Meditations of my Heart

Sunday, August 24, 2014

His Divine Nature Clearly Seen


Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

A few days ago, shaken and disturbed to the depths of my soul by the marauding evil ravaging our world, I wrote what I thought would be a blog to share with you here.  I chose to let my words flow in the moment.  It was cathartic.  It was healing.  But, when I reflected upon what I composed, I felt my thoughts would only serve to fan the flames of negativity and distress.  And, haven't we all had our fair, and unfair, share of that?  I knew it was not my place to add fuel to a fire which God sees, God knows, and which God will quench in His incomparable timing.

I chose, instead, to share with you some good news from last week.

Ten years ago, on August 21st, my husband, Danny, proposed to me on the grounds of Big Canoe, an award-winning restaurant perched on the banks of the magnificent Chattahoochee River which runs through the Atlanta metro area.  We strolled leisurely along the footpaths, admiring the well-tended flower beds, and venturing to the banks of the river, rested our eyes upon its endless flow, graceful and soothing, a balm to our souls.  Meandering our way back to a shaded bench along the path, we sit.  That's the very place where Danny kneels and proposes to me.  Outdoors, surrounded by God's indescribable creation, drinking in the beauties of scent and sight, I say, "Yes."

And, out pour the tears of joy.

For in this private and endearing moment, only God's creation surrounds us.  It is as if the human activity, so close and present, has faded into the background.  It is no longer a reality.  We become a trinity:  God, Danny, me.  That's it.  But, it's all that is needed in that precious moment.

And, on this most recent August 21st, these are what I receive from my sweetie.










Blessed reminders of God's creation which reveal His eternal power and His divine nature, clearly seen.  Reminders that in the midst of trials and tribulations, there is beauty beyond description.  Beauty which God, alone, has made.

We can wallow in the desperation of these times, allowing Satan's all-too-close presence sway our focus away from God.  Or, we can choose, with determined steps of faith, to see the goodness and beauty our Lord and Savior has lavished upon us.

As Christians, we are a people without excuse.  We are called to love.  We are called to forgive.

And, we are called to pray for all, even our enemies.  In the post I chose not to publish, I confessed my shame as a Christian because, in my human frailty, I willed nothing but the worst upon those enemies.  I know, in my heart of hearts, I cannot do this, and, dear friends in Christ, neither can you.  We must speak up, yes, and we must defend our faith, but we are called by Jesus to pray for our persecutors.  To (gulp!) forgive them.

A tall order?  The tallest!

But, Jesus commands us to do just that.

And, so, we must.


~
What excuses are you harboring today which prevent you from seeing God's glory in His creation?

Prayer:  Precious Father, You have always surrounded us with proof of Your divine presence and power if only we would open our eyes to see, our minds to know, and our hearts to feel.  Help us, especially in these trying times of worldly conflict, to remember that You are in control and You want us to pray constantly for both the persecuted and the persecutors.  It is hard, dear Jesus, but may we find our strength and resolve to do so because You commanded it of us.  In Your name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Love Them, No Matter What


Proverbs 31:28-30
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I've always been proud of my daughter, Sarah Jane.  Even though we didn't always see eye-to-eye when she was growing up, I understood that tensions between mothers and daughters are inevitable.  My Mom and I shared many misunderstandings and downright confrontations during my teen and early adult years, but those never severed the love-line between us.  The commandment to honor father and mother has not always ruled my day, but the older I got, the more compelling this commandment became.  It is real beyond real, true beyond true.  It is one we should all acknowledge, respect and obey.

I peruse these photos sent from Sarah's IPhone and find myself coping with opposing sentiments of hope and melancholy.  









So, I decide to send a message to my daughter:  One day, this winsome Virginia Rose could pose more problems than you, Sarah, could ever imagine.  One day, little Savannah Jane, the image of innocence now, could defy your heart and your desire that she blossom in this world.  What will you do?  How will you handle it?

My only advice is the phrase my Nana, your great-grandmother, passed on to all of us:  Love them, no matter what.  Just love them.

Is there any parenting advice which could top that?  I don't think so.  Keep on loving, Sarah, keep on loving!  And, the Lord will always see you through.

