Meditations of my Heart

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I Lay Myself Before Thee

James 4:6
"God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."

This past Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the Christian New Year, occurring an entire month before the world rings in 2016.  It is a time of high expectation as we wait for the coming of Christ Jesus once again; looking forward to both celebrating His birth, and awaiting in faith His coming again in glory for His own.

We honor the Light of the World not only at Sunday service, but also at our evening meals at home.  As the skies darken and winter nights creep closer, the glow of the candlelight fills us with hope, cheer and comfort.  Yes, I know our candles are not the traditional purple and pink, but they match beautifully with the Celtic-designed Advent candle holder I purchase a few years ago.

The reason I chose this particular Advent centerpiece?  Easy!  My ancestral roots drink deeply from my Celtic heritage.  In simply contemplating the twists and turns of the designs, I find myself on another plain of observation and awareness.  It's as if I can see and know at the same time; not needing words, only wonder.

But it is the words lacing the circle of this Advent wreath that draw everyone in the family into what it means to worship the Lord, our God:  "I lay myself before thee as I light this flame."

I lay myself before thee . . .

In this season when we anticipate the arrival of the unrivaled grace offered to us by God, we need to humble ourselves, lay ourselves before Him, as we acknowledge the light soon to return to the world.

We need to recognize our unworthiness, uncleanliness.

Our inability to achieve anything or be anyone on our own without God's help.

We light the candles.

But it's only by God's grace we see the light.

How are you observing the season of Advent?

Prayer:  Father, let us humble ourselves before You and Your Son, the Light of the World, as this Advent promises new hope and blessings for our lives.  May Your Holy Spirit fill our hears and minds with the real reason for the season, and keep us ever focused upon Your promises, which we know, will be fulfilled in Your time.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Thankful

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Give thanks in all circumstances . . .

The alarm goes off at the way-too-early time of six o'clock in the morning.  In a fog, I turn it off, grumbling before I recall that this is the day I am going to my granddaughter, Virginia Rose's, kindergarten Thanksgiving Day play.  My inclination to return to the comfy, cozy bed dissolves.  I am up and at 'em, knowing how blessed I am to even have a granddaughter, and to witness her theatrical debut as a . . . turkey???

Oh, what a long drive to her school, with rain spattering my windshield, and the promise of coffee's awakening effects fading fast.  I find myself hoping, under the dismal weather conditions, if the trek is worth it.  Yes, I want to see Virginia every chance I get, but wonder how this Thanksgiving play will pan out.  Will my time and effort reap rewards?

My mind turns to thoughts of gratefulness as I drive the winding back roads, sixteen miles, to her school.  My car, which chugged ominously at me just the other day, is wending its way smoothly once again; it's raining, but it's light and intermittent, no matter what the play is like, I get to see Virginia!

By the time I reach the elementary school, my mood is definitely brighter than the gloom of this drizzly day.  I sit with a congenial group of parents and grandparents, eager for the extravaganza to begin.

I'm thankful.

The children gather on stage behind the curtain; we can see their sneaker feet beneath its edge.  Phone cameras poised and breath baited, we anxiously await what is about to unfold.  The curtains are at long last drawn, and we behold the Pilgrims and Indians of that first Thanksgiving feast, along with the corn (yes, their lines, when cued, were, "Pop,pop!), and of course, the turkeys, replete with targets on their chests.  The costumes are perfect!

I'm thankful.

Different children narrate the story.  At appropriate times, the Pilgrim men shout, "Bang, bang" as they are determined to bag a turkey for the feast.  The Pilgrim women interject a humorous and timely, "Mercy me!"  Indian men shout confidently, "Big and Brave!"  And the Indian women chime after them, "Go, Braves!" as they do the tomahawk chop.  

Songs and recited rhymes replete with hand motions keep this entertaining, yet historically correct, play moving along splendidly.  This Gammie especially loves the dance of the turkeys and their chorus of "Gobble, gobble!"  Virginia struts her stuff!

I'm thankful.

The last song in the play, believe it or not, did not refrain from praising God as the creator of all our blessings, and the One most deserving of thanks.  And this in public school.  Hard to find in these days of darkness . . .

I'm thankful.

I'm grateful.

For all God's innumerable blessings.

Are you giving thanks to God in all circumstances?

Prayer:  Father, as Thanksgiving Day draws near, let us all reflect upon the many blessings You give us each and every day, even when trials and tribulations momentarily detour us from the great love and mercy You desire to give us.  Guide our hearts back to You.  Let us acknowledge and cherish all Your wonderful gifts.  May we treasure them and give thanks always for Your innumerable blessings.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Meditations of My Heart will be on hiatus until Tuesday, December 1st, so I can enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays with family and friends.  May God bless your Thanksgiving time, and bring you fresh revelations of what it means to be grateful in all circumstances.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

This is Only a Mountain

Matthew 17:20
He replied, "Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.  Nothing is impossible for you."

