Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Hopelessly Devoted to You . . ."


Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Pastor Emily decides to put together a series of Lenten devotions written by various members and staff of our church, Kennesaw United Methodist.  Imagine my delight when she asks me to not only provide the readings assigned to each day, but also to proofread and post each writer's contribution!

After writing devotions for almost two years now, this is right up my alley.  I can't wait to read others' interpretation of scripture, their stories, and the prayers they offer.

And, Emily has given me permission to redesign the church's blog space in any manner I choose.  That is exciting in and of itself!  I'm not sure at the moment what font or background I'll select, but I know I'll have a grand time creating our new look.

If you haven't decided on a Lenten discipline, or even if you have, I hope you will plan a daily visit to our blog beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 13th.  You are bound to be inspired and uplifted by these meditations and reflections.  I know I've been in reading the ones which have been submitted thus far.

So, plan to join us here, would you?  And, if the spirit moves you, take a moment to leave the authors your comments.  I know your feedback will be greatly appreciated!

~

Will you be joining in with Kennesaw United Methodist's devotions this Lent?

Will you pray with me?
We thank You, Father, for all those who volunteered to write a post for our Lenten Devotional Series.  May the words of their mouths and the meditation of all of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Inviting Allie In


Romans 8:39
Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Allie arrives at Danny's home years ago when his boys are small.  She is a stray. An outdoor cat looking for a home.

Feeling sorry for her, Danny begins feeding Allie outside and makes sure she has fresh water.  The boys are smitten with this gorgeous kitty.  They beg their father to take her in.

"A cat in the house will drive the cockatiel crazy," Danny tells them, "but we can make her a comfortable place in the garage."

Everyone is pleased with the arrangement.  The boys shower Allie with lots of love and attention, making sure she goes outside with them when they play in the yard.

And, Allie seems perfectly happy and content to be where she is, even though it means being separated from the family more often than not.  She grows accustomed to it.




When Danny and I are planning our wedding, we discuss the pet situation.  I am bringing my dog, Maggie, who never met a cat she didn't like, and cat, Jordan, who never met a cat she didn't hate.  We are hoping beyond hope that Jordan will make an exception when it comes to Allie.  Since the bird is no longer with us, we would like nothing better than to have all our pets together.

So much for that hope . . . You can read all about Allie and Jordan's strained relationship here.

So, poor Allie remains in the garage, and Jordan gets the run of the house.  We go out of our way to spend time with Allie, but I think it's never enough.  I hate that she is separated from us, but what alternative do we have?

Then, as many of you already know, we have to put down a very ill and elderly Jordan this past December.  I am heartbroken.  I weep while cleaning her food and water bowls for the last time and bag up her litter pan for the trash.  The house seems so empty without her . . .

Danny offers comfort.  "Let's wait a week or so for Jordan's scent to fade, and then we can try Allie in the house.  What do you say?  Don't you think it would make you feel better about losing Jordan if you had Allie to keep you company?"

"I'm sure it would," I say, "but, after all those years in the garage, will Allie be able to adjust?"

"We won't know unless we give it a try.  I'm game if you are."

I am.  We invite Allie in.  And, this much beloved cat adjusts beautifully!




Indeed, we are blessed!

~

Are you going through the pain of being separated from a loved one?

Will you pray with me?
We are so thankful, Father, that nothing and no one can ever separate us from Your love which is in Your precious Son, Jesus.  Comfort those who cannot be with the people they love at this time.  Reassure them that they are cradled in Your loving arms.  Amen

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Love Letters from the Lord


Matthew 22:29
Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

I know, I know . . . It's a bit early to be talking about Lent.  After all, it doesn't begin until February 13th.  But, I want to share with you a discipline for the season on which I've already embarked.

Reading the Bible from beginning to end.  Something I've never done.  Something I never thought I could or would do.

Until now . . .

The book, 66 Love Letters, arrives as a Christmas present from Danny's sister and brother-in-law.  I am ecstatic!  Pastor Wallace has referred to this book in several sermons.  It's an invitation to enter God's love story to us from Him through through all 66 books of the Bible.

To find the part my life plays in those stories, not just then, but in the here and now.

To discover God's Word in a fresh and meaningful way.

To walk hand-in-hand with Him,  knowing how much He loves me.  Loves us.

The author, Dr. Larry Crabb, strongly suggests in his introduction to read these love letters slowly.  Otherwise, there is just too much one could miss.

So, this is how I'm tackling the discipline:

  • Reading the book chapter - Praying that God opens my heart.
  • Reading the corresponding Bible chapter - Praying that God opens my mind.
  • Re-reading the book chapter - Praying that God anoint my spirit.
I've already embarked on this study.  I'm certain I will still be at it when the 40 days of Lent have passed.  Yes, it will take time, but it's time most worthily spent.

