Meditations of my Heart

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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Give, and it Will be Given


Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

If you have followed Meditations of My Heart for any length of time, you know that my husband, Danny, is the chef in the household.  Sure, there are times when we have the simplest of meals, but more often than not, Danny always measures out a twist and a turn here and there, transforming an ordinary dining experience into one of extraordinary pleasure.  Let me stop here to share just a few of his enticing dishes.









Is your mouth watering yet?  I'm willing to bet it is!

I am blessed to have a husband in love with cooking (and me), and I'm always thankful that my only duty in all of this is to blissfully enjoy the meals and clean up the pots, pans, dishes, and stove.  What a small price to pay for such delectable fare!  I actually look forward to doing what most perceive as chores considering the epicurean gifts I've been so generously given.

Danny gives.  I give.  Win-win!

When we give our all to God, we will be given much.  He knows the ingredients of our hearts and souls.  He knows the measurements to use which will help us nourish His kingdom.  He presses us down, as Danny pounds out a chicken breast, making us tender and pliable, more prepared to feed other souls with His Word.  God, in His great mercy, shakes us to the very core of our being until we are running over with His love; love pouring, grace-filled, into our laps.

More than we can consume.

More, so that we might freely share His gifts with others.

Measured, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

God transforms us, and we become the feast for a hungry and hurting world.

~

God has laid His heavenly feast before you.  Will you partake?  Will you share?

Prayer:  Father, as we say grace and ask Your blessing over every meal, let us remember those who do not have enough to eat, the souls who suffer physical hunger, and those who may not be hungry in the flesh, but who hunger and thirst to be filled by Your Word.  Bless and keep them all, Lord.  Give them comfort, and help us serve and lead them to You as we pave the way to Your kingdom.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Before the Sun Sets


Psalm 48:14
For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

One of the best perks of staying in a cabin managed by Watershed Cabins in the Nantahalas of North Carolina is being able to reserve an extra night of your stay for half price if no one is arriving there that evening.  For my husband, Danny, and I, that is Friday night, one where the onslaught of weekend vacationers is to be expected.  We only have two cabins above us on our right and one slightly lower on our left, all at a distance which guarantees privacy should any become occupied.  We expect to witness incoming cars filled with guests as the afternoon gives way to evening.

What we don't expect, however, is how many cars wend their luggage-loaded way up the steep, and I mean steep, incline toward this summit only to discover they have made a wrong turn somewhere along the line and are now condemned to retrace their precarious steps down the slippery slope.  Frightening!  Particularly, if one is visiting from the flatlands.  Especially, if one does not have a 4-wheel drive as we are mot fortunate to have in our Subaru.  Indeed, I'm convinced those having to face such obstacles, even if they don't believe in God, must feel moved to pray.

At least this once . . .

"How can they not have been given the right directions?"  I ask Danny.  "Watershed always gives us precise instructions.  They even warned us it would be 'up, up, up' to reach Hawk's Ridge Hideaway.  So 'up, up, up,' I didn't even dare look down into the gorge you so vividly described."

"Not all these cabins up here are managed by Watershed," Danny responds.  "Maybe they are less precise in that department, or these folks simply don't know how to follow a map."

"Well, all I can say is, I feel sorry for them, and I hope they find their way before the sun sets."

I hope they find their way before the sun sets . . .


~

God has a road map for us.  It's called the Holy Bible.  Everything we need to know about our human nature, our destiny, our failures, and our successes can be found in the 66 chapters which comprise it.  No matter where you are in your life right now, the Word can speak to you, personally and presently.  You can learn how to avoid the slippery slopes.  You can go up, up, up to the heights without fear or trepidation, reveling in the mountain top experience.  You can return down, down, down to the valleys and still retain the hope and faith gleaned from your ascendance.

You can face all odds.  You can embrace all circumstances.

For God, our God for ever and ever, guides us even to the end.

~

Will you trust in God to guide you?

