Friday, July 30, 2021

Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower

 Have you ever been to a sunflower field? It has always been something on my bucket list. And well, this year it came true! With the help of my friend Georgie, we were able to go visit a sunflower field. It was as magical as I dreamed it would be! Sunflowers as far as the eye could see. I had seen sunflowers cut in the grocery store before and have always admired their beauty. But the cut ones in the store are nothing compared to these! They were gorgeous!!! Some standing well over six feet tall. Their faces were larger than mine and Madeline’s. 

I also couldn’t help but think on just how cool these flowers are. Like if I were a flower, I’d want to be a sunflower. From truly living out the fullness of their name, the intricate details of their beauty and especially the abundant amount of pollinators they attract, they truly are magnificent! And being surrounded by them in a field where we were highly outnumbered by them haha, I really wanted to do some research on them. It’s amazing what we can learn through the beauty of God’s creation. When we take the time, slow down and allow something like a sunflower to teach us, you may just find an interesting correlation between something as simple as a flower and something you may be going through. All of this to say, I began to research them. Let’s go over six life lessons we can learn from a sunflower.  

Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement

1. Stand Tall & Find The Sun

This first one just may be my very favorite. This truly is the reason why sunflowers live out their name. Not only do they resemble the looks of the sun, but they also thrive off sunlight. They need the light, just like we do (two meanings of light, actually ). Sunflowers need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Young sunflowers actually face the sun from sunrise to sunset. You could kind of say that they wake in the morning to find the light. Not only do they follow the light, but they also stand tall! If you've seen the sunflowers in a field, you know what I'm talking about. The tallest sunflower ever recorded was more then 25 feet tall!

I can't help but relate this to our walk of life. I've always been one to thrive off the sunlight. On rainy days, I tend to feel more down and less productive. I need the sunlight in my life! Vitamin D serves many benefits for our health, including immune and brain support, the promotion of healthy bones and teeth, cardiovascular health and more. But what about another meaning of light?

Have you ever witnessed a beaming sunrise over the ocean? I brilliant pink and orange sunset in the evening? I'll never forget this particular day when I was pregnant with Madeline. It had been a very rough past few days, mentally and physically. I hadn't been feeling well and dealing with frequent headaches. A mixture of all the physical and metal stress left me laying on the couch for four days straight. I couldn't get up. I didn't want to leave the house. I had been hearing rumors of things being said about me. I felt it was best to hide, and all I could do was lay there. Keep in mind, I had not yet learned the value of blocking out lies and focusing on what's important in life at this point in time. Anyways, on the fourth day of time I'm referring to, I remember staring into Madeline's nursery praying this prayer to God: "God if you are really there, if you are really in control, if you are going to make all the crooked places straight, please show me your presence right now." In that moment, on a gloomy rainy day, the most magnificent burst of sunlight came through the window and hit Madeline's crib in a way that was more majestic than I could say. It was in that moment, I understood a whole new meaning of sunlight. Not only how vital it is for all living things, but also the magnificence of the One who created it. 

Through my walk of life, I've learned the important of even on the darkest of days, stand tall and find the sun, just as sunflowers do. Not only the physical light the sun gives to us, but also the spiritual light the Lord has placed right in front of us. On the darkest of days, I've learned the importance of focusing on the joys God has set before me as those are the things that truly matter. I know that just as we can count on the sun rising in the morning, we can even more so count on God's love for us. I know God's Word is "a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path". I know "the Lord is my light". I also find it so interesting that as a maturing sunflower keeps sight of the sun from sunrise to sunset (face following the sun from east to west), a matured sunflower tends to only face east. They've had their period of that bountiful light and do not follow the sun to the west. Even though matured sunflowers aren't following the sun to sunset, they know it's there. Just like that matured sunflower, when I have those rough days and sometimes can't see God working in my life, I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, I know He's there. For I have faced the sun and seen His glory many times to know He is working in my life. 

Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement
Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement
Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement

2. All Come Together to Make Something Beautiful

A second sunflower fact I found to be so interesting, the face of a sunflower is actually make up of many tiny individual flowers! These are known as "Disk Florets". These tiny flowers are only noticeable as individual flowers when you look closely at the center disk of a sunflower. They all work together to make something bigger, something beautiful, something magnificent. They all work together to build up the sunflower. 

In this same idea, I couldn't help but think about all of us in this walk of life. Do you ever have something that happens to you where you feel greatly encouraged? Maybe something you read. A word of encouragement from a friend. I kind deed from a stranger you met at the grocery store. Someone paying for your coffee in the drive thru line in front of you? When I have something like this happen to me, my initial reaction is to share that encouragement with someone else. Whether it's a verse I read that day, and I share it to my Instagram Stories with the hopes it can encourage someone else. Something that has me feeling down and realizing how that encouragement I need just may be exactly what someone else needs. So even if I haven't received it that day, I pass it on just in case it could impact someone else. A smile that may be what someone else needs that day. The beauty through this is that we can all work together to build each other up, just as the disk florets of a sunflower do. It's a beautiful thing when we can all come together and encourage one another in this walk of life. And why? So that we can all glorify God. Just as the disk florets come together to build up the sunflower, we can all come together to bring glory to our God. 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement
Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement
Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement

3. Further Benefits

In my research of sunflower facts, I also realized and never knew just how many uses there are for sunflowers. It's incredible! We're probably all familiar with sunflower seeds. Some of their benefits are a good source of vitamin E, protein, help to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and more. sunflowers can also be used to make a substitute for peanut butter, better known as "sun butter." This again holds the same benefits of sunflower seeds. Another healthy benefit of a sunflower is the oil that can be pressed from the seeds. Sunflower oil benefits include: providing energy, lowering cholesterol, strengthens immune and digestive systems, promotes heart health and more. 

