Meditations of my Heart

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Time for Every Purpose . . .

Ecclesiastes 3:1
In every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens . . .

I write posts for Meditations of My Heart far in advance of when you, my loyal and faithful followers, finally have the opportunity to read them.  So, as you are reading this, know I've written over 20,000+ words in my next novel series, Adventures in the Glade, since I originally penned today's blog.  I've given myself the months of July and August as a deadline for book completion, with September the catch all for johnny-come-lately chapters and intense editing and revision.  This will keep me extremely, yet joyously, busy!

Some of you may recall that a while back, I try to give Meditations of My Heart a hiatus in order to accomplish just what I described above.  But, my father's prolonged illness and our family's uncertainty as to when God would call him home, hinders me from plunging head-long into the novels.  My heart simply isn't in it.  I find, instead, great comfort and peace in writing my blogs.  They lend me a sense of structure, of meaning, of purpose.  Help to take my mind off the day-to-day struggles.  Comfort me as I focus upon the Lord and reflect upon His Word.

But, now God is calling me to get back on my novel horse and ride it for all its worth.  Who am I to ignore Him?  If I've learned anything from writing this blog, it's this:  Trust in God!  He always knows what's best for me, for you, for everyone when we genuinely pause and faithfully listen.

And, when we, in faith, obey.

That being said, I'm officially and determinedly taking a break from Meditations of My Heart at least through the end of August.  Could an errant post appear?  No doubt!  Will I keep up with my fellow bloggers?  You bet!  Do I suddenly vanish from Facebook or Google+?  Hardly!  But, I can guarantee you those venues will be my earned reward for every 1,000 words I write.

The journey set before me will take to the max the discipline I adhered to when writing daily devotions here.  When I reflect upon that entire year of writing, without missing a beat, I see now how God was preparing me for this time in my life when precision and dedication and determination are tantamount.

I'm convinced.  The Lord is ever preparing us to receive and to act upon what's best for us and best for His purposes.  He knows there are times and seasons for everything under Heaven.

And, summer, I realize now, is my season.

My season in Him.

Everything under God.

Everything that is good.

Together, Lord, we'll make it happen!

~

When in your life has God directed you to take a detour from what you assumed to be your purpose?  What was the outcome?

Prayer:  Dear Father, I pray that we all listen to Your voice, intently and intentionally, so we can glean the direction in which You want us to go in this life.  We are here to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  May we reflect that in all our thoughts and actions, each and every day, and understand in our hearts that there is a time and purpose for all we do in Your name.  In Jesus' precious name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude


2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!

Change.  

It's often not welcomed.  It can be ugly.  But, it's inevitable.  Disheartening at its worst.  Challenging at its best.

And, let's face it.  Change upends our best laid plans.  Leaves us in the dust if we don't go with the flow.  Demands us to tread a whole new path.  A path we would more than likely not have chosen if left to our own devices.

Our band, so tight and together, is asked to make room for more musicians to rotate in and out with us.  This require lots of practice and flexibility on everyone's part.  Talk about change!

The old has gone, the new is here.  

Am I happy about this?  Honestly, "No."  I'm comfortable with the way things are.  I don't want this shift in our tidy, familiar latitude as a group so close we often read each other's minds.  I fear for what might happen when the trusty, tried and true apple cart is upended.

But, if we wish to continue to lead contemporary worship, we have to accept this new arrangement.  We have no choice in the matter.

The old has gone, the new is here.

So, I've decided not to stew over these alterations and unknowns I neither wanted nor asked for.  I'm determined, instead, to have a positive attitude.  To watch and pray and listen, trusting God's hand is in it all.   

And, I hope that, though this experience, God will grow us all and, in the end, bring us closer to Him.  I don't think it will be easy, nor do I expect it to be painless.  But, any change which creates a deeper relationship with our Father, I can fully embrace.

I'm ready to go with the flow.

To take those first tentative steps down a brand new path.

To exit my comfort zone.

To let go and let God . . .

~

When has a change which disrupted your life turned out to be exactly what you needed?

Prayer:  Father, we so resist change in our lives, but we know it comes at us continually.  Let us have open minds and patient hearts when we find changes challenging and uncomfortable.  May we continue to grow in our relationship with You.  In Jesus' name, amen.


Friday, July 4, 2014

I Sowwy, Gammie!



Luke 17:4
"Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, 'I repent,' you must forgive them."

