Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Parable of the Poinsettia

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: "Andolina's heart was heavy as she led her aunt into the woods. She had done a wicked thing. Now the poinsettia would certainly be ruined, for all plants need lots of sunlight. When Andolina found the shady spot deep among the trees, she gasped. The poinsettia sat there still, but it looked nothing like it had when she left it."

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss with a sample of the story we'll hear today--"The Parable of the Poinsettia." This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, December 26.

There's something special about times mothers and daughters spend together. We hope the next few minutes can be that kind of time in your house. If you have young ladies at home, why don't you call them together and listen? Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: All this week on Revive Our Hearts we've been listening to Christmas stories. I've been joined here in the studio by about a dozen of my special young friends. Thank you, girls, for joining with me. It's been really fun to be doing this together. Today--the day after Christmas--we want to tell a special story called "The Parable of the Poinsettia."

*"Andolina Rodriguez was born on the 26 day of December, an almost-Christmas birthday. Though some people might think a birthday during the holidays is another wonderful reason to make merry, Andolina thought her after-Christmas birthday was about as much fun as watching trees grow.

"Many of her presents were wrapped in leftover red and green foil, and her friends never wanted to come to her birthday parties because they were too busy playing with their Christmas toys."

Can you imagine if your birthday were the day after Christmas? Would you like that?

"Andolina's parents did their best to make her birthday seem like everyone else's. They decorated the house with bright blue and pink balloons, and her mother always baked an ordinary birthday cake. Her father made certain that his gifts were never, ever wrapped in red or green foil.

"Aunt Dominga seemed to understand, too. Though she lived far away in Mexico, she always sent Andolina a beautiful birthstone for her birthday--one year a ring; the next year a bracelet; and the next, a necklace. Andolina's birthstone was icy blue, as delicate as a diamond. Aunt Dominga's note always said, 'For my wonderful niece, the special December stone for a special December child.'

"But when the doorbell rang on Andolina's tenth birthday, she opened the door to discover a florist holding a large poinsettia plant. The attached card said, 'For my wonderful niece, the special December flower for a special December child.'

"A poinsettia! That was a Christmas flower! Andolina carried the plant inside and set it on the floor next to the drooping Christmas tree. She tried to swallow the lump that rose in her throat. Aunt Dominga didn't understand at all.

"December passed and the Christmas decorations were put away. Andolina took the poinsettia outside and left it on the back porch. The bright red leaves curled and fell off. Soon nothing remained but a stalk. 'You should take care of your plant,' her mother told her. 'It's a living thing, you know.'

"'It has sun and water,' Andolina said, shrugging. 'It's okay.' And it was.

"But that spring as the little poinsettia grew full and bright with green, Andolina's mother became very sick. She had to stay in bed all the time so Aunt Dominga came from Mexico to help.

"'Ola, little one,' she said, pressing her cheek to Andolina's after she had brought her suitcases into the house. 'And how is my special niece?'

"'Okay, I guess,' Andolina answered.

"'You are so big!' Aunt Dominga knelt in front of Andolina. 'I hope the plant I sent you is growing, too. The poinsettias in Mexico grow to be ten feet tall.'

"'It's growing,' Andolina said, not really caring how tall a pointsettia could get.

"Spring warmed into summer. Andolina's mother did not get better so Aunt Dominga took over the running of the house. She cooked the meals, cleaned the floors and tended the garden. Often Andolina saw her aunt fussing over the poinsettia on the back porch. She kept the stalks trimmed and the soil moist, but Andolina didn't care.

"As the autumn leaves began to toast golden brown and fall from the trees, Andolina's mother had to go to the hospital. 'She was very, very sick,' Aunt Dominga explained. No one knew when she would come home again.

"Leaving her aunt in the house, Andolina went to the back porch and sat down on a bench. She felt like there were tiny hands wringing her heart, squeezing hard until there was almost no feeling left. She lifted her eyes and saw the poinsettia she had ignored, now lush and green. How could it be so pretty, so healthy, when her mother was not?

"'I hate you!' Andolina said, suddenly angry. 'You're not alive. You're just a dumb weed.' Gathering all her strength, Andolina lifted the plant. She carried it toward the woods behind her house, swaying from side to side as she struggled under the weight of the heavy pot. She found a dark spot under the evergreens, shaded from the life-giving sun. Andolina didn't care if the plant died. She didn't want Aunt Dominga in the house. She didn't want that stupid poinsettia. She wanted her mother.

"All through October, November and early December, Aunt Dominga sent Andolina off to school in the mornings and then went to the hospital. Alone at home in the afternoons, Andolina did her homework and chores and then sat by the front window and prayed.

"Christmas was coming, but no one in their family had time for candy canes or parties or decorating. They were too busy praying for her mother.

"On Christmas Eve, Andolina's father called and said that she must pray very hard, for her mother was weaker than she had ever been. Andolina fell to her knees and cried, begging God for help.

"A soft touch woke her the next morning. Aunt Dominga's hand was on Andolina's shoulder, shaking her gently. 'Merry Christmas, child,' she said simply, sinking to the floor where Andolina had fallen asleep. 'God has answered your prayers. Your mother is better.'

