by Denise Kennedy
A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac.
And so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart’s-ease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. “Well, heart’s-ease, I’m glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened.” “No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”
Hearts-ease, is a flower possibly so small that it goes unnoticed and unseen. So tiny that it can seem to be unimportant or insignificant. But this tiny little flower carries probably one of the most loveliest of flower names that I have yet to discover. When I think if the word ‘hearts-ease’, or ‘heart’s ease’, I am immediately drawn to the condition of my heart, and the hearts of those I care about. The dictionary gives the following description of ‘heart’s ease’:
Hearts-ease also heart’s-ease
n. 1. Peace of mind.
2. A small European plant (Viola tricolor) having spurred flowers marked with purple, yellow, and white. It was used to develop hybrid varieties of cultivated pansies. Also called wild pansy.
Today, this tiny little flower, created by a God who wanted it to exist, brought ease to my heart. Some seasons in life can bring challenges and trials, and it can feel like your life is very much hidden from the One who breathed it into being, but I assure you the very opposite is true. You are seen, known and very much cared for by God.
You are loved by the Creator of everything, and He is enough. He restores, redeems and gives back everything that has been stolen from you. He has more in mind for you than you can every dream up all on your own. So today, let your heart be at ease: free from worry or awkwardness; relaxed, tranquil, content, comfortable, secure, safe, chilled, serene and unworried.
Today I echo the words of our opening story, and decide to be a brave little flower!
“But as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease,
I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”
by ♡ 𝕯enise Kennedy ♡
Have you ever found yourself in an unexpected place, where everything seems unpredictable? A place where virtually anything could happen next?
It could best be described as the most spontaneous, amazing, fearful, wonderful and challenging place your feet and your heart could ever find themselves; well I am there, right smack bang in the middle of it. Just the other day I penned the following words; “Sometimes too many choices are just too many!” (A Nisey’original)
I eagerly reach ahead to grasp the future, yet my heart holds on tightly to the memories the years have made, but hope pulls me closer and commands me to lift up my head with earnest expectation and anticipation. I can sincerely say that I am finding these days the strangest and scariest I have yet to walk through. I rarely live life with no map before me, or at least an idea of what may unfold but lately the temptation to lock my heart away is overwhelming at times ~ to live from a place where it is safe, pain-free, careful and predictable (and boring, well at least to me) is as real as the chair I am sitting on right now…. but I cannot ignore the deep desire in me to do something crazy and unpredictable.
I always thought I would have my life’s direction figured out by now, a road map to potential happiness with all the boxes checked along the way. But life has not worked out like that and I am learning lessons in hard places, yet finding unexpected joy in the crazy unforeseeable changes life brings. I guess we all go through seasons where it seems fearful and yet wonderfully adventurous. One of my favourite things to do is head off on a road trip, to wherever the road goes. Having been on some amazing road trips in Ireland, America, New Zealand, Australia, and various places from Belgium to the Ukraine, I know the thrill of these shared adventures. The sense of spontaneous decisions and the thrill of seeing where we end up tickles me pink! I love living life like that. And yet bravely and courageously my heart is saying, “Seize the adventure again Denise!”…. and so I must listen to my heart and let my passion and creativity lead me to where I really want to be. And to the ‘me’ I really want to be. Scary isn’t it?
During these past months (plus some), I have been tempted to abort the mission my heart longs for, to turn around and settle for less than I know is genuine, thrilling and passionate. I have toyed with the idea of giving up on the picture I had of the future, and settling for a less challenging route. At first I felt peace, calmness and collected repose. It is easy to feel peace when you are no longer challenging your fears or advancing into new territory in your life. Yes you feel peace at first, when all resistance fades away into living a life more ordinary, but not for long for soon that unsettled feeling of boredom will raise itself to the forefront of your heart and you know you cannot turn your back on what you need to do and really want.
So, what are you sacrificing? What dream are you abandoning and trying to live without? Maybe it is time to pick it up again? I am choosing to do it differently now. To take hold of the strength that I know God gives me daily, to speak to my dreams and my hopes, my talents and my skills to come alive again! Do you need to do the same? You may think that it is easier to ignore the longings of your heart, to run away from the deepest places of your soul, but it isn’t. May I gently and lovingly tell you that you will turn into a person who is bored silly with life. Joy will drain from you and all you dreamed of will be sacrificed for a false sense of security that you will grow to resent. Trust me, I know.
So…..right now…..think quietly ~ What is it you really long to do with your life? What is on your bucket list? What wakes you up and puts a smile on your face no matter what the weather is like? What is it that you do that makes you sigh deeply with the realisation that this is what you were born to accomplish? You know it and you feel it, you live, breathe and think about it every waking or ‘should-be’ sleeping moment. You have tried to banish it away like a vapour, thinking it is easier to live without it, but you are not living abundantly by hiding it away and ignoring it. Take some time to write it down, remember it again, realise it is possibly the thing that will rescue you from a place of unfulfilled living. Inside each of us there’s a Superman T-shirt or brave hero longing to be revealed.