My granddaughter, Virginia Rose, spends Wednesday of last week with me.  Danny is at work in Atlanta, so it is just the two of us.  I'm so happy to see her and am looking forward to a day of fun and games.

To my surprise, Virginia finds a small, green, hard-rubber ball on our living room rug.  "Look, Gammie!"  she exclaims, all smiles as she bounces it on the floor, definitely amazed at how high it goes with so little provocation.


"I wonder where that came from?"  I muse as Virginia runs to retrieve her new toy.  "Maybe, it's Giovanni's, but I've never seen it before."  And, since my stepson is at work, there's no way to immediately find out.  "Even if it belongs to Giovanni, I'm sure he wouldn't mind you playing with it."


And, play with it, we do!  I don't want her bouncing it in the living room due to the random chance it could hit the television, so we move to the kitchen, sit on the floor, and gently bounce or simply roll it back and forth.

Then, Virginia pulls out her bag of inventive tricks.  She arches her body like a bridge so I can roll the ball under her where it hits the baseboard and comes careening back to me.  Next, she squats so there is hardly any space for the ball to get through.  Then, its down on the floor again, legs wide, so when the ball reaches her, she can catch it in a scissor snap.  Of course, any time the ball gets past me, Virginia laughs hysterically, jumps up, and dashes away to reclaim it.

Finally, the hardwood floor takes it's toll on my backside.  "Virginia, Gammie needs a break for a few minutes.  Let's go out on the deck and see what the squirrels and birds are up to."

"Okay, Gammie," she says and follows right behind me, green bouncy ball clutched firmly in her chubby little fist.

"Honey," I say when I notice it, "you have to be careful out here with that ball.  Se all the open slats in the deck railings?  It would be so easy for it to go through one of them and get lost in the yard.  After all, it's the same color of our moss and would be so hard to see."

"I be careful," Virginia assures me.

We watch the wildlife in our yard for a few moments, and then sit down on the built-in bench of the deck.  Once again, Virginia wants to play with her ball.  She positions herself so that her back is facing the railing and her legs are in a "V" so she can easily stop the ball when I roll it to her.  But, when she decides to get down from her perch, the inevitable happens.  She attempts to snatch up the ball, but her hand brushes it, accidentally, in the wrong direction.

Down the bench it rolls, through a slat it flies, and into the yard it disappears.  Literally.  Though we search diligently for it, garnering our fair share of bug bites in the process, we cannot find it anywhere.  We have to chalk this one up as a loss.

"Gammie, Giovanni and Papa will be angwy with me.  I lost the ball.  I sowwy, Gammie, I so sowwy."

I smile and give Virginia a reassuring hug.  "They won't be mad at you, honey.  They'll understand you didn't do it on purpose.  Everyone makes mistakes."

Virginia is greatly relieved to hear this.  Within a few moments, she's back to her chipper self, playing with her Crazy Sand as if she hadn't a care in the world.

And, once again, my granddaughter, through her behavior, reminds me of Jesus' teaching about forgiveness.  When Virginia says she's sorry, repents of her action, she needs to know her apology is sincerely accepted.  She needs to understand she is loved for who she is, not what she does or doesn't do.

Isn't that something we all need?  To be forgiven when we genuinely repent of our sins?  To offer that same forgiveness to others when they ask it of us?

Yes!  Seven times in seven days.

And, then some . . .

~

When was the last time you asked for forgiveness or gave forgiveness to someone?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for sending Your precious Son, Christ Jesus, who taught us to love and forgive one another, who paid the ultimate price for our sins, and forgave those who crucified Him even as He hung on the merciless cross.  May we always choose to forgive those who sin against us, even when they neglect to say, "I'm sorry."  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Love You, God!


Virginia Rose showing love to sister, Savannah Jane

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

During the month of May, I see my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, nearly every day during the week.  The reason?  Her baby sister, Savannah Jane, has to stay at the hospital treatments which I recently wrote about here.  Virginia and I have always been close, but during this time period, we truly cement those bonds.  Now that the family is home and together, her mom, my daughter, Sarah, tells me that Virginia asks daily when she can visit with her Gammie.  How sweet is that?

But, what is sweeter still is the heartwarming habit Virginia has picked up.  It's no longer enough to give her Gammie and Papa big hugs to let us know how much she loves us.  She now has to say so, and frequently!

"I love you, Gammie!"

