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 from 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,
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!
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,
All rights reserved. Copyright by Denise Kennedy. May 2014.
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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.
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!
ღ ☕ ღ
A Random Act Of Kindness ~ ✈
Written By Denise Kennedy
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 said 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! =)
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.
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.