Meditations of my Heart

Friday, October 14, 2016

Take a Walk on the Prayer Side

James 5:16
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

I hate to admit this, having lived in the Fairfax neighborhood for eleven years, but I only know a handful of my neighbors by name.  Sure, I recognize faces when folks are out walking their dogs or working in their yards, but learning who they are beyond a friendly wave?  Sadly, no.

Something happens recently, though, which promises to change all that.  Many of us are connected online through a chat room entitled Neighborhood Fairfax.  Tom posts that he is discouraged by the state of disrepair into which the sign at the entrance of our neighborhood has fallen.  This precipitates a lively exchange as many of us suggest ideas and solutions.

Before we know it, an artistically talented man by the name of Ron, volunteers to completely overhaul the sign if we are willing to contribute monetarily.  I am delighted by the eager response of my neighbors as pledges come pouring in!  And just look at Ron's marvelous handiwork replete with fall decorations!

Now it might seem like I'm shifting subjects here, but bear with me.  It is only days after the sign is erected that I read a post by my blogging friend, Beckie Lindsey, at Spotlight about the concept of Prayer Walking.  Beckie writes:  The idea of prayer walking through your community is to allow your prayers to extend beyond your own concerns, focusing on the needs of others, while opening yourself to see them with God's eyes and heart.  Prayer Walking is simply taking our prayers to the very places we desire to see God's presence manifested.

What an awesome concept!  I decide, then and there, to skip the treadmill at the gym and instead, walk through Fairfax, praying for those living in each and every home.  I ask God to pour His blessings of love, grace and peace on all who dwell there; I pray, too, that if they do not yet know Jesus, that God would lead them to accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

I have to say, without reservation, that this is the best walk I've ever experienced.

I didn't think about me, or how tired my legs were feeling (we have a lot of hills in our 'hood), or how hot the day was waxing.  My entire being is focused on prayer.

On God.

On my neighbors.

I still can't put names with the faces, though I'm holding out hope.  But after my prayer walk, I feel I love and appreciate my neighbors in an entirely new way.

God's way.



Meditations of My Heart will be on hiatus next week as Danny and I head for the North Carolina mountains.  It's our first visit to a cabin during the peak leaf-changing season, so we are really pumped!  As usual, when I get away like this, I tune down/turn off social media, so will not be reading/commenting on any of your always wonderful blogs.  I will return here on WEDNESDAY, not the usual Tuesday, October 26th.  God's blessings to you all!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Something to Smile About

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Three weeks ago, while my husband, Danny, and I are at Jekyll Island, our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, loses both of her front baby teeth.  This certainly changes her appearance, wouldn't you agree?

And every time I see them, two-year-old Savannah Jane and fourteen-month-old Alexandra Nancy have learned new words and gained new skills.

Savannah can't quite say "Gammie" yet - it comes out "Mimi," which is cute because it's Danny's mother's name!

And Alexandra?  Just the other day she said, "Thank you, Mama," to my daughter!  Just wow!

The girls may vary in looks and ages, but I see the common threads of joy and curiosity woven through all of them.  Just being around them always makes me smile!

While it's hard to see all our little grands growing up so fast, growth, and the changes it brings, is inevitable.  And though there will be an end to a child's physical growth one day, there is no limit to how much she or he can continue to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Just as the Lord's compassion toward us is new every morning, we can look at each new day as an opportunity to learn new things, to expand our minds, and most importantly, move that much closer to God in faith and trust.

We can reawaken the wonder and curiosity of the child within us, looking at the seemingly ordinary things around us as if seeing them for the first time.  We can dare to have joy even in the midst of darkness and troubles.

Because we can rest assured of God's great love and unfailing compassion for His children, no matter how young or old we are.

And that's something to smile about!


Friday, October 7, 2016

An Air of Refinement

Isaiah 48:10
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

A while back, my husband, Danny, decides he needs to spruce up what we affectionately call the Orlando Cafe with white napkins.  It amazes me that something so simple can be so elegant at the same time.  The napkins certainly add an air of refinement to our dinner table.

When we've sufficiently soiled enough of the napkins, it's time to wash and bleach them.  I hang them on our clothesline to dry.

But look what happens!  All those stiff, starchy, pristine napkins are now a wrinkled, disheveled heap of limpness.