Can you hear it? A whispering excitement beginning like a soft drum in your chest…. a beat that wants to sound loudly to you that there are new things to call forth from you. It is time, the clock ticks, and it waits for no one. I want to see you, the real you, shining forth in all your great yet humble talent for the world to see.
Come on…come alive! It may feel like you are stepping out onto nothing, not knowing really where you are going, but you will find it easier after you take the first step. I am beside you, cheering you on (and myself). Take my hand if you need to. Look for others in your life who have stopped living from their heart, encourage them to speak tenderly again to their dreams and listen to the deepest longing within them.
You know you want to…
♡ 𝕯enise ❣ ~~ ♥ ~~ ♥ ~~
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 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! =)
I am delighted to welcome again, my sweet friend and a wonderfully talented writer, Author Dawn Hood as my GUEST BLOGGER today! ~ Please see her social network links below her beautiful story, to follow Dawn and find out more information about her newly published 1st book .. .. Denise
❦ ❦ “Fragile and Fierce” ~ ❦ ❦
Written by Dawn Hood
I remember as a young girl of 12 or 13 a particular Saturday afternoon at a friend’s house. Janice and I had been playing outside all day, running around through her neighborhood bare foot, enjoying what was left of our summer vacation from school. Janice had an older brother (super cute – and in college!) and his girlfriend had come over late in the day to join the family for dinner. Gathered around the table for a beautiful meal, Girlfriend suddenly shrieked and started crying hysterically. Knives and forks dropped, we all jumped, and I think a glass of iced tea or two may have been spilled over onto the tablecloth.
As Girlfriend pushed away from the table and ran towards the kitchen, Janice’s brother right behind her, we realized what had happened. A tiny, little spider – not much bigger than a speck – had drifted down from the ceiling to retrieve his share of the evening meal and in doing so had landed on Girlfriend’s plate, sending her into an emotional frenzy. No reflection on the housekeeping skills of Janice’s mom, it was simply late summer in Georgia. Spiders welcomed the indoor relief from heat and humidity as much as we humans. Not to mention, the food smelled absolutely divine.
The meal was ruined. Janice’s mom was morbidly embarrassed. Her brother was trying to calm down Girlfriend still shaking and crying over the kitchen sink. Janice’s dad was reprimanding us for making fun of a grown woman afraid of an itsy bitsy spider. And I remember thinking, “I hope I’m not that fragile when I grow up.”
A few weeks later in middle school: P.E. was a required class back then and I had a gym teacher who, by today’s standards, would either be in jail or tied up in legal battles from multiple parent-initiated lawsuits. We didn’t play games, we didn’t ‘talk’ about physical education, and her goal was not to make fitness fun. We worked. Hard. She took those 50 minutes and wore us out. My P.E. teacher was not an attractive woman, and morbidly obese (yes, ironically she taught physical education). Her idea of lesson planning was to tap her pen against the clipboard while she debated which form of torture to put us through on any given day.
This particular afternoon, we ran. Outside. In the August afternoon heat. For 50 straight minutes. Not on a track. No ma’am, she had us run out behind the school on the dirt field. And for whatever reason on that day, she had my number. As we headed back for the locker room sweaty and clutching our sides (no mandatory water breaks in our day), she called my name. “Chambers! Inside the gym! Now!” For some reason known only to her, I was going to be the brunt of her punishment. After all that running, she took me inside the gym to do squats. Hands clasped behind my head, I started my squats and she started counting. We had reached about 35 when another teacher walked into the gym to talk with her. I kept doing squats. Several minutes later, she walked back over to me and with a smirk in my direction said, “I forgot where we were. 1…..2..…3…..” and she started over.
Honestly, I don’t know how many squats I did that afternoon. I know when she finally let me stop, my legs literally felt like spaghetti noodles. I couldn’t walk to the locker room to change my clothes. By the time I finally made it to my class with an illegibly scribbled note in my hand from the P.E. teacher, the bell rang for dismissal. And I remember thinking, “That woman is fierce. I hope I’m not like that when I grow up.”
Let me just say that life has provided many opportunities to test my resolve.
And my experiences have taught me that there is a fine line between fragile and fierce. Sometimes all it takes is one painful, traumatic, heartbreaking moment to turn a fragile heart into stone. And sometimes all it takes is one small, tender, compassionate act of grace to melt the fiercest of hearts.
The key, I think, is to embrace a bit of both.
There are times when I must be fierce: protecting my family, defending my faith, respecting and honoring my love of freedom. And there are times when I must allow myself to be fragile: entrusting my heart to those I love, staying sensitive to God’s voice, and allowing my dreams and disappointments to be known. It is my choice and sadly, I could recount many times when I have chosen badly. The fragile born from feelings of self-pity. The fierce born from feelings of entitlement.
Jesus is the perfect example of living out the two in perfect harmony: Fierce when protecting his Father’s house and raging against those who willfully manipulated his people; fragile when offering his body as a sacrifice, acknowledging complete abandonment by those he came to serve and the One who sent him.
Learning to be both fragile and fierce – at the right time and in the right place – is learning to be like Him. And that, my friends, is my highest resolve.