I mean wow, other than being beautiful, sunflowers are pretty useful in the health department. I guess you could say that they're beautiful inside and out! Inner beauty, using inward qualities to benefit others, is something I focus on teaching Madeline. Our world today lays such a heavy weight on outward beauty, when essentially, inward beauty is what makes our world go round. I take this lesson from a sunflower as a reminder to use your inward gifts for the good of others. Whether you're good at encouraging others, a great cook that can drop a meal off to a friend who is going through a rough time, a painter who can use your gift to paint a mural in the nursery at church, etc. But you don't have to be an artist, a chef, a musician. You could simply give a friend who has a car being repaired a ride, because you have a working car. Make a call or text a friend because you can offer a few minutes to show you care. Or maybe through your life experiences, where you've been pressed on every side, just like a sunflower seed, you can encourage a friend walking a difficult path to say, "hey, you're not going to be crushed, you will make it through, stay strong, I'm here for you." 2 Corinthians 4:8-12. Ask God to search your heart and show you how you can be a further benefit to those around you, just like the seeds of a sunflower. 

Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement
Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement

4. Attract More Pollinators 

Another fun sunflower fact is that sunflowers attract five times more pollinators than any other flower. The reasoning behind this is that sunflowers warm up much faster than westward facing flowers. How cool?! I mean I flock to things that are warmer too. Since a sunflower receives that warmth from facing the east with the sunrise, they basically become pollinator superheroes. And to top it off, their brightly colored petals serve as a pollinator attraction as well. And with a single sunflower having numerous tiny disk florets, they are an excellent source for the bees. I have to say, I never knew this and after seeing the countless bees on the sunflowers that day, it was evidence of a sunflowers truly being the main attraction (in the flower world). 

How can we apply this lesson to our lives? Well, I want to be more like a sunflower. I want to attract others. When I choose to stand tall and find the sun, I want that warmth and light I receive to radiate to others. I want the Lord's light to shine through me so I can be a brighter spot in this world. Teaching this to Madeline is so important to me. Yes, I've had my times where I wish I could take things I've done, words I've said back. I think it's so important to pray Psalm 139:23-24 and ask God to help show me how I can attract others in this same way that the sunflowers do. 

Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement

5. Every Little Detail is Perfect

This fun fact leads us to talk about the disk florets of a sunflower once again. More than that, have you ever noticed the other many beautiful and intricate details of a sunflower? From the tiny individual flowers completing the disk, the petals, which are also individual flowers, called the ray florets, to another fun detail I've never noticed before. The leaves that reach further to the top, closest to the flower, are actually heart shaped? I mean, how cool?! I can't help but think on not only sunflowers, but also many other masterpieces of God's creation, that contain such intricate and marvelous details. And guess what? They're all created perfectly. God caring about the individual details of His creation, all working together in such an perfectly orchestrated process and also serves to benefit others, how much more does He care about His children?! You and me. Us, created in His image. God's Word tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He carefully knitted us together in the womb. Our God is an artist, y'all! There is no doubt about it. The sunflower is proof of that, and you and I most definitely are as well. God knew just what He was doing when He created the sunflower. He knew just what He was doing when He created you. And He knows just what He is doing, writing a beautiful life story that is specifically for YOU! Don't doubt that for one moment. 

Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement
Six Life Lessons From A Sunflower - Something Delightful Blog #sunflowers #sunflowerphotography #lifelessons #encouragement

6. Every Part of a Sunflower Can be Used

Did y'all know this? Sunflowers are an entirely edible plant. There is a use for every part of a sunflower. This article will tell you more. But a certain sunflower species root can be used; roasted, fried and paired with other foods. You can even use the sunflower's sprouts, sunflower stalks, making a great snack comparable to celery, leaves being similar to spinach, kale and used in a salad and sunflower seeds which we are very familiar with. You can even ear sunflower disks! Apparently grilled sunflower disks are yummy. There are also other uses for sunflowers as mentioned above. Another includes using a sunflower head as a scrubbing tool for cleaning. All of this to say, every part of a sunflower can be used.

A lot of this goes along with the further benefits point mentioned above, but I want every part of my life to be used for good as well. To teach and raise Madeline, to encourage others, to be hardworking and loyal. I don't have to be the most talented person. I just know that whatever I do, I want it to be used for God's glory. Never be afraid to share what God is doing and has done in your life, because through that, you can honor Him. Collisions 3:17 comes to mind with this sunflower life lesson. "Let everything you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 

Oh to take these life lessons from a sunflower to heart. When we visited the field that day, I had hoped we'd walk away with some beautiful photos. Little did I know, I'd be inclined to see how they relate to our lives, to learn more about them. Most beautiful of all, sunflowers truly embody and live out the name given to them. How amazing it would be to fully live out the life and name God has given to me. I definitely don't do it perfectly, I'm still learning what it means. But I do know that I want to do it better. I want to run the race set out before me. I do know that again, even on the darkest of days, I will choose to stand tall and find the sun. Because it is through that light, I can see God's presence and loving hand guiding me through this walk of life. I'll leave y'all with one last quote my friend Hillary shared with me:

Advice from a sunflower: be bright, sunny and positive. Spread seeds of happiness. Rise, shine and hold your head high. Always turn to the light."  

It's no surprise than sunflowers represent positivity and loyalty. Can you see it? :)

Thanks for stopping by, friends! I so appreciate you taking the time to unpack these thoughts with me.

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