Meditations of my Heart

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christ is All We Have


Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have. ~Corrie ten Boom

Do you wonder?  Or, are you wandering the malls in search of Christmas treasures?

Is it a silent night?  Or, are you staying up late, frantically ordering those last-minute gifts on-line?  Preparing the Christmas cards?  Wrapping up those presents to ship to family residing afar?

Are you planning holiday menus as Christmas music blares?  Trying out new recipes all for that joy-to-the-world gathering of family and friends?

Are you feeling frazzled, worn, defeated, even jaded before that first cup of morning coffee?

Do you, in this hectic state, know the perfect gift for that perfect someone?  Or, are you desperately seeking it?

Stop!

Be still!

Know He is God.

Know He is large and in charge.

His message for this season of celebration is not how much you, or I, can spend and lavish upon others, but how much He has spent and lavished upon us.  A Savior, wrapped in swaddling clothes, cradled in a lowly manger, born to set us free from sin and death, once and forever.  What greater gift has been, or ever will be, given?

Do you wonder?

"While we were still sinners . . ."

I wonder.

I wonder, and am amazed by God's unending, omnipresent, unconditional love for us.

Our Christmas gifts, our decorations, our celebrations are shallow and meaningless unless we take the words of Corrie ten Boom to heart:  . . . Christ is ALL we have.

Presents don't count.

Love does.

Only love counts.

Only love endures.

Christ's love . . .


~

How will you choose to celebrate God's greatest gift to you and me, the coming of Christ Jesus into the world?

Prayer:  Most loving Father, as we mark this season of Advent, let us remember daily that Your Son, Jesus, is truly all we have.  He is all that matters.  May we love others as He commanded and spread the joy of Your kingdom to those who live in a darkened and hopeless world, devoid of the light of Your Word.  May we be that light for You here on earth that others may know the great sacrifice our Lord made on Calvary because of love.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Meditations of My Heart will be on hiatus until the New Year.  I pray that each and every one of you has a most merry and blessed Christmas!


Friday, December 5, 2014

My God Will Hear Me


Micah 7:7
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

It is August of this year.  I am willingly chained to my computer, determined to churn out two more novels for my next book series, Adventures in The Glade, while putting the final editing touches on Book One entitled Revenge!  If I wish for the first novel to be available before Christmas, I have my work cut out for me.

I'm not three weeks into the process when I realize I can't possibly complete Books Two and Three before I must submit Book One to the publisher.  I suffer angst over this decision.  You see, The Glade Series was originally written as one coherent novel; I knew its comings and goings inside and out.  Breaking it into three separate books was a win-win both for my publisher and me.

But this?  It's one big, hairy, messy leap of faith.  And, I'll be the first to admit it - I'm scared.

That's where God steps in.

I'm staring at a computer screen filled with words and filling up with more when I hear in my heart:  Do not be afraid.  Revenge! is the closest in time to the writing of your first series,  Trust in honing it and submitting it on schedule.  The rest will follow, for I am with you.

It isn't often I hear the Lord audibly speaking to me, but when I do, I know I have no choice but to act.  And act, I do!  I refocus all my energy on Book One, meticulously paying attention to every detail and taking notes regarding what the future novels should tell.  The more I work at it, the more confident I feel in the final product.  I'm actually reveling in this new level of trust I've placed in God.

A trust He first placed in me.

At long last, and hopefully in time for Christmas sales, the manuscript is off to my publisher.  Back and forth we go with edits, bio, dedication, acknowledgements, cover shot . . . Will we reach the deadline in a timely fashion?  Oh, I'm so praying for this!  I don't hear God's affirmation in these prayers, but I definitely feel His comforting presence.

That's enough.

We can't make delivery by Black Friday.  That's okay.  There is the upcoming Christmas Bazaar at my church, Kennesaw United Methodist, on December 7th.  As many in the congregation have purchased The Glade Series and are anxious for the sequel, this is when I watch in hope for the Lord to come through.  I wait for God, my Savior, to hear my prayer . . .

Oh!  How He does!!!




Revenge! arrives mid-afternoon on the Thursday before my sales event at church.  There are no words to describe the thrill of holding the published work in my hands.  I pray, silently and fervently, that the words I've written will touch the lives of others for God's kingdom.

For it is not for my own glory that I write.  It's for His.

And in this season of Advent, when waiting upon the Lord is our practice and praise, I am humbled by this early Christmas gift from Him.

I chose to trust.

He chose to answer.

I am blessed.

And I am thankful beyond measure.


~

Have there been times in your life when God has answered your prayers in ways you could never had imagined?

Prayer:  Father, You have given us so many gifts to share with this world, gifts which can help those who are hurting or lost to know of Your grace, love and salvation.  May we be empowered by You, each and every day, to use our gifts to reach out to others that Your Kingdom may become a living and vibrant reality in this world.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

At the time of this posting, my latest novel is not yet available on Amazon, but should be in the next day or two.  To check on this, simply go to Amazon (books) and type my name, Martha Orlando.  Thanks and blessings!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Let Us Remember . . .


