Saturday, July 24, 2010

What Would You Have Me Do For You?

Luke 18:40-41 Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to Him; and when he came near, He asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, let me see again."

Day after day, the blind man sits on the same corner near the temple, his alms bowl outstretched in soiled hands, his voice pleading with each passerby to show mercy upon him. He prays for the musical tinkle of coins in his bowl and listens for approaching footfall of human or beast before his cry goes before them. Some days are rewarding, others, barren, when his family comes for him as evening falls to guide him home, and the man acquiesces to their guiding touch, trusting in their love, wishing that he could do more for them.

"If only I had my sight," he says to his little nephew who guides him on this particular evening, "then, I would be of some worth to you and all whom I love."

"Oh, Uncle, you always say that," chides his nephew. "Don't you know that we love you just the way you are?"

"And, for that, I am grateful, dear Jacob, but I have spent so many years in this darkness and have been told by thoughtless many that the sins of my parents caused my blindness, I want only to see to prove that my parents, our lineage, were faithful to God and did nothing that would bring shame upon their household and that we prayed to our God always."

"Is that what you really want, Uncle Nathan, to be able to see again? Wouldn't you rather be rich instead?"

"No, no, for I am rich already in family and in the love of God. I want to see so I can see, and not just imagine, your handsome face, to meet your eyes looking at me, to not depend on the kindness of strangers to make my living, but to be the one who gives kindness to the less fortunate."

Jacob is quiet for several moments as they shuffle along the dusty road and turn down the lane that leads to home, their noses filled with the aromatic scents of evening meals being prepared in the houses they pass.

"Uncle," he asks, "do you think this Jesus that everyone is talking about could heal you? We heard today that He is on His way here tomorrow and should pass right by your regular post. If He comes by, will you ask Him?"

"Jesus, coming here?" Nathan exclaims. "Praise be to God! The Son of David, the Messiah, coming here? Are you sure?"

"As far as I know. I'll get you back to your place extra early tomorrow so you can ask Him to heal you when He passes by."

"Glory be to God! I will ask Him and ask boldly. Surely, the Son of Man will hear my cry. Oh, Jacob, dare I even sleep tonight?"

"It's dark whether you open your eyes or keep them shut. I guess that's up to you."

Nathan throws back his head in a hearty laugh and gives his nephew's hand an affectionate squeeze.

"You just wake me up, Jacob, and make sure I'm there to meet Him."

"I will," the boy giggles, "and, tomorrow, I'll stay with you just to be sure. I want to see this man, Jesus, for myself."

~

If Jesus were to stand before you at this moment and ask, "What would you have me do for you?", what would be your response? I am so envious of the blind man who knew exactly what he wanted without hesitation or second thoughts. Too often, I find myself longing for or asking God for things before I've prayed about them and listened for His answers. I know that it should be His priority list, not mine, His time, not mine, His will, not mine. I can't help but stand in awe of the boldness of this blind man who knew with conviction in his soul what he needed through God's redeeming love. Jesus saw the faith of this man and it was the faith that healed him.

May we, like the blind man, remember that Jesus stands before us, asking constantly, "What would you have me do for you?", and may we, as undeserving but beloved heirs, know that our prayers are answered even when it seems they are not, for our merciful Christ and our loving Father, through the Holy Spirit, are our audience of one.

Luke 18:43 Immediately, he regained his sight and followed Him, glorifying God.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Welcome, Virginia Rose!

