- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 7, 2016

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - Life never promised Jared and Lindsay Storm a rose garden.

But they grew one anyway, the delicate blooms mixed in with more than 300 species of flowers they cultivate and cut in their three-quarter-acre yard in Decatur, the home base for the couple’s Bushel & Peck Wildflowers florist.

So, on the face of it, we can harvest the flowery story of two enthusiastic young people, both age 34, living their entwined dreams of running their own business and making it pay. We should all be as lucky as they are and yet, even in the Garden of Eden, there was a serpent.

Problems were unearthed seven years ago, just as the Storms were in the early stages of planting the business. They had desires to expand the size of their family, too, and when things didn’t take root, Lindsay Storm, who had also not been feeling well, started seeing a series of doctors in the quest to find out what was wrong.

The answer turned out to be endometriosis, a disease straight out of nightmare’s compost heap.

“It’s where the lining of your uterus grows on your other organs and acts like a cancer,” says Storm. “It causes really bad issues.”

It’s also pretty rare, and extensive laser surgery was needed to zap it. And yet her medical cornucopia of difficulty wasn’t going to let her off that easily, however. Along the way, doctors also found she was suffering from an even rarer cancer of the appendix and, amid some other related complexities, her large intestine had to be surgically removed, too.

Persistent endometriosis had also caused a blockage in her small intestine, and so 7 inches of that had to be pruned. After waiting for everything to heal they tried for a baby again, but still no luck.

“We went through fertility treatments but the endometriosis had progressed so much it had deteriorated everything,” Storm says. “So to fix it, I had to have a hysterectomy.”

The comforting theory that God doesn’t send more apocalypse into the garden of life than each individual can deal with comes under a bit of strain at this point.

Storm was supposed to be recovering after the latest surgeries but found herself getting sicker and weaker and thus came yet more protracted doctor visits. She was eventually diagnosed with a grim mixture of fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. She lost 30 pounds and at one point became so weak she couldn’t walk without aid or get herself to the bathroom on her own.

Eventually, treatments with the right medications got her through the worst of it, along with the loving support of family and a husband who acted like the “in sickness and in health” bit of the marriage vow he took eight years ago was engraved on his heart.

“He has been with me through everything, and never questioned doing anything that was needed to take care of me,” recalls his wife, tears watering her bright eyes.

And he always brought her flowers. Or, more accurately, flower seeds. When his wife was too weak to walk about or stand, Jared Storm would fill a TV dinner tray with potting dirt and she would sit in a chair planting the seeds of the flowers that would eventually bloom into their business.

“It made me feel good and it gave me purpose,” she recalls, smiling. “And it was like every flower reflected our love.”

His wife is not completely well, even now, but she is doing a lot better, and the business they’ve nurtured with love and devotion is thriving, too.

They’re regular sellers, in season, at the weekly Richland Student Farms Saturday Produce Market and also do lively sales via their own website and Facebook.

They started a subscription service this year where customers could sign up to get a fresh new and different bouquet every week; 10 slots were available, and they filled up blooming fast.

“People just really like flowers,” says Jared Storm. “They look at them, and I think they just cheer everybody up.”

He has had horticulture training and his wife, a hair stylist in her healthier days, is a natural at styling floral arrangements. Together, they come up with dazzling ensembles featuring pretty wild flowers grown without chemical intervention and seldom seen in the bouquet offerings of others.

They’ve found a wholesaler who can help them out when their own vast yard is out of season, and, after handling floral arrangements for their first wedding customer last year, they hired out their services to eight sets of nuptial celebrations this year.

It’s all frenetically busy, and Lindsay Storm can’t get enough of it. She has big plans to one day create a kind of public garden where people “battling illnesses or pain” can come and relax and enjoy cutting their own blooms.

Like the poet William Blake, Storm sees all of heaven in a wild flower; a colorful symbol, she believes, of a God who must love his creation very much.

“I look at some of the things we grow and think, ‘How is this even real? It’s all so beautiful,’” Storm says.

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Source: (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/2f5HQvn

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Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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