Meditations of my Heart

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Welcome, Alexandra Nancy!


Psalm 37:25-26
I was young and now I'm old,
yet I've never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging for bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.

My husband, Danny, and I are blessed last week by the safe and healthy arrival of our third granddaughter, Alexandra Nancy (Nancy is in honor of my mother).  What a beauty she is!




While Mom, Sarah, and Dad, John, are at the hospital for what turned out to be quite a lengthy labor, we keep both Virginia Rose and Savannah Jane for them.  Believe it or not, it is the first time we've had Savannah with us without her parents in tow.  Remarkably, she doesn't fuss a bit!





Virginia helps a lot with her little sister, too, for which I am so grateful, but with Savannah loving to climb anything and everything, I still have my hands full.  So full, that picking up toys and straightening up is a constant challenge.  There are times when our living room and dining room look anything but organized and clutter-free.

Second day with Virginia as she creates with building blocks.

The chaos that is our kitchen table.

Imagine all these toys spread out across the floor!!!

And Danny and I, though we enjoy every precious moment with our granddaughters, are both worn out after one day of having two girls, and then having Virginia for a full second day.  Stories, games, cartoons, music, drawing, singing, dancing - whew!  As I write this, I'm still feeling as though I've had intimate contact with a Mack truck, and as a result, I have a fresh appreciation as to why God created us to have children when we are young.  

Everyone is at home now, and big sister, Virginia, is getting better acquainted with our entire family's latest blessing!



~
Who or what has blessed you recently?

Father, thank You for sending us precious children like Alexandra Nancy who bless our lives with joy and goodness.  Bless all Your children, no matter what their age, and enfold them in Your arms of mercy and love.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What If . . . ?


Matthew 14:27-31
But Jesus immediately said to them, "Take courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

Takes real courage to step over the side of the boat, doesn't it?  Common sense tells you that you are going down.  Unless, of course, your eyes are on Jesus. ~Mike Fisk at Built with Grace 

Doubts.  Fears.  Worries.  We all entertain them from time to time, even though they are unwanted guests in our minds.  I call them "what-ifs."

What if I don't get the job?  What if she doesn't accept my apology?  What if my child gets a poor grade?  What if I'm late for my appointment?  What if my boss in in a bad mood today?

Doubts.  Fears.  Worries.  Suppositions that creep into our thoughts and steal our joy.  Anxieties that take our eyes off Jesus, leaving us to lead a life of fear instead of faith.

Davy, the main protagonist in The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade, suffers with bouts of the "what-ifs" as he wrestles with the many problems plaguing the future of his beloved friends, the Old Ones.  His mother, Kate, and stepfather, Jim, do their best in several different scenarios in the third novel in Adventures in The Glade, Revelation, to persuade Davy that such thinking is neither productive nor helpful.  The following scene takes place the night before the Old Ones' plan to save The Glade will be revealed to an unsuspecting world.

Davy emerged from the bathroom clean and ready for bed.  Grandma and Grandpa had already departed for the Fairchild's, and only Mom and Jim were sitting at the kitchen table.  "Where's Anna?"  Davy asked.

"In her bed," Mom replied.  "Poor child fell asleep before we could even finish our prayers."

"I hope I fall asleep that quickly tonight," Davy said wistfully as he sat down across from Mom and Jim.

Jim's brow furrowed.  "Are you still worried about tomorrow, son?"

"Yes, sir," Davy admitted.  "We stayed so busy today, I really didn't think about the awful dream I had last night, but now that it's close to bedtime, I'm afraid I'll dream it all over again."

Mom reached across the table to lay her hand on his.  "Davy," she said gently, "how many times in your life have you had the same dream twice?"

Davy thought for a moment before he answered.  "I don't think I've ever had the same dream twice," he confessed, "but that doesn't mean it won't happen."

"Honey, we've talked about those 'what-ifs' before, haven't we?"  Mom asked.  "Take it from a recovering worrywart:  They will only stress you out over something which will more than likely never happen.  What good is that?"

"I know you're right, Mom," Davy said with a sigh, "but can I ask you both a favor?"

"Sure.  Anything for you, son," Jim said.

"When we finish the prayers, could you stay out on the porch with me until you're sure I'm asleep?"

"We'd be happy to, honey," Mom reassured him.  "Speaking of bedtime and prayers, I think it's past time you headed in that very direction."

~

When the "what-ifs" sneak into your mind, do you sink under their weight, or do you turn your eyes to Jesus and allow Him to keep you afloat?