Psalm 77:11
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

Call us Mr. and Mrs. Scrooge, but for the last two Christmases, my husband, Danny, and I have neglected to put up a tree.  Sure, we faithfully hang Advent calendars, place the Nativity scene in its usual corner and the Advent wreath on the table, hang up the stockings, and display our two garlands of greenery:  one adorns our mantelpiece; the other is suspended from the ceiling between the dining area and the kitchen.  (The latter, unfortunately, has gone missing from our Christmas stash in the garage.  We are at a loss as to what has become of it, so resign ourselves to its absence.)

But, no tree.  Because, we reason, as our children are grown and don't particularly care about one, and our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, is too young to appreciate or remember a Christmas tree, why go to all that trouble?  This year, though, as Virginia turned four last July, we know she will be so excited about the sparkly lights and decorations, we actually can't wait to put it up!

As we celebrated Thanksgiving with family the Saturday before, we plan to have Virginia over Thanksgiving Day so she can help decorate the Christmas tree.  I purposely select ornaments which haven't adorned our tree in forever, but which are unbreakable, for Virginia to place on the lower limbs which are easily within her reach.  She does a great job!












She is so proud of herself!

I notice when Virginia finishes her task, her eyes are darting around the rest of the living room, taking in all the Christmas displays.  As she heads for the kitchen where her Papa is fixing a mini-Thanksgiving lunch, Virginia stops dead in her tracks.  She points to the ceiling where last year's garland should be hanging.

"Where's that one?"  Virginia asks.  Danny and I are dumbfounded!  That was a year ago!  She was only three!  How does she possibly remember that?

Still reeling with the shock of Virginia's amazing memory, we explain why the garland isn't there and assure her we will continue looking for it.  And, in that brief moment, it dawns on me.  Had we taken the time to put up the Christmas tree last year, Virginia would have appreciated and recalled it so much more than we realized.

And, that memory would be indelibly burned in her mind's eye . . .

~

What is your earliest childhood memory?

Prayer:  Father, let us remember your deeds and your miracles of long ago.  Seal them not just in our minds, but in our hearts.  As we traverse this season of Advent, may we reflect both upon the birth of Your Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and upon Your promise that He will come again in glory.  In Jesus' precious name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oh! The Majestic Light!


Psalm 8:1
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory in the heavens.

It's Sunday morning.  I awaken conscious of the fact I don't feel rested.  It doesn't matter.  We have contemporary service to lead today.  I must roll out of the all-too-comfortable bed and embrace the day.

As I don slippers and robe, I hear it.  A steady rain is falling outside, tempting me in the worst way to snuggle back under the covers and slip into the land of soothing sleep.  Instead, I sigh and head for the kitchen to brew coffee.  I glance at the clock - 6:45.  I'll have to rouse Danny no later than seven.

I pour my morning glass of water, start the coffee, turn on my computer, and shuffle to the French doors to assess the grayness of this bleak day.  Yes, in my head, I know we need this rain, but in my heart, I long for sunshine.  My thoughts drift back to our recent time spent at the cabin, and I find myself missing the beautiful, if cold, weather we experienced there.


As I gaze at our deck, so pristine yesterday for our family gathering, now smothered in a damp carpet of fallen leaves, I grieve my tedious efforts to sweep it clear when obstacles have once again reared their taunting heads.





"Ouch!  Ow!"

"Danny?"  I respond in alarm as his voice infused with jagged pain pierces the silence of the house.  I am sprinting, emergency lights flashing in my mind, for the bedroom.  "What's wrong?"

"It's my back," he groans.  "It's gone out and hurts like the devil!  Why now?  Why, on Sunday when we need to lead worship?"

"Because the devil sees an opportunity," I tell him, "but we're not going to let him take it.  Don't we have those pain-relievers your dentist prescribed for your upcoming surgery?  Get some of those in you, take your shower, and I'll fetch the back brace."

With great difficulty, Danny manages to get cleaned up and dressed with my aid.  My heart breaks to see him in so much pain.  It's been years since his back has acted up, and that has been a blessing.  But of all days and times to do so?  I'm sending up lots of prayers as I try to make Danny as comfortable as he can be for the time being, asking the Lord to help Danny get through the Sunday service.

God, in His endless love and grace, provides.  Danny makes it through worship with flying colors.  But as we exit the church with the rain still pouring down, I note the strain and weariness on his face, and know I will need to wait on him, hand and foot, gladly, to ease the discomfort and make the rain in his back go away.

Our afternoon into early evening is touch and go.  The outside gloom reflects the discomfort of a persistent ache, a dreariness of the soul when pain-killers and heating pads and back braces can't fully assuage Danny's ailment.  I am consumed with concern for him.

Then, just as the sun is preparing to set, the rain ceases and the clouds recede.  The light!  Oh, the majestic light which appears, unbidden, upon the horizon!  God's glory is saturating the heavens with unbridled hope.  In spite of his condition, Danny grabs his camera and captures these wondrous photos.







Tomorrow, God promises.  Tomorrow is a brand new day full of My love, My healing, My joy, My grace.

We believe it.

We receive it.

And both Danny and I have a restful night's sleep . . .

~

When has God taken your rainstorms and turned them into sunshine?