Prayer:  Father, today I pray for all those who don't know Your Word and Your promise of salvation.  May they open the Holy Bible, the true road map, and seek Your will and Your ways for their lives.  Give to us the opportunities to share the Good News with others that they may find their way to You before the sun sets.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

God Has Made It All



Psalm 121:1-2
I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from the mountains?  No, my strength comes from God who made heaven and earth and mountains. (The Message)

Five days gloriously spent in the early-spring Nantahala Mountains.  Five days overflowing with blessings in the grandeur.










In the unexpected.









In the smallest, most gentle of reminders.











God has made it all.

He is in it all.

We can see Him in the miraculous works of His hands.

We can rest in the breathtaking beauty of God's creation, knowing His kingdom is nigh.

Knowing we have the keys to that kingdom.

Heirs.

Children.

Beloved.

He calls us to move.

He calls us to love.

May we do both.

Prayer:  Father, thank You for the indescribable gift of Your creation of which you have made us stewards.  May we ever honor that blessing given from the dawn of our time with You.  May we be inspired always by the works of Your hands.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Perfect Plan


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."

My husband, Danny, and I plan our Nantahala Mountain getaways months in advance.  This latest one, a return to Hawk's Ridge Hideaway, is much needed as his work load has been unrelenting and my exertion to complete my novels, demanding.  While we usually do little venturing from our cabin during our vacations, Danny plans an outing for the first full day there.  His idea is to ride across the Smoky Mountains for the Roaring Fork Motor Trail which features enchanting paths for hiking:  Rainbow Falls; Trillium Gap, and The Bullhead.  I'm up for some exercise and sightseeing myself, and readily agree to the destination he has chosen even though it is near Gatlinburg, the hub of Smoky Mountain tourism.  Certainly, we think, the week before spring break in most of the South won't be an issue.

Wrong!  We should have sensed the absurdity of our journey when we made a brief stop along the way so Danny could snap some wide-angle photos of a stream; we encounter, of all unexpected things, a dead trout, caught in a pool, its body at rest despite the currents swirling close by.  Do you see it in this photograph?


Dead.  In the water.  And so are we.

To say Gatlinburg is teeming with people is the understatement of the century.  They swarm along the sidewalks, and when the traffic lights turn, mob the crosswalks, making it impossible for our car to do little more than crawl toward our destination.  By the time Danny and I arrive at the inception of Roaring Fork Motor Trail, our nerves are frazzled and our patience is wearing thin.  We are still hopeful that the only crowd we will encounter here is the one we just left behind.

Hope?  Dashed!

Parking lots for the different trail heads are crammed to capacity.  Cars spill over onto the one-way drive, lining both sides of it.  Again, we creep along, any thought of a peaceful, serene stroll down a wooded pathway vaporizing like mist before the rising sun.

"I'm sorry," Danny says.  "I really wanted us to be able to do something different on this trip, but had I known this place would be packed, I never would have left the cabin.  Let's head back over the Smokys.  Maybe we can find a place to picnic by a stream."

This sounds like a perfect plan to me (as long as we don't see anymore dead trout).  We navigate back through the horrors of Gatlinburg and, finally free of its snares, drive in search of a secluded picnic spot.  Danny spies a pull-off by a stream and swerves into it.  As soon as we exit the car and look over the bank, we know this is the very place we have been looking for.  Not a moment after we settle ourselves on a fallen log by the stream and begin unpacking our lunch, we are ambushed by a family of five.  They clamor loudly down the bank, posing for photos in turn as they stand on a massive boulder.  The father turns to us with a big grin on his face.  "Looks like you two found the perfect place," he shouts over the thundering water.

Perfect.  Until now.

When the family departs at long last, Danny and I look at each other and burst out laughing.  What a nutty day!  What a crazy trip!

"I have a plan for tomorrow," says Danny, still chuckling.

"What's that?"  I ask.

"Stay at the cabin!"