My husband, Danny, and I are grateful to live in a forest so deep we don't even own a lawn mower.  Our ground cover is moss, beautifully springy and evergreen.  The only yard work in which we engage is in the fall when all those enchanting leaves, which give us generous shade throughout the summer, know it's time to release and descend.

Usually, autumn here in Georgia tends to be drier than wetter.  That means sweeping the decks, the stairs, and blowing off the moss on a regular basis is a fairly easy task.  But when we suffer through the recent torrential rains, observing the leaves falling in swarming hoards upon the sodden ground, our hearts sink.  How will we ever dig out from this mountain of deciduous vegetation threatening to smother our tender moss and annihilate the sanctity of our deck?

How will the leaf blower tackle the soggy mess and not harm the moss hidden beneath its cloak?

We are blessed with a respite from rain for one day's time.  Danny decides to take the challenge, to move the mountain of leaves, wet or not, from the forest floor.

It takes him four hours to accomplish the task, a time unheard of with regards to previous autumn toils.  Danny and I both had doubts that this horrendous mess could be salvaged.

Yet, God reminds us:  This is only a mountain.

We balk, we falter, we question.

We doubt.

But God proves, time after time, that He is in it all, providing the miracles we need even before we ask, if we open the eyes of our hearts to behold them.

Danny and the Lord prevail!

Just as Danny freed the moss from the bondage of the soaking, choking grip of the fallen leaves, the Lord frees us from the bondage of sin and death.  We need only believe that, by His grace, we can move a mountain.

Many mountains.

Because with God, all things are possible.

What mountains are standing in your way today?

Prayer:  Father, sometimes I feel my faith is as tiny as a mustard seed.  Life is hard.  It's unpredictable.  Moving mountains seems impossible.  Yet life is filled with Your grace, mercy and love.  May we all trust in Your promise and in Jesus' words that with Him, the mountains will move.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

You can listen to the praise song, "Only a Mountain," here. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

He Has Done It!

Psalm 22:30-31
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

When I post the photo of my youngest granddaughter, Alexandra Nancy, on Facebook, I receive, among many beautiful and touching comments, this one from high school friend, Robb:  "Love the smile . . . Our future . . ."

It moves me to tears.

Alexandra is so vulnerable, knowing nothing but surrounding arms of love, basking in the awakening to life as she grows and develops with each passing day.  Her story is one the Lord already knows, and will be one for all of us who love her to discover in time.

Our hearts are filled with promise.

Promise for the future.

But . . . 

In these difficult, trying days, when it seems the world has turned against those who first seek the Lord, the promise can become hard to hold on to.  No matter where we look, despair, depravity, and hopelessness prevail.  As Pastor Wallace warns us in church this past Sunday:  "The world has taken over the church; the church has not taken over the world."

A powerful admonition.

One we need to take to heart.

Because future generations must be told about the Lord and His saving grace; announced with grandeur and celebration, that they would remember.  After all, He has done it for those yet unborn.

And for His children abiding.

Our future?  Believing in God's promises.

Believing in the smile . . .

Remembering always,

God has done it!


Will you choose to believe in the smile of God?

Prayer:  Father, let us find the joy You wish us to experience in the smile of a child.  May we realize in that one smile, the gesture of the hope and the promise You have for this world, and continue to spread the Good News of Your saving grace to a world that does not want to hear Your righteous message.  Give us the grace and courage to spread Your Word fearlessly, that a people yet unborn will declare, "He has done it!"  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Think About Such Things

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

Living a reflective life is a spiritual practice that adds depth and gratitude to our lives.  Often our busy schedules make it difficult to keep a daily journal but we can find the time to take note of some of the highlights, lessons and joys we experience. ~Jean Wise

I used to write in a journal faithfully.  I haven't done so in over ten years, ever since Danny and I were married.  The journal is replaced by writing novels, starting/maintaining this devotional blog, and jotting down ideas and inspiration in any number of small notebooks cluttering up my already cramped computer desk.

Lately, I have become frustrated with this half-baked method of note keeping.  It serves its purpose in the short term, but provides no consistent, reliable record as to when, why or how I fancied a memorable quote to us in future blogs, or thoughts pertaining to future plots and characters in my books.

Imagine my delight when I discover that my blogging friend, Jean Wise, has created the Monthly Musings Journal.  It is the answer to this disorganized note-taker's prayer!

