Meditations of my Heart

Friday, May 22, 2015

In His Image


Genesis 1: 26-27
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

For every work of creation is threefold, an earthly trinity to match the heavenly.
First, there is the Creative Idea, passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning:  and this is the image of the Father.
Second, there is the Creative Energy begotten of that idea, working in time from beginning to the end, with sweat and passion, being incarnate in the bonds of matter:  and this is the image of the Word.
Third, there is the Creative Power, the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul:  and this is the image of the indwelling Spirit. 
~Dorothy L. Sayers - The Mind of the Maker


"Let us . . ."


Here in Genesis, at the beginning, the very beginning of all human life and consciousness, the Trinity is revealed.  And as I enter the final editing stages of the second novel in Adventures in The Glade, I cannot agree more with Dorothy Sayers' summation of the process.  I can only speak from a writer's perspective, though I would love hearing from those of you who create anything and everything from original art, music, recipes, clothing designs, you name it!

The Creative Idea:  When the idea for The Glade Series begins to gel in my mind, I know the whole story.  I know where I want to go with it and where I wish it to end.  My outline is etched in both head and heart.  Do I have every detail mapped out?  Not by a long shot!  That's where the second part of the earthly trinity comes into play.

The Creative Energy:  Sweat and passion?  Oh, dear Lord, how I can identify with these words!  While it is ever a joy to write, these novel encourage me to work harder at them than at anything else I have ever pursued in my life, and to work with an unbridled passion.  I want my words, more than anything, to reflect the inspiration I daily feel from God.  In this process, characters take unexpected shapes, and scenarios crop up which move the story along, but which I could never have predicted happening, and wouldn't have, if I only allowed the limits of my human brain to guide the tale.  I long for my words to speak for and attest to His Word.

The Creative Power:  It is when I write that I can say, unequivocally, I feel closest to God through His Holy Spirit.  I feel His presence moving through me and in me, inspiring, leading, guiding.  It is His energy that transforms would-be static characters into "lively soul(s)" dancing on the pages.  If I had ever harbored any doubts about the potency and authority of the third person of the Trinity, the act of writing has dispelled them all.

We are all made in the image and likeness of God.  And I believe we are never closer to Him, the Creator of all things, than when we're engaged in the creative process.

~
What is your take on the process of human creativity being threefold, "an earthly trinity to match the heavenly"?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for every creative gift You have given us.  May we faithfully use those gifts to honor and glorify You, our Creator, Christ Jesus, the Word and our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Comforter.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quite Simple



Micah 6:8
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple:  Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously -
take God seriously.  (MSG)

Each time I autograph one of my novels, I write not only my name, but also the inscription Micah 6:8.  Why?  There are three reasons:
  • I want the reader to know my books are biblically-themed.
  • I hope the unchurched will be curious enough about what this verse contains to open a Bible (maybe for the first time in their lives) and be inspired to read more, and to be led to the Lord.
  • Micah 6:8 is my "life verse."
What the prophet is saying here sums up in a nutshell what living the Christian life should look like:  Love your neighbor as yourself; show mercy as God has shown you mercy, and most importantly, place God first in your life.  And it foreshadows perfectly the lessons Jesus would teach His disciples, lessons which we, as Christians today, still follow.  As Jesus reiterated anew:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27)

Straightforward.

Unencumbered.

Uncomplicated.

Quite simple, isn't it?

~

Do you have a "life verse"?  Please share in the comments.

Prayer:  Father, let us remember daily in our hearts and minds the Great Commandments Christ Jesus has given to us.  May our words and actions always reflect Your endless love and grace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, May 8, 2015

For the Least of These


Matthew 25:40
"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

On the days my husband, Danny, works at his office in downtown Atlanta, he always takes the commuter bus from our local park/ride.  This Wednesday past, as the bus approaches his stop, Danny notices an elderly man in a wheelchair feebly wending his way through the crosswalk to reach the other side of the street.  The poor fellow isn't half way there before the light changes to green and car drivers, stressed by the rush hour commute, honk their rude protests at this hapless and helpless man who can't manage to move any faster.

