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Friday, April 12, 2024

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Faith Has Deep Roots in Former Florist’s Life

Virginia Mueller loves flowers and how each season has a purpose. 

By Rachel Rogish

RIO GRANDE – Some people are skilled in several things, while others specialize in a particular field. Then, there are those who quietly use their gifts and talents – the ones who never “fit the mold.” Yet, like a flower, they bloom over time, touching lives with beauty and kindness.  
Virginia Mueller, born in 1948, grew up in a busy home of five children, in Paterson. As the oldest, Mueller learned to care for her siblings and set a good example.  
“I’m thankful to have grown up in a Christian home,” she said May 2.  
According to Mueller, she attended her first church service at 2 weeks old. Broadway Baptist Church was a large congregation at the time, but Mueller’s parents were involved.  
“So much for not being noticed,” Virginia said, smiling.  
She sang in the children’s choir and also with a younger sister. 
The days of typewriters, rotary phones and party lines may seem like a memory, but lessons of faith remain forever.  
Mueller explained her relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, as a personal decision, not based on tradition or obligation.  
Budding Youth  
Growing up, Mueller wasn’t sure which path to pursue. With varied interests, picking one vocation proved stressful.  
“What do you like?” Mueller said her father asked her.  
She loved nature and being outdoors; therefore, she chose floral school. For six weeks, Mueller learned the finer points of floral design, color coordination, and a crash course in funeral and wedding arrangements.  
After completing the course, Mueller went to 29 flower shops, in Patterson, before finding someone willing to hire her.  
“Creativity is a gift from God,” Mueller explained. Being like “everyone else” was not on her radar.  
“I’ve known people who looked at their gift as a burden – a duty they have to do because no one else wants to do it. The love is missing,” Mueller said.  
Love for God and nature blossomed in Mueller’s heart, intertwined with loving others.  
Family First 
In 1969, Mueller married her husband, Keith, a medical corpsman stationed at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, having met through mutual friends. The couple lived in Cape May for a time before moving to Rio Grande.  
Mueller raised four children and “took 15 years off” from arranging flowers. Yet, she cultivated her backyard with flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, and vegetables. The Muellers also began attending the First Baptist Church of Anglesea, in North Wildwood.  
Eventually, Mueller returned to life as a florist, applying to Marie’s Flower Shop, located in Wildwood at the time. She shared the Gospel with her coworkers, gently explaining the Bible to them.  
Life took an unexpected turn, in 2010. Grocery stores sold more flowers for less money, undercutting local florists. Mueller left the flower shop and took a job at Cold Spring Village, selling ice cream. Her husband, a diabetic, became increasingly ill and could no longer work. She also helped care for her blind father during that time.  
“I couldn’t do it all,” Mueller said.  
Her husband was later diagnosed with diabetic amyotrophy, a rare condition attacking the limbs. Mueller cared for Keith at home. She is grateful for her church family, who helped her during those difficult days.  
Her husband regained the use of his legs and can walk again.  
In 2012, her mother, Harriet, suffered a stroke. Caring for her husband and mother, Mueller endured “great strain.” Without the help and power of God, she has no idea how she would’ve coped.  
“I do things quickly. I learned to go slower,” she added.  
Harvest of Joy  
Mueller writes poetry and says writing helps her process what happens in life. In her many writings, she praises God for his faithfulness to her. Mueller said going through hard times enables her to comfort others.  
“Faith is a belief in God being all that He says he is,” she said.  
Today, she tends the gardens at First Baptist and assists in the music ministry. Hymn lyrics are personal to Mueller, as she reflects on past difficulties.  
She is glad to return to Cold Spring Village this year and resume work in the ice cream parlor, sharing history with visitors.  
As a mother and grandmother, she seeks to show God’s goodness to her family.  
Mueller fits the description of a “renaissance woman,” sharing her gifts and talents for the good of others.  
“Use your talents and gifts,” Mueller said, encouraging others to bloom where they are planted.   
Faith Matters is an ongoing series exploring the connection between individuals and their faith, impacting their families, community, and beyond. Those with a story of faith to share should contact the writer at rrogish@cmcherald.com. 

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