Psalm 139:14 - I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I thought nothing could top the birth of my own children, but nothing surpasses the joy of the first grandchild. Virginia Rose entered this world on July 21st at 9:29 a.m. not ten minutes after I let go of my daughter's hand while she endured labor, not called that for nothing! Just being there with her and for her with her husband for two hours before delivery gave me a whole new perspective on birth as both of mine were C-sections, the first, with labor, the second, without. My heart ached for my daughter as she endured the pain that even the epidural could not quell completely. I hid my tears until Danny and I were in the hallway, headed for the waiting room. How could I not be strong for my daughter? How could I not be fearful for her well-being?
We found comfortable chairs in the waiting room, not glad to be planted in front of Regis and Kelly as our minds and hearts were elsewhere and this distraction seemed unreal in the drama of the moment. We talked very little, watching the doors to the labor and delivery ward like eager hawks, anxious for the emergence of John and any news of the new arrival. Danny had only moments before suggested that I might wend my way back to the room when, gloriously, John burst through the doors, waving his camera ecstatically. As we ran to meet him, he shouted, "We have a girl!" As I saw her first on a digital screen, my eyes filled. When, only moments later, I was standing in her presence, I knew I was also in the miraculous presence of God.
I never claimed to have the most beautiful babies in the world; Daniel was overcooked and his head was misshapen, which did correct itself in a short time. Sarah, c-section and no labor, was perfectly formed. Yesterday, I gazed upon a baby who had gone through full delivery and maintained a perfectly round head and was opening her eyes before she was an hour old. I was immediately beside myself at her beauty: her tiny hands and feet with all ten digits in place, her well-developed lungs and vocal chords that wailed in protest at her first bath (we never saw this in the 80s!), her silky skin and blonde fluff of hair, her whiffling breath as she rested, to give Mom a break, in my arms.
As I gazed upon her, I recalled how much I had prayed for this new life and for the well-being of the parents who would be guiding her through the treacheries of this world, and I was overcome with a thankfulness that surpasses words. Virginia came into this world, in the words of Blake, trailing clouds of glory. She has touched all of our hearts and souls with the miracle that she is and recalled to us the miracle each of us is in the sight of God. She is, at this moment, as dependent upon the love and nourishment her parents provide as we should, if we are not already, dependent upon God's love, forgiveness, and grace given freely to us and that sustain our lives.
For, we "are all fearfully and wonderfully made". May we rejoice in the gift of new life and rededicate our lives to the One who makes all things new.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My blog seems not to favor paragraph formats when left to tis own

Starting Over

Psalm 13: 5 - But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

Hindsight is 20/20 so the saying goes, and I found that to be more than true this week. The same day that I received a rejection letter from Peachtree Publishers about my novel, I was guided to a post that cautioned against ever sending an unrepresented manuscript to any publisher as it, most likely, would not even be considered. Although the letter was polite and assured me that my manuscript had been read in full, I did not trust this in the least. The blogs of literary agents read this week, however, have clued me into the mire that is necessary to slog through in order to convince someone that a book is worthy of publication. I would rather spend my days writing than selling my creation but, it seems, I must don another hat in order to make this dream come true.
Today, I began revising my first novel in earnest. To my surprise and, at times, chagrin, I realized that, yes, there were phrases that needed changes, passages that begged more explanation, and page numbers that had somehow forgotten how to align themselves. This was, indeed, a humbling experience, but one replete with the opportunity to be the writer that God expects me to be. I was gently reminded that, with the Lord, there are no shortcuts, no fairy-tale answers. It is in humility that we walk with Him and delight in and grow with His wondrous gifts that He has given to us. Micah 6:8, a verse on my Facebook page and one that should be emblazoned upon my heart, reads: He has shown you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Can anything more be asked of us? Indeed, are we capable of doing, even in our most resplendent of times, any more than these? He has acted justly toward me, pointing me in the right direction; He has shown mercy, forgiving me of all bad thoughts, words, attitudes for which I have asked forgiveness; He has humbled me by sending me back to the first novel to be a "critic from the outside, looking in". Hey, when you start thinking you're the cat's meow, you need to look around for the litter box! I know, for a certainty, that I am now cleaning out that litter box with a renewed faith.
My gift for writing is nothing less than a gift from God. In considering every talent in which God seeks to bless us, each takes endless hours of practice and commitment, toil and ardor, to reach that God-given goal. God never promises that this life will be easy, but Jesus assures us that His yoke is light and that we can cast all cares upon Him. What an incredible promise this is! When I sat down to write last summer, the only free time I had when not teaching, I would preface, verbally, each session with "How would you have me write today, Lord?" In the two summers preceding that, I wrote, but did not, necessarily, call upon Him for help. These are the chapters I am so engaged in redeeming at the moment. I do not expect much revision from the point when I allowed the Lord to "take the wheel", to be my guide, to help me fulfill the plans He has for me. Humbling myself to His will, I know, will make all the difference.
How have you humbled yourself unto the Lord today? How will what you do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next reveal to those around you the light of the Way? Your burden may be heavy, but His is light. Trust in the Lord's unfailing love.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Musical Musings

Psalm 13:6 - I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me.