"I love you, too, Virginia!"

Two minutes later:  "I love you, Gammie!"

"I love you more!"

And, on and on this love fest goes until something eventually diverts Virginia's attention and plops her down on a new track.  It isn't long, though, before she's back to declaring her love for me.  I never tire of hearing those words, nor do I tire of responding to them.  And, I'm sure this won't be the last time I say this in a post:  There is something especially precious and preciously special about the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren!

Virginia's verbal declarations of love get me thinking.  We know we love God.  He knows we love Him.  But, how often do we actually tell Him we love Him?  Do we ever declare our love out loud?  Like any parent or grandparent, wouldn't He cherish hearing those words, "I love you, God," once in a while?

After all, God so loved us that He sent His only Son, Christ Jesus, to die for our sins and reconcile us once and for all to our Father in Heaven.  The least we can do is thank Him.

The best we can do is to shout aloud these precious words:  "I love You, God!"

~

How often do you speak the words, "I love You, God!"?

Prayer:  Dear Father, help us to tell You how much we love You each and every day.  Let us become as little children, climbing up into Your lap, giving You a huge hug, and saying, "I love You, God!"  Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Jesus to save us and give us eternal life.  It is in His name we pray.  Amen.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Alpha and Omega


Revelation 1:8
"I am the Alpha and Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

My husband, Danny, loves photography and, in my opinion, is amazingly talented.  He certainly demonstrates his ability when it comes to angle, composition, and artistic doctoring, when necessary, in Photoshop.  We both believe that when Danny uses his camera, he is utilizing one of the wonderful gifts God gave him.  That being said, Danny is always looking for ways to improve the quality of his photos, especially those of wildlife, but just can't bring himself to spend the big bucks demanded by a telephoto lens.  So, imagine his delight when he discovers he can download an EOS remote app to his Iphone!

"This is just so awesome!"  he says.  "I can program my camera to sync with the device on my phone, set my camera on the tripod, and watch from our deck for that perfect shot.  It's 'click,' and I've got that bird or squirrel.  No need for a blind or a humongous lens now!"

I'm at once stunned and humbled.  Being from the generation which recalls having only three channels on the television, dial-up phones, and record players, I stand in awe of today's technologies.  And, I can't believe how fast they develop and change, sometimes in a matter of months.  If I didn't live in a household with two techno-geeks, I know I couldn't manage to keep my computer running as efficiently and effectively as it does.  The times when Danny and stepson, Giovanni, have saved the day (and the files) are too numerous to count.  I am so thankful for their help in navigating the ever evolving programs and apps which would stump and frustrate me otherwise.

And, I'm so thrilled with the outcome of Danny's first attempt at long-distance photography, I simply have to share!













"Remember," Danny tells me, "this is the first try.  I'm hoping for better photos in the future.  I'll keep working on it."

Well, I think those featured here are fine as they are, but I love Danny for wanting to improve his talents.  For, when we discover those unique gifts God has given us, we can't help but strive to do His will and use the skills and intellect He has given us to bring more joy to the world in His name.

And, as much as technology exponentially grows, promising to improve our lives and ease our day-to-day situations, I find myself taking an increasing comfort in the sameness of our God.  The One who is and who was and who is to come.

I need His consistency.  I need to know that, no matter what changes I deal with here on earth, He is the same today as He ever was and ever will be.

Eternal.  All powerful.  Faithful.

In the beginning.  In the now.  In the end.

God is . . .

The Almighty.

~

Are you comfortable with new technology, or do you balk when faced with the challenges it brings?

Prayer:  Father God, no matter what changes we encounter on this earthly journey, let us never forget that You are our constant compass, guiding us on paths for Your righteousness' sake.  May we remember it is more important to be up-to-date with You than it is to fun after the latest fad or gadget.  For only You are the constant  One, the Alpha and Omega.  In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

If You Just Smile . . .


Job 29:24
When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.

Last week, our second granddaughter, Savannah Jane begins her eighth week of life.  As many of you are aware, Savannah has to stay in the hospital almost the entire month of May due to a detected reaction she has to an approved medication her mom, my daughter, Sarah, takes while pregnant.  I'm still dumbfounded by the whole debacle on the part of her treating doctors, but I remind myself:  This is water under the bridge.  It doesn't matter.  We have a healthy, happy grandchild, and that's all that counts.

