As I sit here writing to you, I hear the soft flickering of my open coal fire, as heat radiates and the smell of warmth fills the room. I am grateful. Over in my kitchen, a freshly prepared, by yours truly, pot of Irish stew gurgles and bubbles as it cooks on my brand new stove. My nearby window, slightly ajar, lets me hear the birds singing to each other from their branches, and the funny screams of sea gulls as they soar in the sky. The sound of life!
Some of you know I have moved, and many of you have asked me to tell the story of how it all happened. First, let me take a sip from my freshly brewed cup of brilliance, and I will begin to pen the tale.
The story is long, so I will keep it brief and pertinent to what really matters. I needed to move, and time was running out on my lease. Days, weeks and months were flying past, with no real success in finding my new abode. I remained resilient and positive, but meanwhile back at the ranch, my heart was growing wearisome and tiresome. You know the feeling.
So, on a seemingly ordinary Tuesday morning, way back in November, I awoke with a sense of destiny, urgency, optimism and a certain, “Je ne sais quoi“.
I went through my usual morning routine, breakfast, reading, quiet time, etc etc, but all the while I knew today was the day I would find it. I decreed it in my heart, that today God and I would find it, as if God needed my help, and the day commenced.
Soon I was out walking on the street, in the south city suburbs of Dublin, with no real place to go, just watching people and looking for opportunity. This particular day, opportunity came wearing overalls and holding a paintbrush. He was a stranger to me, but I soon found myself interrupting his work to inquire if he may possibly be the landlord of said property. He wasn’t. But quite resolutely he took me into the house to meet the landlord of this lovely Georgian house. To cut a long eventful story short, I spent about half an hour chatting with a landlord, who had nothing to offer me, but took the time to offer me friendly advice and hear my story. He had just come out of a three hour meeting, yet gave me much more than the time of day. It was inspiring, but even more so, when he simply said, that he wanted to give me some timely and encouraging advice…”Don’t lose hope!..”
He said it calmly and resolutely. So much so that the tired heart in me was lifted up. I blinked the tears from my eyes and thanked him for this kindness and time. And ventured out onto the street again.
Moments later I saw another gentleman in overalls. So, yes, you guessed it. I did. I gingerly approached him on the front steps of another Georgian building, and inquired if he were possibly the landlord. And, guess what? No, he wasn’t. We chatted a bit about why I was out stopping strangers and the like. He then decided to call the landlord of this property to inquire on my behalf. And low and behold, he had just driven in around the rear of the building at that moment. So, had I arrived at this second property thirty minutes earlier, things may not have lined up so perfectly for me. I mused to myself, thank God the other landlord took thirty minutes out of his day to be kind to a stranger.
Soon I rushed round the corner to meet another stranger, who now is my current landlord.
It all did not go as smoothly as planned, and there were a few delays and hiccups to test my faith, but soon after, the keys to my brightly new refurbished from floor to ceiling, Georgian studio were in my hands. I moved in well before Christmas, with the help of family and friends. I have all I need, plus one extra, a real open log fire! That part was a pleasant surprise. Blessed with brand new fixtures and fittings, a new cooker, fridge and utilities. And this is where I write to you from, sitting in my own antique nursing chair, by my heat-yielding flickering fire.
And although there are challenges afoot, and things that greatly challenge my heart today, I can look around me and be grateful that I have more than some, and less than a lot, but I have what I need. I am ready to move on to the next adventure, wherever and whenever that is. Today the sound of life is beautiful, and I am grateful for the journey, and for the strength that tears can bring.
Anyway, I better go, the sound and aroma of my homemade stew bubbling signals to me that it is ready, and so am I. Oh, there is one more important thing I must tell you; remember when I met the second landlord? Well, he was not planning on advertising this property, so the only way I would have found him is if I met him on the street. So, there you have it. Get out there and meet people. Take risks, go out on a limb and see what happens. I did, and it changed everything.
On a recent short stay in America the beautiful, I learned of two astounding growth phenomena. Mistletoe and Resurrection Fern. 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 cruising 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 Fern. Incredible.
Resurrection Fern is found growing on the trunks and branches of oak trees. It gets its name ‘resurrection’ from the way the fern acts during certain weather seasons. During a dry period, the fern 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 fern, 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 fern, to Him and those around you, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
It 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!
Life is like a river, sometimes you are merrily merrily rowing your boat and life is but a dream…other times it seems like you are battling to paddle upstream in the torrents of a force five flood. I can relate to both, as can we all. At the moment I find my vessel in the second description, and having experienced that exact real life event several years ago, I know it to be exhilarating but also totally terrifying.
The other night, while lying in my bed in the stillness of midnight, the phrase ‘Whistle In The dark’ grabbed my imagination and planted a curiosity in me that led me on an inquisitive journey. The phrase ‘Whistle In The Dark’ has a few definitions and idioms. Here are a few I pulled together to enlighten us further…
1. To pretend to be unafraid
2. To be confident that something good will happen when it seems not at all likely (thefreedictionary.com)
3. To attempt to summon up one’s courage or optimism in a difficult situation (dictionary.com)
4. The notion that one should whistle in difficult circumstances to show that one is not concerned or frightened can be found in Robert Blair’s The Grave (1742): “The Schoolboy…Whistling aloud to bear his courage up”. From the Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).
To choose to ‘whistle in the dark’ can best be described as deciding to be cheerful or optimistic when you are walking through a situation or circumstance where cheer or optimism cannot be warranted or expected. Haven’t we all walked through these seasons of life? It is a great strength to be able to muster up the courage needed to lift your heart up by whistling or singing in a dark and lonely place. Those of us who believe in God, call this FAITH. Whereby we focus on the power of our omnipresent God who holds our lives in His hands, believing that nothing happens to us that He is not infinitely aware of and involved in. Faith is choosing to trust, even when we cannot see where we are going or where our feet will step next.
My dear friend Roxanne, (from Louisiana), shared with me a beautiful illustration of the powerful workings of God’s hands: She recounted that should our feet be walking on or down a path that God does not wish for us, that God is mighty enough to literally reposition our feet and direct us down the batter path of His choosing. A door will open, a road will appear, a way will be made clear for us to take. I breathed a sigh of relief, for although we all know this to be true, sometimes we need a fellow traveler to come along side us and cheer us on.
Are you in this place? Are you ‘whistling in the dark’, hearing nothing but the lonesome sound of your own efforts to take courage by whistling your melody of faith? I am there with you, but more than that, GOD IS. Even the thickest darkness is as light to Him. He can see clearly and is working all things together for good, whether we can see it or feel it.
So lift your head up dear one, with tears if you must, and lean your heart into His today knowing that He is right there beside you, and He hears your whistle of faith. Whistle loud and boldly, forgetting the doubtful voices of those around you who may not understand the reason for your courage. There is One who cherishes this sound of faith you make, this song in the night, your desire to boldly trust Him on the road less traveled. He is near, He is with you and He will come through for you. He hears you whistle and to Him it is a beautiful sound of precious trust from a heart determined to believe in the goodness of His hand to do what He has promised.
Soon we will see. God is getting us ready for something new.