If anyone has read my stories, they know I believe in stopping for the one. The masses are exciting and they matter. The big impact is glorious. Yet there is something so very special about the one. Never forget, He is the Father that encourages with the story of the one lost sheep.
Sometimes in stopping for the one, in taking time to sit, listen and serve, I can become quite despondent. I wonder whether it really makes a difference.
Today I gave my time to support others. I spent longer than planned. An hour out of a day, with an extra half hour, does not seem too much; but when you are in a busy world, it makes a tremendous difference.
Feeling a little flat after, I roused myself. I must have made an impact, given how flat I felt. Walking with my son in the sunshine, I reminded myself that God had asked me to do what I had done, yet the niggle remained – had I just wasted my time?
Intellectually you know you are doing the right thing, but…
Master M and I stopped for lunch at a local cafe. I randomly looked at my mobile phone… 1:11.
‘I love you’ I heard Him whisper.
‘I love you too’ I responded and ate my lunch.
As I went inside to pay, I thought about an ARK (Act of Random Kindness) I had performed over a week before in the same cafe. I don’t talk too much about these, and I would not normally be writing about this one, but the goodness and kindness of God radiates by sharing what happened today. It’s my hope you see Him in this story. It’s my wish that you hear His heart. I trust it will encourage you to look for Him yourself when you feel as I felt today…
Just over a week ago, I had left a sum of money at this cafe. It was enough for 10 or more coffees to be given away to whom ever they pleased. Amazed and delighted, the girl behind the til chatted about never seeing something like this before. She was so excited by the idea. I laughed and said that she would have fun giving the coffees away. The tangible atmosphere in the cafe buzzed with Holy Spirit.
This came to mind as I walked in to pay my bill. I wondered why I had bothered, noting the grouchy exchange I had with the owner late last week when I had tried to be friendly. (Note: my stinking thinking). I checked myself and my attitude, and I smiled as I paid and left.
We were some way down the street, when a girl chased behind us.
‘I was that girl that you left all that money with on the til the other day, you will never guess what happened…’
I smiled and waited…
‘You broke something open that day. I’ve never seen it before, but two more people came in that day and they also left money for free coffees for others…’
‘Wow,’ I responded, ‘that is bizarre.’
I know people leave money in cafes. It happens regularly at another cafe a suburb away from where I live. But, she had never seen it happen in this cafe.
She had not finished her story. She was so excited, she repeated herself.
‘I had to tell you, you broke something open that day, you started something that day, you broke it open that day, and others followed you and did the same, you caused something to start that day, what you did opened something up…’
I smiled and was a little embarrassed. Thanking her for sharing it with me, I told her to have a beautiful afternoon, and we walked on in the sunshine.
I heard the Father’s voice. He spoke to me through her excitement and declaration of what had occurred. he reminded me of my purpose, having first reminded me that I was loved.
I was nearly in tears.
She did not know I was feeling flat.
She did not know I have had those same words spoken over me many times. She did not know I had been told I would break things open, and that others would follow.
Being a breaker sounds fun, glamorous even.
There’s rarely people encouraging you to walk forward.
Stepping out in faith is spelt: R I S K.
There’s often jeering from the sidelines. People regularly misunderstand motives. Many, even ‘friends,’ want you to stop where they are at, so as not to cause them too much discomfort.
The point is, God knew my heart, my thoughts today, and He met me with, ‘I love you.’ Even though I was entertaining thoughts of ‘poor me’ and ‘stinking thinking.’
He then said, ‘thank you, I see you’ and He affirmed my identity and purpose.
Through an excited young woman, He showed me the end of a story. I rarely see what happens next, but she had remembered me and had witnessed to me the marvellous results of stopping for the one, and the flow on impact that an act of kindness had. It was His idea; it was my idea; it was both our ideas… His nudge so intangible. A joy to do, feel the atmospheres shift and watch the delight. She witnessed two more people give money away to bless others they did not know… and she somehow recognised that the act of obedience had broken something open for others to follow.
God heard my heart today, and He met it with a kiss. He did so through an unknowing girl who witnessed generosity break out in her workplace. God knew I needed a reminder that I was loved, that he saw me, and he met me in my need. And He will do so for you too, if you look to see because…
We had a few hours on a Saturday to do child free Christmas shopping before going to a movie. With our list in hand, we did not know that Jesus had His own Christmas shopping list for us to do too…!
I was in the ‘ladies’ when I found the first on His list. God told me to pray for someone outside my cubicle. Side note: Yes, He talks to me everywhere.
‘She has been a great blessing to others for many, many years, I want you to bless her’.
As I washed my hands, I looked at ‘her’ in the mirror.
She was an elderly woman waiting for her granddaughter. I introduced myself and stated that that I believed she had been a great blessing to many people over the years. I then asked if I could pray a blessing over her. She looked surprised but agreed.
Her name was Joy.