Before Danny departs the bus, he sees that the man has reached the curb and has landed his wheelchair there, but is unable to conquer it in order to reach the McDonald's which appears to be his destination.  Danny watches in disbelief as passerby after passerby witnesses this man's plight, yet ignores it, choosing to do nothing but pursue the goal of arriving to work on time.

Danny is determined to set things to right from the first glance of this older, grey-haired man.  He carefully crosses the street and approaches him confidently.  "It looks like you could use some help," he says with a smile.

"I sure could, " the man says gratefully.  "I'll take your bag if it will make it easier for you; put your gym bag in my lap with my belongings."

Danny gladly does so and heaves the front wheels of the chair onto the crosswalk with difficulty, coaxing the rear ones to follow.  "Are you headed for McDonald's?" Danny inquires.  

"Yes, do you have  a few dollars?" 

"I think I have five, would that help?" 

"Absolutely; I would really love some breakfast."  

"I'll take care of you then," Danny says.

"I sure would appreciate that," the man admits, "but don't feel you have to."

"I don't have to," Danny assures him.  "I want to."

Danny orders a generous platter of a steak and egg biscuit, hash browns, and coffee for the elderly gentleman whom he notes struggles painfully to remove himself from his wheelchair to establish his body less than comfortably onto a seat at a booth. It is only when Danny returns to the table with feast in hand that he notices the man has several teeth missing; teeth necessary for chewing the steak properly. He suffers a momentary pang of remorse for not having been more observant.  The gentleman, as he further notes, also wears a wrist band from the hospital from which he was no doubt just released, but is gratified to see how  he graciously dives into the hash browns.

"Thank you so much," the man says, his mouth full,  and although hesitant for a moment, bows his head and utters a prayer before taking another bite.  After he's eaten for a bit, the man reaches into his rucksack.  "I'd like to give you something for your trouble," he tells Danny, and pulls out a fresh, clean pair of athletic socks from a just opened bag.  Danny is reluctant to take anything from this poor man, but realizes this gesture means the world to him.  He accepts the socks with a heart-felt "thank you" and then excuses himself as he is already late for work.

When he arrives at his cubicle, Danny removes the new socks from a side pocket on his gym bag and places them in a desk drawer.  He works until lunch time when he routinely heads for the gym.  In the locker room, Danny opens his gym bag only to discover that he has forgotten to pack any athletic socks for his workout.  Instantly, he recalls the old man's gift; if only he had kept those socks in the gym bag pocket!

Danny has to smile.  That gift offered to him this morning which seemed so insignificant at the time now looms large and meaningfully.  The mystery man had held his bag and God had placed this gift before him to satisfy a need unknown. Danny is reminded that God provides always, even when we fail, at times, to see His hand at work in our lives.

And it is sometimes, in the least of these acts of kindness, when God's light and love shine the brightest.


~

Have you ever had an experience similar to Danny's?  Please share in the comments!

Prayer:  Father, let us remember that there is no act of kindness too small that it cannot reflect Your amazing love and generosity.  May we do to others, even the seemingly least of these, as we would have them do to us.  Bless that elder gentleman, surround him with Your love, and grant him Your peace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Meditations of My Heart will be on hiatus next week.  I hope to see you back here on Tuesday, May 19, for the next post.  God bless and Happy Mothers' Day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Which Pan Are You?


2 Peter 1:5-9
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

My husband, Danny, being the foremost cook in our household, has been gravitating toward cast iron pans in lieu of Teflon and stainless steel ones.  Mind you, this has not been a knee-jerk transformation; he has given the choice of pans much thought, and the changes to our kitchen hardware have gradually evolved over the last two years.

