide for them and steward them like she did her own family. It is easy for us to choose who we serve and honor, but Jesus teaches us over and over that the Christian life is a life of servanthood, to all those around us even those we may not like, or feel deserve honor.

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Sometimes we are so focused on being friends with the popular crew, connecting with the big influencers on social media or networking with successful business owners that we neglect those that God has placed in our path and planted right beside us in this garden of life. We are so often focused on our success, our own plans and getting ahead that we can’t genuinely celebrate those around that flourish. So, comparison creeps in, envy takes over leaving us bitter and discouraged. The only cure to overcome this vicious cycle is having a servant heart like this virtuous woman. 

Philippians 2:3-4 “But in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests.”

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 We live in a culture that has trained us to be consumers not servants. The focus is always on what I get.  But the life that Jesus calls us to live is a life that is focused on giving, because giving is a response of genuine love. Ultimately every relationship we have is founded on love, therefore generosity and surrender is part of it.  To be like the virtuous woman, don’t focus on what you get, but what you give.  We all want a beautiful backyard oasis but are we willing to put in the work? Who are you willing to wake up early for? Who are you willing to serve? What is in your life that you need to better steward? 

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Recently as I was working on some content for my YouTube channel and social media, I was discouraged by the amount of engagement and I thought to myself “I just don’t have any support, no one to really promote or encourage me” Immediately I felt this voice speak to me “who do you support or promote?  I am sitting here, waiting on others to get down on their knees dig up the flower bed and water the plants in my garden, yet I am not helping someone else prosper or thrive in their calling. I love encouraging and empowering women to live out their purpose, yet I had become so focused on me and my success that the thought of watering someone’s else garden didn’t even occur to me. So, for the past few weeks, I intentionally give a shout out, publicly acknowledge or encourage someone on my social media. I am not doing it for my actions to be reciprocated or be noticed. I am not doing it even as a strategic networking plan to gain followers or likes. I am doing it so I can remember that this garden isn’t just about me, there is so much more beauty when all of us bloom and show off under the bright shining sun. As the virtuous woman nourished and cared for those under her roof, she was empowering them to live out their purpose and they could help her do the same. And I bet if one day she was sick and couldn’t rise early and cook for them, they would have done it, because they experienced that love and care from her.

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I remember reading about the sequoia trees, they are over 250ft tall and 35ft across. Interestingly their roots are not that deep, the roots actually go down and then spread out and like a vine wrap around the roots of the sequoia trees planted beside them. They nourish and help each other stand firm. When we help, others flourish we get to be part of their success and celebrate them. When we are not part of it, we stand back criticize and compare. Too often we live with a scarcity mentality that lies to us that there is not enough room for all of us to succeed. I find this to be truer among women than men. Sometimes women will help a man succeed but keep another woman down, because we compare ourselves to other women. I think it’s time for us to stop comparing, competing and criticizing, let’s start celebrating the other women in our life.  Reach out to the ladies in your life to empower them to pursue their purpose. So often we say we will pray for them or give a word of encouragement, which is so important, but sometimes we need to get down and dig deep in the garden, so ask how you can serve and support them to help them flourish. Let’s grow together, there is room in the garden for all of us! 

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