Tuesday, February 26, 2013

All in God's Time


Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

On the evening of the day I post this meditation, I am scheduled for a book signing at a local middle school.  Boy, am I thrilled to have been invited by my friend, Donna, to be a part of her son's school's annual festival!  It will be so exciting to meet new readers and potential fans of The Glade Series.  And, if the Lord is willing, to sell abundant copies of the first novel in this trilogy, A Trip, a Tryst and a Terror.

The week before last, my second novel, Children in the Garden, was sent by my publisher to the printers.  Oh, how wonderful it would be to have both novels for the signing!  I decide to e-mail my publisher and get her take on the timing of the book's release.  Will it be here by February 26th?

She responds promptly and honestly.  All depends upon how many projects are ahead of mine.  She thinks it's a 50/50 proposition.

Unless . . .

"We could place a rush order on it," she suggests, "but, that will cost extra."

I read and reread her words on my computer screen.  I think.  I'm tempted . . .

But, I respond, "Don't worry about a rush order.  I'll have plenty of bookmarks and will do lots of talking about the second book, and how to order it if they aren't delivered to me by then."

Because, if I've learned anything from my publishing ventures and adventures, it's this:  I need to ever trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.  Everything that happens, when and why, where and how, is in His impeccable timing.  What I think should happen, when and why, where and how, is irrelevant, not to mention a waste of time and energy.

So, I will sit back and enjoy the ride.  Letting God take the wheel.  Knowing He alone is in control.

I will lean on His understanding . . . 

~

Was there ever a time in your life when leaning on your own understanding led you down the crooked path?

Will you join me in prayer?
With all of our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our strengths, Father, let us trust in You, knowing Your ways are higher than ours.  Let us trust in Your timing, Your infinite goodness, and Your matchless grace.  Amen.

Postscript -
As many of you know, I write my blogs days before posting them.  So, here's the rest of the story:  Book 2 arrived at my doorstep February 22, in plenty of time for the signing.  Unfortunately, my signing was cancelled at the last minute by the school's administration even though Donna had been given the green light days before.  It's okay.  I will continue to lean upon God and His plans for me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

" . . . Rose Bud . . ."


Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

I adore fresh-cut flowers!  Their colorful blooms and fragrant aroma can transform an ordinary room into an extraordinary one.  Bringing a sampling of God's creation indoors always reminds me of the miraculous and beautiful world He has given to us.

My husband, Danny, knows that on Valentine's Day, I could care less about the box of chocolate, the expensive perfume, or the exquisite jewelry.  Just bring me a bouquet of flowers, and I'm than much closer to heaven.  And, that much more in love with him!

This year, it's red roses with baby's breath and a sprig or two of greenery.




The rose buds are already loosening, a good indication that they will eventually bloom to their full capacity.  And, wow!  Do they ever!




And, the fragrance filling the air?  Intoxicating!

I want them to last this way, look this way, forever.

But, I know that isn't possible.  In fact, probably by the time you are reading this, their resplendence will have faded.  Petals wilting, falling one by one onto the table they once made glad.  And, I will dutifully, yet ruefully, trot their faded beauty out to the compost pile where they will wither away and be no more.

But, I take comfort in knowing that I reveled in their presence while they were fresh and vibrant.  Their fleeting days remind me to savor every precious moment I am given.  To relish the sacredness surrounding me.

And, to thank God for His marvelous creation and for His Word which endures forever.

~

What things or people in your life make you feel closer to heaven?

Will you pray with me?
The incredible beauty of Your creation, Father, takes our breath away.  May we always take care of it as the good stewards You intended us to be.  Let us enjoy and rejoice in all the moments You give to us.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"Go Down, Moses!"


Exodus 3:11
But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

Have you ever been given a task to do for which you felt neither qualified nor equipped?  How did you handle the situation?  Did you take a deep breath, hold your nose, and plunge in despite your doubts?  Or, did you, like Moses, make excuses for yourself and your perceived inadequacies?