Luckily, there is a cure for that.  Starch, a scorching-hot iron, and a firm touch.

It's a long and arduous process (Thank you, Danny!!!), but the results are well worth the effort.

And this reminds me of how God works within us.  He takes us from unkempt, unruly sinners to upright, upstanding citizens of His kingdom.  But it's not a painless transformation.  As Isaiah says above, God will test us in the furnace of affliction.

Just as the cool, rumpled cloth of the napkin must come under enormous heat and pressure in order to be made new, so we, too, as we grow in our faith and trust in God, can expect to experience trials, tribulations and temptations that strive to weaken our faith just as God is attempting to perfect it.

So remember, when troubles surround you, God has your back.  He will stick by you through thick and thin, even when you don't feel His presence.



God is refining you.  Making you holy.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. ~Hebrews 10:14


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It's All About Love and Grace

2 Corinthians 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

It's been almost a year since I've attended any festival/event where I sign and sell my books.  I find out about Oktoberfest, held annually at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, from someone in our neighborhood on-line chat group.  As it is a venue I've never been to, I have no idea what to expect, but I fill out the application and send in my vendor fee, hoping for the best.

In the week before Oktoberfest, my nerves start to fray and my mind begins to race with anxious thoughts.  Will the space they assign me be in a heavily traveled area of the building?  What if I don't sell enough books to even make up for the fee I am charged?  What if >gasp< I don't sell a single book?  (Don't laugh.  That actually happened at an all-day event I attended two years ago.)

So I pray the prayer I've learned to pray before attending an event:  "Lord, if it is Your will, let me sell lots of books."  I ask for the peace of His presence if and when too many seemingly interested buyers depart my table empty-handed.  And I pray not to take what can  seem like outright rejection personally.

The day of Oktoberfest arrives with the promise of lots of sunshine and a healthy dose of cool, crisp fall air - a welcome respite from our unpleasantly hot summer here in the South.  I can't say I'm still not apprehensive, but praying throughout the week has worked wonders within me.  I put on my extrovert face, ready to take on whatever happens as the long day unfolds.

God is so good!

Within the first thirty minutes, I sell eight books!  One gem of a woman buys all six books in the two series, just based on my description of the stories and characters.  Now there's a stellar example of faith!

And yes, the event turns out to be one of my most successful ones, financially, to date.

But better than that, and far more meaningful in the grand scheme of things, is the incomparable and grace-filled kindness shown to me not only by those organizing Oktoberfest, but also by fellow vendors and the shoppers themselves.  I can't begin to tell you how many engaging conversation I have with such interesting individuals, who all have their own stories to tell.  I am absolutely overwhelmed by this outpouring of authenticity and caring.

As if this weren't enough, I am reunited with a former student, a wonderful young man named Garrison, whom I taught when he was in seventh grade!  We have been friends on Facebook for quite a while, so though he is now twenty-one, I recognize him right away.  It turns out Garrison and his family are long time members of Holy Trinity, and he is eager to catch me up on all that's been happening in his life.  Having Garrison around certainly made the day fly by in a cheerful and blessed way!

Will I be returning to Oktoberfest next year?  You can bet on it!

Because of all the events I've done, this one shines God's presence the brightest, reminding me of what Racer tells the elderly preacher in Children in the Garden:  "It's all about love and grace."

And truly, it is.


Friday, September 30, 2016

On the Boardwalk

Romans 7:19-20
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Our mission:  As stewards of Jekyll Island's past, present and future, we're dedicated to maintaining the delicate balance between nature and humankind.  ~Jekyll Island Authority

On two of the mornings during our stay at Jekyll Island, my husband, Danny, slips out of our room before dawn so he can capture the sunrise.

He runs into two women doing the same thing on that first morning.  A conversation ensues, and Danny learns the women are visiting the United States from Holland.

Danny, having lived in this part of the country much of his life, gives them some ecological history concerning the preservation of the stunning sand dunes and the endangered vegetation they support.

This is precisely why the Jekyll Island Authority, a board of governor-appointed officials, have had numerous boardwalks, like this one,

built as walkways from the dune's inception to where they meet the smooth, flat sands of the shore.

The women seem appreciative of and impressed by the information Danny discloses.

So imagine his dismay on the second morning of his sunrise shoot when he sees this!

