People often say that the Lord works in mysterious ways, but he also tends to work in incredibly creative and unique ways as well. Leanne Syler Davis is a cancer survivor who was told in 2006 that she only had 10 years left to live. Fifteen years later, however, she is living a life more beautiful than she ever could have hoped and has a love story that not even Hollywood could replicate.
Davis met her fiancé Dirk Rietveld while he was on a business trip to Middle Tennessee in October 2018. Rietveld hails from The Netherlands and continues his father’s legacy by working for a company that sells flower bulbs, predominantly to nurseries, greenhouses, and massive garden centers, in multiple countries. Many of his customers have become beloved
family friends, and he has the privilege of traveling far and wide to see them and supply them with beautiful flowers.
Shortly after meeting Davis, Rietveld took her on business trips with him to meet all of his customer friends, and they quickly fell in love with her precious soul in the same way that Rietveld had. After it was clear to him that Davis would fit well into the unique life he has, he took her to his home in The Netherlands. The country stole Davis’s heart, and she desperately wanted to be able to bring her daughter there as well so that she could see the art museums filled with the masterpieces of some of history’s greatest artists; however, she had no way of affording the plane tickets.
While in the The Netherlands, Davis met a friend of Rietveld who owned a tulip company, and little did she know that he would become an instrumental part of her story. One night, around 3:00 A.M., something happened that would forever change her life. She audibly heard the voice of God tell her to ask her fiancé’s friend for the tulip bulbs he did not sell. He told her, “With these two lips, speak life, love, and hope to the people who buy these tulips.”
While this was an odd command, Davis could not deny what she had experienced. Rietveld’s friend just so happened to have had a customer order 10,000 red tulip bulbs and never retrieve them after paying. He gave Davis all 10,000 bulbs for free and even paid for the bulbs to be shipped across the ocean. She had no idea what she would do with all 10,000 bulbs, but she knew that if God had specifically told her to do this, she had an obligation to obey. She stored the bulbs at her aunt’s home and began to sell them for $5 per 10 bulbs. She even gave a few away to those she felt needed them, and after only a month, all 10,000 had been claimed.
This allowed her the opportunity to meet many people far and wide and share life stories with them. She donated some of the money to ministries, but at the end of it all, she still had plenty of money to afford to fly herself and her daughter to The Netherlands. Sadly, this plan was delayed by COVID-19, but the money is still available and waiting to be used to pay for the trip that Davis wanted so badly for her daughter.
Those simple tulips became a ministry for Davis as they allowed her to interact with people she ordinarily would not have and share her story, but they also spread so much joy to those who were trapped at home during the lockdown. Even though they were not able to see their loved ones or live their lives the way they once had, they could look outside and see the delicately beautiful tulips. Due to when Davis received the bulbs, they were not able to be planted until January, which is quite a bit past tulip-planting season. This could have prevented the tulips from blooming, but instead, this late planting allowed them to bloom just in time to soothe the hearts of those who felt trapped and dismayed. People began to ask Davis for tulips in other colors, so she was able to obtain 11,000 more from her fiancé’s friend. Once again, all of the tulips were
gone within a month. She kept a few tulips the second time, and her daughter Naomi has even found a new passion for gardening by starting a wildflower bed that contains a few of the tulips. Davis was able to connect with numerous strangers over those flowers, but they also gave her the special blessing of a deeper connection with her own daughter.
Davis has been very open about the fact that she has lived a difficult life filled with a lot of pain and heartbreak. She eventually got to a point where she returned to church and began working on her life so that she could find something better. She said, “I had to be where I needed to be before these blessings could start coming.” She cited John 10:10 that says that
Jesus came to give people life so that they may have it abundantly, and she felt that she was finally feeling the abundance of his goodness after years of looking for love and contentment in the wrong places. Now, she has the man of her dreams who adores and respects her. He has taken her all over the world, he proposed to her on a beach in Italy, and he has helped her to find a ministry that she hopes to have on a larger scale someday.
Davis stated, “I did not know I could be so passionate about something.” Not only has she spread life, love, and hope to others but she has also found it for herself. If you want to change the world, you have to start small with the world around you and then work from there. Sometimes, the people who need our help the most are those next door; other times, you have to be willing to take a risk like flying across the world or listening to a small voice in the dead of the night. No two stories are the same, so enjoy the path of yours and follow it wherever it may go. As we ponder the importance of finding new life this Easter, let us also ponder what small things we can do to begin a significant change.