I saw the prettiest, ugliest thing the other day. Driving home, I noticed a sunflower on the shoulder of the road. It grew right up through the gravelly, tarry pavement, stretching its face to the sun as if to say, I don’t care where I am. I’m gonna bloom.


It made me smile.


And it made me wonder how many sunflowers I’ve missed because I was so focused on the gravel and tar.


So far, the year 2020 has been filled with gritty asphalt. Some things have been irritating. Some have chafed my spirit. And some events of the past months have terrified me and stolen my sleep. But in the midst of the trials and frustrations of COVID-19, there have been blessings. There has been goodness. There have been sunflowers, pushing through the asphalt, blooming in spite of everything.


Here is my top 10 list of blessings of 2020. I’m calling my COVID Sunflower list:


1. The whole world has gotten a taste of the introvert life. It’s a good life, slow and easy, like a 1970s Eagles hit song.


2. We get to wear pajama pants and fuzzy bunny slippers to work—on our living room sofas.


3. We Zoom more. In the past few months, I’ve Zoomed with dear friends across the country, just for fun. Why didn’t we do that before COVID?


4. More hobby time. Seriously, I have the best garden ever this year, and I’ve read almost all the books on my want-to-read list.


5. Binge-watching. Gilmore Girls and This is Us. Valerie’s Home Cooking. Oh, and all the Avengers Movies.


6. More family time. We’ve played board games. I stink at Monopoly, in case anybody’s interested.


7. Home-cooked meals. See #5.


8. Looking people in the eye. Seriously, with masks on, where else are you gonna look? I think the whole mask thing has forced us to connect on a whole new level.


9. Seniors Shopping Hour. Why has no one thought of this before?


10. Hand washing! Unless you’re in the medical profession, you probably needed the reminder to wash more often, and scrub a little longer each time.


I could go on. I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll have some sunflowers of your own to add to the list. The truth is, no matter what life throws our way, we can always find some good with the bad, some sparkle with the coal, some sweet with the sour.


That’s because no matter what happens, God is good. He promised to never leave us or forsake us. He promised rainbows in the flood, peace in the storm. In the midst of all the worst parts of life, He whispers, Look at Me. I’ll show you miracles in the mess.


Today, as you slip on your COVID mask, remember to look people in the eye. And look around for sunflowers in the asphalt, blessings in the blizzard. I promise you’ll find more than you think.


"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal," 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.