"A flood of emotions poured through Andolina's heart: joy, relief, gladness and guilt. 'Oh, I'm so glad,' she cried, throwing her arms around her aunt's shoulders. 'I'm so sorry, Auntie. I was angry. I wanted you to leave. I even tried to kill the poinsettia you sent me.'

"Aunt Dominga's hands stopped stroking Andolina's hair. 'What?' she asked, her voice a surprised whisper. 'I wondered where it had gone.'

"'I hid it in the woods,' Andolina confessed, palming tears from her eyes. 'Deep under the trees, where it wouldn't get any sun.'

"Aunt Dominga was silent for a moment, and then her tired eyes brightened in a smile. 'Come, child,' she said, holding out her hand as she stood up. 'Show me.' Andolina's heart was heavy as she led her aunt into the woods. She had done a wicked thing, for Aunt Dominga had done nothing but help. Now the poinsettia would certainly be ruined, for all plants need lots of sunlight.

"When Andolina found the shady spot deep among the trees, she gasped. The poinsettia sat there still, but it looked nothing like it had when she left it. The leaves that had been spindly and green were now wide and red, as bright as a spill of crimson velvet over an emerald carpet.

"'I thought it would die,' she whispered, staring at the lovely flowers. Aunt Dominga's arms slipped around Andolina's shoulders. 'You were upset, child, and you didn't understand the way God works. The poinsettia is a special plant. It needs long hours of dark to develop its pretty red leaves. If you had left it near the lights of the house, it would still be plain and green.'

"Carefully she turned Andolina to face her, then stooped to look into the girl's eyes. 'You are as beautiful as that poinsettia, child, and one day soon you will bloom just as beautifully. When you pass through long months of darkness and waiting, you can have peace, knowing you are in the hands of the Master Gardener.'

"'God?' Andolina asked, blinking back tears of wonder.

"'Yes.' Aunt Dominga's dark eyes softened as she looked at the exquisite plant. 'It is fitting that we should find this today at Christmas, for the world was dark and waiting when Jesus was born to bring us hope and light. That's why the poinsettia is the December flower.'

"'Aunt Dominga,' Andolina said, moving toward the plant. 'Will you help me carry it back to the house?' Aunt Dominga did. When they reached the porch, they placed the poinsettia in a spot where everyone could see its splash of vivid color from inside the kitchen window.

"As darkness drew down over the twinkling lights of the neighborhood, Andolina's father came home, a smile on his tired face. He hugged his daughter, wished her a merry Christmas and said that her mother would soon be back home.

"'And I,' Aunt Dominga said, standing in the kitchen, 'had better make plans for the birthday cake I will bake tomorrow. What sort of cake would you like, Andolina?'

"'I think,' Andolina said, smiling as she looked out the window at the bright blooms, 'that I'd like a different kind of birthday cake this year--a white one, decorated with red poinsettias.'"

Now the next time you see a poinsettia plant, what will you think of, Catherine?

Catherine: I'll think of the story and how God works with plants and everything.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Elisabeth?

Elisabeth: That God answers prayer, even when maybe nobody else is praying. God answers just one person's prayer.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And sometimes even when it seems very hopeless and we don't think God is listening, He still is paying attention, isn't He? Jessie?

Jessie: That God is always taking care of us.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: That's what the poinsettia plant reminds me of now. Alicia?

Alicia: That God works everything out in His own timing and in His own way. It is all for the best.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Shawna?

Shawna: God is so graceful to us. He provides so much for us and He is merciful to His people.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Yes, He is. So let's just stop and thank Him for that.

Lord, I agree with Shawna that You are so merciful and so graceful to Your people. You pour out Your grace upon us. Even when we think things are hopeless, even when we're discouraged, you are still taking care of us. You are still looking after us. You do some of Your greatest work in the darkest hours.

Thank You for sending Jesus to this earth when things were hopeless and dark because of our sin. You sent Jesus, the light of the world, to give us hope and eternal life. We thank You for that. We'll remember that each time we see the poinsettia plant. Thank You for giving us that lesson. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Leslie Basham: I think we'll all remember today's story the next time we see a poinsettia plant. We invite you to make today's program part of your family's Christmas tradition.

This week's broadcast, featuring Nancy Leigh DeMoss reading Christmas stories, is available on cassette and CD. You can order a copy to listen to each holiday season.

These stories have been selected because they teach young women important truths about who God made them to be. The stories are great for moms to listen to with their daughters or grandmas to listen to with their granddaughters. If you have young ladies at home, we hope you'll get a copy.

To get more information, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.You can also write and make your request.  When you get in touch, please remember that we are a listener-supported ministry. That means that the production and the airtime of the program is funded through the partnership of our listeners. Would you consider making a financial contribution to this ministry?

In the month of December a friend of the ministry has offered to match any gift that comes in, up to $150,000. That means your gift will be doubled if you get it postmarked by December 31.

Tomorrow we'll hear a powerful story of a young lady who received a mysterious phone call from her mother on Christmas Eve. I hope you can join us for Revive Our Hearts. The Parable of the Poinsettia," (from Christmas By the Hearth, 1996, Tyndale House Publishers).

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Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.