She was the second Joy I had prayed for that week and I mentally noted the ‘coincidence.’
I blessed Joy knowing that she knew Joy and was familiar with the Joy of God. She teared up a little as I prayed and blessed her, and once done, she asked if I would also pray for her granddaughter. I agreed and prayed and prophesied over her granddaughter, declaring her destiny would open and unfold, that she was a pillar and a leader in the coming move of God, which I believed would be a move that came through the youth in power. Joy excitedly said she had been praying for revival for years…
My husband had been waiting patiently outside. He knew what was going on inside because people were coming out from the bathroom saying in amazement that there was “someone praying in there for people…” and pointing back to the door. Andrew knew what I was up to and laughed. I hadn’t thought about that sort of impact, but it was quite funny…
Jesus assignment done, we got a coffee and discussed our shopping…
As we waited for our coffees, I popped into another store to “bag” our first item. C served me, and yes, God had me pray for her. C was a young girl (about 16) who “felt” the anointing as I prayed. I prophesied she would discover who she was and why she was in the next two years. She had said she did not know, but my gosh, she was a marvellous girl!. I headed off with my purchase and sat with my husband to finish our coffee…
I felt I had done my dash, and we headed off to a sporting store. We purchased nothing, but on our way out I walked past a very disabled girl with her parents. Strapped into her wheelchair, her arms and legs fastened down. The girl’s body was small, deformed, and she displayed no control over her head movements. I felt God’s strong desire for me to pray, but I was so intimidated by the severity of her condition. I internally argued with God as we walked away from the store, but ultimately said:
‘Ok, for You, I’m willing to do it…’ and I went back to search the shop.
I found the girl with her parents waiting at the checkout. The intensity of my nerves made it an extreme fight to approach them. I fought the extreme urge to walk away, knowing that God really wanted me to ask if I could pray for her…
Stopping in front of her chair, I asked her parents if I could pray. I desperately did not want them to feel that I felt sorry for them, but I also wanted them to know that I cared. They agreed, so I knelt and addressed their daughter, who could not talk at all.
She was dribbling and had an angry-looking rash on her face from the dampness of her dribble. Her hands were unformed, and her body was tiny. I knelt and taking her hand in mine, and I quietly introduced myself. Her parents looked weary and watched on as I prayed, and her father leant in to listen.
As I prayed, she locked her gaze on mine. I believe she could clearly feel God as I prayed for her. The frantic movements slowed, and she held onto my gaze several times. I prayed for her parents too and asked God to provide solutions.
Leaving the store, I thanked the girl and parents for stopping and allowing me to pray for them. I felt wobbly and said to Andrew it must be nerves; instead he encouraged me, suggesting it was the intensity of anointing…
“Ok” I thought, “big one down”, shake, shake, shake, “gosh, ok, deep breath” shake, shake, shake…
I slowly settled down as we walked through Big W, fighting the negative thoughts, the accusations of failure and the residual impact of the nerves.
As the legs stopped shaking, I could focus on our task at hand. Andrew encouraging me all the way, we successfully made further purchases.
As we left God prompted me to pray for the cashier who said to me ‘I am not a Christian’ to which I said something like ‘that doesn’t matter, I can still bless you’ which I promptly did, placing my hand on his elbow as I spoke peace over him for this season of business.
It was time for our movie, so we headed toward the theatre. To our surprise, we had calmly and easily done all our shopping.
I felt quite successful, having bagged all that we had, and I waited while Andrew put our purchases into the car. As I stood, I tried to ignore a young girl in a wheelchair. I had noticed her out of the corner of my eye. I calmly ignored the very brief, quiet prompting, preferring to hear the louder “no” that came very much on top of the whispered ‘pray for her’. The prompt was so subtle, and I wanted to get to our movie on time, so I tried to ignore her, and I literally turned my back.
I stood and argued internally, but it was no good; I knew I had to stop for this one too.
Walking over to the girl’s mother, I introduced myself, asked what her daughter had done and if I could pray. The Mum’s name was ‘A’ and was also with her teenage son, who looked like he had down syndrome, but who we later found out had autism. She looked back at me and immediately said yes, that would be great.
I knelt by the young girl (she was 14 years old) and she told me a brick wall had fallen on her, crushing and breaking one leg. The damage included the growth plate, so they had to do the same with the other leg in order that the legs would grow at the same rate.
I placed my hands on her legs (after she also gave me permission) and I prayed. She felt heat. I continued to pray and prophesy, while her friends stood by our side, politely not looking.
I asked her if she had asked Jesus into her heart. She said she had, but on a prompt I said ‘let’s do it again’ and so in response she asked Jesus into her heart. I suggested she ask that He fill her up, so she did. I continued to pray and when she said “enough” (a boundary we had agreed upon before I prayed) I thanked her and looked at her mother who then thanked me.
