Meditations of my Heart

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.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Mr. Postman, Look and See. Is There a Letter in Your Bag for me?"



Thessalonians 5:27
I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

My daughter, Sarah, has been teaching our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, her letters and numbers for a few months now.  Although Virginia isn't technically reading yet, this practice of spelling out words under her mother's guidance will certainly accelerate the process.

To make these exercises more fun and personal, Sarah has Virginia pen two letters:  one to my mother, Nana, and the other to my husband, Danny's, mother, Nonna.  (Yes, Virginia gets confused at times since the grandmothers' monikers sound so much alike.)  This is the result of the letter to my mother.




I have to tell you, I am truly impressed by Virginia's penmanship at age four, and that she knows her lower case as well as upper!  And, of course, you can imagine how thrilled Nana and Nonna are to receive such a special written note from their great-granddaughter.  It is refrigerator magnet display in both their houses!


~

At her marvelous blog, In Search of Tree Stars, my friend since high school, Pam Stevens, recently posts about the dying art of letter writing.  You can read her reflection in its entirety here, and I highly recommend that you do!  What Pam shares about the treasure trove of letters she rediscovers, notes and reflections from dear loved ones who have since passed, touches me deeply.  Makes me want to dig through the countless folders of correspondence my mother has collected over the years.  To reconnect with a past long gone, but one I still carry in my heart.

And, I have these thoughts:  What would the early church have looked like without Paul's letters?  For that matter, what would our lives as Christians in the 21st century be like if our New Testament failed to contain them?  And, imagine this:  Had there been today's technology available to 1st century Christians, would Paul have used e-mail to send his missives?
Would the early followers of The Way dutifully printed them out to share with their community?  Or, God forbid, would a disgruntled member whom Paul chastised simply hit the delete button? >shudder<!  Would Paul have a blog where he posted his letters?  What if he just tweeted them?  Or, took a selfie of his poor soul in prison?



Where would we be???

Sadly, as Pam notes, the hand-written letter seems to be going the way of the Dodo bird.  Unless we consciously and conscientiously write a memoir of our lives for our children and grandchildren, it is unlikely our voice will be heard in their lives after we're gone.

While tweets and Facebook blurbs, texting and e-mail drops are quick and efficient in the moment, they, unlike the old-fashioned letter, will not endure.

A bloom in the moment.  Chaff in the wind.

Is that where our legacy lies?

~

When was the last time you sent a hand-written letter to a friend or loved one?  When was the last time Mr. Postman delivered one to you?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for the letters of Paul to the early church which continue, generations later, to convey Christ's teaching and encourage us to pursue Your righteousness in our thoughts, words and deeds.  May our own lives, lived in Your name, leave a legacy of faith, hope and love to the generations which follow us.  It is in Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.


Here is the link to the Mr. Postman song.  Hope you will listen and enjoy!

PLEASE NOTE:  Meditations of My Heart will be on hiatus next week.  Please come back to visit on Tuesday, November 18th for a brand new post.  Blessings, everyone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"I Will Sing, Sing a New Song . . ."


Psalm 96:1
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

If you have followed Meditations of My Heart for any length of time, most likely you know that my husband, Danny, and I help lead contemporary worship at our church every Sunday.  He and I both love to sing, and we are blessed with voices (his, tenor, mine alto) which blend and harmonize in tandem.  Praising the Lord in song is, hands down, our favorite way to worship.

When my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, visits me last week, we engage in many activities together, her favorite, as I've mentioned before, being Crazy Sand.



But, this day, Virginia spies her wooden blocks in the play closet and asks me to retrieve them for her.  It's been ages since she's asked for these, and I am happy they are finally getting some use.

I dump them on the floor for her, eagerly anticipating what she will create.  Virginia asks me to help, but I tell her I want to see what she can first do on her own.  And, wow!  Am I amazed by her skills!




"I did it, Gammie!"  Virginia proudly proclaims.

"Yes, honey, you did," I assure her.  "I'm impressed!"

Her joy overflowing, Virginia, to my surprise and delight, breaks into a spontaneous song she makes up as she goes along, all about how much she loves her cat, Henry, and her puppy, Spring.



And, as I witness her reveling and rejoicing with each note she sings, I think: This is what it means to sing to the Lord a new song, to praise His name and proclaim His salvation.  To sing from the heart, not just the mind, with gratefulness, spontaneity, passion, and unbridled joy!

When the next Sunday rolls around, I envision the image of the celebrating Virginia before I open my mouth to sing the first note.  I place myself in her shoes, a child rejoicing in the presence of her Father, and sing to Him a new song, one which swells from my heart and mind, soul and strength.

Engaged.  Inspired.  Present.  Infused with the Holy Spirit.

I worship!

~

What is your favorite way to worship the Lord?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for all the ways You give us to worship You.  Whether we feel closest to you when we read and meditate on Your Word, go to you in prayer, or offer songs of praise and thanksgiving, may we do so with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  In the precious name of Jesus, we pray, amen.

If you would like to listen to "As it is in Heaven" from which the title for this blog was taken, please click here.  Our Crossroads band would love your feedback!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Comfort for Savannah Jane


Isaiah 40:1
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

Our second granddaughter, Savannah Jane, turned six-months-old on October 27th.  After a touch-and-go first month of life, this little one is thriving beyond all expectations, and we are all so grateful for the progress she has made, and for the incredible bond she has forged with her dad, John, her sister, Virginia Rose, and, especially, her mother, my daughter, Sarah.

