Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bend Me, Shape Me


Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, has never met a challenge she didn't like.  Whether it's learning a new game or skill, concocting dance moves, or creating works of art, she definitely thinks outside the proverbial box.  And her fertile imagination leads her recently to re-purpose objects, destined for our recycling bin, into useful ones in decorating her reclaimed room here at the house.

A shoe box becomes a treasure chest for her cut-out drawings.



Virginia loves all things space, so I print out this photo she requests as an embellishment.


And who would ever think to transform a discarded Cheerio's box into a trash can?


Or an empty Pringles can into a container for candy?


All these objects sit on top of Virginia's bedroom "table," a large cardboard box; she covers four of the sides with paper, and on each one are written the words:  Love, Faith, Hope, Believe.  Wow!  No, she had no coaching whatsoever from this Gammie!


But Virginia doesn't stop here.  Another cereal box becomes an eagle, complete with outspread wings.  And a paper towel tube turns into a blushing worm.


Not in my wildest dreams would I ever have converted a Stouffer's Mac and Cheese container into a picture frame, yet here it is!


As I watch Virginia's creations take on new life and usefulness, I'm reminded of how God continually fashions us into the vision He has for each of His beloved children.  We are the clay in His capable hands.  And in times of trial and trouble, when we may feel like a discarded piece of trash, He can breathe new life into us, and re-purpose us for His glory.

The question then becomes:  Do we trust God enough to allow Him to do all the shaping and molding that a full life lived in Him requires?  Will we remain faithful and pliant during the process?

The lyrics from a "back in the day" song by The American Breed come to mind; definitely an unconventional prayer, but fitting nonetheless.

Bend me, shape me
Any way you want me,
Long as you love me,
It's alright.
Bend me, shape me
Any way you want me.
You got the power
To turn on the light.


Amen!

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Courageous Word


Mark 15:42-47
And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.  And summoning a centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.  And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph.  And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock.  And he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid.

In his sermon entitled The Courageous Word, Pastor Graham features the story of Joseph of Arimathea as an example of what it means to be a Christ follower.

Joseph is the creme de la creme in Jewish society.  As a member of the Sanhedrin, he is highly honored and well thought of by his peers.  His knowledge of the Law and the Prophets, we can assume, is impeccable.  Joseph undoubtedly believes that God will one day send a Messiah to save His people.

Enter Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant preacher, healer, miracle worker.  Along with the Pharisees and Sadducees, Joseph witnesses Jesus' authoritative teaching in the temple first hand.  But unlike his cohorts, who feel threatened by this upstart, Joseph is intrigued.  Could this man actually be the promised Messiah?  The Son of the living God?

Joseph, for obvious reasons, keeps his thoughts to himself.  Yet, we can imagine that he spends countless hours deliberating Jesus' identity, praying to know the truth.  Has God's kingdom arrived at last?

The scriptures do not tell us when or how Joseph of Arimathea became a believer, a disciple of Christ, but his actions on the day of Jesus' crucifixion speak volumes.  At the peril of being shunned and denounced by his contemporaries, and perhaps, stripped of his rank, Joseph boldly approaches Pilate and asks for Jesus' body so it can be honorably buried in a proper tomb.

At long last, Joseph is willing to sacrifice his earthly accolades and his standing with the elites to do the right thing in God's eyes.  If that means losing his place on the fast track of success, so be it.

So Pastor Graham challenges us, as Christians, to speak up and act with courage on the Lord's behalf in our daily lives.  Christians, he states, should be willing to risk the loss of worldly acclaim to stand firm in the faith.

This certainly give me pause for some serious thought and reflection.  Do I love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength?  Am I willing to proclaim the Word of God with courage, even if it means losing my status in the world's eye?

Maybe, my friends, there are questions we should all ponder deeply during this Lenten season, as we prepare for the celebration of Christ's resurrection on Easter Day.

And I wonder . . .

What was Joseph of Arimathea's reaction when he got word of the empty tomb?

I can only imagine that it was one of overwhelming joy!

Amen!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Bow Down in Worship


Psalm 95:4-7a
In his hands are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
For he is our God.

It is a week we will ever remember.

My husband, Danny, and I take the long trek down to the Golden Isles of Georgia to lay beloved Mimi's remains to rest on St. Simon's Island.  It is a promise fulfilled, a duty done, a grueling journey all because of the love we have for her.




As our fourteenth wedding anniversary is close at hand, we decide to stay on Jekyll Island for several days to celebrate that event.  It is unseasonably cold and windy, so there is little to no opportunity to leisurely walk the pristine beaches, although we make several ventures there.  We are so impressed by the efforts made at Jekyll in recent years to restore the sand dunes.



Our visit to driftwood beach pays off in amazing photos, although the high winds threaten to topple me over more than once.  I have to literally hang onto the hat I'm wearing!






To escape the brutal winds, we retreat to Horton's Pond for a respite in Jekyll's inland environment.  We walk the 0.7 mile loop trail, and are amazed by the flora that greets us.



And it never ceases to amaze me how everything in God's splendid creation has its own special niche.




When we emerge from this delightful trail, we visit the pond platform where we find some indigenous species peacefully sunning themselves.



And isn't this a gorgeous shot?


Horton's Pond is named after the historic Horton House which you can read about Here.  


Although Danny and I prefer spending time in the mountains as opposed to the seashore, we are grateful for the opportunity to see God's glory and majesty reflected in all facets of His overwhelmingly stunning creation.  It is, indeed, a call to kneel before the Lord our Maker, and bow down in worship to Him with thanksgiving and praise.

Amen!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Infinite Joy


Psalm 30:11-12
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord, my God, I will praise You forever.

