When I was a child, we lived near an apartment complex housing college students. At the end of the school year, the students would give away or sell cheaply whatever they didn’t want to haul home.

One day, my brother brought me home a China Doll plant. My mom, who has a green thumb, said it was a good find. I took it to my room and would set it out on the front porch every few days for some sunshine. After I’d had the plant for a few months, its leaves started drooping and then falling off until there were no leaves left. When I asked my mom what was wrong, she said it had gone into hibernation. A plant without leaves held no interest for me, so I put it in the backyard with my mom’s other potted plants, and there it stayed for quite some time, leafless and forlorn.

And then, one day, my mom brought a plant to my room. Yes, it was my China Doll, and there were tiny sprouts at the tips of its branches. Soon the sprouts grew into new shoots and leaves, and eventually my plant was in full bloom again. This cycle continued over the years.

I eventually moved away from home and left the China Doll with my mom and her green thumb. In one letter, my mom wrote: “I thought your China Doll had finally died. I almost tossed it, but you know how I hate to throw away a plant. I waited a while, and sure enough, it grew back fuller than ever.”

Last spring, I went to visit my mom. She has more time for gardening now that most of her kids have moved away, and the back yard was beautiful, full of aromatic rose bushes and flower-covered arbors and trellises … and my China Doll was now transplanted into a new pot and was at least four feet tall.

As I begin the new year, some things seem to be hibernating—a few dreams and goals—but with the sunshine of God’s love, the water of His Word, and a little of His tender loving care, they will blossom in His good time. If He causes a simple plant to begin anew and grow stronger year by year, how much more can we expect Him to do for us, whom He loves dearly and for whom He created all the rest?