In the second book of my Glade Series trilogy, "Children in the Garden," ten-year-old Davy is told by his mentor and friend, Grey, a True Squirrel of the Old Ones, that there will soon be a celebration at The Glade in his honor.  Davy is beside himself with excitement until he finds out that he is expected to stand before all the Old Ones and give each of them a new name:

At these words, Davy froze.  He dreaded getting up in front of the class at school to give a speech, much less perform.  What would he be expected to do?  Would Grey be right by his side to lend assurance?  An unsettling storm of anxiety began to brew in his stomach.  As though he could read Davy's mind, Grey leaped in front of him, and cupped his stricken face in his two front paws.

"Look me in the eye, child," said the squirrel in a calm and soothing voice.  "I am telling you this ahead of time so you can be prepared; this is not the sort of thing that you would think was a pleasant surprise, would you?  See?  All the delightful surprises, those I won't tell you, but this one," here he patted both of Davy's cheeks, "I will explain, assist, encourage, and be right there at your side through the whole thing."

Davy's stomach calmed at Grey's words and touch.  He met his friend's gaze intently.

"You promise?"

Grey placed his paw over his heart and said, "With all that I was, all that I am, and all that I will be."

Although the Lord promises Moses that He will be with him at every turn on this mission to rescue Israel, Moses questions and doubts.  He thinks God has chosen the wrong man for the job.  He demands reassurance again and again.  Yet, we know how this story ends, don't we?

Will it be the same for Davy?  Will he trust Grey enough to follow through?


~

Will you trust the Lord to see you through those seemingly insurmountable moments in your life?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for the great patriarchs of the Bible who show us what it means to fully trust in You.  Although, like Moses, we may balk and doubt and question You, help us to remember that You are the great I AM and You will always see us through.  Amen.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Rejoice! Rejoice! Again, I Say Rejoice . . .!"


Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!

When you hear the word "Lent," what comes to mind?  Giving up those treasured sweets?  Turning down a mouth-watering steak?  Saying, "No," to a favorite television show or a social media site for 40 days?

There is nothing wrong with giving certain habits up for Lent as long as our hearts are in the right place.  And, our souls are focused on the why we choose to abstain from those practices.  Because, whatever we choose to do should be done in order to help us grow into a closer relationship with God.

And, we should do so with rejoicing!


I am reminded of what Jesus said when He instructed His disciples about the practice of fasting, of "giving up":  "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full." (Matthew 6:16)

So, what have you given up for Lent?  Has it been difficult?  Is it strengthening your commitment to the Lord?  Or, is the "doing without" doing you in?

If that's the case, maybe it's time to stop and rethink your direction.  Because, if you're walking around with a Pharisee face, you are inviting the sympathy of others, not welcoming the love God has for you.  Wants to give you.  Wants you to give in return.

Most importantly, in all times and in all places, even in the repentant season of Lent, the Lord wants you to rejoice in Him.  Rejoice in His forgiveness, His mercy, His grace.  Rejoice in His steadfast, unfailing love.

So, pack away the sackcloth and ashes!  Put a smile on your face!


And, shine the light and love and joy of God into this hurting and needy world.

~

Will you share your Lenten discipline(s) in the comment section today?

Will you join me in prayer?
We thank You, Father, that You love us enough to send Your only Son, Christ Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins.  During this season of Lent, help us to focus on this wondrous act of love and forgiveness as we prepare to celebrate the glory of the resurrection at Easter.  Let all that we do in Your Holy Name be done with rejoicing!  Amen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust


Genesis 3:19
Remember that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day in the season of Lent.  As she did last year, Pastor Emily will be offering prayers and ashes at our local Starbucks.  Unconventional?  Perhaps.  But, according to this article, which I hope you will take a moment to read, more and more Methodist Churches are taking Lent's message of repentance and forgiveness to the streets.