I thought I was going to go into the movie theatre after this and time was ticking along. We had not been to a movie for years by ourselves, so it was a real treat. However, I felt to pray for her brother and so turning to the mother I asked if I could pray for him too. She again readily agreed.
The boy called “B” was 16 years old. He swayed heavily under the anointing, and I motioned to Andrew, who quickly steadied him. He was incredibly ‘open’ to God’s presence.
I felt to suggest he say, ‘Jesus, come into my heart’
I then felt to suggest to him, ‘say Jesus fill me up,’
B said ‘Jesus fill me up’, and on saying it he kept saying it, over and over, laughing and swaying heavily under the anointing.
I finished and turned to the mother, knowing I had to pray for her too.
‘Well, this is more important than being on time for the movie,’ I thought and I offered to pray.
As I prayed for the mother, the compassion of God came upon me and I nearly cried. She looked like she did too. I received words of knowledge about her–she was struggling (that was obviously a possibility given her two kids) she was making major decisions, and she was a single Mum.
She told me she had 3 children and had told my husband prior to me praying that she had found the recent challenges with her daughter’s injury tough. I prayed, and she quietly received; she was so very thirsty for God and drank Him in, and as I finished praying for her, I placed my arms around her and held her close for a long, long time.
I went to release my hug, but she hung on, so I hugged her some more and when I felt it was enough, I again tried to disengage, but she again hung on again. So, I continued to hold her, yet feeling quite embarrassed by now. Again I went to release her, but she continued to hang onto me quietly. I tried again, and she hung on again… so I just stood in the middle of the busy shopping centre and let her drink and cling to me for what seemed an eternity…
I gave her our church card, and I wrote my private number on it so she could call me if she felt she wanted.
As we walked away my husband said to me he believed we were there, not so much for the daughter, but for the Mother, who had been through such a tough time, for Jesus says:
‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me… streams of living water will flow from within him.’John 7:38-39
We saw our movie, but we missed the promos. This did not bother us at all. We even had time to go to the bathroom and settle in before the movie started. God had it all timed beautifully and I am so glad that I did not rush because He had treasures in the darkness to give…
This is what the Lord says to his anointed…
‘I will go before you and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
Every person I encountered was a treasure in the darkness, waiting to be discovered. Each was a treasure set out for me to discover, to find, to uncover and my footsteps ordered by a loving and knowing God. He not only blessed us with the miracle of a great time together, Christmas shopping in the Christmas rush, but He also entrusted 10 people that all needed a touch from their mighty and loving God. Ten people altered for ever more. He left those treasures out for me to find because …
God is Good.
Post Script: The shopping day was a Saturday, a few years ago now. I wrote the story up on a Tuesday, and just as I finished writing the mum rang me with the following report:
Her daughter stood without crutches on the Sunday;
Her son lost his aggression and was much calmer. There was a change in his eyes, and they looked ‘more alert.’ He had stopped asking about his father who left the family earlier that and she said the ‘worry has lifted from his face’, he is ‘much calmer’. She told me he continues to say ‘Jesus fill me up’ and is laying hands on his mother and family friends and asking ‘can you feel that?’ and she can;
The mum (A) felt much more at peace (in her home and in herself). The night before meeting us she was suicidal, and when she saw us across the shops, she stood willing us to come over. She said there was a light around both Andrew and I that she saw and wanted to be near. From that afternoon A cared for herself properly, eating 3 meals a day, and was feeling at peace.
A told me she had thought about the encounter every day. She believed it was not a coincidence that we met. Just before she met us she had looked for a car park and just knew that she would find one on the middle level (where she met us) at about 1.30pm, just in time to meet us after getting her daughter out of the car with the wheelchair. She said that she had told her daughter that there would be a car park for them in that place, and there was a reason for the delay in finding one.
During our discussion on the telephone, A gave her heart to Christ. We talked at length and she shared some of her story with me. She also asked for and received the gift of tongues, feeling a ‘tingling up and down her legs’ as we prayed. She also felt the tingles over her head, as she had done earlier. Her ‘spirit spot’ burned lightly as we talked and prayed.
Post Post Script:
I kept in contact with A over Christmas and eventually arranged a coffee at my home in mid-January.
The bell rang, and on answering the door A was with her daughter who was standing. Her daughter’s name also begins with A so I will call her Little A. I stood looking at Little A and they both laughed at my shock. Little A was walking, without leg braces, without a wheelchair and without a walking stick.
After my initial shock, they came into my home where I heard the story.
Little A had stood for the first time unaided the day after I had prayed for her. She had been told on 6th January by her physiotherapist that she would need the wheelchair, leg braces and a crutch for another 6 weeks. Yet, she was walking completely unaided on 18th January… 12 days later! At the six week mark she was back training with cadets.
Apparently she had been walking not long after being prayed for. They had gone on holidays after Christmas at a caravan park in Phillip Island. They took the wheelchair, but had not used it, and she had been walking unaided since.