As the chief "bottle washer" in the "Orlando Cafe," the name we fondly give our kitchen, any pan that doesn't give me fits, i.e., overnight soaking or a strenuous scouring with Brillo to restore it to a healthy state of cleanliness and shine, is all right by me.  Our one remaining Teflon pan, the one I always default to when frying bacon, is, by far, the easiest one to clean.  But if you're thinking stainless steel is the next contestant in the ease department, think again!  Those rascals cling to residual oils and food particles as if they were hard-earned trophies from the culinary contests they have just been subjected to.  One time, I recall, a stainless pan is rendered so indelibly scarred by its encounter with cooking oil, two days of soaking and scrubbing fail to restore it.  Consequently, this most unfortunate of pans meets its demise in the yawning jaws of the trash bin.

Gun-shy me!  I think, when Danny brings the first cast iron pan into our house, the cleaning nightmare will continue.  Boy, do I have egg on my face!  (Thank goodness, I clean up pretty well.)  It's utter simplicity!  Steaming hot water, a minimal effort with a Scotch-Brite scouring pad, rinse, towel-dry, and season with cooking oil:  I find my bliss!

~

In the Scripture cited above, Peter is urging and encouraging the followers of The Way to develop and maintain the qualities that will produce good fruit for Christ's kingdom.  If we practice adding these things to our lives on a daily basis, we are like the Teflon or cast iron pans:  Easy to be set to rights should we go astray, because we are aware we have been cleansed of our past sins and know Jesus will be faithful to forgive us anew.  But those who choose not to nurture these qualities are like the stainless steel pans:  Clinging to the stained remnants of sin which mar and disfigure.  Nearsighted and blind, not seeing that Christ's forgiveness, once and for all, has washed and scrubbed them clean.  Hanging on to the sullied past instead of trusting in the bright, sparkling future into which Jesus lovingly invites us.

~

So I ask you, my friends, which pan are you?

Prayer:  Father, work with us through Your Holy Spirit to cultivate and practice the impeccable virtues which St. Peter espouses to help us be the heralds of Your kingdom in this world.  May we never forget that Your beloved Son, Christ Jesus, has forgiven our sins, once and forever, through His sacrifice on the cross.  Let us be farsighted and focused on the eternal life promised to us because we are Your children, reconciled to You through Jesus.  It is in His precious name, we pray.  Amen.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Princesses!



Romans 8:17
Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory.

Last Sunday, we celebrate Savannah Jane's first birthday, and what a festive time it is!







Although Savanna doesn't understand the concept of a birthday just yet, the joy of simply being with family and enjoying some good food is enough for her.



Of course, Virginia Rose grasps the concept of birthday parties and is wholeheartedly into the celebration, especially when it comes to the chocolate birthday cupcakes we have for dessert.



She declares Savannah's birthday to be the "yummiest birthday ever," and raising her sippy cup, says, "A toast to chocolate!"



No, I have no idea where Virginia learned about toasting, but it surely makes for laughter all around!





It goes without saying that Savannah and Virginia are Gammie's and Papa's perfect princesses!

~

As children of God, we are all heirs to the throne of the Almighty where Christ Jesus, the King of Kings, sits at the right hand of the Father.  Does that not make all of us princes and princesses in His sight?  Yes!  We are royalty in His Kingdom.  And as we struggle through sufferings in helping bring God's Kingdom here on earth, let us never forget that we are destined to share in His glory one day in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Princess Martha . . .

I like the sound of that!

~

What would this world look like if we treated everyone we meet as royalty?

Prayer:  Father, let Your Kingdom come, let Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  May we, Your children, remember always that we are princes and princesses in Your precious sight.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

All Done in Love



Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.

Since I don't work outside the home, most of the routine house-cleaning chores fall to me.  Those of you who have followed me here for a while know that, while I love a clean, neat house, I don't greet the necessary tasks like a long lost friend, but I don't perform them grudgingly, either.  Danny works hard to provide for us, and I like him to relax and enjoy his free time as much as he can.  Although, I might add, he will pitch in happily if I need his help.