When Emily announces her intentions for Ash Wednesday last year, my husband, Danny, and I are elated.  She will be at the Starbucks just up the street from 7:00 until 9:00 in the morning.  As Danny works at home on Wednesday, we plan to go together and get Lent started off on the right foot.

As we are driving there, I wonder about what Emily will say, will pray, will do when imposing the ashes.  My previous experiences have all been in formal church services.  I really don't know what to expect.

But, I'm more than pleasantly surprised.

Emily hands each of us a small card with the purpose of Lent printed on one side and a Prayer for Forgiveness on the other.  As we follow along, she reads the purpose of Lent aloud:

We put ashes on our heads to:

  • Remind us of all those around the world who are mourning and suffering.
  • Remind us that we all have sinned, we all need repentance, and we all must cling to the promises and love of Christ.
  • Remind us that in the passage of time, we will all someday die.
  • Remind us of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.
  • Remind us that in the midst of this, we are still called, named, claimed, and loved Children of God.
Wow!  So humbling, yet so uplifting at the same time!  Emily places the cross of ashes on our foreheads, and together we recite the Prayer for Forgiveness.  This is the prayer I will leave with you today.  May your Lenten season be filled with God's love, mercy and blessings!

Merciful God,
I confess that I have not
loved you with my whole heart.
I have failed to be obedient.
I have not done your will.
I have broken your law.
I have rebelled against your love.
I have not loved my neighbors, and
I have not heard the cry of the needy.
Forgive me, I pray.  Free me for joyful
obedience, through Jesus Christ,
my Lord.  Amen.


REMINDER!  Beginning tomorrow, visit Kennesaw United Methodist's website here for your daily Lenten devotions.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Blogs! Blogs! Everywhere the Blogs!


Psalm 19:14
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Every morning, first cup of coffee in hand, I open my e-mail inbox to peruse the contents.  I weed out the unwanted ads and news feeds.  Click on anything which I think needs my immediate attention.  Answer the pressing e-mails.  And, save the best for last . . .

The blogs I subscribe to!

Most days, I don't read them until later in the morning or at lunchtime.  I save them like one would a coveted chocolate or favorite cookie, a special treat to be savored slowly and sweetly, at a time when it's most appreciated.  That, too, is the time I usually visit Facebook blogging communities to which I belong.

And, then, there are the blogs which I follow at my Blogger site.  As I check often for comments which you, kind readers, so graciously leave, I note if there are any new entries from my writing friends.  How delighted I am when something pops up!  Often, I just dive right in to read them since I'm already on the Blogger page.

So many wonderful gifts of words to unwrap make every day feel like Christmas!

Out of curiosity, I decide one day to tally up the number of blogs I frequent.  I am astounded!  There are 50+ with two, recently recommended, in the offing.  That many???  I say a quick prayer of thanks that most of these talented writers do not post on a daily basis.  If that were the case, I honestly don't know when my own writing would get done.  I'd be having too much fun reading their works instead of working on my own!

While most of the blogs I subscribe to are Christian reflections, others focus on poetry, short fiction, book reviews, photography, and personal growth.  As different as they may appear on the surface, each blog always contains these two all-important ingredients:  encouragement and inspiration.  Is there any one of us who doesn't need those in our lives on a daily basis?  I know I do!

It's been said many times before and will be said many times again:  writing is a lonely profession.  Just you, the computer screen, and the keyboard.  Making the social connections I have through blogging and social media have bolstered me, comforted me, given me the human interaction I need to feel that I, too, can offer that word of encouragement or be the inspiration for someone else.

That is empowering.

That is humbling.

It's what loving one another is all about.

May the words we write, both in blogs and in comments, be ever acceptable in Your sight, Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer . . .

~

Are you currently a blogger?  An aspiring blogger?  Please share in the comment section and feel free to post the link to your website!

Will you join me in prayer?
Dear Father, we thank You for the gifts and talents You have so graciously bestowed upon us.  May we do nothing displeasing in Your sight, but ever strive to shine the light of Your love into this hurting world.  Amen.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord . . ."