Yep!  There's one of those women, as big as life, standing boldly and brashly where no human foot is meant to trod.  So, of course, Danny couldn't resist snapping the picture and adding the accusatory caption.

What is her motivation, I wonder, in going against the grain?  Breaking the rules?

Does she see herself as the exception?  Someone who surely couldn't cause any lasting damage to these majestic dunes?  "After all," does she rationalize, "What difference will my few footprints make?"

And I am reminded of Paul's lament, quoted above:  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing.  If we are honest with ourselves, haven't we all been on that proverbial sand dune at one time or another in our lives?  We know what we are doing is wrong, but that temptation - oh, how impossible it is to resist!

Unless, of course, we temper temptation with sincere prayer; for God alone, at our moments of weakness, when our inherently sinful natures are determined to get the best of us, can correct our paths and give us the strength to do what is right in His eyes.

Maybe, had this woman done just that when the dune sirens beckoned, she would have stayed the boardwalk's course.

And by doing so, honor God's magnificent creation.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. ~Genesis 1:31a


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Earth is the Lord's

Psalm 24:1-2
The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

My husband, Danny, and I return recently from a brief, but lovely, few days in Jekyll Island, Georgia.  Today, I invite you, through Danny's marvelous photos and the Psalms, to celebrate and wonder at this marvelous creation God has established for us.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1

How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
Psalm 57:11

My prayer is that these words from Psalms and the pictures bless you today, and remind you to give God thanks for all His wonders.


Friday, September 16, 2016

I Will Give You Rest

Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

A week ago today, our dishwasher gives up the ghost.

I had just run a successful load and emptied it, when my husband, Danny, decides it's high time to clean the detachable vents in our stove hood.  (And believe me, with all the cooking he does, they need it often!)  But no sooner has he arranged the vents on the racks, selected the wash cycle, and pressed start, when the washer simply stops, it's "error" code flashing impudently, daring us to resolve the problem.

Frustrated, Danny tries other wash cycles to see if the appliance will get over itself.  Sadly, his efforts are fruitless.  When he researches the error code on line, the glaring cause points to the control panel itself.  And the cost to repair that?  Five-hundred dollars!

"At this rate," Danny admits, "I might as well bite the bullet and order us a new dishwasher."

"Honey, you don't have to right now if you don't want to spend the money," I tell him.  "I really don't mind washing dishes by hand."

"No, no, I don't want you to have to do that," Danny insists.  "I'll find a deal and order one today."

He does just that, and the new dishwasher is scheduled to be delivered and installed on the very day you are reading this post.

Then something miraculous happens.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, our house loses electricity.  When Danny gets up to go to work, he notices that the power failure light on the supposedly deceased dishwasher is brightly blinking.  He opens and shuts the washer door to turn the light off.

But it gets him to thinking . . .

When Danny arrives home that evening, he announces, "I'm going to try and run the dishwasher one more time.  I have a hunch that the power outage just might have reset its brain."

"Like a reboot on a computer?"  I ask hopefully.


I am skeptical, but agree it's worth a try.  Wonder of wonders!  The dishwasher completes a full cycle without a glitch!

Stunned, and beside ourselves with delight, Danny observes, "But before I cancel the order, let's wait and run it again tomorrow, just to be sure."

We do, and once again, the old dishwasher renders a stellar performance!

Yes, it could be the power outage corrected the problem, but I have another theory.  Never in the four years we've owned this dishwasher have we ever, ever run back-to-back loads.  It's always enjoyed a recuperative rest for at least a day, if not longer.

Did it simply need to be still?  To catch its breath before charging ahead?

That, we will never know.

But this I do know:  You and I need to rest in the Lord, regularly and often.  We can't keep up a frantic pace, no matter how many responsibilities and "to-dos" we have, and not expect to run out of steam.  It's inevitable.

So you who are weary and whose burdens are many, will you accept Jesus' invitation to lay them at His feet today?  He will give you rest and the peace of God, which passes all understanding.

The very rest you need to keep going for His glory.


Speaking of rest, Danny and I are headed to Jekyll Island this coming Monday for a much needed vacation.  I will not be blogging next week, and will probably not visit any of your blogs during that time as I plan to keep all social media interactions to a minimum.  After all, how often is it we get to go to the beach?  I plan to enjoy every moment.

See you back here on Tuesday, September 27th.

Love and blessings, always!