The Donut Outlook 🍩 🍩

The Donut Outlook 🍩 🍩

by Denise Kennedy (June 2014)

I hope my title grabbed your attention…an odd one I know, but this short thought for today will inspire you, I believe.

 

I woke one morning, eager to start my day with soul food and coffee, but before my feet even hit the carpet, a deep dread overshadowed my short-lived enthusiasm. I was quickly overwhelmed by thoughts of the things in my life that were seemingly incomplete to me. My mind became overcrowded with unanswered prayers and waited-on promises. I instantly felt down in the dumps, and downtrodden by worry and regret. I knew I had a choice to make…I could either choose misery or joy. But misery was winning.

 

Then in the stillness of a kettle boiling and birds singing near my open window, the still small voice of Hope spoke to my heart: “Life is like a donut…you can either choose to look at the hole in the middle, which represents all that you feel is missing fdunkin-donuts-chocolate-donutsrom your life… OR you can choose to look at the amazing things that surround you every day, that fill your life with joy, hope, goodness and countless other precious things…the choice is yours!”

 

My negative worrying was stopped in its tracks… and with a freshly made cup of brilliance in my hand I made my way over to sit bathed in the sunshine beaming in through my window. For a few moments I quietly let those powerful words permeate my being. It made no sense to keep staring at that empty hole in the middle of the gloriously beautiful donut of life, and yet my heart was weary of waiting, weary of trying to figure things out. I was just plain weary. I picked up my reading passages for the day and continued to try to banish those irritating negative thoughts. Then I read this: ‘What God accomplishes in you while you are waiting, is often more important than the thing you are waiting for.” (UCB Radio)

BOOM! I was stunned by the truth of those words…that even though what I am praying and waiting for is of such importance to me and God, and indeed those involved, there is a deeper work that is far more attractive to the heart and plan of God. He is watching my growth, my faithfulness, my determination to trust Him, among many other things. Suddenly my shoulders dropped from their anxious position and I realised I could find peace instead of striving.  My agenda was refocused and I could see the donut, instead of what was missing in the middle. Peace came. I did not find the answers I wanted, but I found the answers I needed for that moment. Tomorrow is another day, and He will come with what my soul needs. So for today I will enjoy the donut, the blessings, the journey and all that is happening to make me the person in whom God finds delight. There are treasures in dark times, and great joy to be found in the waiting seasons of our lives…It all boils down to which part of the donut you choose to focus on and appreciate.

 

Enjoy the donut that is your life…find the genuine blessings that surround you every day…for this is the key to unlocking true joy in every circumstance of life.

 

From the pen of a grateful girl,

Denise

Your Follow Through ⛳💖⛳

Your Follow Through ⛳💖⛳

by Denise Kennedy

May 28th 2014

 

Everywhere I turn this phrase is following me… be it on a greeting card, in a movie or a conversation… ‘Make sure you follow through.’   Any golfers out there will know how vital that is to your swing and your game of golf! Well, I am learning that is it equally as vital to my game of life!

 

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Sometimes we have to stand still before we can move forward, and I am reminded of the days gone by where I thought I could not possibly take another step in the direction I knew in my heart I needed to go, but I did.  So here I stand again, at the junction of more decisions where truth begs for my attention, despite what my heart may say it wants. I love truth, but some days we are led by our desires for what we want, rather than what may be the chosen path by God for us right now. He wants obedience, He wants surrender, He wants my willingness to trust Him despite my disappointment. HE wants my ‘follow through’.  And deep down in my heart, so do I.

 

 

A wise old saint once said, “Never doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light.” We are not God, hence our reason for needing Him. I am learning that there is a blessing in not knowing it all, in not having all the details of what comes next. All I have is NOW, and I must follow through despite my feelings on the matter.  Today while reading the book of John, I was reminded of the truth that God wants our ‘joy to be full’.  Okay, so for some of you that is old news, but sometimes God resurrects a phrase of truth to hammer it home a little more, and to serve as an anchor of hope when we are being tossed about my life, and today He did just that for me. He cares that I am joyful, and that matters so much to Him that He wrote it many times. How beautiful!

 

So hangeth in there… the breakthrough comes when you survive the breaking point… The bumps are what you climb on, they are the things that you hold onto along the climb to the mountain top. Yes there will be sacrifices that you will not understand and days that seem so hard to fathom, but He is there, cling to Him. Make a choice to ‘soul-cling’ to Him. Your breakthrough is coming, and God will follow through on all that He has promised.

