Stories of a good God

Posts tagged ‘God is good stories’

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!

Can you see the one before you?

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…

Gerberas to give. Nothing to lose ©Beth Kennedy 2020

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.

So I took the Gerberas home ©Beth Kennedy 2020

‘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…

I don’t!

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

way.

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?

Stop for the one regardless of lockdown

Late last year, I bumped into a friend I had not seen for years.

We briefly chatted, and then she surprised me by suggesting we catch up. She said she loved spending time with me years ago, and would love to catch up for lunch. I was delighted, but a little surprised.

Trust me… I am nothing special.

We had lunch and chatted and spoke a little about our own personal challenges. She shared her heart and as she spoke I saw a picture of her sitting at an easel doing art. I asked her about it, explaining that I ‘saw’ her doing something like painting under a tree.

I need to state this friend may not label herself as a ‘Christian’, but she does believe in the goodness of human beings. She believes that we are responsible to others and ourselves to make good choices. She believes it is our responsibility to leave the world a better place than it was before we were in it.

She does know that I do call myself a ‘Christian’, and she accepts me, for all my flaws and inconsistencies that brings.

I go gently in my Christian talk, because I don’t want to offend her – she is my friend, and friends are kind to one another. Friends do not shove values or belief systems down each other’s throats, yet they are not threatened by a difference of opinion, or a healthy discussion. Friends can agree to disagree while honouring the difference of opinion. I find her attitude generous and gracious.

The last time we spoke was years ago, pre prophetic training. I was prophetic back then (news flash: we all are!) but I just didn’t realise I was and I had not learnt how to listen and then mention what I ‘saw’ or ‘sensed’ for people.

So I asked about the painting (with no Christian ease) and she told me she LOVED painting/drawing. I told her what had happened; she accepted what I said, and we moved on in our conversation.

I encouraged her to join an art class, buy some supplies, and recommended a few more personal things, and we went on our way. She was encouraging to me too; it’s a two-way deal people. She was not, and is not a ‘project’, she is a friend, a real live friend, and I see her because I want to, not because she needs saving…

Red hot keen Christians that carry belts with notches please read the above paragraph again…

My friend is not a ‘notch on the belt’… I like her and accept her, and I would continue to see her as a friend even if she never accepted Jesus into her heart!

People can smell belt notching a mile away!

Hence this story…

Within 24 hours I received a message saying that she had ticked off all three items we discussed, and we promised we would catch up again – she would tell me how she got on with her projects, and I would share how I was getting on with mine.

We caught up briefly before Christmas. At the time she was very thankful, and I felt embarrassed because while I was the mouthpiece and the ears (I listened to her and God), I just encouraged her to step into something she loved, into something God created her to do…

Well…

Fast forward to lockdown stage 4 in Melbourne, Australia. We can now be out for total 2 hours (with one other person if they are not from our home). I have thought of my friend a few times over the last 6 months, but about 10 days ago, I acted on the thought (I believe the prompting) and I texted her to arrange a walk.

As we walked, our discussion got deep quickly, and she asked me a little about my belief in God. She shared her views on many things, God, faith, spirituality. She chatted, I listened; I chatted, she listened…

We will catch up again this Wednesday.

Christians on social media seem to think because we cannot gather in a church building that somehow we cannot do anything effective for the Kingdom, we can’t impact people.

This is nonsense.

There are many ways to ‘stop for the one’.

Sometimes it means stopping for the one stranger on the street – as you walk past you offer to pray, or give them a word of encouragement, or just shout them a coffee.

Other times it’s the phone call that you feel you could make, or the email you could send… and you call or you send it.

Sometimes it’s the prophetic inclination you have for your boss and you share it at work, without declaring ‘thus says the Lord’… there is no need to declare a prophetic inclination in that way – just be relatable.

Other times, it’s just catching up with a friend who happens, unbeknownst to you, to need encouragement. That friend needs someone to SEE them warts and all and call out ‘you are loved my friend’. Sometimes we just need to call out the gold… regardless of whether they ever come to Christ.

It’s about being the Body (not doing the Body). It’s about being human. It’s about moving in response to His heart beat for yourself and others, and in this all will see that…

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!

It’s time for new shoes, it’s time for a new walk – God is Good!

As A and I went for our walk yesterday we saw these boots left abandoned, sitting on the grass:

Boots on bayside walk © Beth Kennedy 2020

I looked at them as we walked past, laughing that God was showing me something, just not knowing what. Having walked past the spot, I felt a gentle nudge to go back and take a photo…

I asked the Father what He was trying to tell me about them. I felt He said that it was time for us to change our shoes, to change our walk. I feel He is saying that to the Bride of Christ – He is saying to us all that we have had our work boots on for so long, and now it’s time to take them off and stop working so hard for Him.

We have been doing and doing and doing… without knowing who we are first…

These abandoned boots say it’s time to change our walk, and hence, take our work boot off and get ready for a change of shoes. The boots had done well in the past, but now they needed exchanging for an upgrade, for a fresh way to walk.

What I found particularly interesting was the direction they were facing:

As we walk through these strange times, I hear Him say: ‘Be wise where you set your gaze.’
Boots facing out to sea © Beth Kennedy 2020

If someone was standing in these boots, they would look out to sea – one of my favourite places to look. Noting the direction I felt God whisper again:

It’s important what direction we face in these times. It really matters what we are fixing our gaze upon in this season of transition.

It was as if the wearer had seen the beauty of the view, and had discarded the boots for a walk of simplicity and purity, a bare-footed walk with a focus on God’s goodness, God’s beauty. It resonates of Moses stopping for the burning bush, removing his shoes in the desert, for he was standing on Holy Ground:

‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground’ Exodus 3:5 (NIV)

It is at this point God gives Moses his commissioning, but first Moses had to stop, take off his work boots, and listen!

So we take off our work boots (our works) and in simplicity (bare-footed) we go to Him, sit, wait, linger and hear His heartbeat for ourselves, and as we hear the heartbeat for ourselves, we will also hear His heartbeat for those around us. As we do both: hear Him for us; hear Him for them, He will equip us afresh with new shoes, and these shoes will look quite different to the old.

I don’t know what my new shoes will look like.

I don’t know what your new shoes will look like.

But for now we need not know, we need simply to stop and take off our shoes.

Come to me and be still.

Rest a while and know that I am good.

Breathe and allow me to take you through the storm and on the other side of all this, then, having rested, you will be ready to run the race set before you.

Yes, we are in ‘unprecedented’ times. Yes, we are in a ‘reset’ (even the nonChristian world is using this phrase). Yes, it is challenging, and confusing, and different… but God!

If we can all collectively stop, take off our work boots, ‘be still and know (experientially) that [He is] God’ (Ps 46:10), breathe, rest and listen… and then go with Him rather than for Him, then I believe that the world will see that…

God is Good!

Tell me:

How has God been talking to you in these last few days?

Have you seen similar ‘burning bushes’ or ‘signs’?

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