Meditations of my Heart

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sandwiched!


Leviticus 19:3
Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths.  I am the Lord your God.

Ever since my father passes in March of 2014, I call my mother daily.  Five-thirty in the evening is our set time to reconnect, to share news, even though her new hearing aids don't always function the way they should.  It's often me listening to her than she listening to me, but it's all good.

My brother, Bill, calls her later in the evening of each day, too.  So the good news is Mom knows we are faithfully there for her.

Bill and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Can this repetitious, daily routine ever be an inconvenience?  Honestly, yes.  Especially when my husband, Danny, and I are out of town, on vacation, trying our best to leave the cares and concerns of this world behind us if only momentarily.  The call back to reality places that fantasy in check.

Checkmate.

In our sixties, with grown children, grandchildren and aging mothers, Danny and I find ourselves in the proverbial cross-hairs of being there for everybody whenever a need arises.  Following the teachings of God, we're not about to let anyone down, but it can sure wear and tear at the fabric of our souls.

Frankly, not a day goes by when I don't need the reassurance of the Lord that I'm, that we're, doing the right thing in His eyes.  In His Spirit.  In His truth.

There is nothing I would deny my mother, my mother-in-law, my children, my stepsons, my granddaughters.  I am willing to move heaven and earth for their sake at any given moment.

But I have to admit this.  Sometimes it's difficult, not to mention uncomfortable, to be the meat squished between two slices of generational bread.  Could I have mustard, please?  Mayonnaise?  Maybe a pickle?  Anything to make this place in life a bit more palatable?

It's a tough scenario.

One many of us have faced or will face in the future.

We will wish for mayonnaise when we are given mustard.  We will long for white bread when given rye.

But we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, no matter how our meat is dressed, God is in it all.  And because of that knowledge, we will continue to freely offer our sandwich selves up to those whom we love, respect and value beyond measure.

~

Where are you feeling "sandwiched" in your life?

Prayer:  Father, when it comes to helping family, may we never feel the emotion of inconvenience.  Yes, it will be hard at times, but let us recall Your undying love for us, a love that knows neither limits nor bounds.  May we never cease to treasure that love and be quick to offer it to others.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.





Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Future Looks Good To Me


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 a hope and a future."

It seems like only yesterday that our first grandchild, Virginia Rose, is born.



Her July birthday makes her an extremely young entry into kindergarten this past August.  We celebrate her birthday with gifts that will be invaluable during the upcoming school year.






But my heart sinks.  Aches immeasurably.  And the tears flow.

There goes my little soul-mate and heart-throb.  Off to school.  







No more Gammie play time during the week.  No more random sleepovers.  We can only spend time together on weekends and holidays.

Restrictions placed on once-cherished freedoms.

And I can't begin to tell you how much I pray for my dear Virginia in this monumental transition in her life.

Now we come to the end of the school year.  Virginia's made it through!  The time has come for that all-important graduation from kindergarten, and I am thrilled to be able to attend as my daughter and son-in-law can't make it.

Sitting in a hobbit-friendly chair, surrounded by other expectant parents and grandparents, I eagerly await the program Virginia's class has in store.

I am not disappointed.

First, their teacher, Mrs. L., leads the children in several songs that show off the skills they've learned during the year.  I don't think there is anything more wonderful than wee voices raised in song!

Next, it's time to hand out the diplomas.  With the strains of Pomp and Circumstance filling the room, Mrs. L., calls each student alphabetically by their first names to receive their certificate of promotion.  I figure that Virginia will be the last one called to the front.  Yep!  I'm right!  But it's definitely a moment worth waiting for.









Mrs. L. announces that each child will receive a special award in addition to a diploma.  Oh, no!  Is this going to be like an 'I-come-in-10th-place-but-i-still-get-a-trophy' event?  To my tremendous relief, it isn't!  The students are recognized for a positive character trait, which they have exhibited throughout the school year.  A trait or strength unique to them.

Again, with Virginia being last, I have much time to wonder what her teacher has observed in my sweet granddaughter that stands out for her.

And I conclude that Mrs. L. has excellent judgment.









The kindergarten class closes out the ceremony with a most hopeful and uplifting song, which I have the wherewithal to actually record on my phone.  You can listen and watch here.  As the children sing these lyrics - The future looks good to me!  I'm ready to go!  I'm ready to go! - I can't help but pray that each and every one of these adorable six-year-olds will bless so many as they progress down the road of life.

And that God will fulfill their hopes and unfold for them a future filled with love and grace.


~

Did someone in your family graduate this spring?

Prayer:  Father, because of the love and salvation You have shown us because of the sacrifice of Your Son, Christ Jesus, for our sins, we can face the future boldly and have hope for all our tomorrows.  May we ever give thanks to You for Your boundless grace and mercy.  In Jesus' name, we pray.

Friday, May 20, 2016

See That It Is Good


Genesis 1:20-21
And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky."  So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.  And God saw that it was good.