And, I can't think of a better journey to be on.

This journey of love with my Lord . . .

~

Have you chosen a Lenten discipline for the coming season?

Will you pray with me?
Help us, Father, to study Your Word, Your love letters for us, that we might come to know You in a deeper way.  Show us how our life stories weave with Yours.  May we be ever mindful of Your mighty power to save.  Amen.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Day to Pray


Exodus 3:14
God said to Moses, "I am who I am.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I am has sent me to you.'"

Have you ever been given a task to accomplish which you thought impossible?  Maybe, it was because of time constraints?  Too many things on your plate to consume?  The extra helping which begs discarding before you suffer an uncomfortable night of indigestion?

Or, was it a lack of confidence in your ability to follow through?  To get the job done?

We've all been there, haven't we?  Life's pressures weigh upon us even in the best of times.  No matter how much we strive to do the right thing and meet the expectations of others in our families, our work, our church, we cannot stand up to the task at hand unless we're first willing to kneel.

In prayer.  Asking for God's guidance.  His wisdom.  His protection.  His grace.

To learn humbly at His feet how much He wants to hear our prayers.  How He longs for a loving relationship with us.  How having this rapport with Him can literally change the world for the coming of His Kingdom.

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, has issued a plea to all of us to stop what we're doing and drop to our knees in prayer on January 20th.  He is concerned, as I am, that while our leaders don't seem to be listening to us, they just might listen to God when He calls, shows up, stands in their presence.

The following is Gov.  Huckabee's invitation to join him in prayer this Sunday:

Join me for "A Day to Pray", where we will ask God to grant our leaders, from the local school houses to the White House, the wisdom they need for the road ahead.  We will gather to ask God for forgiveness and healing of our land and to bless our country and her people.  This will not be a political rally, but a spiritual event, and hopefully one that can help bring us together as we move forward as a nation.


Will you accept the invitation from Gov. Huckabee?  No matter where you live around the globe, will you pray that God will speak to the hearts of your elected officials?  Convict the hearts of your leaders to answer to the Lord and ignore the lure of worldly power?

Will you, through prayer, send God to their hearts, their minds and their souls?

Will you, through prayer, tell them, "I AM sent me to you"?

~

Let us pray:
Father, let us join with millions around the world this Sunday to pray for our leaders and our countries.  May our prayers find favor in your sight.  May your presence shine upon those who need to know You and create in them a servant's heart.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Expect the Unexpected


Mark 8:18
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?  And don't you remember?

If you have followed "Meditations of My Heart" for any length of time, you know my husband, Danny, and I love living in our cozy house tucked into the forest, and observing all the wonderful creatures who share this space with us. One of our favorite pastimes, featured in a previous post here, is bird watching.

For years, we have purchased bird seed from Costco.  The brand name is Audubon Park, and it comes, plastic-wrapped, in a brightly colored cardboard container.


Forty pounds of bird seed for the modest price of $14.95 just can't be beat.  Best of all, the birds love it!

When we've run low in the past and there's no time for a trip to Costco, I've made the mistake of ducking into Publix for a bag of seed.  Do the birds know the difference?  You bet they do!

What a waste of money that was!

So, recently, as our supply of Audubon Park dwindles, I make the trek to Costco for a restock.  Imagine my chagrin when there is no bird food to be found!  How can that be?  They've always carried it.  Why stop now?

I visit the store later that week.  Still, no bird seed.  What am I going to do?

In a panic, I ask my friends, Sherran and Rob, avid bird lovers, what seed they would recommend using.  It's a mix by Pennington.  The birds go nuts over it!

But, it's prohibitively expensive.  Ten bucks for ten pounds?  When we were getting 40 pounds for less than $15?

"Unless we can find the Audubon brand again," Danny says, "we may have to forgo feeding the birds."

"But, Danny, we can't just stop!"  I protest.  "They've grown used to being fed.  And, here it is, winter.  Where else are they going to go for food?"

"Someone else's feeder?"  he jokes.  "Seriously, call Costco and ask if they've gotten a shipment in before you make a third trip."

Good advice.  I take it.

"Yes, ma'am, we have the 40 pound bird seed by Audubon."

"I'll be right there!"

Trip #3.  Up and down the pet aisle I go.  No bird seed.  C'mon!  What's up with this?  I'm going to hunt up an employee to ask.  This is the last straw!

A kind associate named Cassandra is promoting Kirkland coffee.  As that is our brand of choice, I take it as a sign that she is the perfect person to ask.

"We should have it," she assures me.  "Go along the pet aisle and it should be right there."