Prayer:  Father, give us the courage to step over the side of the boat and walk with You.  Take away the "what-ifs" from our minds and hearts, and help us to focus upon Jesus who is mighty to save.  It is in His name, we pray.  Amen.

Meditations of My Heart will be on hiatus for two weeks as I will concentrating of the final edit of Revelation which needs to be at the publisher no later than July 31.  In the meantime, may God keep and bless each and every one of you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Your Grace is Sufficient



2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me.  Of course it was not my wholeness, but Christ's that made the difference. ~Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place

Inspired by a fellowship of Christian bloggers whom I follow, I ordered the classic book, The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom.  These bloggers are participating in timed-release reflections upon the most inspiring content of this beloved memoir.  I have two confessions to make:  First, I couldn't put the book down once I started reading it, and secondly, I know I'm way ahead of them in headlining the quote above.  But it's all about forgiveness, is it not?  And knowing them, their forgiveness will be graciously given.

When I read these words penned by Corrie, a passage from my soon to be released novel, Redemption, leaped out at me, words spoken by Reverend, True Owl of the Old Ones.  He has overcome times of trial and times of temptation, yet still, as we all do, he stumbles and falls, forgetting that the Creator is the only One who can truly heal.

As Scout and Sharp-eyes told Reverend about his encounter with a dying Ronnie on the hillside, the owl shook his head morosely, and a tear escaped down his feathered cheek.  "Pride," he said.  "The worst of sins, and I stand guilty as charged.  I thought I could do something to help, thought I was powerful enough in and of myself to succeed in what I attempted."  He took a deep breath and continued.  "You would think after all my many, countless years as an Old One that I would have known better.  There is nothing outside of our Creator which can be done against such evil.  How could I have forgotten?"

How do any of us, at any time and place, forget?

How do any of us, at any time and place, forge ahead in our blind conviction that we are enough in the moment?  That we can do it all?

The truth?  We can't!

It is only Christ who makes the difference.

May we all remember that God's grace is sufficient.

May we leave it, gladly and gratefully, at that.

~
Have you had moments in your life where you have second-guessed God, thinking your solutions were the answer to a problem?

Prayer:  Father, may You use our weaknesses to perfect Your strength in us.  We cannot be transformed without Your grace.  Let us always know this, and turn to You at every moment in our lives, for Your grace is sufficient.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


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.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook recently learned that I'm about to be a Gammie again.  My daughter, Sarah, and son-in-law, John, are expecting their third little girl to arrive around July 21st, which is, coincidentally, Virginia Rose's fifth birthday!  As you can imagine, we are all excited about the new baby, and as I observe my two granddaughters at a recent supper gathering, noting how different they are from one another, I'm left to wonder who this new little girl will resemble?

Virginia Rose definitely takes more after Dad than her Mom, which is not a bad thing in the least.




But Savannah Jane is definitely her mother's child, even from the beginning.  Just look at these photos of Sarah and Savannah taken right after each was born.





Pretty amazing resemblance, don't you think?  And that "look" has continued as Savannah has grown older.  There are countless times I'll look at her and see my once teeny-tiny girl in her demeanor and and expressions.  Savannah is also much more reserved than the always outgoing Virginia, and is just like her mother in that respect, too.







Yes, my granddaughters are so different from one another, but each is fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.  Each has her own gifts, temperament and style, but all are woven perfectly together to make them the one-of-a-kind individuals they are.

And I know full well, I am one blessed Gammie!

~

Do you take after your mother or father, or are you a blend of both?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for creating us, for loving us, and for making us each unique.  Let us love one another and celebrate our differences rather than letting them come between us, remembering that each and every one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Lamb of God


John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Several weeks ago, my husband, Danny, and I are in Costco to purchase some routine items such as coffee and paper towels.  He decides, since we are already here, to peruse the meat section to see if he can find a bargain on items we usually purchase at our local Publix.  To his surprise, and mine, Danny returns to our cart carrying an item in which we've never once indulged.

"Look at this, Martha!"  Danny declares excitedly.  "It's boneless leg of lamb!  Costs a fortune at Publix, but what a deal I found here."

"You've never cooked one of those before, have you?"  I ask hesitantly, still thinking the lamb is on the pricey side.

"No, but there's a first time for everything," Danny assures me.  "If I do some research on the Internet, I know I can roast this lamb to perfection.  I can't walk away from this.  It's practically a steal!"