So, here she was, walking well, on Wednesday 18th January, having had two broken legs and having been told she would need a wheelchair, leg braces and a walking stick for at least another 6 weeks on 6th January…!
On this visit, Little A explained that she still needed more strength in her legs. I laid hands on her legs and called strength into her thigh muscles and as I did her mother, my daughter and I noticed her knee caps moving up and down with no input from her, as if her thigh muscles were being contracted and released. She did not feel it, it just happened.
She stood and tried them out and I prayed again, and it happened again…
Her Mother and I concluded her thigh muscles must have been being strengthened supernaturally. It was the oddest thing to watch her knee caps bobbing up and down in a rapid movement!
After we finished praying and we went for a walk during which I heard more of her story.
Apparently A’s family transformed. Her son was no longer violent, she was walking in abundant favour, disputes settled supernaturally, with no effort on her part. She shared how she had told a friend who was also in a place of despair how she too could be free-she was ready to give what she had received away to others!
A said the entire journey had been remarkable, the turnaround, marvellous…
I just listened in awe, knowing that it was all a miracle, and I noted that I nearly did not stop for them because I wanted to get to the movies on time…
I wondered how many others I had simply walked past…
How many others may have had a life transformed… had I stopped for the one…
I am certain that there is no condemnation in Christ, but how His heart yearns for us to recognise and to step into who we truly are, to co-labour with Him in the family business.
… all creation groans…
Will we be bold enough to step into our inheritance and bring others with us?
Dare weto lay claim to the “treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places” (Is45:3) and set them free?
Dare wetake people by the hand and say “come”?
God is breath taking in His beauty, in His kindness, in His Glory!
I felt the nudge to get out and go for a walk in the sunshine. There was 40 minutes before an online class started. I was a little flat, and did not feel inclined, but I recognised the nudge and so I knew to go.
Heading out, I asked which way. In my ‘wisdom’, I was sure a walk towards the beach was in order.
‘Turn right,’ I heard instead, and flashes of my local coffee shop played across my consciousness. ‘Head there, get yourself a coffee and head home.’
‘Alright’ I thought and enjoying the sunshine I did. I walked to the local that knew and loved me well.
While there, one of the junior staff members asked me how I was. In return, I asked her too.
‘Not too well’ she responded, and after enquiring further she told me her concerns, and her thoughts around the next steps she might take.
‘Give me your hand,’ I said. ‘I’m going to pray for you.’
She did, and I did.
Coffee in hand, I wished her a brilliant day, and headed home. Thinking I would head back the quick way, I checked with Him who knew…
A clear picture emerged, and I felt a prompting to walk home past the park, essentially the way I had walked before.
Sipping my coffee, I was happily anticipating my online class. I felt sheer delight in God, and I could tangibly sense His pleasure in me and in my delight in the morning adventure. Yes, I know. It is a tad ‘Pollyanna,’ but I don’t care. We need more Pollyanna’s that delight in the little things, for they release joy as they go!
As I walked past the park, a lone koala teddy bear toy caught my gaze. He was lying face up on the footpath. I considered leaving him on a fence so the family could return to find him readily; but seeing children playing in the park, I felt to head over and check who he may belong to, even though it may well run me late for my class.
Checking with the few mums who had children and prams, I came up stumps. Readers, in Australia this means I had no success.
Noting the time and wondering if I might have just left it on the fence, yet knowing I had heard not to, I headed back to place the teddy on the fence. I took photos so I could post it on a local Facebook group and hoped that the little owner would reunite with what looked like a well loved toy.
As I finished taking the photos, I noticed in the distance a mum with a child in a pram, hurrying up the path.
Picking up the teddy, I headed towards her. A little shy face peered at me, and with an outstretched hand the little person took the precious koala from me.
Delighted, the mum said what a beautiful thing to do. I felt silly and said she would have found him, anyway.
We exchanged a few more words, and I said goodbye, wishing her well, agreeing that our local community was a lovely place to live.
I walked home logging onto my class late. I briefly wondered what it was all about. Had I missed it? Perplexed, I dismissed it, giving it no more thought.
It was not until this morning as I again headed out for a quick 20-minute walk in the late morning sunshine that it came to mind. God had reminded me I needed to buy some food for 4 hungry boys due to arrive after school, and He encouraged me to go before my class. It was on this walk I asked again what this minor interaction had been all about.
‘Community matters,’ He said.
‘Community matters?’ I responded. ‘I know community matters…’ and then the penny dropped.
Face-to-face connection is so important. I was a stay at home mum. I have also worked from home for 20-plus years. I know how important it is to get out and talk to real live human beings; to smile at people; be in the sunshine; grab a coffee on a walk; sit at a coffee shop to work where they know you and you know them. The brief interactions, the smiles, the encouraging words, and exchange of loving ideas and knowledge about life… it all matters.
