Okay, I admit it, as I write this short story I am unashamedly nibbling away on a “Rocky Road Biscuit Brownie”, purchased today at a gorgeous health food/home food bakery store. I am guilty as charged for falling for the overwhelming temptation of a dark chocolate, marshmallow & biscuit temptation. As I was out on my morning run, I succumbed to its alluring ways…and moments later it sat in my running bag as my après-running treat! And hours later, that’s just what it is. However, let me add, it is accompanied by a strong and hot cup of organic Chinese green tea; so all is good! As I munched this delicious treat, I mused to myself at its interesting name.
I decided that really the only “Rocky Roads” we want in life, are of the chocolate variety (for me the dark chocolate) but if only life was as simple as a chocolate “Rocky Road”. For many of us it is paved with seasons of “rockiness”, when we would much rather a smooth surface!
“Rocky Road” started as a flavour of ice cream; described as that hard-to-resist combination of chocolate ice cream laced with chunks of nuts and marshmallows. William Dreyer came up with this cleverly named ice cream flavour way back in 1929, and it was, and still is, a best seller. Its popularity is probably why the chocolate-nut-marshmallow combination is now found in so many desserts too.
So, when you saw that the title of my story was “Rocky Road”, what did you think of? Was your first thought of a chocolate/marshmallow tray-bake combination or were you far more concerned with the “Rocky Road” that your life may be right now? Do you dream of days where there are less obstacles and far more blessings? If you do, then you are not alone. I promise!
May I interject with some raw honesty? As I sat writing this blog today, right at this moment my thoughts have been completely thrown asunder by the news of the death of a dear friend. We knew he was ill but never thought that he would leave us. So strikingly ironic that I should be writing about the “Rocky Roads” of life and then receive this news. Somehow it impacts the next part of my story even deeper. When life is rocky, we have a Master Helper who comes alongside us to carry our load. When our hearts ache for those we love, He gently wraps His great arms of compassion around us and helps us trust Him through the tears. When life falls apart at the seams, He somehow weaves the tapestry of His design and allows us to see just enough so as to have hope, even one day at a time.
And today as we grieve the loss of an amazing brother and friend Joseph Fitzgerald, we can know that though this road is rocky, and hard to understand there is a faithful God who sees our hearts and cares about our loss. Jesus wept remember!
So I guess all I can say is whatever season you are in, whether life is rocky or smooth, make sure you have the Master Weaver as your friend, for then no matter what the road may hold for you, there will always be a road map to look to and trust in. All I know at times is that “GOD KNOWS”, these are often the final words whispered from my tired lips as I close my eyes to sleep each night. And He does know!
Within a week of each other, two of my friends have gone home to Heaven far sooner than any of us would have thought possible. Both of them incredibly talented musically and vocally, in abundance! And as another dear friend (John Edwards) said today, “Now promoted to the choirs of Heaven…” That is a beautiful thought John!
But it’s hard today to grasp that we are saying goodbye to another gifted friend. Our loss is Heaven’s gain it is true, but what a wake-up call to make our lives count!
Forgive, love, live, laugh and make a difference; for none of us know what tomorrow holds! If you love someone let them know. Carpe Diem…SEIZE THE DAY!
Make things right with God and each other! Remember in Luke 24 v 32, ‘They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?’ ~ There is a Friend walking this “Rocky Road” with you, and that Friend is Jesus. Listen, He is speaking softly to your heart, as you walk along this road.
You may actually make someone’s “Rocky Road” a little bit more bearable simply by the love you share and the encouragement you give!
Oh I am also leaving you with the “Rocky Road” recipe. Make a tray-bake and share it with someone who needs some kindness on the rocky road of life…..
Contentment; The Oxford dictionary describes it as ~ “a feeling of happiness or satisfaction with what you have: The good feeling that you have when you have achieved something or when something that you wanted to happen does happen:
Do you live here? Do you go there frequently or is it a place you long for? I feel qualified to ask these questions because I too am asking myself them. So it is OK to be honest, brutally honest but at least be honest. You don’t have to tell me the answer, or anyone else for that matter, but you cannot hide the answer from your own heart. Is something stirring within you now?
So how did I arrive at this junction, this question about contentment? Well I am on the journey of trying to learn it. There are times when it is easy to feel JOY and happiness, when circumstances have ‘rocked on’ exactly as you wanted. When the flowers grow exactly where you wanted them, when it rains precisely when you need it to and when your favorite things happen in your favorite way! When life never throws a curve ball and there are no obstacles to your dreams coming true, it can be a simple thing at these times, to be content.
So were we born content? I don’t believe so, I believe we begin to learn to be content even as children when things don’t go the way we want or lessons come along to teach us that the world or those living in it, will not always be able to please us. So give yourself a break, it is OK to admit that you are learning to be content. I did just that this morning. I exhaled a deep sigh, dropped my shoulders from their tense raised up position and gave myself permission to say I am not there yet, and I am not as content at all as I would like to be. Not only am I aware of the fact that I need desperately to learn to be content, but I am making a choice to pursue it. I am choosing to engage my heart, mind, body and soul in the activity of learning to live on the street named contentment. I feel afraid if I am honest. It will require changes in my expectations and a certain measure of discipline. Maybe I will have to evaluate my desires and my dreams.