One of the chores which Danny never touches, though, is making up our bed.  That's 100% my domain.  Last Saturday, I have to leave the house early to attend a women's conference which my friend, Lynne, has hosted for the last four years.  I'm excited about attending as this is my first time going, but the morning does not get off to an auspicious start.  Instead of my phone alarm waking me at a decent hour, the "ding" of Facebook messenger, not once, but thrice, has me tumbling groggily out of bed way before my body is even close to ready.  The annoyance wakes Danny up, too, and he is none too pleased.  Often, if he's awakened in the middle of a sound sleep, it is difficult for him to return to it.  I'm praying, albeit in a grumpy way, that this won't be his fate today.

Luckily, Danny is able to return to the land of dreams, but I'm in a funk that even the strongest coffee can't cure.  So as not to rouse him from slumber, I wait until the last minute to take my shower and dress, as noiselessly as I can, in the dark.  By the time Danny does wake up, I have only moments to dry my hair and go.  Making the bed?  Ha!  I'll just do it when I get back.

But I don't have to.

When I return home in the afternoon, it is all made up, neat as a pin.  The dishes that were in the sink are racked in the dishwasher and the stainless steel sink is scrubbed and polished.  Small things, right?  Not to me!  I am thrilled that Danny cared enough, knowing the rough morning I'd had, to honor me above himself and make my day just that much brighter.

The older I get, the more those little gestures done with great love give me much joy and contentment.  Because, I believe, God's voice is not loudest in the howling wind and the raging tempest, but in the small and simple quiet things of ordinary life.  That's where love is heard.  That's where grace is given.

Those little moments.

Those small gestures.

All done in love.  

~

What about you?  What simple things bring joy to your heart?

Prayer:  Father, may we all be devoted to one another in love.  May we place the needs of others above ourselves.  Let us do that one small thing for someone else today that reflects Your great love.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Celebrate!


Mark 7:27-28
"First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs."
"Lord," she replied, "even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."

My husband, Danny, and I have been feeding birds in our backyard for almost ten years.  Both feeders are "squirrel-buster" models because, as much as I'm partial to my Greys and Racers, I know that a too-accessible feeder would be ravaged in no time.  The birds wouldn't stand a chance!

The squirrels seem content with the "crumbs" as the birds tend to be messy eaters, dropping almost as much seed as they consume, but during this particularly cold winter, I decide my furry friends need a break.  When I go outside to fill the feeders, I also spread generous amounts of sunflower seeds on the ground below them.  It doesn't take long before the area is rife with squirrels as news of the magnanimous repast spreads like wildfire through our woods.  We are continually entertained as we watch the squirrels' territorial spats, frolics, and mad chases up and down the trees closest to the feeders.

However, as time goes by, Danny realizes the high traffic is creating a hazardous situation for his coveted moss around the base of one of those trees.  Just as some of you are partial to smooth, grassy, weed-free lawns, Danny is enamored with his moss, especially since we almost lost it completely in the summer droughts which plagued our region several years ago.  Now that it's thriving once again, Danny wants to encourage its continued growth and doesn't need rowdy, rambunctious squirrels tearing it up as they pursue one another wildly across the yard.







After seeing these photos, can you blame him?

Danny layers mulch thickly beneath the bird feeders and then designs a feasting site for the squirrels to call their own.



So far, this arrangement is working splendidly.  And though a few squirrels still hunker down beneath the feeders, waiting for those delectable crumbs to drop, most are celebrating with a hearty party at the table spread for them.



~

Because our Lord Jesus lived among us, died for our sins, and was risen in glory, we are no longer orphans nor outcasts, destined to only intermittently glean crumbs of God's love and grace.  No!  We are His children.  He invites us with loving and open arms to dine at His table.  So, like the squirrels discovering their special place of honor, see the glorious place He has prepared for you!  Taste of the goodness He freely offers!  Revel in God's gift of freedom and salvation!

Celebrate, child of God!

Celebrate!

Prayer:  Father, we are so grateful that Jesus came to save all sinners, Jews and Gentiles, male and female, slave and free, and offers us eternal life in Him.  May we rest in the knowledge of Your never-ending love for us as Your children and celebrate the wonders of Your mercy and grace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.