In the grand scheme of life, these are such little things – but are they?
In responding to a prompt to have a quick walk in the sunshine, towards my community, rather than in isolation along the beach, I received and gave some loving interaction. I know Christians and non-Christians that are great at this. In this season we are being called to our neighbourhoods.
The walk blessed me. I chatted to people in my local coffee shop; I stopped to listen to a young girl with some challenges; I smiled at the people doing yoga in the park; and I nodded at a shop owner as I passed by. I stopped to chat to mums in the park, and finally, I chatted to the mum with the child that had lost the toy koala. All incidental moments; all Kingdom in design.
That interaction with the mum, while it ran me late, showed that mum, who perhaps was a little lonely, that she lived in a community that cared enough to stop for the little things, like a lost toy. A little thing to me – a huge thing in a mum’s life with a little one that needs that toy to sleep.
I looked at her and said she looked like she was doing a superb job. We exchanged a few ideas. I said it gets easier, that they end up in school in no time. And I verbally affirmed that she indeed lived in a beautiful neighbourhood. (Bill Meyer I see you!).
And, overall, it blessed me, probably more than I blessed anyone I stopped for.
It reminded me, community matters!
I know the sort of community I want to live in – and so I seek to be the change…
And so how do we create the community we want to live in?
It’s the little things that matter.
We stop for the one.
We chat, we love, and we encourage.
It is in this way that together we impact a nation, one kind act at a time… a grassroots movement…
It is the little things that matter, and God sees them all and cares for each one because…
Soul is a poignant reminder that our life’s spark is not purpose. Life is not about what we do, for we are not human doings. Rather, life’s spark is about the sheerjoy of living, those magic moments when life sings.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about joy this year.
How do we step into JOY?
I believe that gratitude is key!
Simple, easy, yet it has a profound effect on our state of mind, our resilience and health. Working with refugees for years, I truly believe it is key to their coping and thriving after years of persecution and fear.
Each January our family celebrates what we are grateful for, and as we do, we write a list of hopes, dreams, plans, desires, goals for the year(s) to come. We check off fulfilled goals and dreams, and review others. For example – my daughter was travelling as an exchange student to France this Christmas. This did not happen. BUT other wonderful things have instead… we recount these, we are sad for the missed trip; but so grateful for so much else that life has brought us in this season.
Nothing is too big or small to write on that list.
I am grateful for my health, that my legs work, my arms work, my hands work (I honour you Bill Sweeney of Unshakeable Hope & family).
I am grateful for music, that I can hear music.
I am grateful for fresh air, the wind, walks, and Nutella on crepes.
I am grateful for family, friends, opportunities…
I am grateful that I know and love a good God, who makes Himself known to me in profoundly personal and real ways…
Nothing is too big or small to celebrate.
January is great for us in Australia because our school year starts in February; but any time works.
We will do this again in the early days of 2021.
In fact, we did this a couple of months early, when Melbourne opened up from hard lockdown a little, and we could sit at a cafe for a cup of coffee. As we reviewed our list written in January 2020, we delighted at just how many things we had to be grateful for, how many fulfilled desires were on our list, and how many unexpected blessings had come…
If we ever hit really challenging times, we find anything to hold on to, to be grateful for, and speak them out, even when our emotions do not match!
Gratitude is even more crucial in these days – it’s how we hold strong in the storms of life.
Jane Berry, a dear friend, has recognised that gratitude is the attitude.
She has written a free 40 Days of Gratitude e-journal.
Days after we spoke with her, a group of Christians from another church had coffee there. The pastor chatted to her, and she told him her story of meeting us. He invited her to his church. She plans to go. Ironically, it’s the same church I would have suggested to her, but I had felt not to push it, but allow her to go on her own journey. Now I know why I was to stand back – God had it all in hand. The church is just perfect to accept her creativity, beauty, and gentleness of heart.
this is NORMAL Christianity, this is what Love looks like…❤️
Nikita writes on her Facebook page:
hello facebook, please meet L L is a dear friend of mine. he is exactly like you and I. He has a heart and soul and a really beautiful dream; to spread the words of love and kindness. He is an incredibly colourful human with an old soul wiseness and a phenomenal artist as you can see! He is almost always peacefully planted outside the ANZ bank in _____ sipping coffee, smoking making art, being, interacting with anyone that chooses to interact with him. I know I really enjoy buying his art as gifts for others and myself but him all to his own, the human that he is, the alphabet he created and the love he emits he is the most kind and whole soul I’ll probably ever meet. So yes this is a huge plug to get you all to support him and buy his art but he also likes flat whites with two sugars and hugs. I gave him a big hug today and he cried and cried and said nobody had done that for years. So if your lucky enough to befriend him and your a hunger just go for it
Not long after she wrote this post she privately messaged me:
I gave myself to God today in front of everyone at fire church I cried and cried and felt a weight lifted and the pastor I knew came over and said a prayer for me and I feel so different. THANK-YOU! I would also be very interested in a more formal church. Can always go to two…… where do you go?