And, one day, I know, your grown girls will rise up to bless you.


~
Parents, were your children a piece of cake to raise, or did you endure struggle after struggle in the process?  Please share your experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly, in the comment section.

Prayer:  Today, Father, we lift up all parents who are raising their children the best they know how.  Help them when they struggle.  Help them when lines of understanding and communication seem severed.  And, above all, let these parents love their children as You love us - no matter what.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, August 8, 2014

With God, All Things Are Possible



Matthew 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.


Many bloggers whom I follow have been studying and reviewing the same book, The Forgotten God, by best-selling author and inspirational Christian speaker, Francis Chan.  Their reflections and commentaries have whetted my appetite to explore this book in depth, and I have placed it on my Amazon wish list with husband, Danny.  He's the bread-winner in our family and always keeps a conscientious finger upon all our expenditures, and I strive to keep my own frivolities to a minimum as we prepare for retirement.  But, I don't regard a book devoted to the Holy Spirit frivolous.  I trust, once Danny's reads this post, he'll order the book without hesitation as he, too, admires Mr. Chan ever since we were privileged to hear/see him in person several years ago.


If you are a regular follower of Meditations of My Heart, you know that I'm on a semi-hiatus.  I'm not publishing regularly because the next novel series calls.  Loudly!  And, I have to complete and edit the ENTIRE SERIES before I dare let Book One loose to my publisher.  The demands of time are, well, demanding!  Time is precious.  My responsible use of it, even more.

And, what does this have to do with reading The Forgotten God?  EVERYTHING!  Because, each and every day I plop myself down at the computer to write creatively, the Holy Spirit visits me.  He's not always apparent or present at first, but as I let myself go and allow Him to enter in, the words flow.  Characters take on flesh and blood, and the novel moves forward, more real than reality, truer in words than my own human and limited thoughts could ever imagine.  The characters speak with authority and autonomy.  I simply listen, heed, and record.

Listen.  Heed.  Record.

For I know this:  In depending upon myself alone, nothing is possible.  I could try and try and try again, yet be resigned to flailing impotently in my own efforts.  My striving, my goals, my dedicated work means nothing unless the blessing of the Lord is in it.

Unless, He is welcomed.

Involved.

Beyond the shadow of doubt, I must, you must, embrace the Holy Spirit.

In heart and mind and soul.

Without Him, I (you) fail.

With Him, I (you) succeed.

When we have succumbed to the will of God, our will is no more, and we're the better for it.  Guaranteed.

Only with God, through His Holy Spirit, promised by Christ Jesus, are all things possible.


~
Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to move in your life?

Prayer:  Father in Heaven, send Your Holy Spirit once again, that we might feel the flame of passion which is Your love for us.  We are so in need of revival and confirmation in our Christian walk, especially in these globally trying times.  May we ever remember and revere the sacrifice that Your Son, Christ Jesus, made for us, the undeserving and unwashed.  May we ever give unending thanks for our salvation, and live according to Your will.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Growing More and More


Virginia at the Georgia Aquarium

2 Thessalonians 1:3
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

Recently, we celebrate our granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, fourth birthday.  I think to myself, Where has the time gone?  It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating birthday number three!



But, time marches on and growth is inevitable.  Physically, emotionally, cognitively.

And, most importantly, spiritually.

When we are walking with Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us, and worshiping our God afresh every day, how can we not recognize, and accept with gladness, all that He offers as daily gifts in our lives?







How can we not celebrate those moments of spontaneous fun?



Our God offers us a delightful array of surprises when we pray for eyes to see, and welcome Him into our lives with open hearts.












And, may we ever let our light shine brightly for His sake.





Savoring His goodness, His love, and His grace.



Viewing God's world through infant eyes of innocence, acceptance, and trust in Him.




Our grandchildren are growing more and more, and with every new day, their love increases.  May this be true for us, too.  For God isn't finished with us.  As our grand girls are dependent upon their parents and grandparents, so the Lord longs for our dependence upon Him.  He is Abba, Father.  The one and only true Parent of us all.  We are His precious children.

He celebrates, not just our birthdays, but every day in which we choose to be born again in Him.

~

Will you celebrate being born again in the Lord this day?

