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’:
n. 1. Peace of mind.
2. A smallEuropeanplant(Violatricolor)havingspurredflowersmarkedwithpurple,yellow,andwhite. It wasused to develophybridvarieties of cultivatedpansies.Alsocalledwildpansy.
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.”
Geese are elegant, intelligent, loyal, majestic and creative. They soar through the sky with a sense of destiny and beauty. I recently captured this photo of them as I walked along the port area of Dublin city. I stood there as the sun rose, watching them fly together in a unity so incredible I held my breath.
So allow me to share some of the stunning things I have discovered about geese, that quite frankly distinguish them from lots of animals or birds we have; and to be honest, I found myself wanting to be a lot more like our feathered friend than I had ever imagined before…
Geese mate for life and will live a loyal life of faithfulness to one partner, even after their mate passes away.
A group of geese is called a gaggle – if they are flying they are known as a skein or wedge.
They choose to fly in a”V” shape so as to increase their flying power and range by at least 70%. By sharing the air space they make the flight easier for those flying with them. They look out for each other.
When the goose in front tires or grows weary another goose takes its place and then the tired goose moves back to rest, and into position to complete the formation.
While they are flying in formation they honk at each other to send encouagement to each other on the journey.
Geese care for each other; they look out for the other geese in their gaggle, to see if they are okay. If one gets sick, is attacked or hurt and drifts or falls from the formation, others will also leave the “V” shape and go to protect the injured goose. They stay with the sick goose until it recovers or dies. They will not leave it alone.
A young goose will find a mate for itself when it is only 3 years of age. If one of the pair dies the remaining goose will live many years without finding another mate. Most times the widowed goose lives the remainder of its life without a partner.
Male geese prefer to show very protective and kind behaviour towards the females in the group. They have been known to stand or fly between danger and the female in the situation; so beautiful and so courageous.
Geese choose to vocalize their messages to each other in a variety of ten different ways; it depends on the situation but they can stretch their necks or make loud honks in order to send a signal to others.
Geese live together and hatch a new gosling yearly, then both parents are involved in minding and taking care of the newborn.
The list goes on…
So…which characteristic was your favourite? Possibly, like me, you chose a few. One thing I found myself thinking as I read this list, is that I want to be more like geese. I want to love deeper, care for loved ones in a more devoted way. I want to be known as one who is faithful to the mate I choose for life. I want to go to rescue the hurting and stay with them until they can fly and join the group again. I want to be known as one who looks out for the dangers that are lurking and preying on my counterparts. I want to be so much more like a goose than I had ever thought of before…
If you feel the same then let’s honk and make the choice to stick together…
If my little thoughts today have inspired you then please give me a share and a like…every ‘honk’ lets me know that you are with me…and we are looking out for each other…
In this age of digital and personal development, many have thrown around the term USP, or otherwise known as your Unique Selling Point. Some folks find it easy to identify these incredible strengths in others, but struggle to evaluate these attributes in themselves, their talents or their business offering.
As entrepreneurs, communicators or anyone with a dream, it is vital that you know what your unique strengths are, and utilise them in all of your business endeavours.
Let’s break it down into smaller parts and evaluate the significance of this term. When you are asked about your business, your skills, your capabilities or accomplishments, do you struggle to see what makes you unique? If you do, don’t worry, you are not alone in this dilemma. But if you do not challenge this weakness it will hold you back in every area where you seek to be successful. It is like carrying out a SWOT analysis on yourself, while determining where you are most likely to achieve your business goals.
So take a pen and paper, and jot down the words that come to mind as you answer these questions: There is no wrong answer, just be as honest as you can.
What differentiates you from what your competitors are doing or offering?
How do you add value in the industry or market you are currently in?
If you were not doing what you are doing, what would your consumers or customers miss out on?
When you wake up in the morning, are you motivated by the thought that you can make a difference in your work day, and if so, how?
Okay – how do you feel in the pit of your stomach right now? Are you chasing a goal that actually has no real value to your heart? Is there a possibility that you are stuck in your comfort zone and are no longer excited about what you are doing? If this is the case, then make the decision today to ‘unglue’ yourself from this place of underachieving.