I cannot remember a time when I didn't have music in my life. There is a snapshot of me on my first birthday, standing up in my playpen and dancing to "All Shook Up" by the one and only Elvis. As children, my brother and I would listen endlessly to classical music or, the favorite folk group of the sixties, Peter, Paul and Mary. At age 8, I began learning to play the ukulele and by 10, was playing guitar thanks to the many music lessons, including classical, for which my parents so graciously paid. By the time I was in my teens, the guitar, and the songs I sang, were my best friends.
Of course, at that time in my life, my dream was to become a famous musician. Well, those of you who are reading this blog know that didn't happen. I did earn money through college and into the early 80's playing in restaurants and bars although it was never a full time occupation as it was for my husband during those years (Danny wasn't my husband then; we got married in 2005). When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I were really strapped for cash. After many serious discussions and debates, we finally agreed that each of us should sell something of value. He had an expensive piece of photography equipment (I don't remember what it was) and I had my Martin; yes, you heard me right - an acoustic (classical) Martin guitar that I marched stoically down to a guitar specialty store. There, I exchanged my best friend for $300 and cried all the way home. And, as if feeling like a Judas wasn't bad enough, on my arriving at home, I was told by my husband that he had changed his mind about selling his equipment after all. Yes, ladies, the red flag was waving right in my face, but it would be several more painful and disappointing years before I had the courage and conviction to get out of an emotionally abusive relationship.
I was bereft of a guitar for quite some time and, being otherwise occupied with raising children and earning a living, I figured I could get by without it. Then one year for my birthday, my Dad and Mom gave me a sweet, Brazilian-made acoustic. I dabbled with it off and on again and did teach my son and daughter how to play some chords, but my heart was never really in it. I couldn't pick it up and play it without thinking this is a pretty instrument, but it could never be my Martin. Don't get me wrong: I really appreciated the gift of this guitar but I simply could not regain that intense joy I felt when I strummed the Martin.
Fast forward to 2005: Danny and I get married and, as if that grand fortune weren't boon enough, I begin singing with the praise band that he still leads at our church, Kennesaw United Methodist. Hesitant and awkward a bit at first as it had been so long since I'd sung for anyone but myself, I gradually found the groove and have had the time of my life ever since. None of those long years of singing/performing ever brought me the intensity of feeling that singing God's praises has and He has blessed me mightily through this ministry. I'll put a link to our music at the end of this blog.
About three years ago, I shared the story I just shared with you with Danny. Little did I know that my tale had planted the seed of an idea in his mind. Two weeks before my 53rd birthday, he announced that if he had to wait one more day to give me my birthday present, he'd surely go out of his mind. Not one to turn down a gift any day of the year, I informed him that this was absolutely fine and closed my eyes as he instructed me to. When I was told that I could open my eyes again, they could hardly register what lay before them. The guitar case with the green velvet lining was open and in it lay a gorgeous acoustic guitar that, unlike my Brazilian, had the built-in ability to be hooked up to an amplifier.
"I know it's not your Martin," Danny told me, "but you deserve a good guitar. Now, you won't just sing with the band, you'll play, too."
Well, I'll just skip over all the mushy parts here; you all have good imaginations, I'm sure. The gist of it is, I've worked hard over the last two years to get back up to speed with playing guitar and I still don't play on every song, but this beautiful instrument has healed a part of me that I had concluded nothing could. She is a steadfast friend and I love her dearly. She may not be my Martin but, somehow, that doesn't matter anymore.
With the psalmist "I will sing to the Lord for He has been good to me"!

Website for Crossroads: http://kumcrossroads.shutterfly.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why "Meanderings:?

I chose the word "meandering" for two reasons: 1) I am partial to alliteration; 2) I thought it a most appropriate adjective for my wandering thoughts that will wend their way to this page. Expect the subjects to vary from day to day and week to week; wherever my thoughts stray, when they stumble upon an experience or idea worth sharing, you'll find it here.
May your day be blessed!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Welcome! I still need to figure this out! :)

Welcome to Martha's Meanderings

So happy to greet you and, hopefully, meet you.
This is my first experiment in blogging, so, if you
are here and confused, know I am doubly
blessed with that. However, in days and weeks
to come, I hope all will be ironed out with this.
May God bless always!

Birds of a Feather

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in...