Luke 10:23
Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see."

My husband, Danny, is passionate about photography.  Everywhere we travel, his camera comes with us.  Because, as Danny says, "I never want to see the perfect shot and not be prepared to capture it."

But, taking that "perfect" shot doesn't mean Danny won't tweak it using Photo Shop, an essential tool for any serious photographer.  He has such an eye for color, contrast, cropping, and composition.  Even a so-so photo can breathe new life under his direction.  It's an amazing process to witness!

Recently, Danny adds a program called Photomatix which allows him to merge three images of different exposures.  The end result?  I'll let the following before and after shots speak for themselves . . .





















Wow!  What a difference!

When Danny posts the new and improved sock photo to the Facebook page of a photography group he has joined, one person leaves this comment:  "It's so amazing to take the ordinary view of socks, of all things, and turn it into art."

Danny's response?  "God made the art.  I simply noticed."


~

Are you noticing God's artwork in the world around you?

Will you pray with me?
Open the eyes of our hearts, Father, that we might see Your mighty hand in all Your works.  Give us pause each day to notice Your miracles all around us.  Bless all those who use their gifts and talents to Your honor and glory.  Amen.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Stormy . . . Bring Back That Sunny Day . . ."


Psalm 55:8
I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and the storm.

We know it's going to be a rough weather day.  We see all the predictions and we are prepared for the probable thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.  But, we don't expect it to hit us so early.

I am sitting at my computer, sipping my second cup of coffee, when I hear it.  The haunting, ominous wail of the tornado sirens.  At 8:15 in the morning?!  Really???

As my husband, Danny, is working at home this day, he is still sound asleep.  So is my stepson, Giovanni.  Oh, they are NOT going to like this wake-up call!

"Everybody up!  The sirens are going off!  We need to get downstairs!"

Danny doesn't need a second prompting.  He throws back the covers, tumbles out of bed, and stumbles down the hall, headed to check weather radar on the computer.  Giovanni is only a step or two behind.

The sirens are still sounding.

"If there is a tornado anywhere in the county, the sirens are set off," Danny murmurs sleepily while punching commands on the keyboard.  "We need to see where the storm actually is before we panic."

He's so right.  The map reveals that we are nowhere near the storm's predicted trajectory.  False alarm.

"So sorry," I say sheepishly.

"It's okay," Danny assures me while pouring a much needed cup of coffee.  "Actually, we need to keep the radar screen up today so we can quickly note any changes.  This is definitely not a day to take any chances."

So, we monitor the weather throughout the morning.  Ready to dash downstairs for shelter should the need arise.  I gather a few items which I want to have with us in case of an emergency.

We wait.  We watch.  Sure enough . . .

Just after lunchtime, the eerie, blood-curdling sirens are howling yet again.  Promptly, Danny checks the radar and tunes into our local weather channel.  This time, the threat is real.  The meteorologist on the screen indicates the cities in the line of fire.  Kennesaw is one of them . . .

"I think it's time to head downstairs," Danny observes.  I can't agree more.  He takes the laptop with us so we can continue to get updates while we hunker down, praying for those in the path of this storm.  Hoping no tornado will touch down at all.

We dodge the bullet . . .

We give thanks to God.

~

While we feel grateful and blessed to have survived this day of storms, many living about 35 miles north of us are not as fortunate.  The photo above, which I borrowed from a local radio station's website, shows the tornado which actually touched down, causing considerable damage.  Buildings leveled and cars tossed like toys.  Hundreds injured and one poor soul killed when a tree falls on his mobile home.

Will you pray with me today for the victims of this vicious storm?

When stormy weather hits our lives, Father, remind us that You are our shelter and our strength.  We ask prayers of comfort and healing for everyone affected by the recent tornadoes.  May Your grace and presence dwell with them and with those who have come to their aid.  Bless them, dear Lord.  Amen.

Happy Birthday, Virginia Rose!

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