In the Free Dictionary by Farlex, Breakthrough is defined as “to change direction or move suddenly”, how beautiful a thought that is! We love ‘sudden moves’ once they are good for us, but sometimes God brings a change of direction that we may find difficult to embrace. That is where the rubber meets the road of our journey of faith, and we must choose to surrender and trust.

For once we make it past the breaking point, our breakthrough will come!

So ‘follow through‘ and ‘break through’.

From the pen of a grateful girl,

Denise 💖

 

All rights reserved. Copyright by Denise Kennedy. May 2014.

Np part may be copied or reprinted. Feel free to use social media links to share.

A Graceful Interruption 🎵 🎶 🎼

A Graceful Interruption  🎵 🎶 🎼

Written by Denise Kennedy

May 1st 2014

 

My eyes opened, and immediately thoughts captured my waking moments with busyness and today’s to-do list! My feet had not hit the floor yet and already I was running around in circles in my mind. It is the first day of May, and I have lots to do. I determined to silence the chaos that tried to envelope me in panic, and allowed myself five more minutes of duvet time, as it was only 7am. I listened to the birds in my garden singing victoriously in the rain. The heavy downpour that most likely was pelting them on their little heads, did not seem to bother them at all. I smiled.

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Then I arose, and greeted my day with faith, hope and intent. I prepared my cup of brilliance, and sat at my table by my window. The sun was not shining this morning and somehow I actually welcomed this cloudy day by lighting my favourite vanilla bean candle. Ahhh aroma and flickering light, a beautiful combination. Then I quietened my to-do list and hushed the busy thoughts that clamoured for my attention. Instead my focus turned to my God, and surrendering my entire day to Him. I waited, read, prayed and pursued stillness. He came, whispered hope, promised strength, gave encouragement and reassured me with His presence. “Today is Yours God”, I whispered with great loyalty, love and expectation. Then I reached over to open my window further as glimmers of sunshine broke through the clouds. I sat back down and closed my eyes and let my Saviour’s peace take precedence over my morning.  Then it came, the most beautiful interruption imaginable. In the still air came these beautiful melodic lyrics, accompanied by a choir of voices and instruments:

 

 

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see…”

 

I held my breath with surprise, my brain curiously trying to figure out where this music was coming from. In all the years I have sat by this garden window on the third floor of this building, I have never heard a song fill the air like it did this morning. I sat there, soaking up this incredible truth, as the song continued to play, hauntingly and boldly through the south city air. It was amazing. Yes it was amazing grace. The lyrics continued to pour out upon the unsuspecting audience:

 

”Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.”

 

I was silent, as tears fell down my face, this beautiful interruption was so perfect. So brilliant in its magnitude, that the truth of these words overwhelmed my soul with hope. I felt like God orchestrated the whole encounter, and serenaded me with the reminder of His “Amazing Grace”. Moments later the song ended and no other song or music followed it. Even now I hear no radio, or further song choice filling the air. Just one song played, and the only one necessary.

 

As I sit here, I continue humming the tune as I type. Still moved by the incredible truth of its lyrics. Did anyone else hear it? I have no idea. All I know is I am glad I was silent enough to do so, and that my morning became still enough to receive the beautiful interruption of a message from heaven. My heart has been reminded of the multitude of ways God wants to invade my ordinary moments and fill them with His beautiful masterpieces. I am in awe of the mysterious timing of His glorious ways, and the reminder that it is His Amazing Grace that carries us on.

 

Be still enough to hear it, the sound of truth trying to get your attention, and fill your day with grace!

 

Nisey

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A Random Act Of Kindness ~ ✈

A Random Act Of Kindness ~ ✈

Written By Denise Kennedy

9 March 2014 at 20:35

So I finally got there…to the LifeWay Store in the Bluebonnet Boulevard Building, just beside the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was beyond excited, as we don’t have that store here in Ireland. I stood just feet inside the entrance, stunned…much like the way I did when I found myself inside a Wall-Mart the previous day; stunned by excitement and hardly able to decide which aisle to start at.

 

 

I needed some new worship CD’s, (yes $5 each will do thank you very much!) I picked up a few study aids as you do, rummaged through the gift section, card section, devotions section and chatted with the lovely staff as I made my way up and down each aisle.  Most of what I really wanted to buy I had to leave on the shelf, my wallet and my suitcase could not have endured my excited shopping!