"I just did," I sigh, "but, I'll look again.  Maybe, I missed it somehow."

I don't hold out much hope, but off I go anyway.  I want my bird seed!  The Pennington supply is running low.  I love those gorgeous birds at the feeder . . .

Suddenly, a bright yellow, gargantuan stack of bags catch my eye.  Audubon Park!!!  Here it is!  No wonder I didn't see it before.  Their packaging has changed completely!



Gratefully, I hoist the bag into my cart, relieved that it is so much easier to maneuver than the box was.  I head for the check-out, but not without remembering the year of "love", and spinning back to Cassandra to thank her for her help.

And, I get to thinking . . . Aren't there times when we are so used to seeing one thing, expecting to see it alone, that we miss out on the many miracles God wants to show us?  Or, we think God hasn't answered our prayers because we hope He will do one thing when His intent is to do another? 

How we do miss out when we fail to have eyes to see and ears to hear!

~

Are you watching for miracles in your life today?

Please join me in prayer:
Jesus told us, Father, to open our eyes and ears to what You are doing and saying in our lives.  May we be ever mindful, awake, and aware, expecting Your unexpected miracles around every corner.  Amen.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sweet, Sweet Music . . .


Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.

My stepson, Giovanni, works at our local Wendy's.  His foremost station is what's known as "back cash".  He takes the money from the customers at the first drive-in window.

Because he has been at the job for over a year now, Giovanni's smile and attitude is appreciated by the many regulars who come by the restaurant.  Management has told him that when he has a day off, these patrons always ask,  "Where's Giovanni?"

It's a good feeling to be appreciated.  And, missed when you're not there.

That's all the reward, in addition to his paycheck, Giovanni needs.

So, imagine his surprise when a favorite customer pulls up to his window.  Not only does she give him the money for her purchase, but also hands him a gift bag.

"I know it's late for Christmas," she confesses, "but, we wanted you to know how much we care.  Enjoy!"

"Thanks so much!"  Giovanni is genuinely pleased.  He has to wait until he goes on break to examine the contents of the bag.

When Giovanni arrives home from work, he is beaming!

"Guess what?"  he tells us.  "One of my customers gave me presents today.  I got a Visa gift card and this!"

He holds up a book proudly.  It's a brand new Bible!  My husband, Danny, and I are thrilled to know someone cares so much for our son, and even more thrilled that Giovanni is excited about it.



"Think I'll read some of it," he says.

Music!  Sweet, sweet music to our ears.

Because, although he has told us he is a Christian, never once has Giovanni shown any interest in seriously reading the Bible.  But, now, the thoughtful generosity of one beautiful soul may have changed all that . . .

May God's love story be a lamp for your feet, dear Giovanni, and a light on your path!

~

Do you take time each day to read your Bible?

Will you pray with me?
Father, we thank You for those who joyfully and generously spread the Good News of Your Kingdom to all who need to hear it.  Bless them and keep them, dear Lord, and may Your light ever shine through them.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Greatest of These . . .


Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Those of you who read my last post, "Name It to Claim It," know that my defining word for 2013 is "love."  Since choosing this word or, to be more precise, since it chose me, my world has taken on more light.  Everything and everyone around me, it seems, vibrate with more color, more warmth, more vivacity.

How powerful it is to wake in the morning and invite love into my day.  To walk with me in every moment.  To open my eyes to opportunities to show it to others, even if it manifests in the smallest of gestures.

Just the other day, such an opportunity opens up.  I have dropped my mother-in-law back at her house after taking her to the doctor.  It is past lunchtime.  Way past.  My stomach is rumbling, and I'm beginning to feel cranky and irritable.

I am not a pleasant person to be around when I'm overly hungry.  Stay out of my way.  Don't tread on me.  And, no one gets hurt.

Never having heard of any botulism cases attributed to the Quick Trip convenience store chain, I whirl into the parking lot, leap out of the car, and make a bee-line for the door.

The place is hopping!  People are milling everywhere!  The two clerks at the counter work feverishly to attend to customers' purchases.  Great!  Just great!  Now, I have to stand in line.

I weave my way to the sandwich cooler, grab an innocuous looking turkey and Swiss, and, throwing caution to the wind, nab a sack of fatty, salty Lay's potato chips.  Who cares?  I'm starving!  I'll work out tomorrow.  Just this once won't matter . . .

And, I enter one of the two lengthy lines; so long, that the view of other patrons is obscured by store shelves.  When I emerge from behind the wall, it's difficult to assess which one of us is truly the next one to be served.

I see a thirty-something man in white dress shirt and tie juggling several items in his arms.  His body language speaks volumes.  He is in a hurry.  Maybe running late to get back to the office?  He's too young to look that frazzled.

