Meditations of my Heart

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.

Friday, October 3, 2014

For God so Loved . . .

Virginia snuggling with her cat, Henry

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 everlasting life.

Recently, I take my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, to Chuck E. Cheese for a special outing.  For those of you unfamiliar with this establishment, it's every kid's paradise, bar none!  There are interactive games, some of which are actually fun for adults, where the better you play, the more tickets you can earn.  Before you depart for the day, those tickets can be traded in for prizes, none of which in my jaded, adult-sized eyes are worth having, but for Virginia, whose eyes are untried and unsullied, they are comparable to a pearl of great price.

Honestly, I'm dreading it.  I hear so many horror stories about the place from other parents and grandparents, I'm not expecting to have a great time.  And, I know better than to eat there since I do like my pizza at least a grade above cardboard.  However, as we visit on a weekday when most children, ages five and up, are in school, there are only a handful of kids, all well behaved, and our visit turns out to be one continuous round of fun and laughter.

Virginia and I play every game appropriate for her age, and many, more than once.  It is so gratifying to see her face light up when strings of tickets pour forth from the slots, especially when this Gammie helps her score higher than she would have on her own.  But, no game, no matter how appealing or tantalizing, can compete with an incomparable visit from Chuck E. Cheese himself!



As you can tell from this somewhat blurry photo (will I ever learn how to use my Iphone?), Virginia is dancing her heart out to Chuck E.'s theme song.  All the children are having a blast, and all, including Virginia, run to hug Chuck E. when the show is over.

After the affection fest, Virginia returns to my side, starry-eyed and grinning ear to ear.  "Chuck E. Cheese loves me," she proclaims.

"Of course, he does, sweetie," I say confidently.  "Chuck E. Cheese loves all the children.  So, does God.  He loves you, too!"

Yes!  Teachable moment!

And, then, right there, another thought . . .

Virginia has no concept of what it is to not feel loved, nor does she see herself as unlovable.  She is worthy to be loved and to love in return.  Her world is that of the little children to whom, Jesus told us, the kingdom of heaven belongs.

Innocent.  Accepting.  Trusting.  Faithful.

That's how God wants us, the ones with jaded and adult-sized eyes, to come to Him.

As a little child knowing she is loved.  He is loved.

Loved beyond measure by this omnipotent God who so loved the world, He gave His Son so that we can be called His children and heirs.

We are His.

We are loved.

That is sufficient.

~

Have you ever thought you were not loved or lovable?  How does knowing how much your Father in heaven loves you change your perspective?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your precious Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and give eternal life to all who believe in Him.  May we always know and take comfort in Your unending and grace-filled love for us.  Let us dance with abandon to celebrate the joy You constantly give us, and to convey that child-like, heaven-blessed and jubilant attitude to others.  In Jesus' name, amen. 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Best Laid Plans



Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Since most of my book signings have been indoors or at businesses with wide, and typically Southern, porches where I can easily shelter myself and my novels should the weather turn inclement, I am not prepared for last Saturday's unpredictable drizzle at an outdoor fair and market in which I agree to participate.  This is my first "contract" appearance; paying the fee means remaining at the venue from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon.  

Had I checked the forecast?  You bet!  Before doling out the money the week of the fair, and right on up through Saturday morning, I check it.  Partly sunny, it promises.  No chance of rain.

Ha! 

 When the first drops of mist begin to fall, I hastily dry the few droplets collecting on my displayed books, and drape my new and, fortunately, water-resistant table cloth over books, bookmarks, and business cards.  Thankfully, my extra books are sheltered in bags under the table, and would be in jeopardy only if we have a gully-washer.  But, how, I wonder, will the rainy weather dampen attendance at the fair?  How in the world can I even sell the books to the brave souls who do show up if no one can even view them?

A women selling Avon products is two spaces away from me.  We chat congenially before the rain starts.  I tell her about my novels, and she shares how she recently moved here from California, and is back in the Avon business after taking a ten year hiatus.  She introduces herself as Cheri, and I immediately am drawn to her bright smile and positive attitude.  I know Cheri will be a terrific neighbor for the hours stretching before us.  I'm feeling blessed.

Little do I realize just what a blessing she will be!  When it's obvious the sprinkles aren't going to abate any time soon (oh, and it's cold, too, and I neglected to bring my jacket), Cheri, who is safely protected underneath a tent, calls out, "Martha!  Grab your books and share my table.  I don't need all this room."

"You mean it?  Really?  You are a lifesaver, Cheri!"

"Isn't that what we're supposed to do as Christians?  Help each other out?"

"You are absolutely right about that," I say as I hastily begin to gather my wares and lay out my display in an abbreviated fashion on the half of the table she has generously cleared for me.  "I just don't get this weather.  If I'd suspected they'd be the slightest chance of rain, I'd never have planned on being here today."

"You know," Cheri wisely observes, "we can plan all we want, but God has the final say.  I think this rain today is a reminder to us that He has the best laid plans, whether we think they suit our needs or not."

And, guess what?  Because the Lord sent the rain, not only do Cheri and I have a spectacular day together, but I leave there in the afternoon knowing I've found a new friend whom I feel I've known my entire life.  What greater blessing could there be?

~

Have you endured times when things looked bleak, yet God turned them into blessings?

Prayer:  Father, may we always trust in Your perfect and best laid plans for our lives.  When situations appear hopeless in the moment, may we turn to You in prayer for guidance and peace, knowing You have promised to give us hope and a future.  In Jesus' name, amen.


Friday, September 26, 2014

God's Perfect Faithfulness


Isaiah 25:1
Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

I'm inching closer to finishing and adding the last touches on the first novel in the new Adventures in The Glade series, one which will continue the story of Davy and the Old Ones, along with his family and friends from the original Glade Series.  This is no sauntering nor casual stroll through the park for me.  With all senses in full gear, I tackle these words I've written with fresh awareness and judicious criticism.  There is no room for the mediocre when God's message requires revelation and inspiration.  I am trusting in Him to both guide and provide.

Throughout this process, I've become so acutely aware of God's perfect faithfulness.  Not once has He let me down.  Oh, to be sure, there are passages with which I've struggled to reconstruct, or to find the exact words which communicate the message I intend, but it isn't long before I hear His voice, measured and clear, pushing my fingers to the keys and producing the writing He has envisioned all along.

Planned long ago . . .

Do I understand?

No.

Do I accept?

Yes.

How could I do otherwise?

God has graced me with the talent and passion for writing, to create stories which honor and glorify Him.  I give thanks every single day for this gift, and pray to use it wisely and well.  That being said, I'm back in the blogging business, my friends.  You can now anticipate regular posts every Tuesday and Friday here at Meditations of My Heart.  And, I'm returning to it fresh, recharged and ready to go.  To reflect here upon God's Word and, I hope, offer you some meaningful inspiration for your day.

Blessings to all of you!

~

Are you pursuing your passion in life?  How does God assure you He is in it all?

Prayer:  Father, may we exalt You and praise Your name each and every day.  Let us trust in Your perfect faithfulness, knowing the wonderful things you have prepared for our lives were planned long ago.  May all that we think, do or say be to Your honor and glory.  Amen.