We have a family history of babies smiling earlier than later after they are born.  This website states that most babies smile between six and eight weeks, and explains how you can tell if your baby's smile is a communicative reaction to your immediate attentions.  

My son, Daniel, was almost three weeks late in his delivery, and smiled when he was 19 days old, so that puts him around the six-week mark.  My daughter, Sarah, born on her due date, was smiling at six-weeks, too.  First granddaughter, Virginia Rose smiled at an astonishing five weeks!


My mother tells me I smiled at four weeks.  She even grabbed a doubting neighbor as a witness, and that astounded mother of two agreed wholeheartedly.  I was smiling!  And, have you guessed it?  I still wear a smile, often and readily, these many years later.

On Father's Day, the beginning of her eighth week, little Savannah final smiles for real!  All those endless days of being held and fed by loving nurses and volunteers at the hospital when Mom and Dad can't be there, I believe, delay her hereditary smiling trait.  But, oh, what better Father's Day gift could her daddy, John, receive?



The light of her face was so precious to Sarah and John that, when she smiled at long last, they could scarcely believe it.  Especially from this one whose expression is habitually serious and seems to beg the question, "Why am I here?"



I'm sure Job's friends felt the same way when they witnessed him, in the aftermath of his pain and suffering, still able to smile with a joy so overwhelming they couldn't help but know God's hand was in it all.  Job's friends expected a Grumpy Cat.



What they got was entirely different . . .



It is so easy to smile and be cheerful when all is going well, but to do so when we are facing trials and tribulations?  That's when faith must burst the floodgates.  That's when we must rely upon the Lord to see us through.  Those are the times when we learn we can smile sunshine into the rain  and see God's rainbow of hope.

We smile with the faith of a child . . .



~

Are you wearing a smile and ready to share it with others today?

Prayer:  Father God, we thank You for the smiles You have taught us to share and for the love and kindness they so quickly convey.  May we smile more and grump less, recalling Your promise of salvation through Your Son, Christ Jesus, who, through His sacrifice for our sins, brought us ultimate joy.  It in the precious name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sister Act!



1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

When my daughter, Sarah, first tells us they are expecting a baby girl at the end of April this year, we are elated!  What could be better than having another grandchild to love on?  Honestly, I can't think of anything grander than that!

But, I have concerns about first child and first grandchild, Virginia Rose.  She is the undisputed princess in the Orlando and Kennedy family courts.  Love is lavished upon her freely, and undivided attention toward her rules the day.  Recalling how jealous my son, Daniel, was when I brought his sister home, I worry that Virginia could experience those same sentiments.  Not a pretty picture . . .

So, we begin working on her early.  I order a book which explains all about mama bringing a baby brother or sister into the world, and what the older sibling can expect.  Virginia is, thankfully, enthralled by the whole process, and me and her mom to read the book repeatedly.  We reinforce, too, Virginia's role as the "Big Sister," someone who can aptly assist her mom and dad in caring for the new baby.  She loves to help around the house already, so this is something which really appeals to her.

I'm still skeptical, though.  It is one thing to talk about all these amazing changes about to unfold when little sister is growing in mommy's tummy, but it could be a totally different story when baby actually arrives.  How will Virginia react, I wonder?  Will she be just as excited and joyful in having a sister for real as she is in the anticipation of her birth?  Or, will she be resentful of the attention which was once fully hers, but is now being deflected upon this new and needy, eating, crying, burping, but blessed, mess?

I recall Jesus' admonition to us not to worry (Matthew 6:25), and I hold fast to His promise.  That trust and faith reaps incomparable rewards.















Virginia Rose loves her sister, Savannah Jane, more than I could ever have hoped for or imagined.  She is adamantly protective, actively engaged in entertaining her, and demonstrates toward her sister such unconditional love.

Watching Virginia interact with Savannah brings and entirely new meaning to the scripture at this post's beginning.  I see a child willing to lay down her life, all her interests and needs and wants, in order to serve her sister.  I witness a heart brimming with love and selflessness.

I witness a life filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

It is my prayer that I should live my life so selflessly . . .


~

How have the actions of a child brought you closer to the Kingdom of Heaven?

Prayer:  Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son, Jesus, who laid down His life for us to pay the price for our sins.  Let us, in turn, know what true love is:  Being willing to lay down our own lives for the sake of our brothers and sisters.  No, Lord, it isn't easy, but it is right.  Help us to always do what is pleasing in Your sight.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.