Stories of a good God

Archive for the ‘Stillness in the storms of life’ Category

Soil Matters

I love my garden.

It makes my heart sing.

Circis ‘Avondale’: Soil matters ©Beth Kennedy 2020

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:

Circis Avondale: new trees a joy to behold ©Beth Kennedy 2020

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…

I continue to turn my gaze to the beauty ©Beth Kennedy 2020

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. …’

Oh!

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.

BUT

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.

Fruit will come with ease because…

God is Good!

Be still and know that I AM God…X marks the spot – God is Good!

Sometimes the bay where I walk is unusually still; barely a ripple shifts the surface tension of the waters. At other times, the wildness of the weather comes straight from an Emily Brontë novel and the wind whips, forming waves that surge upon the sand.

Regardless of weather, these days God is often speaking as I walk. It could be the lack of quietness in our home because of a full house in lockdown. It maybe I just haven’t stopped, made room. It may just be where He speaks now…

Who am I to question?

We have a full, noisy house…

My husband and daughter work in my home office. My husband at my desk; my daughter at another desk. My son sits in his bedroom, where he has attended most of his first year of high school.

Then there are zoom ballet lessons 6 days a week (day and night at various times). Ballet music fills our living area, which is open plan to our kitchen and dining area. This means that I often duck and weave the camera as I make yet another cup of tea…

My daughter has a habit of settling herself where her mood suits – her desk in my office, her bedroom, chasing the sun outside, at the dining table (which is my favourite place to work).

It is a full, noisy house…

It’s not that I mind noise – sometimes. However, having nowhere to retreat that is free of invasion by good meaning family members is challenging, especially when you feel called into a quiet time with God.

Sometimes I like to have a quiet sit with God; other times, it’s a wild worship in the living area. I may journal, prophetically play music, shout, sing, complete prophetic acts… what I sense Him asking of me, I do, as best I can.

I have not had the luxury of uninterrupted alone time in our house since mid-March 2020.

Playing musical rooms with my laptop, with no place to settle… God still calls…

He’s not interested in my excuses, my reasons, my habits, he sees them all anyway.

I moved a small table from my office into my bedroom – not ideal, but it was a little desk where I could zoom, or write, or do admin, etc. The afternoon sunlight streams into the room and brings me quiet joy. Having a zoom call in my bedroom is not ideal, but we make the most of it.

25 weeks of zoomed ballet classes later, I still sit and write in my bedroom… it’s our ‘new normal’.

I can hear the music of my son’s ballet class. The ballet mistress makes corrections, sometimes with kindness, and at other times…

I pray for the person who is the focus of a harsh word as I walk through to my kitchen for a cup of tea.

As a prophetic ‘feeler’, the people, the noise, the news reports, the aggression, the fear, the frustration, the sadness, the intensity of emotions can overwhelm. Many of you feel the same way.

I can walk into a shop, and feel the emotion. I often know the challenges on a person. The atmosphere in a store can slap and if someone is hurting, if someone has been dabbling in the occult, I often sense it.

The atmosphere here in Melbourne Australia has been intense. I’m sure it has been intense in many places around the world, yet, I am still called to Him. I have no excuse.

Being in Him with intentionality is the most refreshing place to be…

Each day I walk, and each day He speaks. Regardless of whether I’m listening, He speaks. He loves me enough to always be speaking, to always be present, it’s just whether I’m present to Him. Am I centring myself in His heart beat for myself, my family, my friends, for the nation…

He speaks, and He shows me that:

He is my refuge.

He is my strength.

He is my God in whom I can trust…

If I will just stop and press in, if I will stop doing… if I will…

 

Be still and know that He is God… (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

The stillness in the storm: x marks the spot
©Beth Kennedy 2020

 

‘X’ marks the spot.

God needs to be the centre of our frame, the centre of our image.

He calls us to walk on water…

There may well be a storm brewing around us, but yet He calls…

There is a place of stillness in the storm and it’s in Him, at His centre…

Will I answer the call?

Will you answer the call?

Will we answer the call together?

If we do, I believe that the earth will see that He is the shelter and as His hand delivers us, they will also see that…

God is Good!

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