We've been blessed to live in the same flat for the last nine years.
For all nine of those years, I've had a beautiful bougainvillea bush in front of my house.
It is always lush and green, and it sprays magenta flowers everywhere several times a year.
But as much as I love vases of cut flowers in my house, I've never used them until this January.
As lovely as the blossoms and greenery are, these plants carry thorns.
The stems grow thick and woody and have sharp, hooked thorns hiding near almost every leaf.
Until now, having the beauty of these flowers in my home wasn't worth the prick of those thorns.
Sadly, there are days when I've missed out on a lot more than flowers because I didn't want to deal with the "thorns" many beautiful things seemed to bring with them.
There are days I've ignored what my children wanted to do, because of the mess it would create for me.
There are times I've not started up a conversation, because I was afraid I might stumble in my second language.
There are moments with my husband I've not savored, because I was too busy crossing things off my endless to-do list.
Yes, I've protected myself from pokes and pricks.
But every time I've avoided the jab, I've also missed out on enriching, fulfilling, lovely things; things that could have added to my life.
Most good things come with a few built-in prickles.
As wise King Solomon put it,
As I brushed past that bush weighed down with flowers for the hundredth time a few weeks ago, I decided that no longer would I leave those vibrant blossoms outside.
I grabbed my kitchen shears and began to cut.
I started with just two.
I clipped very carefully, trying to avoid all scrapes.
I missed one small thorn, and as I slid the stem into the bud vase, I scratched my finger.
In a moment the sting was gone.
Two days later, I clipped a few more stems.
I got a few more pricks as I plucked off extra leaves, but nothing too painful.
Since that time, I've added more stalks every time I've gone to replenish the flower jar.
This morning my arms were full of the bounty of that bush.
The thorns didn't hurt anymore.
In my quest for adding beauty to my home, I was no longer bothered by the barbs.
The outcome far outweighed the minute pain it took to achieve it.
Oh, that I could remember how blessed my life can be when I'm willing to overlook a few thorns.