Guiding planes for God’s glory: an interview with John Archer
Shape tracking. Sequential memory. Reactive avoidance. Most of us don’t even know what these words mean, let alone use them in our daily lives. But John Arche...
Florist Cecilia Amies’ new home, where she and her husband moved in 2021, is a place of true beauty. It’s a site of regeneration and restoration, a family home, and a blossoming business. Over a mug of freshly brewed coffee, we heard about how, for Cecilia, being a florist is more than a business: it’s a way of life, and a way to bring life.
Two years ago, Cecilia started a new chapter in a rural Cambridgeshire village. Together with her husband, children, dogs, cats, chickens, and alpacas, she’s settling into their new home and is growing her flower business, which is rooted in ethical and sustainable principles and practices.
Whenever possible she uses seasonal, locally or British-grown flowers for her arrangements. And, going forward, many of her blooms will be harvested from her own flower field. The greenhouse and surrounding beds are already full of seedlings – ammi, orlaya, cosmos, borage, scabiosa, corncockle, and cerinthe, to name but a few.
Cecilia works with biodegradable and compostable products, repurposing and recycling wherever possible. She doesn’t use pesticides and never uses floral foam, because it’s not recyclable and breaks down into microplastics.
Her herd of three seriously fluffy alpacas ‘mow’ much of their land and, as a result, produce ‘alpaca gold’ – homemade manure which we’re told is fantastic plant food and soil conditioner! On the environmental front, she’s also begun the process of rewilding their three-acre plot and has grand plans to get pigs to clear the brambles, bees to benefit the biodiversity, and saplings to create an orchard. These are all conscious decisions to reduce her carbon footprint.
But how did she make the leap from her previous career in fundraising and public relations to floristry? Well, it all began when she was helping her sister-in-law with the flowers for her wedding.
‘I was so excited by the creative process – the endless possibilities of colour combination, movement, design, and texture, and the power of flowers to express so many things.’
A little while later, she had what she describes as a ‘God-given’ meeting.
‘I was visiting my parents in Woodbridge, Suffolk, and came across the most stunning Christmas wreaths I’d ever seen. A conversation with their designer, Frances of Moat Farm Flowers, led to an informal apprenticeship. And the rest, as they say, is history.’
Cecilia channels her God-given creativity into beautiful blooms.
‘I believe we have a Creator God and that we all have the potential to be creative. I try to use this creativity to bring joy and blessing to others for his glory. I love reading in Exodus 31 how God gave such detailed instructions about the building of the tabernacle.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel… and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. “
‘God gifted Bezalel and all the craftsman for the task in hand. He really cared about the design and details of the tabernacle, specifying the measurements, woods, precious metals, and stones that should be used.
‘It’s easy to quantify a person’s value by their job or their income – and creatives don’t often come up very highly on the payroll. But I think God really values creativity. He gives each one of us the gift of creativity – whether in music, dance, art, writing, or a thousand other way – as balm for the soul. They’re a way of understanding ourselves and our world more deeply, of communicating better and sharing together.
‘And that’s why I receive this gift of floristry with thanksgiving and try to use it in worship of him every day. After all, every flower comes from him. As my daughter, Isla, recently remarked when we were planting seeds together: “It’s a 99-1% arrangement, we just plant the seed, but God does all the work.”
‘When I design flowers, I try to reflect the beauty of the countryside – echoing how God has designed the flowers to grow. For example, by imitating a rambling rose clambering up a pulpit or arranging flowers on a church window as they would grow in a wildflower meadow. The flowers do all the talking, and so I sometimes feel like a fraud.
‘I remember hearing that anyone can do flowers. And I wholeheartedly believe that. My father is a musician, and he believes everyone can sing and he will always try to find that song inside a friend or family member. In the same way, I love to share with others the joy of working with flowers. It’s so wonderful to see people come to a flower workshop, to gradually relax and let go of the worries of the day. I think the sensory aspect of this work also contributes to this process. Plus, if there’s birdsong, sunshine, and a few co-workers to laugh with or simply to work quietly alongside, so much the better.’
Cecilia covers her labours in prayer. In her garden she sees the growth of each seed as a miracle. She’s open to trying new things, to seeing which plants flourish and which don’t take to the soil. She trusts that God’s hand is over her work.
Coming up with the creative concepts for weddings and funerals is a solo task, and so Cecilia relishes the fact that she can have a dialogue with God. And her heart leaps when she sees God answering her prayers for inspiration, provision, and guidance.
Her prayer is that her work and her flowers bless others.
Her eyes light up when she explained how she loves the diversity of her work. No two projects are the same.
‘For me, designing is an organic process. Every arrangement is bespoke and considers the architectural space, season, personalities, and contexts of the project. It’s an opportunity to showcase the beauty of creation and to bless others. I love using tendrils and climbers such as honeysuckle, jasmine, dog roses, or old man’s beard to create longer whimsical lines – my aim is to create arrangements where the flowers soften and enhance their surroundings.’
But her work is also collaborative within the trade. Her hope and prayer is that these partnerships bless, support, and encourage others. She liaises with local growers to source the most beautiful flowers possible for her clients and she’s committed to fair prices and fair trade.
A few years ago, during the national lockdown, she worked with a local church and flower grower to incorporate bunches of tulips and stocks into food bank packages – a simple but powerful way to show love and bring joy to those in need in times of trial.
And, above all, she trusts that the Lord has a plan for her business.
Cecilia trusts that the Lord has a plan for her business. She explained it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and intimidated when looking at the work of other florists on Instagram, and even to question whether there’s room for another local business.
But she felt God clearly speak into her doubts. Looking up one day she saw a small plane enjoying a clear blue sky with ample room to showcase its acrobatic ability. It was a timely reminder that there’s no need to compare herself to other florists, to be jealous of their social media followings or commissions. There’s plenty of room for all of them to flourish and grow alongside one another.
And, more than that, there’s space to collaborate and to be generous – because the Lord has been abundantly generous towards us. Cecilia recognises that we’re called to embody these kingdom values and to shine bright to those around us.
Praying over pansies, being generous to those she’s working with, and channelling her God-given creativity into beautiful blooms – this is how Cecilia works with her loving, artistic, and faithful God, right where she is. And may the Lord bless her and others as she works with him.
Celia was speaking to Sophie Sanders, Marketing & Communications Executive, LICC
Follow Cecilia on Instagram @ceciliasflowers_