Winter Roses…


I was recently discussing how this would be the first Christmas in over ten years that we have no pets in our home for the holidays.

We would always debate if our cat “Lucky” had been naughty or nice even as he precariously tried to become one with the Christmas tree within weeks of claiming us as his own.

That same year, my Shetland sheepdog was a Christmas gift from my husband, quickly renamed Noel to suit the occasion. We lost them both this year. I didn’t anticipate how much I would miss them this Christmas season.

Christmas is not a joyful time for many.

The holiday season can accentuate grief, spark depression and bring about a range of emotions, many of which we would rather not deal with.

I lost my father one Christmas.

This Christmas will be a first for those grappling with loss and barely hanging in there just trying to get through the season.

bnwrose photo chall 4  And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Expecting those who are hurting to be joyful is unrealistic. We can’t always understand someone’s pain, but we can certainly respect it.  At the very least, we can extend peace and good will toward them.

Hopefully, the pain eventually wanes. Or perhaps, our tolerance for it becomes greater.

So what does this have to do with roses?

We are experiencing unusually mild weather. This allowed me to clean up the skeletal remains of summer.

And then I saw her.


She was atop the retaining wall as I snapped dead branches from a hydrangea.

“Marie” sat comfortably trying to figure out just what exactly I was doing.

Now, I may be just one cat shy of the crazy cat lady on the corner, (and yes, I live on the corner!) but I haven’t seen any snakes so I figure it’s a fair trade. Regardless, I enjoyed Marie’s company and I suspect she enjoyed mine.

As I finished, I noticed the rose blooming.

We’ve already had one freeze so “technically” it should have stopped blooming by now.

Yet, God will occasionally remind me that He is not moved by any calendar. He provides streams in the desert. Roses in the winter?

Why not?

Marie filled my void today.

God can provide a bit beauty in the bleak. And sometimes when we feel we can’t hold on, God brings a bit of spring to us.

Unexpectedly.  And with Love.

If you’re hurting this Christmas season, may spring find you soon…

Peace to you.


Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NKJV


By Lilka Finley Raphael

Author, Editor, Gardner, Photographer, Pharmacist


  1. What a great story! Pets are so dear and it is so sad when they leave us…our dog is at the groomers today and even though I am going to get him in a little while, it has seemed so quiet here without him following me around…thank you for sharing this beautiful story- and I hope you enjoy those gorgeous roses and warm temps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Julie! I didn’t realize how much of a presence Lucky and Noel were in our home until they were no longer there. It is a silence I’ve had to adjust to. And I will enjoy the roses for as long as they last 😉 Enjoy your weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. And I relate so well. My Australian Shepherd “Eddie” died this fall. My family is all far too far away this year, and I won’t be able to see them. I’m anticipating God’s stream in the desert to get through❤️. Your blog is very inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lilka! You know, each end of the year causes many of us to reflect upon the events of the past 10-12 months. It may be made a bit worse by the “holiday feeling,” but I believe we’d look back anyway. And as humans, we tend to remember the bad or hurtful things first before the good or positive things. It’s just my theory, but that may be why depression and such takes a tick upward around Thanksgiving-Christmas.

    I always love the way you relate stories! This is another fine example of that. Thanks for sharing it with us…yes God can send some cheer our way when we most need it. He often does so. Enjoy it when He does!


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hope all is good at home and work for you Lilka! You are one of my very favorites here and always have been! Keep posting away…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes the season does bring mixed feelings for most and in our family as well. In-part because we are a military family and never know if our son will be able to make home for Christmas. But we all stay focus on the true meaning of Christmas which brings us great comfort and joy to know no matter how far apart we are, we still feel that love for one and how blessed we truly are. Blessings to you and your family throughout the season.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A wonderful story with a very thoughtful subject. I am one of those who struggle greatly with the “Holiday Season”. And, this season being the first without a loved one (also) will be especially difficult for me.
    I smiled at your new-found friend, Marie,.. And I think, in a similar way that she “filled your void” and (somewhat) comforted you for the day.. thinking of this post will do the same for me during these coming difficult days.

    Liked by 2 people

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