Prayer:  Loving Father, we thank You for growing our faith and building our trust in You.  Help us to always have love for one another, and for allowing that love to increase every day.  We ask that Your blessings be poured upon all the little children of this world.  May they know the power and comfort of Your unending and ever faithful love for them.  In the precious name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Time for Every Purpose . . .

Ecclesiastes 3:1
In every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens . . .

I write posts for Meditations of My Heart far in advance of when you, my loyal and faithful followers, finally have the opportunity to read them.  So, as you are reading this, know I've written over 20,000+ words in my next novel series, Adventures in the Glade, since I originally penned today's blog.  I've given myself the months of July and August as a deadline for book completion, with September the catch all for johnny-come-lately chapters and intense editing and revision.  This will keep me extremely, yet joyously, busy!

Some of you may recall that a while back, I try to give Meditations of My Heart a hiatus in order to accomplish just what I described above.  But, my father's prolonged illness and our family's uncertainty as to when God would call him home, hinders me from plunging head-long into the novels.  My heart simply isn't in it.  I find, instead, great comfort and peace in writing my blogs.  They lend me a sense of structure, of meaning, of purpose.  Help to take my mind off the day-to-day struggles.  Comfort me as I focus upon the Lord and reflect upon His Word.

But, now God is calling me to get back on my novel horse and ride it for all its worth.  Who am I to ignore Him?  If I've learned anything from writing this blog, it's this:  Trust in God!  He always knows what's best for me, for you, for everyone when we genuinely pause and faithfully listen.

And, when we, in faith, obey.

That being said, I'm officially and determinedly taking a break from Meditations of My Heart at least through the end of August.  Could an errant post appear?  No doubt!  Will I keep up with my fellow bloggers?  You bet!  Do I suddenly vanish from Facebook or Google+?  Hardly!  But, I can guarantee you those venues will be my earned reward for every 1,000 words I write.

The journey set before me will take to the max the discipline I adhered to when writing daily devotions here.  When I reflect upon that entire year of writing, without missing a beat, I see now how God was preparing me for this time in my life when precision and dedication and determination are tantamount.

I'm convinced.  The Lord is ever preparing us to receive and to act upon what's best for us and best for His purposes.  He knows there are times and seasons for everything under Heaven.

And, summer, I realize now, is my season.

My season in Him.

Everything under God.

Everything that is good.

Together, Lord, we'll make it happen!

~

When in your life has God directed you to take a detour from what you assumed to be your purpose?  What was the outcome?

Prayer:  Dear Father, I pray that we all listen to Your voice, intently and intentionally, so we can glean the direction in which You want us to go in this life.  We are here to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  May we reflect that in all our thoughts and actions, each and every day, and understand in our hearts that there is a time and purpose for all we do in Your name.  In Jesus' precious name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude


2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!

Change.  

It's often not welcomed.  It can be ugly.  But, it's inevitable.  Disheartening at its worst.  Challenging at its best.

And, let's face it.  Change upends our best laid plans.  Leaves us in the dust if we don't go with the flow.  Demands us to tread a whole new path.  A path we would more than likely not have chosen if left to our own devices.

Our band, so tight and together, is asked to make room for more musicians to rotate in and out with us.  This require lots of practice and flexibility on everyone's part.  Talk about change!

The old has gone, the new is here.  

Am I happy about this?  Honestly, "No."  I'm comfortable with the way things are.  I don't want this shift in our tidy, familiar latitude as a group so close we often read each other's minds.  I fear for what might happen when the trusty, tried and true apple cart is upended.

But, if we wish to continue to lead contemporary worship, we have to accept this new arrangement.  We have no choice in the matter.

The old has gone, the new is here.

So, I've decided not to stew over these alterations and unknowns I neither wanted nor asked for.  I'm determined, instead, to have a positive attitude.  To watch and pray and listen, trusting God's hand is in it all.   

And, I hope that, though this experience, God will grow us all and, in the end, bring us closer to Him.  I don't think it will be easy, nor do I expect it to be painless.  But, any change which creates a deeper relationship with our Father, I can fully embrace.

I'm ready to go with the flow.

To take those first tentative steps down a brand new path.