My husband, Danny, loves photography.  Over the years, he has taken many splendid photos of the birds that frequent our backyard, including these awesome specimens.





But there is one species in particular that he longs to snag in the perfect close up:  The Pileated woodpecker.

These birds tend to be heard before they're seen.  Their deep, hollow pecking at dead wood and their eerie, ear-splitting call guide our eyes toward the lofty heights of the trees.  And even if we spy an elusive Pileated, Danny doesn't have a camera lens powerful enough to render any decent picture.

Imagine Danny's delight when he catches these gems several years back.





Danny figures these may be the best images of this shy bird he'll ever capture.

But he is wrong!

As he is working at his computer, Danny happens to glance out the window.  He can't believe his eyes!  Slowly and stealthily, he reaches for his camera, adjusts the settings, and tip-toes outside to our deck.  And these are the photos he snaps.







Just wow!  This Pileated is so engrossed with the dead log, he isn't even aware of Danny's presence.  Such rare and spectacular moments happening in our own backyard take our breath away and fill us with awe and wonder.

They remind us to open our eyes to see God's hand in all His indescribable creation; to not take even the tiniest bloom or lowly insect for granted.

God's glory, while breathtaking in the Pileated, is nonetheless in every inch of the natural world.  May we seek out signs and miracles of His presence in every living thing.

And see that it is good.

~

What aspect of God's creation makes you particularly aware of His presence?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for the miracles, large and small, spread before us each day.  Let us be aware of Your presence in this marvelous earth You have given to us, and be ever grateful for Your love and mercy.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me


Ephesians 4:26-27
"In your anger do not sin" : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

I write a post for Meditations of My Heart, originally to be shared today.  As I reread it, I know what I'm espousing is true.  There is nothing wrong with the intention and the meaning of the message.

But something is amiss.  I feel uneasy.

I pray about it.  I confide in a fellow blogging friend on the phone about my hesitancy to follow through with the post, even though I have passionate feelings about this topic.  She listens empathetically and promises to pray for discernment from God to make the right decision regarding bringing these words to light.

I reread my post once again, recalling the conversation with my dear friend.

And again, I ask God for help.

It's then I hear, "You wrote this while angry.  You've given the devil his foothold."

What, Lord?  Paying homage to the enemy when all I do is denounce him and his horrid influence upon this world in my words?

Silence.

Convicting silence.

Forgive me, Father, for I have let the sin of anger enter my heart, control my words, and color my perception.

I take a deep breath.  Let it out slowly.  And I feel God's reassurance flow over, around, above, and through me.

In my imagination, I crawl up into HIs lap and lay my head on His chest.  His heart beats with mine.  I am comforted beyond description, beyond reason, and promised that what concerns me now, even in righteous anger, He has already addressed.

It's taken care of.

It is not my worry.

I need not be angry.

I need only to be faithful to the One who freely offers eternal life and forgiveness of sins.

And I need never to let the devil gain a foothold.

With God's help, I will.

~

Have you struggled with feelings of anger about particular situations?  How have you handled those feelings?

Prayer:  Father, there are so many unrighteous and horrendous deeds inspired by the enemy in this world.  It is difficult for Your children to not become angry and want to "do something about it."  Help us to remember that this entire world is ultimately in Your hands, and that we must trust in Your will and Your timing.  When we tempted to become angry, let us pray instead for those who prompt that rage within us, and turn to You for solace, strength and wisdom.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Man of God in the Making


Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came up to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?  Up to seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

There comes a loud knock on our front door.  It is about 7:45 in the evening, and we are expecting no one.  Startled, my husband, Danny, hustles for the door and peers through the peep hole.

It's Frankie.  We haven't seen him in over a year.  And with good reason.

Frankie has been a loyal and close friend to Danny's sons, Giovanni and Nicco; so close, in fact, that he is included on one of our family's vacations to the mountains.  We have wonderful memories of including Frankie on this trip as he is nothing but kind, polite and gracious.  And since that time, we invite him to enjoy many a meal with us, and rejoice that he is holding down a steady and productive job.  He seems to be growing up in a way that would make any parent proud.

But something happens.  Something none of us could ever had imagined.

Frankie finds heroin.

And he is charmed.  Claimed.  Maimed.

Stealing for his habit.  Losing his job.  His girlfriend.  Forfeiting the trust friends once placed in him.

Danny and I are included on that loss-of-trust list.

We pray for Frankie, but warn Giovanni not to allow him back into our house unless he's found help.  Because we all know the devilish havoc drug addiction can play in the minds of otherwise reasonable and caring people.

Danny, upon seeing Frankie's earnest expression and clear gaze through the peep hole, decides to open the door and welcome him in.

He makes the right call.