But, what if it is too hard? …And then it came, a sweet soft voice, reminding me that I cannot even begin this endeavor alone. I cannot even find the starting point or the destination mark. All I can do is position my heart in the humble state of starting with honesty. Nothing of any value or real progress happens in our lives or relationships or decisions without genuine honesty about where we are. Maybe that is a new concept for you? It is a place of courage and determination, and it starts first with an honest look at your own heart.
Whether you believe in God or not, or whether you ever read the Bible or not, there is a worldwide hunger for contentment. The moment I said the word you were hooked, or why did you bother to even read any further? Did it intrigue you, as it did my own heart this very morning? Good, that means you know it is deserving of your attention and that something needs to be looked at.
So what is contentment? Is it having all you want, the perfect life, the dream marriage or single life, the fast car or grandest material possessions? Is it being healthy, rich, famous, or beautiful? For each of us it may mean some or all of those things. So, let’s say you get all of the things that should make you content, WOO HOO!! You have arrived and have unpacked your bags at destination contentment. Then one day everything changes, your world falls apart, and you cannot control it. What then? The Bible talks about learning to be content regardless of our circumstances ~ Gulp! ~ Hard to imagine isn’t it? I am gulping right along with you! I have met people who do not believe in God, and though they have walked a hard road they still seem to have found contentment. When I asked them how this is possible without God? They say they just choose it, in their own will power and strength. Not easy.
Believers have an oasis of strength in God to draw from in order to do this, and yet we openly and honestly struggle to learn to be content in our challenging circumstances. I believe the ground that exists between reality and our expectations, is the place where disappointment lives! It is the place where dreams are shattered or loss or illness come and steal our perspective or our belief that a certain event or thing would or would not happen. We are faced with the truth of what we really believe about God. We are faced with the obligation to find a way out of our despair. That is when we have to choose to learn to be content. It is not a mind over matter thing, but it starts in our mind. It starts with an honest, hard, humble (and any other ‘h’ words you want to add in) look at what we really feel contentment is. It does not come naturally, it comes supernaturally! It does not come over night, it comes slowly, deeply, painfully but with a promise of joy. real joy that circumstances cannot steal away in a phone call or bad report.
I believe most of us would admit that we are not content. Some are not content with the impact they are having in this world, and that is a different kind of contentment. What I am talking about is that peace that surpasses all understanding, that joy that fills every nook and cranny of your soul.
Imagine if you will, that I have a room in my heart, it has a door leading into it. On the door is a sign, with the name contentment written on it. Today I decided to open that door, although hesitantly, but never the less opening it. Once inside I looked around, and was not at all shocked that it was quite spacious and empty. You see there is a lot more space for contentment in my life than I had otherwise thought. I want my contentment room overflowing, full of life, full of God, full of gifts, full of flowers of joy, overflowing with hope and faith. So much so that I can share my contentment with others who have forgotten about the hunger they have for it or indeed their loss of it. maybe you had never before admitted that you have been living for years with out it?
So at the start of what the world calls a new year, I want a new room in my heart to begin to explode with life. First it begins by placing your hand on the door knob and turning it, opening the door and allowing truth and time and God to have their way in working together to make all things new in you. We could choose to ignore this room, and carry on pretending that we are fine and don’t need to learn to be content no matter how hard the circumstances are, but is that not tiresome to try to keep a mask on our disappointments, when really all of us struggle with them.
I say open the door, I know I am. I am allowing God’s gentle yet powerful wind to blow through this room, to rearrange the furniture and put things in their rightful place. Some things may stay exactly as they are, but I will have changed. I will find out if I truly trust Him as I say I do. He will show me the sovereignty of His will. I will have learned that the true secret of contentment is in learning that God is good no matter what I see, come what may, day in and day out, rain or shine, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, or in sickness or health.
He is good and He is faithful. This is the truth and only when we can admit that we need to learn to be content can He really take us on an adventure that nothing can ever compare to! When we come to the place of admitting that we are disappointed, only then can healing really begin. Only then can our perspective be strengthened by a God who really wants that kind of real relationship with us. Then we can say with Paul in the book of Philippians:
11 ” Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4: 11 – 13)
I have not yet arrived, nor do I assume to understand all the workings of God’s will in my life, or yours. But all I do know, is that our own understanding fails us, as does our own strength. So come, let us reason together, let us choose to at least start to learn to be content, and allow God to plant flowers along the way, and cause our souls to blossom with joy and hope like never before.
Open the door, decide to let your heart move into the street called contentment….It is never too late!