To exit my comfort zone.

To let go and let God . . .

~

When has a change which disrupted your life turned out to be exactly what you needed?

Prayer:  Father, we so resist change in our lives, but we know it comes at us continually.  Let us have open minds and patient hearts when we find changes challenging and uncomfortable.  May we continue to grow in our relationship with You.  In Jesus' name, amen.


Friday, July 4, 2014

I Sowwy, Gammie!



Luke 17:4
"Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive them."

My granddaughter, Virginia Rose, spends Wednesday of last week with me.  Danny is at work in Atlanta, so it is just the two of us.  I'm so happy to see her and am looking forward to a day of fun and games.

To my surprise, Virginia finds a small, green, hard-rubber ball on our living room rug.  "Look, Gammie!"  she exclaims, all smiles as she bounces it on the floor, definitely amazed at how high it goes with so little provocation.


"I wonder where that came from?"  I muse as Virginia runs to retrieve her new toy.  "Maybe, it's Giovanni's, but I've never seen it before."  And, since my stepson is at work, there's no way to immediately find out.  "Even if it belongs to Giovanni, I'm sure he wouldn't mind you playing with it."


And, play with it, we do!  I don't want her bouncing it in the living room due to the random chance it could hit the television, so we move to the kitchen, sit on the floor, and gently bounce or simply roll it back and forth.

Then, Virginia pulls out her bag of inventive tricks.  She arches her body like a bridge so I can roll the ball under her where it hits the baseboard and comes careening back to me.  Next, she squats so there is hardly any space for the ball to get through.  Then, its down on the floor again, legs wide, so when the ball reaches her, she can catch it in a scissor snap.  Of course, any time the ball gets past me, Virginia laughs hysterically, jumps up, and dashes away to reclaim it.

Finally, the hardwood floor takes it's toll on my backside.  "Virginia, Gammie needs a break for a few minutes.  Let's go out on the deck and see what the squirrels and birds are up to."

"Okay, Gammie," she says and follows right behind me, green bouncy ball clutched firmly in her chubby little fist.

"Honey," I say when I notice it, "you have to be careful out here with that ball.  Se all the open slats in the deck railings?  It would be so easy for it to go through one of them and get lost in the yard.  After all, it's the same color of our moss and would be so hard to see."

"I be careful," Virginia assures me.

We watch the wildlife in our yard for a few moments, and then sit down on the built-in bench of the deck.  Once again, Virginia wants to play with her ball.  She positions herself so that her back is facing the railing and her legs are in a "V" so she can easily stop the ball when I roll it to her.  But, when she decides to get down from her perch, the inevitable happens.  She attempts to snatch up the ball, but her hand brushes it, accidentally, in the wrong direction.

Down the bench it rolls, through a slat it flies, and into the yard it disappears.  Literally.  Though we search diligently for it, garnering our fair share of bug bites in the process, we cannot find it anywhere.  We have to chalk this one up as a loss.

"Gammie, Giovanni and Papa will be angwy with me.  I lost the ball.  I sowwy, Gammie, I so sowwy."

I smile and give Virginia a reassuring hug.  "They won't be mad at you, honey.  They'll understand you didn't do it on purpose.  Everyone makes mistakes."

Virginia is greatly relieved to hear this.  Within a few moments, she's back to her chipper self, playing with her Crazy Sand as if she hadn't a care in the world.

And, once again, my granddaughter, through her behavior, reminds me of Jesus' teaching about forgiveness.  When Virginia says she's sorry, repents of her action, she needs to know her apology is sincerely accepted.  She needs to understand she is loved for who she is, not what she does or doesn't do.

Isn't that something we all need?  To be forgiven when we genuinely repent of our sins?  To offer that same forgiveness to others when they ask it of us?

Yes!  Seven times in seven days.

And, then some . . .

~

When was the last time you asked for forgiveness or gave forgiveness to someone?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for sending Your precious Son, Christ Jesus, who taught us to love and forgive one another, who paid the ultimate price for our sins, and forgave those who crucified Him even as He hung on the merciless cross.  May we always choose to forgive those who sin against us, even when they neglect to say, "I'm sorry."  In Jesus' name, amen.