Meditations of my Heart

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Perpetual Memory


Psalm 45:17
I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.

About three weeks ago, I open my e-mail and find, to my delight, a note from my cousin, Andy, who lives in Massachusetts.  I haven't seen him, or the rest of my northern cousins, for many years.  And, aside from the condolences offered in the passing of my father, his Uncle Bill, I hadn't heard from Andy in quite some time.  I open the e-mail eagerly.

Dear Martha Jane, 
I was sorting through some old trunks and came across the Bible which belonged to Grandma Grace and a New Testament which was given to your dad by Great-Grandma Jesse.  I thought you would appreciate having these.  If so, just send me your mailing address, and I'll send them to you.
Love,
Andy

Would I appreciate having them?  Is the Pope Catholic?  Of course!  How could I not want to have in my possession such dear items which belonged to family whom I love and miss?  I am overwhelmed and deeply touched by Andy's offer.  I let him know immediately of my interest in both books, thanking him most sincerely for his thoughtfulness.

(For those of you who might be wondering why it took Andy so long to find these, please understand that the house he lives in, which belonged to his mother and father, is old.  Really old!



As I recall, the cellar was cavernous, and there were several chests and trunks stored there.  Perusal of their contents could easily be put off for a rainy day.)

The books arrive last week.  



The New Testament was given to my father by his grandmother when he was only nine-years-old.



My Grandma Grace's Bible, worn and well used, is filled with underlined verses and these items tucked away amid the pages.



My attention is immediately drawn to the card.  When I open it, I know why.



It is a note from my dad to his mother written almost thirty years ago.  Grandma Grace must have received hundreds of cards over her lifetime, but that she chose to keep this particular one inside her Bible speaks volumes.  As I read my father's words and cradle his New Testament, memories come flooding back to me.

And, the tears flow.

They need to.

One day, I will pass these cherished books on to my children and they, in turn, will give them to theirs.  We will perpetuate the memories through all generations, so they will know the family who came before them loved the Lord their God.

And, in the first blank page of her Bible, my grandmother penned the verse from a hymn, a complete admission of Christian faith and hope in the Lord's promises:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives.

~

Do you have a treasured keepsake which was passed down to you by a loved one?

Prayer:  Father, may those whom we love who now live in Your presence bask in the light of Your glory.  May we, while we are here on earth, praise You before all the nations and tell of Your great works so that You are remembered by all the people.  May we know all fear is gone because You live in us and hold the future in Your hands.  In Jesus' name, we pray, amen.


Friday, October 17, 2014

No Better Blessing


Proverbs 22:6
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

My daughter, Sarah, and her husband, John, are doing an admirable job of raising their two girls, Virginia Rose and Savannah Jane.  When they visit us on Sundays for dinner, we are duly impressed by the loving, yet firm, consistency they show in guiding the now four-year-old Virginia in the ways she should go.

When my husband, Danny, aka Papa, and I have Virginia by herself, she never gives us a moment's trouble.  Sure, she pulls stunts typical for her age, like hiding where she thinks we can't find her or "accidentally" encouraging some of her crazy sand to flee the sandbox, or dragging her feet when it's time for Gammie to take her home.  But, all in all, she is respectful, polite, kind and caring, and full of spontaneous hugs and "I love yous."

A child doesn't arrive at such a point without a positive parental input.

Any of us who are, or who have been, parents can attest to the monumental task it is, day in and day out, especially on those days when nothing goes right.  The kids are whiny, cranky, and picking on each other.  Mom has a whopping headache.  Dad returns home from work frazzled and tired.  That's precisely when parents have to kick it into high gear to meet their children's needs before their own.

It is a selfless and, sometimes, thankless job.  One which we, despite our best efforts, fail at time and again as we learn the parental ropes by trial and error.  But, ultimately, when love is in the equation, any obstacle can be overcome.  And, the rewards, in the long run, are worth every precious moment's attention we give to our children.

John and Sarah have gotten Virginia Rose off to a great start, and I'm confident they will do the same for Savannah Jane.





My heart sings as I think that these two girls will grow up loving God, their family, and their friends, and carry those virtues right through into adulthood.

What could be a better blessing than that?



Prayer:  Father, we thank You for the gift of children and for loving parents who willingly sacrifice of their time and talents to instill Your Word and Your love into their little ones.  Bless them and keep them.  Let Your light shine before them.  Help them to trust in Your grace when the going gets tough.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?


John 15:5
"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing."

I hate shopping.  I really do.  But, upon a recent perusal of my wardrobe, I note how worn and faded most of my jeans, my pants of preference, are looking.  I have no choice but to seek out replacements.

So I don't have to navigate through Hades the mall, I surf the web instead.  I find two pair of jeans with whose cut and style I am familiar and feel confident they will fit.  They do!

But, there is one problem . . .

The button clasp at the waist of one pair is faulty.  I can slide the button into the sewed loop without too much of a struggle, but getting it back out?  This baby won't budge!  I feel panic rising within me (I'll leave it to your more than capable imagination as to why), until I remember, thankfully, that my husband, Danny, is working at home today; I'm sure his fingers, much stronger than mine, will pry this stubborn button loose.

"Should I snip the button hole to make it larger?"  I ask Danny when he finally, and not without some effort, frees the button from its hold.

"No, don't do that," he advises.  "You'll only unravel the sown edges."

"But, how am I supposed to manage when you're not around?"