The journal is designed to be used over a two year period, although by the amount of notes I've already amassed for the month of November, I may have to use four pages for each month of the year!  At the top of each section, there is a space to fill in the month and the year.  Jean provides eight categories with room to write your reflections.  They are:

  • Lessons Learned
  • Good Reads
  • Wise Words to Remember
  • Terrific Tools and Tips
  • Innovative Ideas and Information
  • Joys and Delights (I'm partial to this one!)
  • Memories to Hold and Hopes for Tomorrow
  • Favorite Blog Posts
Aren't these great?  What a wonderful way to organize your thoughts, all in one convenient place.  If you or someone you know could benefit from using this journal format, you can order it here.

And be sure to check out Jean's blog, Healthy Spirituality, which she pens twice a week.  She will be sure to help you think about those good things Paul describes in Philippians 4:8.

I guarantee it!


Do you already keep a journal?  Would a tool such as Jean's book be helpful to you?

Prayer:  Father, today we give thanks for all those who inspire us with noble and true thoughts, which help us to keep our focus on You.  May we, too, think on those things You deem worthy, and bless others by our words and acts of kindness along life's pathways.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Note:  I purchased Jean's book voluntarily and decided that it was more than worthy of a review here on Meditations of My Heart.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fingerprints of God

Psalm 139:13-14
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Our youngest granddaughter, Alexandra Nancy, just turned three months old toward the end of October.  As I treasure the photos my daughter, Sarah, has sent to me, it makes me wonder:  What did Virginia Rose and Savannah Jane look like at that tender age?

To my Picture Directory, I go, hunting for the right folders (and there are so many!) where photos of the older girls can be found.  After a focused search, I hit pay dirt.

Virginia Rose

Savannah Jane

Alexandra Nancy

Wow!  Who would have thought three sisters could look so different from one another?  I stand in awe and amazement at God's endless creativity and blessings.

And as I gaze at their precious faces, I'm reminded of the praise song, Fingerprints of God, by Stephen Curtis Chapman.  Listen here!  These are the lyrics that immediately pop into my head:

I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you.
I can see the fingerprints of God,
And I know it's true.
You're the masterpiece that all creation
Quietly applauds;
And you're covered with
The fingerprints of God.

Yes, I see God's handiwork all over our darling grand-girls.  Each one is a masterpiece in her own right.  Each one unique.  Fearfully and wonderfully made.

And it is with a heart overflowing with love and gratitude, I give thanks and praise to the Father who created them.


Wouldn't this world be a better place if we recognized and honored the fingerprints of God in every person we meet?

Prayer:  Father, You have fearfully and wonderfully made each and every one of us.  We are Your children, and we are loved by You.  Let us see Your fingerprints in the faces of all the persons we meet in life, and treat them as the masterpieces they are.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Be Reconciled

Matthew 5:23-24
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

'Tis the season for political debate.  The media is rampant with discordant opinions as the presidential candidates from both parties flex their muscles and propose their ideas and visions for a better America to the prospective voters.  For some, this is simply a sideshow at a circus, a mere distraction or nuisance at best.  For others, like me, we truly stay engaged with the entire process, wanting to know the ins and outs of each and every candidate on both sides of the aisle in order to develop a better perspective.

It is at times like this that I am more grateful than ever to live in a country where free speech is still protected by the Constitution.  Yes.  I know.  There are those who consistently try to circumvent our constitutional guarantees, and it makes me wonder if these folks have even read this very document that allows them to rant and rave in all their thunder and glory.

In too many countries, freedom of speech is not allowed, unless your goal is prison or death.  What would these persons do if they suddenly found themselves living in one of these tyrannical pits?  But that is a post for another time . . .

The point I set out to make is based on Matthew's Gospel quoted above.  My family is, to say the least, politically diverse.  We all plan to gather together, as many families do, at Thanksgiving.  After a recent political exchange on Facebook, a heated one at that, I lay down the law:  Freedom of speech is respected, but there will be no political discussions during the Thanksgiving festivities!

My son, Daniel, is in full agreement.  "That's exactly how Grandpa would want it," he tells me.

Yes, my Dad . . . The peacemaker, the reconciler.  Placing his gift before the altar only when his heart was in the right place.  Reminding us always to be respectful of one another's views.  Honoring us by always listening to our concerns privately, offering his gentle guidance, and keeping altercations to a minimum during family gatherings, that our memories would not be tarnished by words better left unspoken.

I miss my father, more than words could ever or will ever express.  And I hope that I carry within me his resolute love for family and dedication to one another no matter how the whimsical winds of political storms may blow.

We are family.  We are blood.  We are Americans.

We are one in the Spirit.

We are one in the Lord.

Are you reconciled to your neighbor?

Prayer:  Father, it's so easy for us to get on our high horse and tout our agenda without regard for the opinions and feelings of others.  May we make all our earthly decisions on the basis of Biblical truths, and be reconciled to one another, for Your sake.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.