Our eyes meet.  And, as they do, that word "love" bursts into my mind like Fourth of July fireworks.  I forget how hungry I am.

I smile and nod for him to go first.  The relief on his face is immediate as he bounds to the counter, glad to deposit the many items he has been carrying.

As he reaches for his wallet, the young man turns around, a huge grin on his face.  "Thank you so much!"

"Don't mention it," I reply, returning the grin in kind.

And, a simple sandwich and chips never tasted better . . .

~

How is the word you've chosen to define your year working for you?

Will you join me in prayer?
Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing love for us and for teaching us to love as You love.  May we always treasure love as the greatest gift of all.  Amen.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Name It to Claim It


John 12:34
A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Have you ever defined a new year with a single word?  I never heard of this practice until two blogging friends shared their declarations for 2012 frequently in their posts.  For one, the year was "see"; for the other, it was "shine".

And, as 2012 drew to a close, I began to ponder . . .


Should I choose a defining word for 2013?  If so, what word would it be?  I know it must be a word which brings me closer to God throughout the year.  It can't be anything less.

I think.  I pray.  I ponder some more . . .

Then, BOOM!  The word spills into my heart.  My mind.  My soul.

LOVE!

This is the year of "Love"!

Loving myself.  Loving others.

Showing that love in smiles and laughter.


Reflecting upon the love I give.  The love I get.


Eyes continually focused on those around me who need to feel loved.  


Taking delight in every moment when and where love is shared.


So, that when those troubled days come, as I know they will; days when I am hurt or sad or down, I can still find love.  Still give love.


And, if somehow, I forget how to find love.  Give love.  I know who can help me reclaim it . . .

All I have to do is raise up my arms to my Abba.


And, let Him love me through it all.


~
Have you named and claimed this New Year?

Will you pray with me?
Thank You, Father, for this new and promising year which lies ahead.  Let us ever be focused upon You and Your desires for us.  May we ever love one another as You have loved us.  Amen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Content, No Matter What . . .

Philippians 4:11
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Pastor Wallace tells the story of his friend, Frank, who works hard all his life and has done well financially.  With retirement nearing, Frank and his wife, Mary, decide to build their dream home in the North Georgia mountains.  They invite Wallace to visit when the construction is complete and they're settled in.

Wallace can't believe his eyes.  Constructed from finished logs, this luxury "cabin" has five bedrooms, five baths, a two-car garage, full basement, hot-tub, a gourmet kitchen equipped with stainless steel appliances, a wrap-around deck, and a view to die for.

"I'm really impressed, Frank," Wallace tells him after completing the grand tour.  "And, I'm happy that Mary and you have this grand place to live out your retirement."

"It's our dream home, that's for sure," Frank admits, "something we've always wanted.  We're enjoying every minute living here.  Can't imagine living anywhere else."

A year later, Wallace receives a call from an ecstatic Frank.

"Pastor, I just had to share the good news!  We've just bought two acres on top of a nearby mountain, and we're building a bigger and better house than this one here."

"Really?"  Wallace is confused.  "But, I thought the house you have now is your dream home?"

"Not anymore," Frank confesses.  "The new one is what I like to call our dream-dream home.  "We'll have you over as soon as we've moved in."

True to his word, Frank invites Wallace to the new house.  Eight bedrooms, eight baths, a full garden, five-car garage, and every amenity one could possibly desire.  And, the view?  Immeasurably breathtaking!

While he keeps his thoughts to himself, Pastor Wallace can't help but wonder what two people need with all this space, not to mention the upkeep of rooms and grounds.  Why did they grow discontented with their original retirement home?  Wasn't it enough?
~
Frank and Mary are typical of so many people in our day and time.  They are under the illusion that acquiring material possessions will bring contentment and happiness to their lives.  I like to call it the "If-I-Only-Had" syndrome.  "If I only had (you fill in the blank), I'd be happy."

We hear that so often, don't we?  And, perhaps, like Frank and Mary, we are guilty of saying it ourselves.  But, true happiness, joy, and contentment cannot be found in things.

They are found in our hearts.

Hearts which beat with confidence in the love God has for us.  Hearts which know that in all times and in all places, the Lord is in control.  Hearts filled with peace no matter what life sends our way.

Trusting in God's promises.

Content, no matter what . . .
~
Has your heart found true contentment?

Will you join me in prayer?
As we celebrate and look forward to the New Year, Father, we pray to be content in our hearts, knowing how much You love us and care for us.  May we ever rest in that knowledge, no matter what this year has in store.  Amen.

"Only to Find Gideon's Bible . . ."

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. This post continues our recent misadventures in Asheville.  If you ...