Prayer:  Father, thank You for the tough and trying times which may make us sad and weary in the moment, but which lead us, with more open minds and hearts, to Your healing and comfort.  Help us to not miss the miracles and beauty You offer to us daily in the most ordinary things.  Let us daily praise You for Your love and grace which You lavish upon us.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!



Psalm 100:4-5
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.




From our house to yours:

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cloud 8



Job 37:16
Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?

My husband, Danny, and I recently spend five glorious days in the Nantahala Mountains of North Carolina.  Since we visit these mountains which abut the Great Smokies twice a year, finding a new cabin with a stunning view is becoming more challenging.  This fall, it is even more so as we wait until the proverbial last minute to make reservations.  Although it is larger than we need, our cabin, Cloud 8, proves to be the perfect choice.















And the view?  Could we ask for anything better than this?




As perfect as the cabin is, we take advantage of clear skies to do some exploring in the Smokies.  We head for Clingman's Dome, the second highest peak in the eastern United States, rising 6,643 feet above sea level, placing us a mile and a 1/4 higher than the shore line.  I can tell you, my ears pop fast and furiously along our journey as our Subaru navigates the not so gradual incline and hairpin turns which distract my eyes from the scenery I could be drinking in at the moment.

Most folks who visit Clingman's Dome walk up the sinuous, paved walkway to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Smoky Mountains.  In spite of this being the off-season, many tourists are doing just that.





I recall visiting the tower with my family when I was about ten.  It was awesome to me then, but Danny has long know about a different trail, one which we choose to take today.  It is one I haven't hiked in over eight years, and I'm agreeable only because I've conveniently forgotten how rough and rocky it is to traverse




I may look like a happy camper in this photo, but I'm anything but.  I'm having difficultly getting and keeping my footholds in spite of the sturdy hiking boots I'm wearing.  More than once, Danny has to give me a hands-up so my short legs can attain the next ledge.  I'm growing weary of painstakingly picking my way along the rugged path, and I'm uncharacteristically short of breath, probably because we are hiking at a more than mile-high elevation.  It's only a half-mile walk, yet I feel as thought I've attempted a marathon.

Danny offers encouragement.  "You can do this.  When you get to the top, the view will be worth every step you've taken."

"I sure hope you're right," I grunt, not wanting to go one more step forward, but for Danny's sake and his excitement about seeing the ridge once again, I press on.

As we approach the ridge top at long last, we hear the wind sighing through the bent and stunted trees growing there.  Knowing we're almost there infuses me with an unexpected surge of energy.  I clamber up after Danny as quickly as I can, and when I reach the summit, this is what meets my eyes.







The clouds hang poised . . .

We have ascended from Cloud 8 to Cloud 9.

And, we are rendered speechless before the wondrous majesty of God.

~

When have you been awed by God's magnificent creation?

Prayer:
Father, Your world reveals the mighty works of Your hands.  We thank You for the glory which is Your creation.  May we live in awe of Your wonders each and every day.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lord, Make Firm My Steps


Psalm 37:23-24
The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Maybe it's the caution which comes with growing older, but lately, I find myself with Iphone affixed to my belt, not just when I'm out and about in my car, but when I'm home alone.  And I'm home by myself frequently.  With stepson, Giovanni, working full-time and husband, Danny, at work downtown, I know there is no one close by to come to my aid should an unforeseen mishap occur.

I become acutely aware of this need to have-cell-phone-will-travel when Danny leaves on a Sunday for a meeting in Phoenix, and Giovanni is miles away visiting with his girlfriend.  I am truly isolated!  If, in my umpteenth trips up and down our staircase to tend to laundry and other chores, I find myself, in the words of that infamous commercial, to have "fallen, and I can't get up," how would I call for help if my phone is not on my person?

While taking precautions regarding physical protection is wise and sensible, I can't help but feel a bit sheepish when I read these verses from Psalm 37.  If the Lord makes firm the steps of those who delight in Him, which I do without reservation, should I even entertain such a worry in the first place?  Oh, yes!  I could stumble, especially when lugging a wet and unwieldy basket of washed clothes up the stairs and out to our deck to be hung on the line.  But where is my faith?  Won't the Lord uphold me with His hand?

Yes, I know.  I'm placing a literal spin on a metaphorical example of God's unfailing love and protection for all His children.  He who delights in us will ever save us when we stumble in sin.  Jesus will not let us fall into that abyss, but will catch us at the brink and place us, once again, onto the path of righteousness for His name's sake.

God will make firm our steps when we choose to follow Jesus.

God will bless us when we delight in Him.

He will love us, though we stumble, and not let us fall.

We can rest assured, cellphone ready or not, that the Lord upholds us with His powerful and omnipresent hand.

~

When you stumble, can you trust in the Lord to uphold you?

Prayer:  Dear Father, let us ever delight in You that You might make our steps firm and our purpose to spread the Good News of Your Kingdom foremost in our hearts and minds.  When we stumble as imperfect children, may we always recall that You are right there beside us, ready to pick us up, brush us off, and set us upon the right path You have laid before us.  Make firm our steps!  All this we pray in Jesus' name.  Amen.