Wandering in I said ‘hi’, chose a few pieces to try on, and popped into the change room.
The owner and I were chatting about the recent lockdown that lasted 4-6 months here in Melbourne. We discussed the businesses we each knew that had closed, the people we knew that had been ill with covid, the people that were so very angry… at everything… and those that had struggled…
She asked me how I had coped.
‘Gratitude’ I said.
‘Choosing joy, while acknowledging heart ache and sadness…’
‘Gratitude…’ I said again.
In chatting we realised we had both chosen gratitude. We acknowledged the fear, the pain, the loss, but we had also looked at all that we were grateful for, the things we did have, and noted that we lived in a safe country, a beautiful country, and that kindness was the primary response that would get Melbourne back up and running.
In between dresses the owner paused, looking at me she said, ‘you look really spiritual’.
I laughed. I looked like a post covid-19 lockdown me. A little bigger than she had last seen me, and that was all. She has seen me over the years regularly. I often walked into browse her shop.
She was spiritually open.
We chatted some more, and as I paid for my new dress I offered to pray for her.
She agreed, and so I released the Kingdom of Heaven into her store, I blessed the work of her hands, and her business, I honoured her in her walk of grace in a difficult time with her ex business partner, I spoke of what I sensed would or could be future plans, places to open further stores, business blueprints and ideas…
I essentially spoke God’s heart for her and her business, including the business development plans she had held in her heart…
She was shocked, and exclaimed it was in line with her very thoughts.
I laughed and said that was God affirming her ideas and plans.
Sensing I had finished what I needed to pray, I ended the prayer.
She cried… and asked: ‘can I hug you?’
‘Yes’ I said
And so she stepped out and around into my arms and we hugged as she wept…
It was the second hug of the day from a stranger, that God had set His sights upon.
‘There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God’
I retell this story, not to big note or brag, but to demonstrate that if I can do this, anyone can.
I’m not perfect.
I don’t always get it right.
But God knows; God sees; God loves…
He has a heart to see the one before us, and if we will listen, love and let Him flow out, He will take care of the rest, because…
God is Good!
I prayed for one more person this same day. There were no hugs, there were no tears, I provided a listening ear. It was a chat at a sweet store (we were buying lollies for Christmas stockings) but there was no overt element that showed me the recipient was impacted. It is normal to have encounters of great breakthrough, and then encounters that would leave you wondering why bother. It’s all good, any attempt is a ‘win’, as long as I step forth in love. It is not a notch on the belt… it is purely seeing a need and sensing a desire to bless or love the person before you, knowing that…
Questions of identity stir. The depth of that quest for self is confronting, and so we keep busy, we keep moving…
The world says ‘Go, go, go!’
So we run.
We run until the light of the day goes, and when it has we flick the switch for more light and we party, eat, see friends, turn on screens, call people, text, comment, blog, find other things to do… for we must… not…. dare…. keep… still…, even for one moment! If we stop, that issue of self may chase us down and face us off squarely, showing us we are merely a puff of smoke on the horizon of the earth…
So who are we?
Recently we have had to
for a moment
‘When can we get back to being busy?’ we ask.
The silence in the stopping is, um, well, it’s, …. ‘uncomfortable’.
My breath, the wind in the trees, birds, neighbours banging doors, traffic, a baby crying at a nearby child care centre, the whirl of the train as it pulls into the station close to my home (the wind must be a northerly for me to hear that), a plane, builders making a buzzing noise with an unknown machine, another train, school bells… these are just some sounds I hear around me…
I stop again.
A white butterfly, white roses, purple salvia, the orange/gold pansies planted in March, sunshine, a fly, green leaves stirring in the winds, shadows, sunlight, the greying woodgrain on the table where I work. It seasons with the weather…
Heat of the day, wet grass in the sun, jasmine blended with the fragrance of roses, hints of citrus riding high on the warm northerly breeze of the day, fertiliser spread on newly planted gardenias…
The remains of an almond milk chai, combined with a sweet taste of honey comb and chocolate… ‘just one’ I say…
The heat on my skin, the hem of my dress briefly flutters across the skin of my leg in the breeze as I sit and write, the touch of the keys as I strike the keyboard, my hands are dry, my hair blows in the wind and tickles my face…
The world is groaning.
The earth vibrates to the sound of Creation – I hear it through my feet.
Life will go on, regardless of what I do, or don’t do (for even doing nothing is a choice).
… I know I am Beth…
I know I am loved – by husband, family, friends, God…
I know that regardless of what I do today, this day will pass. Use it for good, or not, again it is my choice…
I hope I use it for good…
The doing isn’t me, but neither are the sounds, sights, smells, tastes, feelings, knowings…
So who am I?
Am I a sum of these things?