At first, our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, didn't understand the need for Mimi, her Nonna, to move in with us.  The room we give to Mimi has been hers ever since Uncle Giovanni moves out.  Oh, how proud Virginia is to have a place of her own at our house!

So in order to accommodate her regular, overnight visits, Papa, aka Danny, orders a special mattress for Virginia so she can spend weekends comfortably sleeping in our bedroom.  She is amazingly agreeable to the whole situation.  Never complaining.  Never asking for the return of "her" room.

Virginia genuinely loves her doting Nonna, and is always quick to listen to her and give her unsolicited hugs, gestures that never fail to make Mimi smile.  Our little grand-girl brings so much joy to this wise and wonderful woman, who is willing to acknowledge what privilege her presence has taken away from Virginia, and is determined to make sure she understands that this coveted space will one day be restored to her.

The photo above attests to Virginia's belief in Nonna's promise.


Nonna always said in honesty
To beloved great-grandchild
That in future, the room would be hers
Once again.  "I'm only leasing time,
And time, for me, is not forever given."
Virginia hears, believes in words bestowed
Upon her, every hope enveloped
Trusting words of elder filled with truth
For in it all, morning grace arrives
Mourning sackcloth turns to infinite joy.

Amen

Dear Friends,

Danny and I will be heading out this weekend to visit my mother, and then cruise down to St. Simon's, one of Georgia's Golden Isles, to inter Mimi's remains in the plot where her husband, Dan, and her in-laws are buried.  As we are close to our 14th wedding anniversary, we will be spending the week on Jekyll Island, a beach rather than a mountain vacation.

The week after that is Virginia's spring break from school, so I will be taking her down to my Mom's for several days.  Long story short, I won't be blogging for two weeks because of all these plans.  If I don't comment on your blogs during this time, I ask your forgiveness and understanding.  I won't forget you, and will continue to keep you in my prayers as always.

Love and blessings!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Who I Am


My father, a PhD botanist and professor of biology at Emory University, spent most of his professional life studying the flora of granite outcrops in the south, of which there are way too many to number.  On many summer or spring breaks, Dad would load the entire family into the car, and off we would travel to explore these sites with him.  It was always an adventure that we looked forward to; a break in what could all too easily become a humdrum, day-to-day existence.  Even when temperatures soared to 100 plus on those exposed rocks, simply being with Dad, discovering new and thriving species in the harsh environs, was reward enough.

Perhaps, because the month of March denotes Dad's passing in 2014, this memory returns to me, strong and vibrant.  I am immediately called to write it down.  And one thing I've learned over the years of trusting in God, when the nudge comes from Him, acknowledge and act!  The following poem is my answer to the Lord's inspiration.

~

Matthew 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.



The Who I Am

Our car pulls up, stops at homestead
In need of paint and reparation
Neglect not caused by aspiration
But only means to make it happen
Mom, brother and I watch
As Dad approaches gates of hell
In asking for permission to
Explore a hidden pearl-rich outcrop
On the land owned and valued
By this family.  It belongs
For generations to them all
Dad's Yankee accent, did he hide?
Had he learned the lilt and lisp
Of quaint Southern inflection
To convince reluctant owner
And sanction Dad's wish to trespass?
Whatever transpired, the path was clear
But I will ever recall, photo sharp
The two sons, wistful, overall clad,
Who meet my gaze with wonder, longing
For that which other children have
And I, in unexpected union
Find myself wishing to trade
My life with theirs, authentic, true
Because that's what I glean and gain
From their poor in spirit gazes
Rich in God's comforting wisdom
For there begins the who they are
And there begins the who I am

Friday, March 15, 2019

More Blessed to Give


Acts 20:35
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

There was only one thing my MIL, Mimi, loved after her God and her family, and that was a steaming hot, fresh cup of coffee.  As she often awakened hours before we would, it was my practice and my joy to prepare her brew for the morning.  The photo above depicts her favorite mug and beloved brand of coffee.  It was such an honor to save Mimi the stressful steps of reaching and fetching in order to savor the warmth and comfort coffee can provide.

I cannot now brew a pot without visiting fond memories of Mimi.  Memories that I share with you now . . .


For over a year
Each evening
I set up coffee pot
Filtered water
Measured grind
Only push the button
To realize
Morning's glory
Rich and aromatic
Wakening
Sleepy soul
Refreshing weary spirit
Routine easy
Motive caring
Until there was no longer
A pot, a filter
Water drawn
To meet a loved one's need
Still . . .
I add the water
Place the filter
Ready for the call
Tomorrow brings
In memory
Rejoicing, come to table
For what is was
For what it is
For what will ever be

Amen

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

It's About Time


Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do any of you detest the bi-annual time change as I do?  Especially the one we just endured, where we lose that precious hour of sleep?  Here it is, Tuesday, and I've yet to recover.  I have to set my alarm to force myself up at an irregular time in the morning, lest that precious part of the day slips away from me.

I know, I know.  Eventually, my body will make the necessary adjustments.  I just wish, as a country, we'd choose either standard or daylight savings time, and simply stick to it year round.  

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

If anything good can come out of the inconvenience of changing every clock in the house, it's the realization that time is relative.  It is, after all, a human invention, and as such, can be altered to fit the season.  Even though my internal clock might rebel in the moment, time marches on, with or without my consent.  

And I'd better keep that straight, or be late for work, school, appointments, and everything in between!

There is ultimate comfort, however, in knowing that Father God is beyond time.  No watches or alarms for Him!  The Lord is unchanging, immutable, all-mighty, and all-powerful.  And thankfully, Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

No matter what time it is here on earth, it's always the right time to invite Jesus into our hearts.  He is the eternal way, truth and life.

So, my friends, if you've yet to ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, I pray that you will decide it's about time!

Amen.

Bend Me, Shape Me

Isaiah 64:8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Our granddaughter, ...