“Hello Sunshine!”…I said as I stood on my bed to open my bedroom window as far as it would go without falling out…and then lay in the early morning sunshine that seemed to promise it would be a glorious blue sky day. The sun streamed in my window and warmed my skin as I eased in to the day with my daily reading and God time. I love days like this when I can be still and quiet and waken my mind to new ideas and plans. My attention drifted as I turned the page of my current devotional, to the sounds of life outside my open window….I thought of God and His creation, and the amazing bird song that filled the garden below.
A huge bumble bee buzzed loudly as it hovered at the entrance to my window, I stared at it intently, and it seemed to stare right back at me as it pondered what to do next. It was so big I am not even sure how those tiny wings actually kept it in the air at all. Finally I won the staring game and it buzzed off to leave me in peace, for if it had come in surely there would have been a contest between us, and I would have won.
Then the most incredible sound rose from the trees in my garden, a melody so beautiful filled the warm summer air. A lone voice with pitch and accuracy sang a song of frenzy and excitement.
It made me smile. I wondered what birds think as they sing? Do they think of the Creator who made them? Do they think of the next juicy worm they will catch? Do they wake up eager to fill those lungs with air and belt out those amazing tunes of life and celebration at the dawning of a new day?
I would like to think they do. I guess on a stunningly beautiful day like this, that a song is never hard to find. That it is easy to sing, with such enjoyable and peaceful surroundings as your stage.
No microphone was required, all that is needed is a branch and a key to start. And so it sang and I found myself staring at the incredible blue sky above.
Moments later I returned to the next page of my book and was soon lost in the challenges and truth of the writer and allowed my mind to be consumed with the lesson at hand.
Pages turned and minutes past, and a sound of a different kind drew my attention to the window opened wide beside me…a fresh cool breeze blew and the warmth of the sun vanished…I left my book aside and crawled up on to my window sill, just catching the final ray of sunshine as it disappeared behind a cloud….not just one cloud, but the largest thickest black cloud you could imagine. What a contrast to the scene I had last enjoyed. Just then the rain started, no subtle drops or gradual introduction, it came hard and fast upon an unsuspecting garden. I could smell it in the air…serious rain! The sun was nowhere to be seen, although shining above the clouds for sure. The rain was furious, racing down to kiss the earth, nothing was untouched, it pounded the pathway to the clothes line and bounced off the window sill, inches away from where I sat inside. As I looked I dragged a warm fleece blanket around me and just watched it, it kind of entertained me. I giggled and thought to myself how glad I was to be this side of the window pane.
It was a downpour, of monsoon proportions, huge drops that flattened the grass and weighed heavy on the leaves of the trees. The flowers and summer buds danced along with little choice or option as the rain clearly led the way. Soon came the loud thunder in the clouds, it almost commanded attention with its sudden outburst. I jumped a little as I didn’t expect it. But I still remained on the window sill, as if testing the elements. I was strangely relaxed on my own perch.
Then I heard it, a beautiful response, coming from the heights above me…in the tall trees near by…the birds still sang! Though everything had changed from a peaceful morning-glory to a darkened wet storm, the birds still sang! I dragged my legs close to me and wrapped my arms around them, huddled and warm and dry under my blanket, as the birds still sang in the rain. Their surroundings were harder now, it was not so easy to sing now as it had been moments ago. This was the kind of rain that would cause shoppers and cyclists to stop and take shelter in a shop or nearby bus shelter….but no, not the birds, they still found a reason to sing!
If anything they sang louder, as if in competition with this very wet imposter who dared to cause them to be silenced and flee for safety. They sang out the sweetest victorious refrain, and now there were many of them, all joining in together…all different pitches and squeals and twitters. It was magnificent.
I thought to myself, it is a lot like life….the storms come to try to silence the song in us. The rain comes suddenly at times, when we least expect it, and tries to cause us to run away and hide.
But I want to be like these birds, when the storms come, and they will my friend, I want to find a voice deeper with in me that will not be quiet, that will find a way to sing, no matter what I see!
I want to celebrate the rain as well as the sun, for each must come in order for there to be life.
In the storm I want to find strength, the kind of strength that rises from weakness, the kind of strength that finds a song come shine or come rain! The kind of strength that turns in to a song that rises from the lungs of a vessel that knows God is in control and will never fail, never!
I thought of those melodious birds, as the harsh rain drops pelted them on the head, yet they opened their beaks and sang their sweet song, despite the elements or circumstances that surrounded them. Were they taken by surprise by the sudden heavy rains? I doubt it, and even if they were, I think they would still have chosen to respond with their victory song. They know the One who looks after them, who feeds them and clothes them. They know the One who never lets them down, in every season of life. I want to be more like these beautiful songbirds, to sing in every season, a song of trust!
To choose to trust whether sudden or expected changes come my way. Whether I understand my circumstances or not, whether the morning brings joy or the night brings tears.
I know, I am sure you do too, strength is rising! I can hear you now, opening your beak (lips) to sing……=)
Written by Denise Kennedy
June 13th 2011
♣¸.•*”♣¸.•*”♣¸.•*” THANKS for the follow! =) NiseyK