"Just keep trying to stretch the opening with your fingers.  In the meantime, leave the button undone and cover it up with your belt."

Yes!  This tactic works!  But, I know I'll have to remind myself each time I wear the jeans to work on widening the button hole and to not make the mistake of fastening the button unless Danny is around.

~

When all the "buttons" in our lives are sliding in and out properly, it is tempting to think we're tackling challenges on our own just fine.  But, when we find ourselves in a jam, the first thing most of us are inclined to do is turn to God for help.  But, Jesus clearly tells us there is nothing we can accomplish apart from Him.  This means, of course, that He is right smack dab in the middle of it all.  Good times and bad.  Rough seas and smooth sailing.

Shouldn't we be just as mindful of God's presence and His grace in our lives on the sunny days, not just when the storms are raging?

After all, He's the One who's got the button . . .

~

How do you stay grounded in and connected to the Lord on a daily basis?

Prayer:  Father, help us to remember to remain in You as You are ever within us.  Just as branches cannot grow without the support of the vine, we wither when we think we can do things on our own without Your presence and help.  Be with us, Lord, sustain us, and let us always do Your will to the glory of Your Name.  Amen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gratitude Attitude



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.

On Monday, I wake up feeling like I didn't sleep well.  I'm tired and dragging.  Even my morning coffee, which typically charges my drowsy batteries, isn't doing the trick.

Then, it starts . . .

First, the nose runs.  I'm sneezing.  My eyes water.  Good grief!  And, I think  Am I coming down with a cold?  I can't afford to be sick!  I'm supposed to be back in the gym today.  What?  The last tissue???  Is this a joke?

Hoping it's allergies and not a full-fledged cold, I grab the Claritin off our medicine shelf and pop one down.  It works.  Sort of . . .

Bleary-eyed and fuzzy-headed, I resort to using toilet paper to blow my nose as the Kleenex is gone.  My nose thinks it's a faucet opened full-throttle.  I feel myself beginning to slide down the slippery slope of self-pity, a place which I  know all too well will make me feel like this Grumpy Cat.


Not good!  Having a bad attitude will only make things worse.  I know this from years of trial and error.  And, I don't want to go there.  I want to look like this not-so-Grumpy Cat!


So, what do I do?  I decide to be grateful instead of crabby.  After all, I'm always promoting a gratitude attitude here at Meditations of My Heart.  Why not take my own advice?

As the day progresses, here are some of the things for which I give thanks:

  • I don't have a fever.
  • I'm not so sick I can't drive to the store for more Kleenex.
  • My head may be too stuffy for writing, but I can still read and catch up on some favorite blogs.
  • It may take me twice as long to do simple chores like laundry and making the bed up, but I can still accomplish those tasks.
  • It's a cool, sunny fall day.
  • At least, I am sick at the beginning of the week, and not the end as I have a huge book signing on Saturday.
  • Band practice is moved from Tuesday to Thursday; I should be well enough by then to participate.
I know these are simple things for which to be grateful, yet, just as a wall is built one brick at a time, it is in the small blessings, recognized and appreciated, which add up to create the sturdy foundation for a gratitude attitude.

As St. Paul says, "give thanks in all circumstances," good and bad, for God's will is working through it all.

Amen, Paul, amen!

~

How are you practicing a gratitude attitude today?

Prayer:  Father, it's no fun to be sick, but knowing You are with us always gives us great comfort.  Let us give thanks to You in all circumstances, rejoice always, and pray without ceasing.  In Jesus' name, amen.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Great De-Tangler


Proverbs 4:11
I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.

My granddaughter, Virginia Rose, has extremely fine, curly, and slow-growing, hair.  When her mother, Sarah, washes it, trying to comb out the tangles, even when conditioner is applied, becomes a Herculean task.

I can relate.  My hair is not only fine, but color-treated, too.  When I visit my friend and hairdresser, Donna, she recommends an amazing product to use in place of traditional conditioners.  It is called "Uniq One," and, no, I'm not being compensated for promoting this product.



Donna, along with the other stylists at the salon, has nicknamed this potion "liquid gold."  It's earned that status because it works.

It really, really works!

So, last Wednesday, when Virginia is visiting with me, I note the jumble of tangles in her beautiful blonde hair and decide to get to work using this magically restorative hair tonic.  While she is playing contentedly with her Crazy Sand, I spray the concoction generously on her snarled, frizzy clumps of hair and work the potion through before placing a comb to her head.

Virginia doesn't even flinch.  The liquid gold massaged into her locks immediately releases the matted snags, and I am able to comb through it all, leaving this sweet girl with a head of hair which looks smooth, healthy and nourished.

With the help of Uniq One, I've made this path straight.


~

With the help of God, the Unique One, all the tangles and snarls in our lives which threaten to overwhelm us, can be overcome.  And, with all the bad news battering us from every direction these days, we need to feel the Lord's presence and grace more than ever.  I draw comfort and strength from the Great De-Tangler.  The One who will always set the path straight before us.

The One who will never leave, nor forsake us.

The One whose great love has overcome the world.

The One who will ever be the only gold, liquid or solid, we need in our lives.

~

How are you allowing God to de-tangle your life and set your path straight?

Prayer:  Father, we are living in times of great upheaval and uncertainty, yet in You, we know we can find the way of wisdom and the straight path you have prepared for us.  May we ever trust in Your salvation and lean upon Your Word when snares and snarls befall us.  May we do Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your name.  Amen.