 

I had my heart set on one specific item in particular: a new Bible. So finally I found the Bible section, all of five rows long. WOW where to start? Camouflage covers, pink blingy covers, ladies editions, women’s study editions, and a gazillion of choices of versions, print, colour and focus. Finally after quite some time I found my gorgeous bright red new Bible. Yes it was perfect and it was Valentine’s week, so why not get a Book about the love of God in the brightest red I could find.  It was the very last of the red edition and was soon firmly under my arm as I left to head up to the cashier to pay. I left a few items back on my way, deciding I really did not need so many new CD’s.

 

On arriving at the cashier area, I stood in line and chatted with some lovely staff, who just wanted to ask me questions to hear my accent…it was nice! I got to the cashier, loaded my few items on the counter and awaited my credit card to be accepted. The total came to $51.00. And I waited, and I waited. There was a problem. By now several people were waiting behind me. I was as red-faced as my red Bible.  Gently a customer patted me on the shoulder, and chatted for a bit about my credit card issues. The cashier clerk had a second cashier open up to relieve the queue and my embarrassment. Knowing my credit card is only used in emergencies, I explained that it is not a financial issue. The clerk assured me that the message on the screen insinuated that the problem was that the bank in Ireland had blocked my card due to a breach in security. Yes you got it, I forgot to tell them I was leaving the country. Sigh! What to do now? I had left my cash in a safe place and was just using my credit card for that visit to the Mall. Maybe I could sing for it??

 

I was so sad….I looked at my carefully chosen items, especially the beaming red Bible, that was exactly my heart’s desire. I began to gather the items up to put them back on the shelf, utterly disappointed!
Just then, that same gentle pat on my shoulder caught my attention. That same kind customer was standing beside me, looking down at my sad Irish eyes.  I really was not sure what he was doing. I told him I needed to put it all back as my card is under inspection due to security issues.  Just then he handed his own bank card to the cashier and smiled at me saying “These items obviously matter to you, and what matters to you matters to God. So I am buying them for you as a gift.”  My lip began to quiver as I tried to say thank you but it was okay, and that he did not know me so please don’t worry. He turned and saidbbggg to me, “God knows you!”
I was stunned. I stood there and watched this complete stranger buy all of my items, the full total of $51.00. I had goosebumps on my goosebumps! Tears of surprise literally felt like they were running up and down my face. He just smiled, handed me the shiny bag with all my items and went to leave. I ran after him, hugged him and asked him for his business card to send a thank you gift when I returned to Ireland. He was delighted to.

 

I have tried to contact him since I returned but no success yet. Maybe angels carry business cards? I don’t know. But, even now as I recount this story, I am reminded of the powerful love we shower on someone when we randomly show kindness. I need to do it more than I do, and every time I open my new red shiny Bible, the love of God reminds me that what matters to me, matters to God: even the seemingly little things! =)

Mistletoe and Moss ✿~ ✿~ ✿~

Written by Denise Kennedy ✿~ ✿~ ✿~

On a recent short stay in America the beautiful, I learned of two astounding growth phenomena. Mistletoe and moss. Yes a strange combination, but linger with me a few minutes and I will unveil this incredible mystery.

 

We were driving along the swampy marshes of Alexandria, Louisiana, en route from Baton Rouge to Dry Prong.  While we were crusing along the motorway I commented to my dear cousin about the unusual vibrant green circular plants growing on most of the trees that filled the watery bayous.  I found what she told me truly fascinating. She explained that this is mistletoe…and it grows in abundance there, but what is so impressive is that it can thrive on even the deadest of trees. I stared at it for the hours, days and weeks that I spent in Louisiana. All the while it spoke to me of a deeper lesson. Let me explain…

 

Mistletoe is one of the most luxurious green plants you will ever see. It is shiny, vibrant and altogether lush. Every bunch I have seen looks so impressive I almost thought it were fake. So, this incredible green leafy plant can grow on the most lifeless host you have ever seen. And God spoke to me.  Are you in a season where you feel or sense that absolutely no fruit or good thing can come from your heart or life?  You look at your dry branches and make the evaluation that this is just a lifeless season where you have nothing to give.  My dear friend, even if you despise these days of struggle, unanswered questions, difficult dilemmas, or heartfelt loss, hang in there, fruit can grow in these times. You are able to bless others in this time of transition, so do not write yourself off and bow out gracefully from life. You are bearing fruit that may seem unseen or impossible to you, but you are. Sometimes, the toughest seasons we walk through actually yield the most precious harvest. In due time you will see it and be amazed at how God uses your selfless surrender as a means to encourage and motivate those around watching your life. As mistletoe grows in the lavish way it does, so you are growing as you wait on God and trust His perfect timing and providence.