So we proceed to the checkout with a new culinary challenge in the offing.  As we head for home, I try to recall anything about the taste of lamb.  I can't.  No memories whatsoever.  I begin to wonder if I've ever tried it.  But when I place the first succulent and aromatic morsel into my mouth, I know I've never had it; I've never tasted anything more delectable and pleasing to the palate.  Chef Danny has, once again, outdone himself!

As I savor each bite of the lamb, I am suddenly made aware of why the lamb, young and sweet and tender, was the sacrifice of choice in the ancient Jewish tradition.  It stands head and shoulders above any other meat one could consume.  And if it so pleasing to man, it stands to reason that people assumed it would be just as pleasing to God.

And I am reminded, too, of the Last Supper.  This is my body . . .This is my blood . . . Do this in remembrance of me.  Jesus, who understood every facet of our human nature, associated His sacrifice for us with our most basic needs:  food and drink.  Physical manifestations of His spiritual grace.  Daily reminders of His presence with us.  That we might share in communion with Him at every meal.

The leg of lamb?  Expensive!

The Lamb of God?  Priceless!

~
Is it your tradition to say a blessing at every meal?

Prayer:  Father, let us give thanks for the nourishment You provide for us, recalling Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples.  Make us ever mindful of Christ's sacrifice for our sins that we might live reconciled to You.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Wind Blows



John 3:8
"The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with the Spirit."

Nine precious lives
Lives devoted to God
Taken by a madman
In the midst of their prayers
The wind blows wherever it pleases
Over a memorial
Flag flies in honor
Letting the wind set it free
Disgraced now by a madman.
The wind blows wherever it pleases
Take it down!  Take it down!
You will care!  Take it down!
We will shout you down!
The wind blows wherever it pleases
But you cannot tell
From where the wind is coming
From where it's going
Unless you're grounded
The wind blows wherever it pleases.
Born in Spirit
Born again
And borne on the wings of eagles
Souls ascend
The wind blows wherever it pleases

Prayer:  Father, it is our prayer today that Your grace and unfailing love be with those grieving the loss of these dear souls in Charleston, South Carolina.  What a blessing it must be to You to witness this entire community united in love for the hurting families in the wake of this tragedy.  May we all realize we are one body, unified by Your perfect Son, Christ Jesus, and treat each other always with the same love You show to us.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

For It Is Not Me Speaking


Mark 3:13:11
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

As those of you who regularly follow Meditations of My Heart already know, I submitted my second book in Adventures in The Glade to my publisher earlier this month.  The ending of Redemption, while seamlessly suited, is a sad one, so unlike previous novel endings which are either upbeat or cliff-hangers.  I think as I bundle the book and send it to my publisher, why not?  Why not break the rules you inadvertently set for yourself?  What's wrong with a not-so-happy ending?  After all, real life isn't about happily ever after, is it?

But over the next several days, my mind drifts back to the book.  To the ending.  I try to shake the feeling of uncertainty I have, but it refuses to be banished.  Instead, it grows, little by little, until it finally manifests into a restlessness which drives me back to the hard-copy manuscript lying on my desk.

I peruse the ending chapter of Redemption and the beginning paragraphs of the sequel, Revelation.  Then it hits.  Hard!  A bolt from the blue!  "I've got it!  I've got it!"  I shout to my husband, Danny, as I careen toward my computer.  "I know the ending Redemption should have!"

I pull up Word, and in a matter of minutes, write this:

 Davy lay restlessly upon his cot.  Visions of tomorrow with the promised river ride kept sleep at bay.  Those first glimpses of the Nantahala River played like a beloved song in his mind, calling to him, beckoning him to be one with the rolling rapids.  He felt something inexpressible was about to happen, but he could not fathom what that might be.  The feeling, both exciting and hopeful, remained elusive and indefinable.

Davy purposely turned his eyes toward the stars twinkling through the towering oaks.  What is it, Lord?  What will I find?  What will I know?  The stars winked their comforting acknowledgments, but offered no answers.  I'll find out tomorrow.  Racer will be with me then.  I'll find out tomorrow . . . 

I stare at these words, consumed by awe.  For once again, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to pay me an inspirational visit.  Of that, I am absolutely confident.  So much so, in fact, I do something I rarely, if ever, do.  I turn right around and send this addendum to my publisher.

No edits.

No changes.

Just.  As.  It.  Is.

For it is not me speaking.

It is the Holy Spirit.

~

Have you had an experience where you knew for certain the Holy Spirit was speaking to/through you?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who comforts, leads, and guides us in Your perfect will for our lives.  May we be ever open to allowing the Holy Spirit to move in us and through us to Your honor and glory.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.