“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” – Jim Rohn
Your skill set may be perfectly matched to the industry you are working in, so it just may be the case that you need to sharpen your focus in a more dynamic way. Either way, unless we challenge these thoughts, we can find ourselves drifting along with no real motivation and certainly having no lasting impression on those we desperately want to impact in business and life.
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.
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.
He whispered it softly one day. He overwhelmed me with gentleness, kindness and affection. I was stunned by the loving voice of the very One who holds my whole world in His hands.
Then He said it again… ‘I Love You!”
I stood there with a microphone in my hand and a song on my lips, before a packed room of hungry worshipers who wanted to lift His name higher. I kept my focus clear and my voice on the melody, but inside a torrent of water was drenching my weary soul. To all those present it was an ordinary Sunday morning, but as the following moments unfolded I knew I was encountering a depth of intimacy that I neither had to initiate or control. And God spoke again…
I cannot speak yet of all of the things that He shared with me that morning, and it has taken me several weeks to even try to put it on (virtual) paper. But my life has been changed by a simple yet profound question. It is for you that I share this account, because it is He who wills it and He who wants you to know, that yes, there is more, much more for you than what you have experienced up until this moment wherein you stand… He waits, He calls, He asks. Come with me as I try to take you on the journey…
I stood there, holding my breath and continuing to sing, not easy to do at the same time. God had crept up valiantly and hi-jacked my heart, stolen my attention in a magnificent way, and it was beautiful. The discourse that took place began with an invitation by the Almighty to surrender my heart in an entirely new way to Him. He simply said, “Denise, will you marry me?” Yeah I know, not the kind of words you expect to hear from God. But what then unfolded was a beautiful portrayal of what it means to really trust, commit and surrender one’s life to the Creator. It’s all about our vows. And that’s exactly where God brought me…to a place of renewing my vows to Him and His will for my life. The magnificent voice of God whispered to me: “Will you trust me and be true to Me in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health? Will you love and honour me all the days of your life? Will you walk with me for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer? Will you keep your vows to Me even when life makes no sense and you are walking through difficult times?
I stood for a while as tears ran down my face…then soon found myself kneeling on the stage, unaware of what anyone else was doing around me, yet continuing to sing with the team. But I was in the presence of Greatness, a mighty Lover who wanted ALL of my heart, right there, and forever more. I thought about the wedding vows normally exchanged by couples on their wedding day, and how they take each other by the hand and the heart and pledge to walk together through all of the seasons of life. And although I have not stood there at that altar as so many have before me, I now found myself standing at a different kind of altar. And I answered ‘YES”. Yes God, I will trust You in all of the seasons You walk me through, through all of the losses and gains, joys and sorrows, thrills and tears. I will trust You, knowing that even in death, we will not be parted, because that part of the vow ‘until death do us part’ is not true for those who love God, as we know when we pass from this earth we simply change garments, names and dwelling places to be transported to a Heavenly Kingdom that never ends.
Maybe God is whispering to you right now, a quiet yet provoking ‘Will you?’ ~ Maybe you desire to know Him in a greater way, and find your heart pounding in your chest as mine did?
Later that day I did some research on wedding vows and wrote my new vows of love and trust to my God. While doing so I found a beautiful wedding song used by the Eskimos, which goes like this:
Eskimo Love Song
You are my husband, you are my wife
My feet shall run because of you
My feet dance because of you
My heart shall beat because of you
My eyes see because of you
My mind thinks because of you
And I shall love, because of you.
As I read it I was reminded that because of the breath of my Creator in my lungs, and His life in my bones I can say that He makes me do all of these things I sometimes take for granted! The Father of creation loved the world so much, that not only did He die for us, but He died ‘as us’… (Bill Johnson – Hosting The Presence) God uses the symbol of marriage to describe the love He has for His Bride, in the same way He uses it to remind us of the sacredness of a wedding between two people. May today be the beginning of a new love romance for you, may you find yourself whispering to your Creator…’I do!’
For we know that on the Cross, God has already screamed ‘I Do!’ to a world He loves.