 

A week later, I walked down St Charles, a beautiful street in New Orleans, with a dear friend and her son as our tour guide. As we walked they told me about the incredible stately oak trees that stood like tall soldiers down each side of the bustling trolly-train street. On these monstrous trees, with roots almost longer than the trees themselves, grew another phenomena: Resurrection Moss. Incredible.
mistl moss

 

It is also known as Resurrection Fern and is found growing on the trunks and branches of oak trees. It gets its name ‘resurrection’ from the way the moss acts during certain weather seasons.  During a dry period, the moss will be brown and completely lifeless.
It will appear to be dead and you would be forgiven for never expecting it to yield any appearance of life ever again. But as soon as the season of rain comes, that same moss will explode with green life again.  As I stood there gazing up at these magnificent oak trees and the fascinating resurrection life of this beautiful moss, I was struck by the cycle of life it goes through.
These two contrasting plants spoke volumes to me of the seasons we all walk though in this journey called life. There will be times when we appear to be lifeless and sense we shall never radiate with abundance or blessing again, but when the rain of heaven comes, life appears and our thirsty soul transforms into an oasis of growth and abundance.

 

Dear one, which ever season you find yourself to be in, know that the Master has a plan for this transition time and by remaining close to Him you will yield a beautiful harvest in abundance. You are producing a precious fragrance that will touch and inspire many. Lift up your weary head and thank Him for the new thing He is doing, soon it will spring forth, soon you will see life appear. Whether you feel like mistletoe or moss, to Him and those around you, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
Xx Denise

IS THIS LOVE? by guest writer Andy Patton

Today I want to introduce a new writer on the block, and in the theme of love and romance it seems only right that he share a beautiful love story with you… Take it away Andy! It is a pleasure to have you write your first (of many) blogs on my watch. Denise

“Is This Love?”

 by Andy Patton

“Is This Love?” If you are anything like me or grew up in the 80s, when you read those words your mind was instantly transported back to the year 1987, and you began to hum the tune to that classic ballad by Whitesnake.

When I first saw her it wasn’t love… or was it? When I first talked to her it wasn’t love… well maybe it was… no it definitely wasn’t.  I know it wasn’t, because I couldn’t understand most of what she said!  Not because she was soft spoken, shy or timid. In fact, just the opposite. Honestly, it was her thick Dublin accent that held me at bay and forced me to nod, smile and pathetically attempt to piece together the few words I did understand.

She was full of life and it manifested itself in the fast paced manner in which she bounded into conversation.  It flowed from her lips with such ease and joy. She welcomed the opportunity to share her delight and vigor for life with any who would engage her.  Desiring to express her glee with life, her conversation seemed to gain speed the more she talked!

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That morning she had gathered with several ladies for their customarily tea and talk, and I stumbled into the kitchen looking for a bucket and sponge. Being a 20 – something young man of course she captured my eye, but I fought desperately not to ogle. I do believe I eeked out a disastrously awkward “good morning” greeting as I hurried to disappear. All the while, it was her carefree poise that silently screamed at my heart.

Was there any doubt I was an American in Dublin? Could she tell that I was from a far distant mysterious place called New England? Could she know without me saying a word that I was instantly drawn to her?

I hoped so….

As the next week unfolded, I found myself more and more in her company. Each time I felt a bit bolder to interact with her. Now mind you, I wasn’t intimidated, but excited to hear what new adventures or experiences life had brought her since we last chatted.  Okay maybe I was smitten. Her brown eyes sparkled and her smile was intoxicating. But at least, I could now grasp most of the conversation. Either I had honed my listening skills or she had slowed down her talking speed, or maybe a combination of both. At any rate I was enjoying every second of it.

Is this Love? Well maybe the start of it, for me at least. What I had discovered was all that I had encountered, all that I had been privileged to experience during my times with her, it wasn’t special to her, it was normal. She was just being her! I realized the interaction I had with her was the connection that everyone had with her. Not because of them and their efforts, but hers. She loved people of all shapes, sizes and colors. She just simply loved being around and involved in the lives of the people she came in contact with, anywhere and any time. That is what I loved first about her. Love is a two way street and are these two people, moving in opposite directions, willing to step off the sidewalk? After all it had only been a week!

Are you serious? Come on!  Could that have really happened?  I must have been dreaming! Was I? For more than a week I had been chatting off and on with this wonderful young woman, and she had captivated me with her zest for life.  She cherished each moment of each day and that trickled down to anyone she spoke to, myself included.