The answer to that question is a journey deep within, and yet also beyond self. It is far; and yet the Answer is right there before us, asking us to stop, see, and know…
Where to start?
‘It’s here’, He whispers:
‘My Beloved daughter,’
‘My Beloved son.’
The Father spoke over Jesus at the time of baptism:
‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.‘ Mark 1:11 (ESV)
This declaration of love and acceptance comes before Jesus starts his ministry; before he starts the doing. Jesus has done nothing to earn His Father’s love… He IS loved – just for being. It is from this place of identity Jesus enters the desert, fasts, is tempted and then steps into ministry, into His life’s great opus. Jesus holds firm to who he is and whose he is. From that place of understanding He knows who, Whose, and ultimately what he is called to do…
‘111 My beloved daughter; 111 My beloved son,’ He whispers to us on the wind.
Do you hear Him?
Will you sit and hear His heart for you?
Will you stop long enough and allow Him to sing over you… love you as you rest in the nook of His arms?
Will you ‘…wait a little longer’?
The quest to find out who we are, and so discover what we are called to do starts first with understanding we are His…
The age old question of ‘where do I come from, who am I?’ is pivotal… it’s primal.
We discover the answer when we learn to sit and listen to His heart beat. In doing so we find that we are completely, utterly, and even recklessly loved by the Creator of the universe; and, it is in doing so that each of us will find ourselves because…
The question of identity and purpose are interchangeable, and are revealed through process. We will be running groups to help people discover who and whose they are next year. If you are interested in these please contact us and we will let you know about any upcoming programs.
I particularly like the version on the album ‘We Believe‘ but I could not find an authorised website to link to that version. The version on the ‘We Believe‘ album is a little quieter, and I personally find it more poignant.
In Australia, this blossom is not common. It is so uncommon that people slow down outside our home, roll down the window and take photos (night and day). The display is breathtaking, and I feel so fortunate to have four in my garden.
Two years ago, during a very challenging season, two died. For many they are ‘just trees,’ but to me, they were a silent, gentle joy that died amid the storm.
I asked our gardening gurus who designed our garden to look, and as kindred spirits, they wept with me (figuratively). The deaths puzzled them. Everything around the trees was flourishing. The trees had put on a magnificent display… and then died.
In my stubborn way, I sourced two more baby trees. My husband and I dug up the old and planted the new, with fresh, beautiful soil.
Look at them now. There’s two, one behind the other:
With March 2020 came Lockdown 1. Like a gentle garden gnome, I crept into the garden and allowed my heart to sing quietly as the world mourned. With sad news, I would seek solace in the soil, in my garden.
March is Autumn for the Southern hemisphere. I did what I knew: I watered, I weeded, I turned the soil to let it breathe, I fertilised, and I waited. I then planted for Spring – pansies, silver beet, beetroot, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, snap dragons, mint, parsley… It was a time of rest in my garden.
People walked past, pointing to the vegetable patch, the trees, the colour of Autumn. I waved to them from my garden beds or my verandah. They would stop and comment on the pansies, planted by the gardenias; my cabbages and broccoli planted amongst the flowers, and many smiled at the mixture of vegetables and flowers in my vegetable patch.
Various family members sat on the porch chairs. We moved into winter, and weather permitting, I sought afternoon solace in the sun with a cup of tea, chai or coffee. I often sat quietly, cherishing the blessings around me. I found Joy amidst the storm, and I knew my trees would bloom come Spring.
One of the original 2 trees bloomed early, with magnificence. My heart sang. The rest followed. I felt peaceful Joy as I came in from my walks. During Lockdown 2, these gentle moments of beauty remind me, remind my family, my local community, that this too shall pass…
And then I noticed it. One of my original, beautiful Circis Avondales was dying. The one that had blossomed first, with apparent vigour and glory.
I called the experts.
It perplexed them; it made no sense. They were doing so well, and everything under the trees was flourishing – gardenias, daphne…
If you look closely at the first photo above – in the bottom right-hand corner, you will see a little dried up stick. That stick is my dying Circis Avondale. I don’t have the heart to show you the rest.
I continue to turn my focus to moments of beauty, cherishing what is before me, aware a new tree will be possible after lockdown. Yet I am sad knowing I have lost 8 years of growth.
Last week, our garden guru solved the mystery:
‘My heart has been breaking over these Circis. I’m devastated but think the other trees had phytopthera. It’s a disease that can be in the soil or in mulch. …’
I learnt two years ago that a dying (or even a dead tree) can bloom with great beauty. The sugar reserves built from the previous season provide enough energy for a dying tree to bloom with grandeur. They looked amazing. But when it was time to develop further into the season – they died. They were all show, with no substance.
It was last Friday morning that God talked to me about my tree.
‘ … it’s about the soil’ I felt Him say as I woke.
This season… it’s all about the soil!