Once the three of us are together, Frankie begins, "I know I've let y'all down.  I'm here to tell you my story and to ask you for forgiveness for the mistakes I've made in my life.  Spending time in jail and in rehab have been the best things that could ever have happened for me.  I've been clean for six months, and man, have I matured!  I have a good job, a place to live, and I'm trying to reconnect with the people I know cared about me.  You always welcomed me in, and that vacation you took me on?  One of my favorite memories!  I just hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me and give me a second chance."

Without a moment's hesitation, Danny and I embrace Frankie and assure him we are on his side, supporting him completely in this next phase of his improved and improving life.

And we forgive him.

Frankie is visibly relieved.  He then ventures to share that he is searching spiritually, not sure about God, but not willing to dismiss the concept.  We don't judge.  We both remember those days in our own lives, and simply offer to be there for any questions or doubts he might incur.  Frankie hugs us again.

He makes us a promise to call when those questions and doubts arise.

And I think we have a man of God in the making.

~

When has giving/receiving forgiveness made all the difference in your life?

Prayer:  Father, there are so many doubters who want to be believers, so many fallen who wish to be made whole.  Please help us to love them into Your everlasting kingdom.  Let us accept and offer forgiveness gracefully, that all may be healed in Your name.  It is in Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Savannah Jane Turns Two!


Psalm 90:12
Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

We recently celebrate granddaughter, Savannah Jane's, second birthday.  It's difficult to wrap our heads around the fact this little imp (yes, she is the mischievous one) is two!  Of course, big sister, Virginia Rose, gives me my marching orders when it comes to the theme of our celebration.  "Savannah wants a 'Frozen' party, Gammie," she informs me, "and a chocolate cake with orange frosting."

The 'Frozen' decor I have no trouble finding.







But the cake is an entirely different issue.  My week is so jammed-packed, I can't see my way clear to bake one.  "Don't worry about it," my husband, Danny, tells me.  "I'll just pick up a small, decorated cake at the store."

"But that's not what Virginia asked for," I protest.

Danny grins and asks, as if I don't know, "And whose birthday is this?

"You're right," I concede with a sigh.  "I'm sure both girls will like any cake you choose."



Isn't this elegant?  I fall in love with the delicate rose on top.  It's all so dainty and more than fit for a princess!

After a kid-friendly dinner of Danny-made pizza, it's time to open gifts.  We decide to do so before bringing out the cake for two reasons - we need time to digest our food, and the sugar-high guaranteed by ingesting the rich cake is sure to send the girls into an energy overload.

Savannah opens her gifts, not without Virginia's assistance.  Her favorite ones are a box of chubby crayons and a coloring book.  Children her age are so easy to please, aren't they?




At long last, it's birthday cake time!  Daddy and Virginia come to Savannah's aide.  Look at her glowing expression.  It's as luminous as the candles!





Here are the girls enjoying their slices of cake.  Virginia asks for, and gets, the fancy rose in honor of her middle name.








And littlest sister, Alexandra Nancy?  She is simply content to take it all in.





While birthdays are wonderful events to celebrate, especially for the little ones, let us remember that each and every day is cause for rejoicing when our faith and trust are in the Lord.

~

Do you have a favorite birthday memory?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for this life You have given to each of us.  Help us to treasure every day, to number them carefully, and to pray for hearts filled with Your wisdom.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, May 6, 2016

On a Shoestring


Galatians 5:7
You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?

Recently, I purchase a new pair of athletic shoes as my old ones are wearing out.  When I try them on, I realize immediately the comfort and support I'd been missing in all my steps on the treadmill!  Soft, lightweight, and just plain cute, I'm enamored with them.

But there is one problem . . .

The laces are prone to untie themselves.  I kid you not!  It's only slightly aggravating when it happens as I'm tending to chores around the house or shopping for groceries.  But when it happens on the treadmill?  Now that's just downright exasperating!

After all, I'm running walking the good race.  The last thing I want to do is lose my momentum because of a wayward shoestring.  But stop, I must.  Just the thought of tripping is enough of a motivator for me.

And as I repair the damage and get back to my workout, I have a thought.  My errant shoelaces force me to literally stop in my tracks.  They are distractions, for sure.  But what other distractions am I allowing into my day that steer me away from a closer walk with God?  The ones that cut in on me and cause me to veer away from the truth?

Needless to say, I have much to ponder as I cover another mile on the treadmill.

And though I could double-knot the laces to keep them from becoming unraveled, I decide not to.  Why?  Because when I pause to address this issue, I am reminded to assess where I am in that moment.  How has my day's race been so far?  What is God calling me to do?  Am I still on the right path, or have I strayed from His will in what I'm thinking, feeling, and yes, even praying?

So go right ahead, delinquent shoestrings.  Untie yourselves any time you see fit.

Especially, when I need to reevaluate my direction in this good race God wills me to run.

~

How do you handle distractions in your life?

Prayer:  Father, when we become distracted by the things of this world, help us to refocus on You and Your will for us.  Let us obey Your truth, and faithfully run the good race You have set before us.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.