~

As happened with Danny and me that day, any plans we might make can go awry when we least expect it.  But when we know in our hearts that God holds the true plans for our lives, we can face disappointments and tribulations with faith, hope, and yes, even humor.  When have plans you've made gone amiss?  Please share in the comments!

Prayer:  Father, help us to make the best of each day, knowing that whatever happens, You are there to give us hope and a future and You hold the best plans for our lives.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Treasure!


Matthew 6:20
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

My husband, Danny, and I have hosted an Easter egg hunt for our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, since she was a few months shy of turning three.




My!  It's amazing to see how much she's grown in two short years!

Granddaughter, Savannah Jane, will turn one at the end of April, but her mother, Sarah, thinks she should be included in the fun this Easter.  I agree, so I "hide" eggs in our living room well within her reach and hide eggs for real in the yard for Virginia.



Savannah is far more interested in putting the plastic eggs in her teething mouth than she is in looking for them, so Virginia ends up gathering the eggs for her sister to play with.


Savannah has no idea what is inside the egg that makes such a delightful noise when she shakes it.  The egg itself is treasure enough for her.



But Virginia, being older and wiser, knows exactly what's inside her eggs - chocolate treasure!  She is determined to find all seventeen eggs scattered in our yard (We had eighteen, but one of our resident vermin squirrels gnawed through the shell!).










When the Easter egg hunt is over, Virginia helps me open the eggs to remove the mini-Reece's peanut butter cup from each and store them in a plastic bag for safe-keeping.  The candy will go home with her, sweet treats to be doled out judiciously by her parents until one day, the last cup is consumed and the treasure is no more.

~

Where is your treasure stored?

Prayer:  Father, turn our hearts and minds from the treasures of this world which will not last.  Let our focus be upon the everlasting treasure You have stored up for us in Heaven.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Best is Yet to Come


John 12:24
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

We struggle with death and dying.  We want to live.  We want those we love to live.  It's in our nature.  But . . . This is not the end.  It's just the beginning, and the best is yet to come for those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ!  So . . . Even though we are dying, even though those we love are, we must live! ~Dusty Rayburn at Devoted Conversations 

Thursday, March 19th, marked the one year anniversary of my father's passing.  I haven't stopped missing him.  I haven't stopped grieving his loss.  That he was a caring, loving, selfless man who successfully made friends out of would-be enemies during his career speaks volumes to the influence of his Christian upbringing.  Speaks volumes to me today as I try, in my own small way, to encourage and inspire others as he encouraged and inspired me, the daughter always standing in awe of his grace and strength.

I know as I write these words, there are many of you out there who have lost beloved friends and family members.  You miss them every day and long for the reunion in heaven which seems so far away.  Perhaps, like me, you are wishing the years with your loved ones were spent with more care, more attentiveness, and with more thankfulness for their irreplaceable presence.

Because now, they are sorely missed . . . 

I so miss my Daddy.

I long to talk with him as we did before Alzheimer's robbed him of his acumen and wisdom.

I drift upon memories, recollecting the stories he concocted when my brother and I were small, stories which were the catalyst for many of our childhood games.  Stories which, many years later, became the foundation for The Glade Series.

I reminisce about the times I made Dad proud and the times I tried his patience (That was hard to do!).  I remember the so, so many times his accomplishments made my heart swell with pride for him.  And if I close my eyes and sit in silence, I can still hear his gentle voice as if he is right beside me, assuring me that all is well and all will be well.

For as Dusty writes:  This is not the end.  It's just the beginning, and the best is yet to come for those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ!

I miss you, Daddy.

I love you.

And one day, I will see you again.

Because the best is yet to come . . . 

Prayer:  Father, please comfort those who are grieving the loss of a loved one today.  Fill them with Your grace, peace and mercy.  Hold them close in Your loving embrace.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Meditations of My Heart will be on a two-week hiatus beginning next week.  Your prayers are much appreciated as I will attempt to complete my novel sequels during this time.  May God bless you and may your Easter celebration be filled with joy!