Many times last week I used the example of the apple tree. Friends call, with dreams and plans. With 200+ days in tough restrictions, my friends (and I) feel frustration. We know it’s a time of rest, reset, but we want to get going… produce fruit now…
As I feel the frustration, I step back into the One that knows…
The apple tree grows, it buds, it flowers, insects pollinate, it fruits.
I need not push the fruit out. Fruit comes from a place of being who and Whose I am.
If the soil is not heathy… if disease, or dis-ease, creeps into the soil, not only will the crop produce less than what’s it is capable of, the tree risks death. It cannot flourish or even grow. It may look great on the outside as it dies, but in its beauty there is great sadness – nothing will remain.
The Israelites rested their land every 7 years from crops – they rested the soil. And every 50 years was a year of Jubilee… Wise people!
‘We are in a year of rest,’ I say to my friends (needing to hear it myself too).
‘… but rest does not mean “do nothing.”’
This year is about the soil. We must care for our soil each day. We cannot afford to run on energy past, or on sugar alone. It’s a new season with additional needs.
‘Attend to the soil,’ He whispers, ‘so that what has been planted will grow. In its appointed time – fruit will come…’
There is no push.
With good soil maintenance, fruit will come…
In this season, I’m quietly addressing the condition of my heart. Everything is gently being turned over; everything is being changed, readjusted. Thought patterns and behaviours that I may have been able to get away with in a previous season, just will not carry me into the next time of growth. I am being called to a higher standard, and from that internal change, my outward behaviour will follow. I may fall, but I will get up. If I fail, I will fail forwards… asking forgiveness as I go.
I am being called to prepare the soil…
And if the soil is good, if I’m planted in a healthy community, and I listen to the ‘next’, I need not strive to grow fruit.
This morning I was a little flat. We are still in stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, and although there was some lifting of restrictions last night, the changes do not really change anything for us in our little bubble.
Restless, I pulled on my big girl pants and drove to the naturopath to pick up some tablets.
As I chatted to the owner, I asked her how she was.
She felt the same – a little flat.
We chatted and exchanged comments, and as I did, I noticed the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.
I stopped and asked: ‘can I pray for you?’
She looked, muttered ‘yes’ and instantly cried.
‘Oh gosh, yes, please, oh, gosh, that would be nice… I don’t know why I’m crying, how kind…’
Her words tumbled out through her tears.
I responded through tears: ‘it’s ok, I can feel the Holy Spirit here, and I felt to offer to pray…’
She came out from around the desk. I asked if I could place my hand on her back. I actually desperately wanted to hug her…
I prayed for her to be refreshed and to receive joy, hope, good sleep, favour for her children who would also remain at home when school returns in a week.
I also felt I heard a word for her, which I gave for the business, and she stepped back wiping away her tears.
There was nothing more to say in that moment.
We both agreed – three more weeks and perhaps it would be better for us both…
As I drove away, I thought of the woman who had texted me that morning that she was closing her business. It was too hard. She texted all her customers; I was just one of many. I felt the nudge to drive to the concourse where her shop was located and buy some flowers, so I did, some beautiful large bright happy orange gerberas, thinking I would offer to buy some of her produce to help with the finances of closing shop and moving to the country.
If I was to do this, surely she will be in her shop clearing it out… if I had ‘heard’ right… right?
The shop was closed and no-one was answering my knock!
Maybe I got it wrong…
Frustrated, I then felt to drive back to give them to the naturopath practice.
‘Surely it would cheer her day,’ I thought. Nothing to lose. I did, but I felt it fell flat… I felt foolish…
Maybe I got that wrong…
Still feeling unsatisfied, I drove back to shop area, drove past the shop and the door was still shut with no-one inside.
‘Right’, I thought, ‘I’m driving home’, but it didn’t feel right to just drive home…
Soooooo, I went back again and bought some gerberas (this time smaller bright orange ones), hoping I had ‘got it right’ this time…
Nope – the shop remained shut and empty.
I brought the flowers home and they sit on my kitchen table, bright and cheery.
So I am telling this to encourage those that are giving this ‘stopping for the one’ a go. People that have heard many of my stories think somehow that I get this stuff right, all the time…
You will get it right sometimes.
You will get it wrong sometimes, but if it blesses someone who cares, God loves your heart, and someone gets blessed.
You will get the timing wrong sometimes – I will give it another shot if I can to bless the woman whose business is closing. Let her know her community cares.
And sometimes you just don’t know what you were hearing… but try to step out any
The bottom line is, giving it a go counts – giving it a go is a ‘win’.
So, even though I feel like I missed it, I didn’t.
I loved on a woman who was struggling, and I tried to love on another.
Incline your ear, regardless of how you feel.
Stop for the one as you go, and you will learn, as you go…
And I can guarantee that you will taste and see that…
God is Good!
Let me know when you thought you got it right, but then you got it wrong, or you thought you got it wrong… but did you?