As we watch her grow and change, we marvel anew at the stages infants tackle in their journey to become mobile toddlers.  Savannah can now roll over on her own, sit up with the aid of her special seat, and is even exploring the new and tasty world of solid foods.  And, her chuckling, contagious laugh?  It's music to our ears!

Several days ago, Sarah sends me a text which has me reeling in utter surprise.  It seems, she had gone to take a shower, leaving Savannah under the watchful eyes of John and Virginia.  Savannah, content in the moment, suddenly grows anxious and begins to search frantically about for her missing mother.

"Mama!"  she cries out.  "Mama!"

First word!!!  And, not the one we would expect in the least, being a difficult one to sound out at six-months!  John is beside himself when he hears Savannah calling for Sarah, and tells her about it the minute she emerges from the bathroom.  Of course, once Savannah sees her mother, all pleas cease.  Mom is here.  Mom will provide.  Mom knows best what I need and want.  Mom is here!

Savannah Jane has yet to repeat this one episode of verbal expression.  She has no need to in light of her mother's constant presence.  Savannah knows the love and comfort only her mom can provide for her and she rests in that promise.







~

Are you resting in the love and comfort which only our Father, our Abba, can provide?

Prayer:  Father, we too often forget that we are Your children in need of Your lap, Your comfort, and the warmth of Your loving arms.  We think we know it all and can do it all until we discover we have strayed from Your will for us.  Help us to daily cry, "Abba!"  Let us cling in faith to You, our only true source of strength and comfort.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"If You Just Smile . . ."


Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I am an introvert.  Every personality test I take attests to this.  But, lest you think an introvert is confined to the borders of convent walls, or chained to a compound called home, I'm here to challenge you to think outside the assumed box.  When introverts have something to express and have something of value to share, they throw all caution to the wind.  Simply said, they get out there and do it!

And, when I have a book sale and signing as I did recently at our local Taste of Acworth, I am on!  It doesn't hurt to have puppet Grey as an eye-catching lure.  His antics of waving to passing crowds, and my invitations to any children I spy to come and meet him, serve both as ice-breakers and conversation starters.

People who stop always want to know what my books in The Glade Series are about.  I never tire of telling them, mostly because I can count on their inevitable reaction when I reach a certain point in my monologue which goes something like this:

Ten-year-old Davy is having a difficult time adjusting to life with his new stepfather, Jim.  When Davy learns that Jim has arranged for the entire family to spend the summer at grandfather's farm where there is no television, computer or swimming pool, he is beside himself with anger and decides to make life for his family just as miserable and unbearable as he feels in the moment.

But, all that changes when Davy discovers he is the Chosen One; only he can see and hear the creatures, like Grey here, called the Old Ones.  Through his growing friendship and trust in Grey, Davy's life starts to turn around, and he begins to see his family and himself in a whole new light.  I call it a story of love and grace.

Now, where do you think in this description my audience gasps in wide-eyed disbelief?  If you said either television or computer, you are dead on!  But, when they hear the rest of the story, their faces brighten at the prospect of Davy's summer being redeemed after all through the presence of Grey and the other Old Ones who have entered his life.

I don't know about you, but I love seeing people smile.  And, when they stop in for a visit with Grey and me, they always leave with one on their faces.  Oh, and a bookmark!  If I can't make an immediate sale, but know my listeners are intrigued, I hand them a bookmark which sports my website address and tell them they can find out more about the novels there, and can order directly if they choose.

And, speaking once again about smiles, all through my stint at this latest event, one is perpetually on my face.  It's not forced.  It is natural.  I'm truly enjoying meeting new people, and I believe with all my heart that when we smile at a stranger, we are shining Christ's loving light upon them.

Smiles are healthy, healing, inviting, transforming.  Grey's capers may catch people's eyes, but it's the smile I wear in greeting which ultimately draws them in.


Will you smile at a stranger today?

Prayer:  Father, we all have days when it is difficult to smile at someone, especially a stranger.  Let our knowledge that You are with us through all our ups and downs be reason enough for us to share a smile.  May our actions and attitudes always shine the light of Jesus into this darkened and hurting world.  It is in His name, we pray.  Amen.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Like Little Children


Matthew 18:3
And he said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

It's so exciting to see Savannah Jane, my second granddaughter, growing so fast and learning so much.  Unlike her big sister, Virginia Rose, Savannah has the added advantage of a sibling to help her develop skills and confidence.  I love to see, in these photos my daughter, Sarah, took, how marvelously these two are getting along!









Being almost four years apart, I envision a future of spats between these two, no matter how famously they are bonding at the moment.  Virginia, at age twelve or thirteen, will label her younger sister as a pesky pest and a know-nothing.  Savannah, heartbroken, will cry to mom and dad, and not understand why Virginia will no longer play dolls with her or allow her to enter her bedroom.

There will be differences.  There will be fights.  There will simply be the amplitude of years and maturation which create a divide.

Yet, my prayer remains:  Lord, let them always know they are sisters in love and grace, even while their eyes and emotions are clouded by doubts and uncertainties. 

I will keep and treasure these joyful photos exactly for those times when my granddaughters find themselves at odds.  They will serve to remind them of the sheer bliss little children share, a happiness which is too often lost in adulthood when we neglect to nurture our inner child.

These photos, for me, are a glimpse into the kingdom of heaven.  I pray they are for you, too, my friends.

~

What are you doing today to nurture that inner child in you?  The one who enters the kingdom of heaven?

Prayer:  Father, we give thanks to You today that you have claimed us as Your children.  May we never lose sight of our inner child, that part of us filled with wonder, awe, kindness, and abounding in love, that we might enter Your kingdom with rejoicing.  In Jesus' precious name, we pray.  Amen.