We had spent lunches in cafés with friends, bowling events with fellow team members and site-seeing tours around various attractions in the city. Our conversations were centered on our cultures, young adult life in our respective countries and our families. I was staying with a host family outside the city center, which required me to catch a bus each evening.

My routine was to hop on and make my way upstairs to the top deck so I could take in the sights from a better vantage point. From there I could witness the bustling streets filled with pedestrians, cyclists and peddlers, I was enamored with it all.

Most journeys my mind retraced my steps of the day, and many of them guided me back to my daily communiqué with the energetic, inspiring woman I was growing so fond of.  I found myself wanting to extend our get-togethers in order to spend more time getting to know her. Talking with her was effortless and time seemed to stand still when I was around her.

One evening early on in my summer long adventure, I was actively engaging life with my host family. Our talks ranged from me trying to fit into their culture, to learning the slang vocabulary and decoding their accents. I figured the more I talked with them the easier it would be to understand the people I would meet during my travels in town each day… after all it was English they were speaking so I just needed to listen more than I talked.

On that memorable night my I learned more about their family than I could have imagined. First of all they had five kids… Up until that point I had only known the two youngest. The older three were moved out of the house. The two older sons were living in England and their oldest lived in the city with a couple of roommates. As I shared my family dynamic of having three older sisters and no brothers, they related that their family makeup was just the reverse. There was one girl and four brothers. I was the youngest and their daughter was the oldest. I remember thinking I haven’t even seen family photos around the house to tip me off to how many children they actually had.

They told me all about the their kids as they were growing up and we laughed at similar stories of childhood. Then they pulled out a few photos to introduce me to the three older kids I had not yet met, obviously the two older boys were out of country so they didn’t see them much. Their daughter had not come by to visit, at least when I was there. As they showed me pictures of her when she was little and progressively through her younger years.

She looked familiar, so familiar I felt as though I knew her. Then came one photo that had been taken a few months prior to me arriving. To my amazement…it was her! The girl that so captured my near every thought, the girl that sauntered into my life nearly two weeks ago. I was living in her old bedroom and eating evening meals and enjoying laughter filled chats with her dad and mom!

To be continued…

More of this wonderful story soon so stay tuned… Andy

I Can Carry You 👟 👣 💪 💃💋

👟 👣 💪 💃💋

let goIt was a drizzly darkish Sunday morning as I made my way into the city.

I wrapped my furry hooded sweater closer to my face and braved the chilly wind with a smile. I hummed a Hillsong tune ‘You Have Made Me Glad’ in my mind and with each step I grew more grateful for all the blessings I have.

Soon my gaze was beautifully interrupted by the sight of the cutest scene ever… a little blonde curly haired child skipped along the footpath holding the hand of a tall dark male. I assumed it was her father. Anyway, as they approached I grew even more curious and bedazzled by their activity. She was giggling as she skipped and he was lovingly amused by her joy. Then, just as they approached me he leaned down towards her and said “Hey sweetheart can I lift you up?’

I could not hear her answer but assumed she said no, as he then rephrased his question by saying “I can carry you if you want?” ~ Then she smiled up at him and said “okay” and lifted her arms up toward him.  Then he leaned down and swung her up into his big strong arms and as they walked past me he snuggled her close and they meandered down the street.

Tears immediately filled my eyes as my heart was struck by the beauty of this scene.

As our words collided, I was deeply struck by the voice of God, speaking deeply and beautifully into my heart. He was reminding me that I do not have to walk like one ‘un-carried’. Yes I will always choose to be strong in the face of adversity and testing, but I have a strong God who lovingly leans down and asks me to allow Him to carry me. I may feel I can handle this myself and so not need rescuing, but nonetheless strong arms await to carry me through the seasons of my life. I think I am resilient but meanwhile God is whispering “Denise, I’ve got this!”

So, where ever you are right now…there is a voice calling to you…asking if you will allow yourself to be lifted, carried, loved, saved.

Say YES…accept the loving offer of God. He truly knows how tired you are.

Let His great big arms sweep down and lift you up.  You don’t have to do everything alone!

You know, I do not have all I want, nor have I seen every prayer answered, but I know my God can carry me and that gives me strength to live a life of contentment. He knows, and that is sometimes all I need to be reminded of. So I choose to let Him carry me, and it is truly beautiful!
So listen for His whisper, lift up your arms in sweet surrender and let Him carry you!

With love

Nisey

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